Episode 072 – The Great Books Mystery

In which Skeletor makes friends with Eternia’s version of Batman.

As the episode opens, Orko is telling Teela and Man-at-Arms that he’s lost “a book about unicorns, with lots of pictures.” So far, so mental, but then Orko reveals that the book was intended for Prince Adam’s birthday. Unless it’s a large BBC Wildlife coffee table book, the implication is that Orko has a seriously low opinion of Adam’s intelligence. He could hardly have made it sound more childish if he’d referred to it as having rubber pages.

We are next treated to a return appearance of Professor Smullen, from Keeper of the Ancient Ruins, who informs King Randor that all the books in the kingdom have disappeared. Randor doesn’t believe him at first, suggesting idiotically that maybe Smullen has just lost them, but eventually agrees to get Adam and Man-at-Arms on the case.

Books 1
Prince Adam: “Me and Man-at-Arms enjoy staring at Professor Smullen with unwarranted contempt.”

The first thing on the agenda is, of course, a transformation into He-Man, following which a visit to the Sorceress is in order. The Sorceress yammers on about how books are worth more than gold. In the case of a Read-It-Yourself book I used to have called Jim Hedgehog’s Supernatural Christmas, that’s debatable, but still. She also reveals that the books can be found at the Temple of the Sun, a conclusion that Teela and Orko had already reached without the Sorceress’ help. So yet again, she’s not much use.

The villain of the piece is now revealed: a gentleman called Batros, who is a cheap knock-off of Batman, so cheap that he can only afford to wear Batman’s headpiece and a pair of blue underpants. Batros is deluded enough to believe that nicking Eternia’s books will somehow result in him being made Emperor. Skeletor becomes aware of this none-too-elaborate plot, and sends Beast-Man and Trapjaw out to capture Batros, in order to persuade him to work for Skeletor.

Books 2
Batros: “Welcome to the party, lads. Right, keys in the bowl, please.”

Once these two clowns arrive at the Temple of the Sun, Batros agrees to go to see Skeletor. Beast-Man leads the way, leaving Teela and Orko to have a fight with Trapjaw, a fight into which Trapjaw puts absolutely zero effort and winds up tied to the rafters. They then head off to report the location of the books, and warn He-Man that Skeletor is peripherally involved.

At Snake Mountain, Batros and Skeletor indulge in a few pleasantries, bonding over some unkind remarks at Beast-Man’s expense. However, things get a little nastier moments later when Batros reveals he considers Skeletor might work for him, whereas Skeletor feels the inverse would be more satisfactory. Skeletor gets the better of the discussion, and Batros agrees to help him conquer Castle Grayskull.

Books 3
Skeletor: “Now, Batros, please don’t prove to be so rubbish that you end up never appearing again.”

He-Man re-enters the episode at this point, having been absent for some length of time. He seems to have spent this time travelling from Grayskull to the Temple of the Sun, and once he gets there, he immediately receives word that Skeletor and Batros are going to attack Grayskull, meaning he’ll have to go all the way back. He-Man isn’t one to say things like, “For Christ’s sake,” but there’s something of a dangerous edge to his voice when he says, “I’ll go there at once.”

He arrives just in time to do a meet-and-greet with Skeletor, who instantly decides to run away. Batros puts up slightly more resistance, but quickly finds himself thrown off to the other side of the planet. It subsequently emerges that Skeletor has occupied himself in taking the books from the Temple to Snake Mountain, necessitating a trip to get them back. Once this is over, it’s time for Adam’s birthday, where he gets his rubber unicorn book and for no readily apparent reason claims that this is the best birthday of his life.

 

In today’s adventure…

Well, bugger me sideways if today’s moral doesn’t inform us that books are great, because you can use them to find out about subjects including but presumably not limited to science, dragons, sports and bodybuilding. While I agree that books are great, it wasn’t really demonstrated in the episode – perhaps if a problem had been solved by use of a book, the link might have been clearer. As it stands, I’d say the main moral is if you’re going to dress up as Batman, you should put in the effort to buy the whole costume.

Books 4
Orko: “If I point meaningfully at these books, no one will realise I can’t read.”

 

Character checklist

Popping out from their padded cells for today’s little excursion are Prince Adam, Cringer, He-Man, Battle-Cat, Orko, Teela, Man-at-Arms, King Randor, the Sorceress, Professor Smullen, Batros, Skeletor, Beast-Man, Trapjaw, Mer-Man and Tri-Klops.

 

Excuse given for Prince Adam’s disappearance

“Excuse me. I have something important to do,” says Adam vaguely, and wanders off. Randor looks sadly after him, bemoaning the fact that Adam doesn’t take the books problem seriously – but nonetheless, he doesn’t think to inquire what Adam’s important something is. I genuinely wonder sometimes if everyone on Eternia, and King Randor in particular, is brain-dead.

