Tag: review

MLP Review: The End in Friend

We have an interesting question in class asked by the Young Six: How can two ponies with very divergent interests such as Rarity and Rainbow Dash be friends? Rarity and Rainbow Dash have a hard time answering that question themselves as Rarity is more concerned with uniforms than catching the ball in buckball while Rainbow Dash is every person ever waiting on someone shopping for footwear. (I know Applejack is the cowgirl, but Rarity has worn cowgirl boots much more often on the show.) Things come to a head in the gem mine when Dash wants to go treasure hunting while Rarity is looking at the gems and appear to wreck Twilight’s lesson.

Both are called into Starlight’s office and she suggests putting themselves in the other’s shoes (not necessarily Rarity’s boots which could be an opportunity for Hasbro or Build-A-Bear). Rarity is given a “Daring Do” book while Rainbow Dash is given a “Shadow Spade” book—neither one reads the other’s book.

Cue the contrived missing artifact for Rainbow Dash and Rarity to find and learn something new from each other. We meet a new creature in a Bufagren and Rarity creates toothpaste that freshens its breath. The trail of blue glitter (not the magenta glitter from Rarity’s boots) leads to Spike who had the amulet all along. And that’s our lesson for today every creature!

I like how this is turned into a friendship lesson for the Young Six as it fits the theme of the season. It also gives us a chance to see the (}no pun intended) rare dynamic between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. It’s also good that they show it is normal for friends to disagree and banter from time to time.

This could well have been a recycle of a Season One episode (“Look Before You Sleep” in particular), but it’s saved by the fact that it is wrapped around teaching a lesson to the Young Six. The only issue I have is that you can tell that this quest was a setup, especially if you recognize the school’s symbol on the door. Outside of that, this is still a good episode as it continues a string of them.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: Friendship University

After hearing from Starswirl the Bearded and his travels, Twilight learns about a place in Las Pegasus called Friendship University that promises that you can learn friendship in half the time as Twilight’s school. Twilight and Rarity investigate and find that it’s being run by the Flim-Flam brothers and they get EEA accreditation from Neighsayer because Season Finale setup.

Rarity and Twilight go undercover to find evidence of the scam and the latter (with a poor disguise) gets caught breaking in while the former blends in because she had a better disguise. They discover that the while tuition is free, the worksheets are not and they are funding the Flim Flam’s resort expansion. Not necessarily illegal, but it is certainly unethical and certainly a shot at for-profit education. Something the Flim-Flams did that is illegal was plagiarize Twilight’s school guide. Starswirl, who was a student at the school, tells them to return the money to the students and shut down the university.

So yes, this is quite a preview of the season finale with Neighsayer challenging Twilight and the hinting of Cozy Glow as subtle a a brick through a window.

The episode itself is good, though points off because Twilight’s disguise leaves a lot to be desired while Rarity again steals the show. Surely she could have done better for Twilight’s disguise. Outside of that, we do get a good lesson in standing up for one’s beliefs even though it means risking your reputation. Overall, what this episode does is to provide some setup for the Season Finale.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

MLP Review: “A Matter of Principals” and “The Hearth’s Warming Club”

Before they aired “Yakity-Sax”, there was half the season gone and half the season to go. The second half of Season Eight starts in earnest with two episodes—both a step up from that monstrosity.

“A Matter of Principals”

Discord likes testing ponies. Starlight is the target as he sends the Mane Six on a wild goose chase and makes life hard for the interim head mare since he got passed over. We also learn that smart-watches and long-distance plans are now canon. Starlight is a tougher nut to crack than most while Discord was being a bit too jerky like he was in “Make New Friends But Keep Discord”.

Some of the gags were funny, some of the cameos were great, but the episode does suffer a bit from Discord’s antics. Starlight finally tones done Discord by apologizing for flatly rejecting his “help” in the first place (though fans would have approved of her zapping Discord). Also good is that Starlight learning that magic does not solve all problems—especially miscreant draconequeses.

GRADE: B


“The Hearth’s Warming Club”

We’re going Breakfast Club for this one, but thankfully neither Twilight, nor Rainbow Dash ends up like Assistant Principal Vernon. The comparisons to the actual ‘Club’ do not really work here since there were five of them and we have six in this episode. (OK, maybe Gallus is Bender).

