Tag: opinion

MLP Review: Amending Fences

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We’re going back to where we began with this episode. After Spike brings up the fact that Twilight, being the Princess of Friendship nowadays, wasn’t the best at being a friend. Twilight realizes, 102 episodes later, that she had good friends in Canterlot and now she feels terrible for neglecting them. So she sets off to Canterlot to make amends. Spike comes along to remind Twilight of their names.

So yes, Twilight is off to reunite with the ponies we first met in the pilot episode. Her old library in Canterlot is just as she left it before Princess Celestia gave her “an assignment.” But now, thinking they’ve been suffering ever since, she needs to make it up to Minuette, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, Lyra, and Moondancer. First up is Minuette. Actually, Minuette is glad to see her wants to get her photo taken with her. (I guess she and a couple other ponies like to see royalty.) They go and see Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine as well.

Twilight apologizes to the three of them for up and leaving them for Ponyville. However, the three actually take things in stride. They knew that she was more interested in books at the time. They travel to the old science lab and reminisce about school days and Twilight reminisces about Moon Dancer. They go see her and it turns out she is more interested in study than friends nowadays. The other three say that she was coming out of her shell when she decided to throw a party—the same party Twilight turned down to learn about the Elements of Harmony. Realizing the error of her ways, Twilight tries to make it up to her. After a dinner with old friends fails to do the trick, Twilight goes to her “secret weapon”—Pinkie Pie.

Twilight sets a version of the James Woods trap with books and lures Moon Dancer to a party that Pinkie helped set up. It initially doesn’t work because when Twilight didn’t arrive at the party, she felt humiliated to the point she gave up on friendship. However, Twilight and the others are not about to give up on her. Where the episode truly shines is that while Twilight has faced magical creatures, the end of Equestria, etc.; but seeing how her actions affected Moon Dancer gave her one of the worst feeling she ever had. With that, Moon Dancer is ready to open up again and Spike even makes a contribution with a photo of the Canterlot friends back in the day.

This was an amazing episode. Few, if any of us thought, the show would ever go back to that seemingly innocuous scene back in the very first episode nearly five years ago. Yet, here we are back in Canterlot. It was a pleasant surprise to see Minuette, Lemon Drops, and Twinkleshine be so accepting of Twilight after all these years. And then there’s Moon Dancer who as it turns out, was deeply hurt by Twilight’s snub, and embodies what Twilight is attempting to accomplish in the episode. In retrospect, Moon Dancer became what we suspect Twilight would have become if Celestia hadn’t sent her to Ponyville to “make some friends.” In fact, it might be similar to the Twilight we are about to see in “Friendship Games” in September.

We’ve seen Twilight evolve into a character who would go out of her way to do right by others. Case in point, the (super-judgmental) yaks in “Party Pooped”. Now that she has learned a great deal about friendship during her time in Ponyville, she now feels a bit of guilt that she wasn’t that great of a friend when she was in Canterlot. It only makes sense for her to make amends.

The title of episode 7 this season was “Make New Friends But Keep Discord.” That title was a take on the Girl Scouts’ song “Make new friends, but keep the old.” This Saturday’s episode is the embodiment of that very motto. While Twilight has made new friends over the course of the show, she (and her Canterlot friends) realize how equally valuable it is to keep the old. It’s also a reminder of a scene from It’s A Wonderful Life where Clarence remarks about how the actions of one person’s life touches so many others’ lives, and when that person isn’t around, it leaves an awful hole. To Moon Dancer, Twilight’s actions not to attend the party and then leaving abruptly for Ponyville left an awful hole in her life. And now realizing that error, it’s left an awful hole in Twilight’s and the way she goes about making amends is testament to the character that Twilight has become.

This was an unexpectedly powerful and emotional episode that fans of the show could relate to. There have been times where we weren’t being the best of friends and we would like to make amends if we can. That was Twilight today.

Foal Papers said it best in one of his tweets. If “Slice of Life” was a love letter to the fans of the show, “Amending Fences” was a love letter to Lauren Faust and how the show began. The mission of Season Five is to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria, and this episode showed that mission applies to spreading, or in this case rekindling, that magic to old friends as well. I don’t know if M. A. Larson intended for this episode to be so powerful, but that’s exactly what it was and he has written the two best episodes in Season Five thus far with this one just a bit better. It is also the best Twilight episode the series has had so far and that’s saying something given all the two-parters (where Twilight is de facto the central character in them), “Lesson Zero,” and “Magical Mystery Cure.”

