Tag: opinion

MLP Review: “Fame and Misfortune”

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Remember that Friendship Journal and that Twilight hoped that one day other ponies could learn from her and the Mane Six. Well, that day came in this episode and if “Slice of Life” was a thank you to the fans, this episode is somewhere between a “Take That” and “WTF” to certain parts of the fandom (including those who review the show).

Where to even begin with this? There were critiques about how Fluttershy was learning the same lesson over and over (back in Season Four) and Fluttershy going to great lengths to show how more confident she’s become in this Season Seven episode. There was a critique about how “Twilight was better without wings” which I suppose was a shout-out to those who are so “Quibble Pants” about everything since “Magical Mystery Cure”. Of course, this episode was written by MA Larson–more than two years after he wrote his last episode, “Amending Fences”.

It seems there is a great deal of frustration in ponies (and fans of the show) who do not make an attempt to learn from the friendship lesson and descend into petty arguments such as who is best pony and other critiques of the show. Worse, the crowd outside the castle are still going at it by the episode’s end. The other lesson in this is a good one in that you can change how you deal with these things and you can take solace with those who do take the friendship lessons to heart as Starlight showed with Toola-Roola and Coconut Cream.

So yes, there will be many mixed reactions to this episode, and this episode aired during the weekend of BronyCon (which is likely a coincidence). My reaction is that it’s an okay episode, but left too many things out there like how Rarity is getting neg-repped via cancelled orders and the other ponies in the worst they have behaved perhaps ever in the series. The song was appropriate and the secondary lesson of how to deal with harsh (and sometimes unwarranted) criticism is one the show staff could use as well. At the same time, and this is something I have touched upon before, some fans could do well to actually apply the friendship lessons themselves rather than get into petty arguments like the ones seen here in this episode.

There are lessons for all of us here, and sometimes they can be pretty harsh as they were here.

GRADE: B

StatManDan

MLP Reviews: “Discordant Harmony” and “The Perfect Pear”

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Two for the price of one this weekend. Let’s get straight to it!

After many a tea party at Fluttershy’s place, Discord decides to invite Fluttershy to his house for tea. Since Discord has never hosted a tea party before, he needs to figure out what would be best for his guest. Upon receiving advice from Pinkie Pie to just make her feel comfortable, Discord forgoes the singing ginseng tea, flying teapots, and sneezing piñatas to a normal setting which is very abnormal for Discord.

So much so that Discord starts to fade away since “normal” behavior is unbecoming of Discord. Fluttershy comes to the rescue by causing her own chaos such as knocking over tea cups, speaking to many reflections of herself, and trying to undo the extreme makeover Discord’s other selves done. That gets Discord back to his chaotic self and he brings back the aforementioned singing tea bags, flying teapots, and sneezing piñatas.

Discord feared initially brining those things in would drive Fluttershy away because they are so different and many ponies don’t get their friendship. Fluttershy counters that he’s introduced her to so many things since they became friends and that she likes him because of their differences.

There are two things that carry this episode. The first is John de Lancie’s voice acting which is always stellar with Discord. The other is Fluttershy in the third act which is more of the self-confident Fluttershy we have seen this season. We also see a side of Discord we have not seen before in that he is not as assured of himself when it comes to hosting a tea party. It’s almost a role reversal from earlier interactions between the two characters.

Anyway, this was a good episode and one where Discord is in a different role than an agitator and couple with the more self-confident Fluttershy we have seen this season.

GRADE: B+

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So, “The Perfect Pear”. Out of all the characters that you can focus on in the series, an episode that involves Applejack’s parents is perhaps the one that is most anticipated of them all. Not only that, you have William Shatner and Felicia Day in this episode. There was a feud between the Apples, led by Granny Smith, and the Pears, led by Grand Pear (voiced by William Shatner). The only Apple and Pear who got along was Bright Macintost and Pear Butter (aka “Buttercup”)(voiced by Felicia Day)—Applejack’s, Apple Bloom’s, and Big Mac’s parents!

Not only is there the shock that they are half pear, but they go on a tour of getting to truly know their parents through those that knew them such as Burnt Oak (who knew Bright Mac and his honesty), Mrs. Cake (whom Buttercup helped get her cutie mark through baking), and Mayor Mare (more on that later). I’m not sure anyone expected a “Romeo-and-Juliet” type story at all.

Everything about Bright Mac and Buttercup’s romance is very heartwarming. The song is one of the best in the series and will be in many a fan’s head for years to come. It’s also very bittersweet, not just for the obvious reasons, but how things came to a head when Grand Pear announces that the Pears are moving to Vanhoover. Rather than lose the love of his life, he plans a secret and not-so-splashy wedding with Buttercup, officiated by Mayor Mare, and witnessed by Mrs. Cake and Burnt Oak. The marriage goes through, but faced with an ultimatum from his father, Buttercup chooses staying with Bright Mac instead of moving while Granny Smith ultimately accepts her.