Remember how I said MLP usually does a good job of giving a fresh take of a oft-told storyline? This is what I am talking about. With the theme of the season, it does give everyone a chance to tell holiday stories from back home. Ocellus’s was great. Yona’s was good and everyone thought we would be in for a running gag at that point. Smolder’s was…..original. Silverstream’s was terrific. Sandbar’s story was the kind of story either Hamton from Tiny Toons or PBS’s Between the Lions would tell.

That leads us to Gallus. It’s actually sad, yet understandable that he grew up in a culture where friendship is virtually non-existent. Even their “holiday” is more of tolerance than anything. Gallus is having a better experience with the rest of the Young Six at the School and didn’t want to let go of it even for a couple weeks, so that’s why he pranked the tree.

This was actually a nice episode and give something of a backstory to some of the Young Six and how other cultures in the MLP world celebrate holidays. Though, one has to wonder why this episode is airing in August. Then again, of the four Hearth’s Warming Episodes, just one originally aired in December (“Hearth’s Warming Eve”). Then again, there is a Holiday Special on the way after the season.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

MLP Review: Yakity-Sax

For the first time since May 6, 2011 (Best Night Ever), a new episode aired on a Friday. That’s about the only significant thing there is about this episode. In the episode, Pinkie Pie begins playing a new instrument called a yovidaphone. Much like every bagpipe gag in every Warner Brothers cartoon there is one, Pinkie is not that good at it.

Her friends tell her to stop playing and she does. Pinkie is fully deflated she loved that instrument so much in this episode. She is so deflated that she cannot be cheered up in Ponyville and moves to Yakyakistan to hear the yovidaphone fo happiness. That doesn’t work, but her friends coaxing her to play once again despite her not being good at it (so everypony thinks) does.

This episode may have been better served if the lesson were “practice makes perfect” or if Pinkie really did get better by the end of the episode instead of what we saw. It’s a gag as old as time where a character is poor at an instrument and/or singing and his or her friends try to go end around with being honest. This show usually does a good job of supplying something fresh to something cliche, but not in this case.

It needed to take a better tack knowing how Pinkie can easily get depressed if she feels rejection and also minus points for Twilight suggesting something similar to what she tried in “Horse Play”. In short, this was not a good episode.

GRADE:  D

StatManDan

SU Review: The Heart of the Crystal Gems

Sometimes you have to tear things apart before you rebuild. That happened to Garnet (Ruby and Sapphire) after the discovery that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond in disguise and that she faked her shattering with the help of Pearl. It was Pink who didn’t want to destroy the Earth and started a rebellion as Rose—partly inspired by Garnet’s first fusion.

After Amethyst tells Steven that she refuses to unload millennia of her problems onto Steven while he is already dealing with his own feelings in a rare show of maturity in “What’s Your Problem?”, they find Ruby playing cowboy and enjoying her new solitary life—or so it seemed. She can’t stop thinking about Sapphire. Ruby then proposes to Sapphire and that they can be together when apart and can be Garnet when they want to.

Before the wedding, Steven decides to invite a special guest for the 150th episode—Bismuth. Steven convinces Bismuth that the Gems will welcome her with open arms and not attack because she tried to shatter Steven. Bismuth becomes the maid of honor and it’s time for a wedding (after a nice song by Steven).

Ruby and Sapphire become Garnet once again and the party is on before it gets interrupted by Yellow and Pink Diamond. They go after the Cluster, but the Cluster is in control of itself and it fights off Yellow. Meanwhile, Blue Diamond tries to stop everyone through her grief, but Garnet holds her long enough for Lapis to return and smash her with the barn. Joy is only temporary as the Diamonds regroup and unconvinced that Steven is Pink Diamond.

Steven is disembodied temporarily, but can enter people’s, gems’ and diamond’s minds and is finally able to convinced Yellow and Blue of the fake shattering. To be continued for the next arc…

This is by far the best of the Steven Bomb arcs. It basically shattered (no pun intended) the back stories of Rose and making the most of Ruby and Sapphire as individuals and as a couple. Amethyst finally tells Steven what he perhaps needed to be told in that he shouldn’t carry more crosses than need be. And yes, “Reunited” was epic (apart from the sudden ending).

