• Member Since 31st Aug, 2018
  • offline last seen 5 hours ago

Mike Cartoon Pony


Nintendo gamer and animation lover. Also likes pastel cartoon ponies. They do that to people. And ghosts.

More Blog Posts95

Dec
7th
2019

Mini Re-Reviews: "Fall Weather Friends" & "Suited For Success" - Season 1 Episodes 13 & 14 · 10:05pm Dec 7th, 2019


RAINBOW DASH: Still think I'm all ego and hype? When Rainbow Dash says she's the most athletic pony in Ponyville, she means it!

"Fall Weather Friends" is one of those episodes that isn't often discussed these days in the most positive light, usually on the grounds of the attitudes of Rainbow Dash and Applejack being less mature then they were in recent seasons (well, up until the last two, but you know), and thus being a hard throwback to digest at times. Be that what it is for some people, I think this is another really good episode. It's somewhat similar to "Look Before You Sleep" in that it features Applejack butting heads with another pony, but while that episode had as its anchor the personality differences between Applejack and Rarity, this one is about the friendly rivalry between Applejack and Rainbow, which provides more exciting and thrilling results (though not better results; I'd say the two episodes are of about equal quality, though I'd reach for this one first on a rainy day).

There's plenty of good character insights along the way, even if Rainbow gets undeniably cocky along the way, it helps to have the moment of her sweating at AJ's barrel-running time and whether she could beat it or not. By showing that, despite her ego, she's very much aware AJ is stronger at some events, they add some humanity to Rainbow. She's suitably surprised and modest about her win of that event due to not getting a barrel-nudging penalty, and it's only thereafter that it starts to go to her head. Rainbow using her wings during those events is framed well such that one could argue she's simply using her natural body strengths which is only fair, even if it's obvious that using them in such events as the long jump is just rubbing it in. That said, having the score constantly alternate between a tie and Rainbow being one ahead until the halfway point is a bit lame; it could have been shaken up by having Applejack take the lead, however briefly.

Another thing about this episode is, of course, the Running of the Leaves, the running event done to shake all the leaves off the trees in preparing for winter (anecdotally, that means Winter Wrap Up and this episode probably aired out of order, unless they're implying Twilight got Gala tickets over a year in advance). The lore here isn't touched on as much as it isn in Winter Wrap Up, but it's more then there. Having it be regular enough that it's used as a race is great, and I especially enjoy the moments of seeing the main pack stampede by throughout the race whenever it happens - it gives a real horse-like physicality to the ponies, another equine moment of the characters that was lost as the seasons went by. The ponies having to manipulate nature in their world, it's something I'll never tire of.

Back on Applejack and Rainbow Dash, their underhanded moves throughout would, again, be more aggravating if they got away with it and didn't learn their lesson, but they don't - they tie for last place as a result, and make up and run it again together in good spirit, so its not a sticking point. Of course, Twilight doing well due to her research, yet not winning, is funny without being immersion breaking too (though it should be said that their ribbing on her before the race goes on a little too long, both in terms of being repetitive and a little mean - a few lines less would have solved that). Most of the race is good fun, though the highlight of both it and the episode has to be Pinkie and Spike's commentary. The way she seems oblivious but knows what she's talking about by saying seemingly random bits that get Spike to say things that set up jokes for her works especially (remember that fudge bit? Well, now you do).

Overall, it's another really solid and fun episode, with character building constructed around the fun action, and while there is the odd minor character or writing quibble, as well as a lack of series-stealing moments that would propel this episode to the top tier, it's nothing to be ashamed of. When characters can act rather rashly and poorly in-universe but it fits perfectly to the viewer and makes the characters respectable and lovable. Sometimes, good solid fun constructed well is all you need in a cartoon, as demonstrated by the 8.5/10 this episode earns.