Pluses and Minuses:

  • +  Cavalcade of continuity
  • +  Twilight goes back to where she began
  • +  Twilight’s old friends help make the episode
  • +  Truly emotional episode
  • +  Relatable problem
  • +  Humor
  • +  Pinkie and Spike fly Air Twilight

SCORE:  10/10

StatManDan

 

PS:  I also recommend the review of this episode by deviantArt reviewer thejboy88.

MLP Review: Party Pooped

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It’s the second straight episode by a new writer. Neal Dusedau’s effort (“Princess Spike”) was OK. Here is Nick Confalone’s debut effort.

Twilight is nearing “Lesson Zero” mode as she welcomes a delegation from Yakyakistan. As you might have guessed, they are yaks led by Prince Rutheford. However, every attempt to make the yaks feel at home is met with Angel-like tantrums at the slightest imperfections. It’s up to Pinkie Pie, who is planning the party, to save the day.

She had read up on yaks, absent a pony ever visiting Yakyakistan. However, she gets a bit unnerved when she and her friends just can’t get things just right. So she make a journey to Yakyakistan which is north of the Crystal Empire. Random hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Twilight and rest of the Mane Five are in a bit of a panic mode themselves as the yaks are threatening war. However, they stumble upon Pinkie’s war room when she has files on every pony so she can properly plan a party for whomever. Here, they appreciate all the hard work Pinkie puts in to planning parties, if that was not apparent in “Pinkie Pride.”

Back to Pinkie, she gets to Yakyakistan after a series of ponies help her from Cherry Jubilee to Princess Cadance. But a diablous ex machina sends her right back to Ponyville. She thinks she has let her friends down, but brightens up when she figures out how to please the yaks. Every pony she came across on her way to Yakyakistan was friendly and offered his/her/their assistance from Cherry and her stable after the train was stopped at Dodge City due to sheep, to Princess Cadance at the edge of the Crystal Empire. Of course, there are some random moments where Pinkie Pie briefly becomes the one and only Pinkie Shears, and that made things more humorous. In the end, the yaks become friends with the ponies and Twilight’s hide is once again saved by Pinkie Pie (“Swarm of the Century”).

This was an episode that improved as it went along. At the start, the yaks were very one-note and very Angel-like from “Putting Your Hoof Down.” Most people in the Mane Six’s position would have thought, “Why bother?” at some point. However, Twilight’s mission, and by extension that of the rest of the Mane Six, is to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria (and beyond in this case). It was actually brilliant to have Pinkie learn the solution through her journey and use that to show that the friendliness of Equestria’s residents can make the yaks feel at home. However, the yaks are just a step over Trenderhoof in terms of interesting characters in that they were largely unlikable for two-thirds of the episode.

Overall, this was a better effort than last week as this episode started off a bit slow, but got better as it wore on. Not quite a top-tier episode, but another in a string of good Pinkie Pie episodes dating back to “Too Many Pinkie Pies.”

Pluses and minuses:
+ How Pinkie goes about solving the friendship problem.
+ Humor
+ Wonderful lesson.
+ Twilight shows that she still can slip into “Lesson Zero” mode when answers aren’t forthcoming.
– Yaks are not too interesting for most of the episode.
– Yaks acting like Angel in “Putting Your Hoof Down”

SCORE: 8/10

A quick note that the next episode, “Amending Fences,” airs on Monday, July 6th at 4:30pm ET/3:30pm CT. Discovery Family is going through the first ten episodes of Season Five on Saturday (1-4) and Sunday (5-10). “Party Pooped” will lead into “Making Amends” on Monday.

Friendship is Magic returns to its regularly scheduled time slot on Saturday, July 11th at 10:30am ET/9:30am CT with “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep.”

StatManDan

MLP Review: Princess Spike

Ponies from all over Equestria have come to Canterlot for the annual Grand Equestria Pony Summit. Princess Cadance is set to dedicate a statue made of gemstones from each city represented. Twilight gets to do much more than smile and wave, she is in charge of organizing the event. Spike is there to offer any assistance, but quickly feels unappreciated when the crowds cheer the princesses.

All the organizing has taken a toll on Twilight and she is in bad need of some rest. Cadance charges Spike with making sure she is not disturbed. Spike goes around to make sure that happens, even though there are couple of important tasks that are interrupted such as the removal of dragon-sneeze trees and the repairing of a water main. Feeling accomplished though, and Twilight still asleep, Spike begins making decisions on her behalf (and later getting treats on her behalf).

Predictably, things unravel and there’s a flood and the leaves of a fallen dragon-sneeze tree make Spike sneeze breaking the statue. Thinking that Twilight was making the decisions, the angry delegates march towards where Twilight is staying. Spike apologizes to the delegates for the mess he made and the delegates repair the statue (which will hopefully withstand another dragon sneeze).

