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MLP Review: “Secrets and Pies”

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Pinkie Pie is baking a pie for Rainbow Dash’s 73rd Wonderbolt training session. Rainbow accepts the pie at Wonderbolts HQ, but Pinkie soon finds the pie in the dumpster instead of inside her stomach. As a matter of fact, Pinkie has never seen Rainbow eat one of her pies, she’s always been distracted (read: fall for trick of looking away from Rainbow).

Pinkie comes to the conclusion that Rainbow doesn’t like her pies and has lied about liking them. Pinkie’s attempts to catch her in the act come up fruitless until gravity exposes Rainbow Dash as a pie she throws up into the air lands on Pinkie. The truth is Rainbow Dash does not like ANY pies (which comic main series #59 will delve into).

Rainbow though the hassle was worth it because Pinkie would be crushed if she found out someone didn’t like her pies and it made her happy to see Pinkie happy. Also, she was willing to eat a “pie” she baked to make it up to Pinkie. That’s kind of the sour part of this episode. They do mention that Rainbow should be more honest with Pinkie, but her way of trying to make it up to her is as overly-complicated as her schemes to get rid of her pies.

But really, that was the only sore point, though a significant one in my opinion. Other than that, we get some very good facial expressions and Pinkie’s imagination go out of control (liked the “Evil Dash” bit). It’s just that Rainbow didn’t need to overcomplicate things in making amends with Pinkie.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Once Upon A Zeppelin”

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I have to think that this episode was made with the notion that it has been 100 episodes since Twilight became an alicorn. This is the 165th episode of the series.

Twilight has been invited by her parents to be part of a family vacation on board an airship. Shining Armor, Cadance, and Flurry Heart are also on board. It appears Twilight Velvet and Night Light won a contest for this vacation (without reading the fine print). However, it turns out the other ponies on board have paid to see the Twilight and Cadance courtesy of Iron Will now offering themed vacations with the motivational speaking market drying up.

Twilight offers to make a deal that she’ll perform the “Princess functions” as long as her family get to participate in events they want to. However, it turns hard on Twilight since she is unable to play bingo with her Dad, race boat with an airsick Shining Armor, or barrel riding with her Mom. Meanwhile, Cadance is watching Flurry Heart in the day care center on the ship. Plus, Twilight has a contest winner named Sky Tracker on her tail as an “honorary family member”.

Things come to a head when Twilight misses the Northern Stars after signing autographs. She even stomps on Sky Tracker’s foreleg in anger. A heart-to-heart with Cadance shows her that while she’ll always have responsibilities as a princess, there must be some boundaries set between responsibilities to others and responsibility to one’s self like Cadance had to draw when she had Flurry Heart.

Twilight apologizes to everyone and, gasp!, goes off schedule to treat every pony to ice cream. Meanwhile, Iron Will jumps the ship after he loopholes his way out of facing customers who learn that the cruise never guaranteed the participation of “actual princesses.”

In the end, Twilight is treated to a family version of the Northern Stars show and finally gets some downtime with her family.

This was a very sweet episode despite Iron Will’s participation (who’s even more of a jerk here than in “Putting Your Hoof Down”). We’ve seen family episodes featuring five of the Mane Six (we haven’t gone in depth with Rarity’s parents, yet) and just about all of them so far have been very good episodes. “The Perfect Pear” is still the best of the five, but I have to feel it’s now a toss-up between this and “Parental Glidance” for second.

In “A Flurry of Emotions”, Twilight needed to draw a line with adding babysitting her niece on top of a full schedule for the sake of spending more time with her. Here, the line needs to be drawn with regard to keeping everypony happy and keep herself happy. Sometimes Twilight needs some…ahem…”Twilight Time.”

Still, this was a very enjoyable episode with Twilight and her family and one of the top entries of Season Seven.

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Marks and Recreation”

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With their counsel high in demand, the Cutie Mark Crusaders open a day camp to help foals and foster teamwork as that’s how the CMC got their cutie marks. All the foals are enthusiastic about it (one of them getting a cutie mark for haikus on the first day) except for one—Rumble—who was last seen in “Hurricane Fluttershy”. He has grown up a bit since and his big brother Thunderlane is now in the Wonderbolts.

Rumble could not be more disinterested in the camp’s activities, nor a cutie mark in general. He’s afraid that once he gets a cutie mark, he’ll be boxed into doing just one thing for the rest of his life. Rumble convinces others to break from the camp for a while. The CMC are flummoxed by this. How can a foal not want a cutie mark?