The Apple Siblings go about mending fences with their grandfather, who really came back to Ponyville to do the same, and with Granny Smith, who apologizes for not telling them about their parents sooner. The episode ends with the siblings and grandparents together at a winding tree with apples and pears.

I honestly though Season Five had the monopoly on emotional episodes such as “Tanks for the Memories,” “Amending Fences,” and “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”—the latter two being two of the best episodes the series has had. This episode will have fans have the feels for years to come.

Everyone involved puts in an outstanding performance from special guests Shatner and Day; to regulars Ashleigh Ball, Michelle Creber, Peter New, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck; to newcomers Bill Newton (Bright Mac) and Bill Mondy (Burnt Oak).

Season Seven has had a gem in “A Royal Problem” that’s a bonafide top 20 all-time episode. This is a top five all-time episode. That’s all credit to the cast and crew of the show for delivery such gems—especially in the show’s advanced age. One of the most anticipated episodes perhaps in show history is truly one of the best in show history.

GRADE: A+

StatManDan

EqG Review: Mirror Magic

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After over four years, Sunset Shimmer returns through the mirror to pick up a new journal after her old one ran out of pages. The Mane Six are on a friendship mission, so Starlight Glimmer is there to give Sunset the journal–and go back with her to explore the EqG world.

Juniper Montage, now working behind the counter at the movie theater because of her actions in “Movie Magic,” finds a mirror enchanted by Equestrian magic that shows her what she wants to see and wishes things and the Rainbooms into the mirror.

Starlight is their to save the day though as she convinces Juniper that she could attain forgiveness. And yes, the Rainbooms (not to mention this whole franchise) is a VERY forgiving group!

If Starlight framed the argument into Juniper gaining acceptance, the ending may have a little more weight to it. Otherwise, it comes off as a bit of a plot hole. The revenge issue is spot on, though. Who knows that better than Starlight!

The main purpose of this episode was to do two things. Get Sunset back into Equestria and to get Starlight to experience the human world (as human as this world is). Other than that, it doesn’t do anything else special and it just follows on from “Movie Magic.”

In all honesty, this may have been better served if all three ‘Magic’ specials were combined in a single showing. In retrospect, “Dance Magic” should have been given a C+ while “Movie Magic” does deserve a B like “Mirror Magic” does. That said, it might have been better to turn this into a 90-minute special.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

Equestria Girls Review: “Movie Magic”

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The episode begins with the girls on set for the latest Daring Do movie as a reward for helping save Camp Everfree thanks to a director who was a camp alumni. However, things are going awry with stolen props and set dangers. Looks like we have a mystery, gang!

One suspect is the star, Chestnut Magnifico, who is looking to get out of a contract due to time constraints so she can move on to the next project. The other suspect is director Canter Zoom’s niece Juniper Montage who knows her way around the studio. So yes, it’s her.

This whole episode is one big homage to classic Scooby-Doo complete with chase montages and Velma Twilight deducing how Juniper was the culprit. And Juniper would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog! (Sorry, not sorry!)

There is some eye candy to this episode such as the Rainbooms in Power Ponies form (Sunset as the Mane-iac since there are only six Power Ponies). There’s also an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark at the end (which is ruined by Rainbow’s over-enthusiasm).

It’s not a bad episode, but it does come off slightly better than “Dance Magic”. The next one is the one most people are interested in, though, as Starlight Glimmer gets a turn through the mirror (and Sunset goes back through it).

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

Equestria Girls Review: “Dance Magic”

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The first of three Equestria Girls specials aired on Discovery Family, so let’s get to it. The Rainbooms are trying to raise money for repairs to the dock at Camp Everfree. They are still short of their goal after a car wash and time is running out. So Rarity suggests they enter a dance music video contest. Two problems ensue. The first is that they will need to use some of the funds raised already to buy costumes and equipment. The other is that the Crystal Prep girls (sans Indigo Zap) are also entering so they can hold their Spring Dance on a yacht—and they play to win. They also play to copy Rarity’s idea after she tells it to them which is a mash-up of dances you’d see on America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance?, or Dance Fever. (Had to put in that older reference lost on younger fans.)

The girls try other ideas, though Applejack’s is something like a cooking show on CMT, Rainbow Dash foreshadows next week’s special, and Pinkie Pie….imagines as only she can. The Crystal Prep girls are also having problems. They have a dance routine (Rarity’s), but no song. Rarity offers the Rainbooms’ help on that in exchange for dance lessons from the Crystal Prep girls. The result is a well-animated musical number to go with the bonus track from the “Friendship Games” soundtrack. So both the dock gets the funds for repairs and the Crystal Prep girls get their dance on a yacht.