In five episodes, this show is about to put the previous 146 in the past and start off on a new course for whatever is left of Season Five and for Season Six. Sometimes, you have to tear things apart before you rebuild. What has come out of this arc looks magnificent.

GRADES:
“Now We’re Only Falling Apart” B+
“What’s Your Problem” A-
“The Question” A+
“Made of Honor” A
“Reunited” A

StatManDan

MLP Review: The Mean 6

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.”
—To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

While the Mane Six and Starlight go on a retreat near the Tree of Harmony, Chrysalis plans to clone versions of the Mane Six to steal the Elements of Harmony—and get revenge on Starlight which she swore to do in the end of “To Where and Back Again”. Things go awry straight away when the clones are more in line from the Discorded Six we saw in “The Return of Harmony.” The Fake Twilight proves to be even more devious when she plans to betray Chrysalis once she and the other clones get the elements.

We go through the standard interactions between real and fake Mane 6 and before the Fake Six go after the Elements and the real Mane Six and Starlight make-up thinking that they were giving each other a hard time. However, the Fake Twilight betrays Chrysalis, but in a twist, the Tree of Harmony grabs the fakes and turns them back into the clumps of wood they were originally. In other words, the Tree knows fakes when it sees them, and Chrysalis flies off in disgust.

Note that the Mane Six and Starlight and Chrysalis do not meet each other (or at least realized it was Chrysalis in disguise at the beginning taking photos and hair samples). So the Mane Six have literally no idea that Chrysalis was around. Chrysalis simply did not think this plan through from not realizing that her clones would embody the opposite of the personalities of the ponies she is cloning. I do give the episode credit for giving the clone Twilight some depth as well. There’s already a meme that she is/was the most competent villain the show has had.

The only bad spot is that the interactions/mix-ups with the real and fake Mane Six get to be a bit tedious throughout the second act. I do like that Twilight stops her group’s bickering by admitting she got carried away with her schedule. It’s not the best of Season Eight, but it is in line with the more recent episodes of the season making that in the higher end of Season Eight.

GRADE: A-

So that is the first half of the season. If I were to rank this episode among the other Episode 13’s of previous seasons, here’s how it would go (I exclude Season Three since that was only 13 episodes):

1. The Perfect Pear (S7)
2. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep (S5)
3. Stranger Than Fan Fiction (S6)
4. The Mean 6 (S8)
5. Simple Ways (S4)
6. Fall-Weather Friends (S1)
7. Baby Cakes (S2)

StatManDan

MLP Review: Marks for Effort

The Cutie Mark Crusaders, bored of the Ponyville School, wants to enroll in Twilight’s School of Friendship. They can’t though because they are overqualified and they are bad actors in trying to convince the Mane Six that they need more lessons in friendship.

The CMC come across a pegasus pony named Cozy Glow (who has a rook for a cutie mark) who needs help with her friendship lessons. The CMC help her to good effect and in preparation for an exam. Everything seems OK, but Cozy Glow failed the test and Twilight blames the CMC for deliberately giving her bad lessons.

Enter guidance counselor Starlight Glimmer. Cozy Glow tells Starlight that she intentionally failed the test because, in her words, she wanted to help the CMC get in the school. Starlight straightens everything out, now that she has something to do, and the CMC become on-staff tudors with honorary degrees.

Well, we were wondering how the Ponyville school we’ve know since the start of the show was going to factor in all of this. Of course, it’s similar to Arthur when there’s Mr. Ratburn’s class and Ms. Sweetwater’s class. This episode is much better for the CMC to be in and you have them doing what they have been doing since Season Six only now they have a role in Twilight’s school.

But it is Starlight who really completes the episode as she apparently had nothing to do for a while (and she hasn’t been seen since “The Parent Map”). She quickly became the funniest and best part of this episode.

The last few episodes have been much better from the show and make the school look more functionable for Season Eight.

Of course on a side, if you have read ahead on the synopses for the next 14 episodes of the season and/or saw the leaked episodes, do a favor for those who have kept away from any and all spoilers of that nature and not ruin it for them.

GRADE: A

StatManDan