So they go to Thunderlane to see what’s up? Thunderlane discloses that since he himself became a Wonderbolt, Rumble wanted to emulate him. He is good at the camp’s activities, but he is afraid the cutie mark will prevent him from becoming a Wonderbolt. That is what Apple Bloom concludes and they bring in Thunderlane as a guest of their camp.

Bored from being limited by what activities they could do (that could lead to a cutie mark), the foals return one-by-one to the CMC camp and learn that their cutie marks will not prevent them from doing just one thing for the rest of their lives.

This episode presents the CMC with a unique problem: What to do about a foal who DOESN’T want a cutie mark? After seeing nearly five seasons worth of the CMC obsessing over them, it’s actually interesting to see how they come across a pony who isn’t as enthusiastic about them.

You could be forgiven if you were expecting Starlight Glimmer to appear at some point. What didn’t work was the song which ran a bit long and Rumble being a bit jerky at times. I also feel there was a missed opportunity to have either Starlight or one of the Mane Six come in to talk to Rumble, but asking Thunderlane is a viable substitute.

The episode is not overly spectacular, but it is still a good episode nonetheless that presented the CMC with a challenge they have not come across.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “A Health of Information”

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In this episode, Zecora is helping Fluttershy gather moss for oxen visiting the latter’s sanctuary. However, a flower spews its poison and Zecora comes down with Swamp Fever. Because this is MLP, Zecora will turn into a tree if she cannot be cured.

Fluttershy takes it upon herself to find the cure no matter the costs. Twilight helps her research and they come across a healer known as Mage Meadowbrook and she lived in a place called Hayseed Swamp. There, they meet one of her descendants called Cattail. They find the cure, honey from flash bees who are immune to the flower’s poison. However, just as they figure out the cure, Fluttershy has contracted swamp fever and is in full determinator mode to the point of exhaustion that takes her three days to recover. The stare doesn’t work, magic won’t work, and whatever Cattail tried didn’t work.

They try again and finally come across disguising Fluttershy with the mask that looks like the face of a queen bee. They get the honey and cure both Fluttershy and Zecora.

Now we’ve seen Applejack work to the point of exhaustion in determinator mode some 159 episodes ago. But here, Fluttershy takes it to another (distressing) level. She nearly kills herself trying to help Zecora. She prides herself on being a caregiver and caregivers sometimes go at all costs to treat their patient—to a fault.

If you have read some of the comics, then you can see where this ties into the Legends of Magic and one of the issues of the main series. There’s also a strong hint that all of this will build up for the season finale in five weeks.

Back to the episode, this was a very good one that has a lot going for it such as building up the Legends of Magic, to Fluttershy and Twilight, to the fact that the show can worldbuild so well in its seventh season. However, fans might get a bit disturbed by Fluttershy’s determinator status in this episode. Outside of that, this is another solid Season Seven entry.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

Editorial: Let’s Go to the Movie!

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Sethisto at Equestria Daily already said it, so we’ll say it again. With the Movie two weeks away, this is an opportunity to re-energize the fandom as a whole and introduce MLP to a new set of fans and keep the brand worthy of is franchise status at Hasbro. Nerf may be the biggest brand, but MLP is arguably the second most popular right now behind Transformers.

Yes, viewership of the show is down, but it’s been down across the board for shows that have been around for more than a season and at least we still get to see the show on a weekly basis as opposed to the likes of Steven Universe and The Lion Guard to which Cartoon Network and Disney Channel, respectively, shows it when it gets around to it. Besides, most fans primarily see the show online whereas Discovery Family is still part of that extra package you have to spend extra on most cable systems while Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel are still part of the basic tier.

I’ve been saying for almost a year now that Hasbro has put a lot of effort into the Movie and it all culminates towards October 6th. Forget Rotten Tomato scores and neigh-sayers for the moment. Sia’s “Rainbow” song already has over two million views on here VEVO YouTube channel and has been met with mostly positive reviews. The third trailer has over 5.5 million hits on Hasbro’s channel. Oh, have I mentioned there’s Liev Schreiber, Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, Taye Diggs, Michael Peña, Kristen Chenoweth, and Uzo Aduba in addition to the voice cast of Friendship is Magic that we all know and love.

If you indeed have read the junior novelization or the art book, that’s fine. However, there’s nothing that beats the actual experience of seeing the Movie itself in the movie theater. I recall when fans traveled miles on end to see the first Equestria Girls movie in theaters during special showings. Personally, I hope the same effort is made if the Movie is not showing at your nearest movie theater. As for pirate copies to YouTube, there is a time and a place for everything. With regards to the Movie, there is neither.