STRAY OBSERVATIONS
- Many people point out that the main reason "Non-Compete Clause" fails is because it's too similar to "Fall Weather Friends", regressing RD and AJ to the levels in that episode. It's a worthy point, but no, the episode would suck even if "Fall Weather Friends" didn't exists and "Non-Compete Clause" existed back in Season 1, suitably altered to fit in there. The reason fans cite is juts one that's obvious from the episode on-paper is all. I don't feel the need to go into more detail, given the fans agree in how much "Non-Compete Clause" is vilified.
- Every time I watch one of these episodes again, I'm reminded of how skilled they are at slipping in fun bits of comedy and character around elegant structural writing, often while avoiding the obvious path to the punchline. Case in point: Spike initially broadcasting about the Iron Pony competition, only for Twilight to ask who he's talking to. Two possibilities present themselves - either Spike has no audience, or he saw the audience already. The show goes for a solution that incorporates both: Spike pauses for a moment at Twilight's question before he perks up at seeing the others and points them out as they approach. Not only do they blend the two options together there, but it allows them to get the others present for reactions throughout the scene in an interesting way too (and the followup moment of Spike jumping on Twilight's head and proclaiming the games to begin while the others cheer and Twilight just lowers her eyebrows works too). Then it builds throughout the first half of the montage as more viewers show up, and when the joke repeats, they have an audience proper - the various jokes link to either other in an organic way, not just being isolated bits tossed in to pad the runtime. If you don't notice any of this, don't worry - unless you're a script writer (the joke wouldn't play QUITE the same in prose form) or enjoy studying them, you're not supposed to. Just enjoy the end result of the craft!
- Spike's "How do I get roped into these things..." is almost as good gold as his and Pinkie's commentary later on. Say what you will about Spike during these early seasons, but he's not lacking great lines in the least.
- Occasionally in these early seasons, there are signs of the crew adjusting to the show style beyond less nuanced visuals details and animation tweens - there's a moment when Applejack is being dropped off by the balloon, right as the "no" of "No, I said no wings" is uttered, where a banjo in the underscore cuts off. Seems like the banjo motif for AJ was decided to not be used but they forgot to later part of it when splicing together sound files in post. Not a notable problem really, but it is one of those "rougher production values" parts symbolic of the show's start, at least compared to where it would end up a few years down the line.
- Rainbow beating Applejack at the arm wrestle actually makes sense - while Applejack's front legs would be well developed, it's her back ones that do the brunt of the farmwork, while Rainbow Dash's front limbs, being so close to her wing muscles, would naturally get quite toned and strong as a result. I don't know about her winning that decisively, I think it should have been closer, but her winning makes complete sense.
- Whatever that I do feel at times that Ashleigh Ball, at least recently, approached the show as just a job, there's no denying she professional in the actual voice acting and believes in the characters she plays. Even AJ still being high-pitched doesn't distract despite her and Rainbow being the core focus here, and given she recorded both characters simultaneously, it's always worth commending (Pinkie and Fluttershy don't have nearly as many lines going off of each other throughout the series, so while Andrea Libman does this fine too, it's far more notable with Ball).


RARITY: "Oh please, darlings, can't you see my mane is in a right state? I have no time for a musical number!"

"Suited for Success" is another one of those episodes similar to "Winter Wrap Up" in that it's a good judgement for whether someone's converted to the show yet or not. Much like "Look Before You Sleep", it takes a very girly concept and proceeds to polish it up with character depth and motivation and investment the whole way such that you can't help but be won over by it - in that case it was slumber parties, in this case its fashion and dresses It also serves as one of those "warming-the-viewer-to-a-character" episodes, at least as far as those who hadn't yet grown to adore Rarity. It's actually kind of surprising that it took until Episode 14 for her to get a true prominent role, given "Look Before You Sleep" had her balanced with Applejack (though on that grounds, Rainbow Dash still has yet to get one - go figure).

Sticking with the song for a second, Art of the Dress is our first Rarity song, and a pretty spectacular one at that. Rarity songs throughout the show get to be a bit of a genre unto themselves, being the kind most likely to evoke that of classic movie musical, Broadway musicals and Disney Animation musicals (well, the Broadway-styled ones, you know). Many of them are well regarded stone-cold classics, and while there are probably better ones then this, that's saying a lot. From the hopeful Disney vibe of the first one to its more frantic (yet longer, as it happens) reprise, it varies a lot, though I'll confess to enjoying the second one more, at least from a writing perspective - the first is mostly just a sung montage, while the second one is doing more meaningful and well-integrated storytelling along the way, as the friends start to steer the dresses towards Garishville. Either way, the song's what won many a person over to Rarity as a character (I binged the series so quickly, I honestly can't remember at what point I was one over), rather then just a delivery vehicle for Tabitha St. Germain to chew the scenery. If Art of the Dress is not at the level of iconic as the Winter Wrap Up song, it's pretty close for sure.

A sticking point with this episode for some is the overbearing attitude of the others as they gradually micromanage Rarity, being an early, but far less severe, version of the "make character(s) more selfish and inconsiderate then usual to forward the plot" thing that pops up every now and then, but most notably in the last few seasons of the show. I'll acknowledge that this is the case, even if it's such a plot-crucial thing that it can't possibly be removed or altered (though having the bulk of it play out in song spares much of it from happening onscreen, a smart play). All that said, the writing nuances it well, between the Mane 5 being hesitant to voice their complaints, Rarity insisting its no problem while clearly being distraught, and so on. It also helps that this is an issue that hits home for a lot of people. Many artists within the fandom relate heavily to this episode, given how vividly it captures the pain of bowing to clients' demands despite those same demands going against everything the artist stands for. Though the artists knows best about that area, the client get it into their head that they know best and expect that to be fully fulfilled. To that effect, I think the real lesson from this is for the client to know when to give specific requirements as to what they're getting done, and when to let the one they're commissioning the work from, the one who's the expert in that field, to work their magic. The way this is interwoven throughout is something I remain suitably impressed by, so bravo to the episode for just that.

