Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Popular action figure G.I. Joe was reinvented in animation form in this pilot for the daily syndicated cartoon series of the same name. In keeping with the new marketing strategy established by Hasbro Toys, "G.I. Joe" was no longer an individual, but instead a team of specially trained guerilla fighters, led by Clayton M. "Hawk" Abernathy. The villains of the piece were the members of Cobra, led by Cobra Commander and his Darth Vader-like lieutenant (and frequent rival), Destro. In their first adventure, the Joes were obliged to collect three rare elements vital to a weapon that would counter Cobra's deadly M.A.S.S. device, which allowed the bad guys to transfer matter anywhere at any time for their own evil purposes. Written by Ron Friedman, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was made available as either a two-hour animated special or as a five-part miniseries, bearing the individual episode titles "The Cobra Strikes," "Slave of the Cobra Master," "The Worms of Death," "Devil's Cauldron," and "The Stake in the Serpent's Heart." The miniseries version was originally shown on American television from September 12 through 16, 1983. It was followed in 1984 by another miniseries, G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra, and in 1985 by the daily syndicated G.I. Joe series proper.