This one is a little different from “Power Ponies” is that Spike is using Twilight’s position to make himself better instead of feeling useless. Yet, it’s similar in a few other ways in that we get a second Spike is unappreciated episode when it’s not totally necessary. It kind of makes things repetitive. Also repetitive is how Spike gets a bit greedy, though not entirely similar to “Secret of My Excess” or “Just for Sidekicks.” Spike intentions were in the right place like in “Inspiration Manifestation,” but he needs to be confronted about his actions again with Cadance in place of Owlowiscious. To be fair, Spike does compose himself well when tasked and initially does a good job and does make an admirable attempt of settling the dispute between the Manehatten and Whinnyapolis delegates, but he let things get out of control while attending to his task.

It’s not a bad episode by any means. It was great seeing all the new ponies, the return of Fancy Pants, and Twilight in a meaningful role as princess as well as Cadance. However, this episode suffers from the fact that Spike is repeating some of the mistakes he’s made in previous episodes.

It was always difficult for this episode after following “Slice of Life,” to the show’s credit, they did an admirable job of handling Spike to an extent. However, at some point they need Spike to learn from some of the mistakes he was making.

Pluses and Minuses:
+  Twilight in Princess role
+  Delegates and return of old favorites
+  Humor
+  Spike handles himself well, at first.
–  Spike repeats errors from previous episodes.
–  Handling of Spike feeling unappreciated was done better in previous episodes

SCORE:  7/10

StatManDan

SU Review: Keeping It Together, We Need to Talk and Chille Tid

Playing catch up here, so here’s two three reviews for the price of one:

KEEPING IT TOGETHER:

Garnet suspects that Peridot might try to reactivate the Kindergarten. Sure enough, she is there and Pearl and Amethyst pursue. Meanwhile, Garnet and Steven investigate what Peridot was doing underground if not reactivating the injectors. During this time, Steven has been curious about Garnet, herself a fusion, and what’s it like. All Garnet will tell Steven is that fusion creates something greater than the sum of their parts.

What they discover is that Homeworld has shattered gems from the rebellion and tried to force fuse them. This hits a nerve with Garnet and she nearly breaks apart while fighting a forced fusion. Garnet does pull together and bubbles the remains. Pearl and Amethyst were unable to catch Peridot, but Garnet orders them to poof and bubble all the gems in the Kindergarten.

After which, Steven and Garnet have a talk and Garnet tells Steven that she embodies Ruby and Sapphire’s love and they strength of that love keeps her together so she can stay Garnet a very long time.

Here we venture into unusual territory with Garnet. It’s clear that these shattered gems being forced to fuse strikes a nerve with her. Her fusion was of choice. It also asks a couple of questions as to what the Homeworld gems were attempting to do with these forced fusions. It’s bound to set up something for later. This was a solid episode where the draw is we get to see a side of Garnet we don’t usually see and provides a setup for the rest of the season. But before that, and speaking of fusion….

WE NEED TO TALK:

Steven and Connie are with Greg who is organizing his music collection. They come across an album from the Philosophy Majors and Steven and Connie begin to dance. Once they do, it’s the return of Stevonnie right in front of Greg. Greg is in disbelief, but soothes a Connie fearful of what her parents might think by telling the story of how he attempted to fuse with Rose. Greg creates a music video with the Crystal Gems back in the day with the song “What Can I Do For You.”

Pearl barges in and creates a fusion with Rose called Rainbow Quartz—all but confirming Pearl had a thing for Rose. Pearl’s then drops a pipe bomb on Greg saying that because Greg is a human, he would never fuse with Rose. So Greg tries to fuse with Rose through dancing. It’s not super effective, but what is is an talk after and it’s a step in the right direction for Rose and Greg. However, it might give Steven some inflection in regards to Connie since he’s part-human and can fuse with another human in Connie.

The theme for the last two episodes appears to be fusion. There’s the fusion that makes Garnet, the forced fusions the Homeworld were attempting in the Kindergarten, the fusion between Steven and Connie, and the attempted fusion between Rose and Greg. Both episodes leave us with more questions than answers. What was Peridot planning to do? Is Jasper in on the plan? What did Pearl see in Rose and how jealous was she of Greg? Why does Garnet feel so strongly about the gems in the Kindergarten? Who knows at this point?

What we do get over the last two nights were some very good episodes possibly setting up a theme for the rest of this season.