 

Insults

Skeletor is in a foul mood this week, especially with Beast-Man, referring to him variously as a “worthless hunk of fur”, a “dummy”, and a “furbag”. He also makes the slightly more subtle comment to Beast-Man that, “Unlike you, Batros has a brain.” Elsewhere, Skeletor finds time to call Battle-Cat a “stupid beast”, with perfect sneering disdain.

Batros considers that Teela and Orko are “fools” and that Trapjaw is a “rust-head”. Orko thinks Batros is a “bat-brain”, and Trapjaw summons up sufficient wit to call Orko a “little pest”. This is a surprisingly frequent insult for Orko, perhaps because it’s true.

Books 5
Trapjaw: “This is literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

 

Does it have the Power?

It’s not really a Great Books Mystery, since we find out very quickly who’s nicked the books and where they’ve put them; it’s more of a Great Argument About Some Books. Despite pointless quibbling about the title, though, the episode is a good, solid adventure romp, and it was nice to see Skeletor actually going to try to break into Castle Grayskull again, for the first time in absolutely ages. Batros was a passable villain but ultimately couldn’t hold a candle to Skeletor, and frankly his scheme of “nick books, become Emperor” needed a bit of fleshing out. Overall, I’d call this episode pretty strong, and definitely better than last week’s drivel, but unlikely to make anyone’s Top Ten.

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9 thoughts on “Episode 072 – The Great Books Mystery

  1. There’s no doubt batros is the highlight of this episode, I’m sort of the same way with this episode a lot of fans give this episode a hefty bit of criticism while I accept it’s not the best episode it’s certainly not bad at all I think the books theme is very preachy constantly reminding us books are important yes we get it!! However although I’d consider this episode in the average mode it has two very strong highs that in the character batros as I mentioned before and skeletor, in this episode he has some of the best skeletor pit downs towards beast man in the series some to quote “of course you worthless hunk of fur” it’s so funny you have to remind yourself is it a cartoon lol my favourite line is when batros brings him back to snake mountain saying to skeletor look what iv found from home with skeletor replying with his laugh then “I’m considering putting him on a leash” that is hilarious! The most interesting thing in this episode that sets off a long debate is the bat sign on batros it looks just like from the horde from she ra series so you have to ask is batros an old member of the horde?? I’d like to know what other fans think I honestly don’t know, altho the sign I don’t thinks identical to the she ra series I like to think he is n old member of the horde maybe hordak banished him to the dark side of eternia!!! Anyway overall although not spectacular I’d probably out of ten score this around a 6/10 takecare..

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  2. How could you not reference one of Skeletor’s most famous lines of all time!? 🙂

    Beast Man: If Batros is so smart, how come he stole the books instead of the gold and the jewels?
    [chuckles]
    Skeletor: Because unlike you, Batros has a brain. What he has taken is more precious than gold or jewels.
    Beast Man: Books?
    Skeletor: Of course, you worthless hunk of fur. Books are the real treasures of the world.

    Along with his coming line ordering Beast Man to put on a seat belt, this is an amazing Skeletor moment.

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    1. In fairness, I did reference the “worthless hunk of fur” line, just not the bit about the books… but agreed, Skeletor was at his best this week. He saved the whole thing, as frankly I think he often does.

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  3. Yes I think skeletor really makes the series he’s one of the most and imo best baddies in any cartoon! Skeletor I agree has some of his best lines in this one episode why I brought it up! Poor beast man he’s always the one that gets it the most I think from skeletor! If we’re all on the subject of best skeletor put downs I’d suggest to any fans watch creatures from the tar swamp in that episode skeletors boasting there going to take the drackadon monster to lunch at the palace when he man says not if we stop you first a terradactal bird swoops he man away then skeletor says “I’m sorry he man but you weren’t invited”! Pure gold one of the best!! I agree tho Owen soon as skeletor comes into this episode batros feels weaker, I liked there little fight scene inside snake mountain there was another great skeletor line after this scene when skeletor says to batros”you have a brain that could warm my heart if I had a heart”!!!

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  4. Skeletor is the best of the 80s villains. Megatron and Cobra Commander both have their charm (and their share of insane schemes), but Skeletor lords over them both.

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  5. He’s definitely up there on my list too. You haven’t gotten there yet, but in many ways She-Ra is a much better show, but Hordak is such a poor substitute for Skeletor, that I don’t like it nearly as much.

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  6. Your both def right even great baddies like megaron from transformers although we’re brilliant still don’t come close to skeletor I agree he’s probably the most famous cartoon baddie of all time! Regarding the she ra series I agree with Owen hordaks alright I guess but he pales in comparison next to skeletor plus he always came out on top in a fight too horde prime takes a holiday, of shadows and skulls!! You just think you can’t get more evil looking than a skeleton face can you.

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  7. I take Jeremy’s point on the she ra series it was a better show in some ways, I will always prefer he man for nostalgia and it’s he man but i think by then in she ra the stories were more developed, i.e. Fantastic episodes like the price of freedom very powerful and moving and your more light hearted ones like horde prime takes a holiday an you just can’t beat a one on one with hordak and skeletor!! I still like to think of batros from this episode as a former horde member.

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