Naturally, there are things that we will not be able to control such as a bad review from a movie critic (who most likely will not have seen the show at all prior to reviewing it and/or dismiss it because it’s not Disney/Pixar) or a Rotten Tomatoes score that does not rival Zootopia. It would be nice if the Movie made as much money as Zootopia, but that’s unlikely. However, it would be nice if it made over $125 million domestically at the box office.

Above all else, let’s remind ourselves about what drew us into Friendship is Magic in the first place. I would like to think that most of us were drawn in because of its positive and bright message and the characters (flaws and all). Didn’t some of us hope for the day that the ponies—and not human versions thereof—would hit the big screen for a movie of their own? That day is two weeks away!

This is a chance to re-energize the fandom and to introduce us a new collection of fans to what those in the fandom have known for seven years now, that not only is this not your parents’ My Little Pony, but these ponies are awesome! Go watch the movie!

StatManDan

MLP Review: “It Isn’t The Mane Thing about You”

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Rarity is getting ready for a photo shoot for “Vanity Mare” with Photo Finish with emphasis on her mane. She goes around town enhancing business for the Flower Ponies, a Scottish pony selling fans, and Davenport (Quills and Sofas). However, Rarity’s mane gets messed up by some super sticky string from Pinkie Pie celebrating the Cake Twins’ one-year sneeze anniversary. (It’s Pinkie Pie. Don’t question it.)

They both go to Zecora for a mane conditioner and a magical cleaning potion. Of course, without labels to tell which is which after Zecora pointed out what Rarity should take, the potions get switched. (By the way, those asking about labels have a more legitimate point than those asking why Rainbow Dash didn’t try to fight off/fly away from Caballeron’s hench ponies in last week’s episode. That said, this is a cartoon and the switcheroo is as old a trope as time.)

So instead of a soft, bouncy mane; Rarity has most of her mane removed. Since a new potion would take a while, she frantically goes to her friends to help fix her mane with the expected results that they are not super effective. This hurts Rarity since after the switch, ponies appear indifferent to her presence and now she has to cancel photo shoot.

The rest of the Mane Six and Starlight remind her that her mane isn’t the main thing about her and bring up her accomplishments on the show. Rejuvenated, Rarity inspires many a fandom artist by shining from the inside out. Oh, that photo shoot did take place thanks to Rarity’s friends and Rarity ends up on the cover of Vanity Mare.

If there is one given about MLP over the years, Rarity episodes are usually on song and wind up some of the better episodes of the series. This is no exception. Rarity’s MO is to bring the beauty out in everything, so it’s understandable that she wold get distraught if she can’t bring it out of herself after this incident. That’s why you have friends to help bring it from the inside out. Of course, when Rarity sports the punk look, that sets the episode alight.

Just when you think Season Seven might have been tapering off a bit (not that it really has), here’s Rarity to get every pony energized again.

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Daring Done?”

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A.K. Yearling retiring? Not on Rainbow Dash’s watch! She and Pinkie Pie travel to A.K.’s home to find out what is going on. What is going on is that Daring Do is getting a negative rap in a village of Somnambula Southern Equestria where she is accused of wrecking a statue of Somnambula among other things while on her adventures.

The three travel to try and clear her name and come across a hooded figure (read: Dr. Caballeron) who is spreading the story of Daring Do’s supposed recklessness. We get to hear the Legend of Somnambula and how she defeated a sphinx through hope (Subliminal message**Read Legends of Magic #5**end subliminal message).

When Rainbow confronts the hooded figure at the statue, Caballeron reveals himself and takes Dash to the temple “thanking her” for breaking Daring Do’s spirit. Just as Rainbow is about to sink into a pit of slime (because TV-Y), Pinkie reminds Daring Do that she would never let anything happen to Rainbow and they use the steam vents below to rescue Rainbow Dash.

Caballeron’s plan was to defame Daring Do so he could carry out his deeds uninterrupted such as pilfering the village of its glowpaz. Caballeron is chased off and A.K. Yearling will not be retiring after all.

The moral is supposed to be to never lose hope as was the case with Somnambula in the legend when things don’t go as intended. It’s a good lesson, but the episode is bit too predictable in its setup. You could tell it was Caballeron under the hood. The episode is still enjoyable, but it suffers from predictability if you have seen the previous episodes with Daring Do.

GRADE: B

StatManDan