It’s a good special, though it borrows heavily from “Rarity Takes Manehattan” (albeit with no Coco Pommel) and the third act is a bit rushed here. I also have to fault the focus on a little bit. I mentioned the concepts, but there didn’t appear to be as much drive for the dance video until late given that they are trying to fund the repairs for the dock. Maybe that’s just me, though, so take what you will. The costumes were nice, though.

So, a plausible start for the first of these three specials, though a bit rough around the edges.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

MLP Review: “Not Asking for Trouble”

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The episode begins with Pinkie Pie being invited (read: begging through 17 letters to Prince Rutherford) to the Yaks’ Yicksluberfest. Pinkie arrives as the Official Friendship Ambassador to the Yaks and is introduced to Yak traditions and Yakyakistan as a whole.

However, one of the customs, stomping, leads to an avalanche that buries the village. Pinkie offers to bring the rest of the Mane Six to help remove the snow, but Prince Rutherford says the Yaks don’t ask for help. They’ll wait until the snow melts.

After several failed attempts in convincing the Yaks that they need help, Pinkie brings the rest of the Mane Six anyway for a “covert friendship mission” to lift the snow. Prince Rutherford actually commends “Pink Pony” for helping the Yaks without asking and Pinkie gets her own set of Yak horns.

So yes, this is the Yaks’ version of “Applebuck Season,” and I think the lesson is somewhat lost on the Yaks here. The moral is that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re in over your head. It is not really be patient and wait for others to help you.

When we first saw the Yaks in “Party Pooped” they were the worst part of that episode, though Pinkie did well to carry it. Here, the Yaks are a little more tolerable and Pinkie again carries the episode very well.

There was some decent world-building as we are introduced to Yakyakistan and all the various yak huts which reads like the Department of Redundancy Department. The dialogue is also on song. It’s just that how the Yaks absorb the lesson is quite off note in this episode. So overall, it is an episode that Pinkie carries well despite the heavy weight of the Yaks.

GRADE:  B

StatManDan

MLP Review: “A Royal Problem”

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The map is calling again and this time, it is calling just Starlight Glimmer to Canterlot Castle—much to Twilight’s shock. It turns out that Celestia and Luna are not getting along as they are not appreciating what the other is doing. Things come to a head when Starlight impulsively switchings Celestia’s and Luna’s cutie marks.

With the spell due to last 24 hours, each agrees to take on the other’s duties for one day with Starlight observing, who is being observed via music box doll by Twilight (and her freak outs are not helping). Luna finds it much harder than she though to smile for most of the day at her subjects and help placate fears of timberwolves (which she doesn’t do well) and resolve differences between representatives of cities (which she does well after three hours).

Celestia goes into the dream world and finds Starlight having a nightmare over what she has done and fears Nightmare Moon will return. She does in the dream, but also appearing is Celestia’s alter ego in Daybreaker. Luna’s also having a nightmare about the children whose fundraiser was ruined when Luna couldn’t keep her smile on forever. Both gaining an understanding of the other’s duties and making amends, Celestia, using Luna’s powers, defeats Daybreaker and they all return to the real world. Starlight is commended for being bold enough to do what she did—hence the map called her—and her mission is accomplished (though Twilight wants a full report).

Now, we’ve seen Starlight try to use magic to solve a problem to disastrous effect. Here, almost the same happens here, but the show does well that that impulse may actually be the appropriate method here. The map doesn’t call just anyone for a friendship problem. It sends the pony or ponies who it thinks is best equipped to handle it—even though the pony or ponies are unsure themselves. Starlight is filled with regret at times, but she was also the one most likely to be bold enough to do such a thing as switching cutie marks.

As for the Royal Sisters, we’ve seen hints that they don’t get along 100% of the time in “Slice of Life” and the comics, but here it is in full force. This was the kind of episode fans have wanted for a long time and they were not disappointed in the slightest.

Those in Canada who saw the episode on May 20th will attest to that as those who saw it on Discovery Family, today. It was a super episode that saw development for characters who have not had some in a long time. Twilight as a music box ballerina was hysterical as was Starlight’s reactions to it. The climax was also some of the best animation the show has had in the series.

Some will still have an issue that Starlight impulsively used magic again to solve a problem, and for awhile Starlight fears it has been for the worse once again, but this time it was the right call this time—which is perhaps why the map called just her. It’s another jewel in Season Seven’s crown.

GRADE:  A+

StatManDan