A lot of credit must go to the crew at DHX and Top Draw for this episode. Given it's a crucial plot point that Rarity's initial dresses have to visually sell as lovely yet representative of the characters, while the micromanaged exaggerations have to be garish monstrosities, it would have weakened the episode considerably had they not been done that well. But well done they are - I'm not a fashion person in the slightest but within the show's aesthetic these all fit and sell, helped considerably by the variety of techniques visual and aural during both fashion montages (a silhouetted Spike preluding the first show, the variety of dialogue-less effect particular to each's pony background introducing them in the second). But yes, the dress designers, layout artists, and so on should all be very proud of their work here.

Overall, its a not-so-strong showcase for the rest of the Mane 6 (though not an aggravating one by any stretch, given how well nuanced that aspect it and how early in the show it comes - it's exactly the thing the screws up so many episodes of the last two seasons), but an excellent showcase for Rarity, primarily through a top-notch song that even after 9 seasons remain a contender for the show's best. And don't forget Tabitha St. Germain's work - she gets more then a few chances to do dramatic Rarity moments all pitched at different levels, and they're all glorious. Another 8/10 here.

STRAY OBSERVATIONS
- Rarity pushing away a sink with her hoof after Hoity Toity's comment about the designs being a combination of everything but the kitchen sink is exactly the kind of synchronisation between words and visuals in telling the jokes that the show really abandoned in its later years. Cartoon writers need to remembering that they're writing a visual show.
- Fluttershy's knowledge of sewing isn't just a joke (though a hilariously timed one at that), it actually becomes pivotal as to how the characters finish Rarity's dress for her. Jokes being pivotal to the plot, imagine that! On that note, them doing it for her is a wonderful apology, and I'd like to believe the dress Rarity wears to the gala is that same one, unmodified, just to show how much she appreciates that deed.
- Yes, this episode is where the "20% cooler" meme sprouts from. Saying it only because someone else will otherwise.
- Opal debuts in this episode, though she is rather less of a devil cat that she is in later episodes. Mostly just just desires to be left along rather then be roped along into Rarity's acts. Opal also fuels a great Crazy Cat Lady joke from Pinkie late in the game ("Give it time").

Comments ( 8 )

"Art of The Dress" is essentially "Putting It Together" from the Sondheim musical "Sunday in the Park With George".

5165911
Yes, I was very much aware of it being the melody inspiration and the songs being functionally similar. I decided not to refer to it in the body of the review as I didn’t think any of my readership would be familiar with that work, and as such it wouldn’t come across as more then “trivial facts” for those viewers.

5165984
Hilariously, most of the comments on that Youtube video are about Art of the Dress.

5165984

I didn’t think any of my readership would be familiar with that work

You'd be surprised. I've seen the influence remarked upon in several places, especially back when this kind of song was more common in the show. The heavy influence of "Ya Got Trouble" on a certain cidery song from S2 was also bandied about fairly often in the old days.

Anyway, to the reviews!

"Fall Weather Friends" is one of those episodes that isn't often discussed these days in the most positive light

I was surprised by comments along these lines on my own review of this episode -- the fandom consensus seems to have gone a bit downhill fairly recently. "FWF" was still broadly popular well after we'd moved into the "New Pony" era with Starlight and co.

anecdotally, that means Winter Wrap Up and this episode probably aired out of order, unless they're implying Twilight got Gala tickets over a year in advance

I've never seen the latter suggested, though it would be an interesting idea for a fanfic and I expect someone has gone with it.

"Non-Compete Clause"

Well, yeah. It's a poor episode by any measure. I do think the existence of "Fall Weather Friends" makes "Non-Compete Clause" feel even worse, though, because quite apart from the continuity aspects, it's an episode that does most of the same things better, seven years earlier.

a banjo in the underscore cuts off

This is the kind of thing I read these reviews for! (Well, not just that, of course.) I had honestly never noticed that until you pointed it out.

rather then just a delivery vehicle for Tabitha St. Germain to chew the scenery

Agreed, though I rarely object to TSG doing a bit of scenery-chewing!

the micromanaged exaggerations have to be garish monstrosities

There's clearly no hope for me, since I have a sneaky regard for one or two of them! (Rainbow's especially. It's not as good as the one Rarity chose, but it's still fun.)