SCORE (both episodes): 4/5


 

We get to the fifth and final episode of #StevenBomb2 and we attempt to answer perhaps the most vital question at the moment:  Whatever happened to Lapis and Jasper (or their fusion Malachite)? After a fruitless night searching in the ocean, the go back to the house and Steven suggests a slumber party to relax. Actually, Garnet declares herself relaxed to go back out searching while Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst have a party.

We get a series of dream sequences, but all eventually involve Lapis and it seems like she is trying to tell Steven something. Somewhere, Lapis and Jasper are still fused, but the former is having trouble holding on. Should they unfuse, things could get very messy since their fusion is based on anger and distrust. That’s about it.

Overall, this was a good episode, yet a bit underwhelming considering the show is going back on another hiatus. Of course, the dream sequences were quite hilarious before their dark turns, and Garnet was hilarious throughout the episode (and is best gem). Also, we get some more setup for the remainder of the season as we at least know that Lapis is trying to hold on and we’ll just have to wait to see what happens when the show comes back.

SCORE:  4/5

StatManDan

SU Review: “Rising Tides/Crashing Skies”

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A special KBCW exclusive:  Ronaldo gets to the bottom of things on whether or not the Crystal Gems pose a danger to residents of Beach City. This very amateur production goes around town talking to folks on what they think and nothing fruitful comes of it. Next, he goes to the source (namely Steven). Steven contends that the invaders were just after the Crystal Gems, leading to the only possible conclusion a guy of Ronaldo’s intelligence can think of—the Gems are a danger to Beach City because they attract invaders from outer space.

In the face of this accusation, Garnet says that the Gems are packing up an leaving. With the Gems out of the way, Beach City is safe and there are no more weird things to write about in some blog. So yeah, Ronaldo reconsiders and the Gems stay—not that they were ever going to leave in the first place. Garnet just wanted that camera out of her face.

This is really the first time in a while that the narrative is through the eyes of someone other than Steven, if at all. I suppose the point was that this was supposed to be amateurish in general. Frankly, there was nothing really spectacular about this episode. It just reinforces that Ronaldo may be the second biggest tool on the show (Lars being a clear first). There were a couple of funny scenes here and there such as the end scene where the Gems and Steven are the only ones who’ve seen the “documentary.” However, this came off a more a lower deck episode and that’s a bit jarring after the previous night’s episode.

SCORE:  3/5

StatManDan

SU Review: Sworn to the Sword

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It appears that the second season of Steven Universe really gets going as we begin the second #StevenBomb. First, an important rule as I take on reviewing this show. Since these episodes are usually 11 minutes in length, these will be scored on a scale of 0 to 5. Twenty-two minute episodes are scored on a scale of 10. With that in mind, on with the review.

The episode begins with Steven and Connie jamming and fighting off seagulls from Steven’s jam. The “Jam Buds” get the idea that Pearl should train Connie in sword-fighting. Connie wants to be by Steven’s side and Pearl agrees seeing her as a potential protector of Steven much like she wanted to be the protector of Rose Quartz back in the day. Connie begins to master her skills, but Steven starts to worry that she is taking it too seriously. Steven is only more alarmed when Garnet tells him that Pearl “took pride in risking her destruction” for Rose.

Steven wants to fight together with Connie. Together they fight off the Pearl holograms and then take on Pearl. However, Pearl objects to Steven joining the fight because he’s “too important” and then cries, “WHY WON’T YOU LET ME DO THIS YOU, ROSE?!”

Pearl still sees herself defending Rose and indeed she made her feel like she was ‘everything.’ With that out of her system, Pearl accepts Steven wanting to fight and suggest he works to get to Connie’s level of sword expertise.

And with that, we are off to a flyer with #StevenBomb 2. We now have a new opening and a bit of foreshadowing it turns out with Connie and the sword as much as it was a call back to “Open Book.” Though the episode only fuels the speculation over Pearl’s relationship with Rose, she does see Rose in Steven and is afraid that he shouldn’t be in the line of fire even though most of the episode, Steven handles himself very well. We also get some development for Connie as know that she knows what’s at stake with Jasper, Lapras, and Peridot still at large; she now wants to be part of the fight as Earth is her home to.

This was a solid episode from start to finish and the second #StevenBomb in a perfect way.

Pluses and minuses:

  • +  Development for Connie
  • +  Deeper insight to Pearl’s relationship to Rose
  • +  Songs
  • +  New Opening Title

SCORE:  5/5

MLP Review: Slice of Life

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Two things to preface before I do this review. First, this is an unofficial count (see Stat Sheet), but My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic became the 37th Western Animation show to make it to 100 episodes. Second, the score will be 10/10 because words won’t be able to do adequate justice for this episode.

Cranky and Matilda are getting ready for their wedding, but an error in the invitations makes the wedding today. Muffins are not going to atone for this. She consults the Doctor about a possible time-travel machine, but after showing the Chekov’s Gun (flameless fireworks), the Doc realizes he needs to have his suit tailored. However, Rarity and the rest of the Mane Six are busy fending off a Bugbear (which looks like a Wuzzle gone horribly wrong). Definitely not a friendship problem that can be solved in half an hour (Best line to Sweetie Belle).

Anyway, the Doctor goes to the Dude, but the former needs to be the fourth in a bowling tournament. However, his attempt at converting the 7-10 spilt is interrupted by Derpy announcing the use of the flameless fireworks as a substitute for the flowers (Rose, Daisy, and Lily all fainted at the suggestion that they have the flowers ready for the wedding at Matilda’s insistence).

Meanwhile, Lyra and Bon-Bon are decorating Town Hall. But when Bon-Bon hears of the bugbear, she reveals that she is actually “Special Agent Sweetie Drops” and was part of a secret agency charged to capture such creatures. This one escaped from Tartarus. Lyra is upset by this, but Bon-Bon insists that their friendship is real and that she can say what she feels.

And the music, yeah the music, gets this episode to the top! Octavia and Vinyl Scratch create a dubstep with the former’s cello and they have their music for the wedding. They get everyone else in place for the wedding via Vinyl’s mobile booth. Having defeated the bugbear, the Mane Six are accidentally locked out of the ceremony by Derpy.  Mayor Mare speaks of how Cranky and Matilda’s love brought not only them together, but everyone around them and everyone is the star of their own story—not just the main characters.

As the flameless fireworks explode, the Mane Six have a moment together with Twilight commenting how fortunate they are to live in Ponyville.

On the surface, there is a ton of fan service. Looking beneath the surface, it’s really a thank you to the fans for supporting the show. Fans dreamed of the day where characters like Derpy, Doctor Whooves, Lyra, Bon-Bon, Octavia, and Vinyl Scratch would get more significant time, and they didn’t disappoint.

There was so much brought into this 22-minute episode from Celestia and Luna arguing over forgetting to bring a wedding gift, to Shining Armor’s “liquid pride” at weddings, to Steven Magnet, to the numerous Doctor Who references, to Derpy.

This was the show saying thank you to all the fans out there of the show. The fandom, for all its flaws, is arguably one of the most passionate out there for a TV show. The show has served as an inspiration to many as well as that oasis in a sea of cynicism. This was the fans’ episode to end all fans’ episode (unless they outdo themselves at a future benchmark) and a celebration of what makes this show great.

There’s no other score to give it, but a 10/10.

Cheers to the cast and crew of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! Congratulations on making it to 100 episodes and here’s to many more! The ride continues and it kind of makes you want to say, “I don’t want to go!”

StatManDan

STAT SHEET:

The (unofficial) list of Western Animated series that have aired at least 100 episdoes:

Show
Episodes
Run
The Simpsons
574
1989-present
King of the Hill
259
1997-2009, 2010
South Park
257
1997-present
Smurfs
256
1981-1989
Family Guy
249
1999-2003, 2005-present
Beavis and Butthead
222
1992-1997, 2011
Phineas and Ferb
222
2007-2015
Arthur
211
1996-present
Adventure Time
199
2010-present
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
193
1987-1996
American Dad
190
2005-present
SpongeBob Squarepants
189
1999-present
Regular Show
187
2010-present
Rugrats
172
1991-2004
The Flintstones
166
1960-1966
Rocky and Bullwinkle
163
1959-1964
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
156
2003-2009
Totally Spies!
156
2001-present
Fairly Oddparents
152
1998-present
The Real Ghostbusters
147
1986-1991
Futurama
140
1999-2003, 2008-2013
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
130
1983-1985
Thundercats (1985)
130
1985-1989
Johnny Test
130
2005-2014
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
130
2001-present
Garfield and Friends
121
1988-1994
Star Wars:  The Clone Wars
120
2008-2013
Total Drama
120
2007-present
Doug
117
1991-1994, 1996-1999
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
113
1990-1996
The Amazing World of Gumball
112
2011-present
Super Friends
109
1973-1974, 1977-1986
Muppet Babies
107
1984-1991
Alvin and the Chipmunks
102
1983-1990
Ducktales
100
1987-1990
Hey Arnold!
100
1996-2004
My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic
100
2010-present

Those who wish to appeal a listing or non-listing may do so in the comments and I will either amend of defend the case.