8/10

There aren't all that many people who rank "SfS" lower than "FWF", even by just half a point. The former is now widely considered a classic, whereas the latter is not. You justify your decision perfectly well, but it's still interesting.

that the show really abandoned in its later years

I'll admit it's slightly depressing how often I'm reading phrases like this. Not because I disagree with them, but because I don't disagree with them. I wish I could. I'm not as down on S8 and S9 as some people, but I can't really deny the point.

Fluttershy's knowledge of sewing isn't just a joke

I've always been disappointed that this one was not merely ignored later on, but actively undermined.

5184054

"Fall Weather Friends" is one of those episodes that isn't often discussed these days in the most positive light

I was surprised by comments along these lines on my own review of this episode -- the fandom consensus seems to have gone a bit downhill fairly recently. "FWF" was still broadly popular well after we'd moved into the "New Pony" era with Starlight and co.

I was surprised too. When "Non-Compete Clause" prompted much comparisons to this episode, many said it with the sentiment of 'and Non-Compete Clause wasn't even that good of an episode.' To that point, I had honestly though it was a very well regarded episode. I reckon NCC for some viewers just threw FWF is such an unfavourable light that even if seemed painful to look at. That, or the viewers still sticking around well less disposed to the S1 style of episodes (I have seem more then a few people in EqD comments the last two years say words to that effect).
And on NCC feeling worse because of this, yeah, of course. It's an obvious reason that's a goos shorthand for people who don't have the time of analytical insight I do to give a more in-depth answer. I just wish more would realise that's far from the episode's real problem. If an episode being similar to a previous one was all we judged an episode by, most Spike/Rarity episodes would have to be written off.

a banjo in the underscore cuts off

This is the kind of thing I read these reviews for! (Well, not just that, of course.) I had honestly never noticed that until you pointed it out.

Wish I could take credit for that one. Alas, I read it in a comment on the episode's wiki page. But I was okay with being the messenger! Anyway, if each review can bring you one new thing, then I've done my job, I reckon.

rather then just a delivery vehicle for Tabitha St. Germain to chew the scenery

Agreed, though I rarely object to TSG doing a bit of scenery-chewing!

Who would? Basically no one! An episode has to go truly off the deep end with her characterisation, "Dragon Dropped"-style, for her scenery-chewing to cease being enjoyable. I think we can agree on that. Of the show's five main actors, she remains my objective top one.

the micromanaged exaggerations have to be garish monstrosities

There's clearly no hope for me, since I have a sneaky regard for one or two of them! (Rainbow's especially. It's not as good as the one Rarity chose, but it's still fun.)

They have their charm, in that kind of smiling "oh, no!" kind of way.

8/10

There aren't all that many people who rank "SfS" lower than "FWF", even by just half a point. The former is now widely considered a classic, whereas the latter is not. You justify your decision perfectly well, but it's still interesting.

Honestly when I saw this comment and checked by scores I was like "wait, really?" In some ways I'm still balancing my scoring system that I'm using here. I fully expect some adjustments once I've finished Season 1, probably in a summary blog post that has one-line statements on each episode alongside overall thoughts on the season. But I do thing I still find "FWF" more my speed to watch, whereas I was careful to not let the song in "SfS" raise my opinion on the episode too much. Maybe I went too far the other way? Shrug.

I'm not as down on S8 and S9 as some people, but I can't really deny the point.

And that's fine. I don't necessarily expect everyone to be as down on those seasons as myself. They're welcome to still get something out of most of them, as long as they can acknowledge they are the series' lowest point.

5184164

as long as they can acknowledge they are the series' lowest point

S8 is my least favourite season. I'm not absolutely sure S9 is my second least favourite, despite its manifold flaws. S6, despite having several episodes I greatly enjoy, might slot in just below it. Though it'll be interesting to see whether I revise that opinion when I finally get there.

5184167

S8 is my least favourite season. I'm not absolutely sure S9 is my second least favourite, despite its manifold flaws. S6, despite having several episodes I greatly enjoy, might slot in just below it. Though it'll be interesting to see whether I revise that opinion when I finally get there.

Fair. For me, my current Season order is fairly rigid at S2>>S4>>S1>>S3>>S5 for the top chunk (S1 could jump up, and S3 could jump down depending on how they hold up as a whole). But whatever problems show up, those seasons are consistent Pony goodness, though I can see many of the problems of the later seasons starting to sneak into S5 as the new writers start to write most of the episode and the old ones write their last few before leaving.
Then it's S7>>S6, and I feel S7 being stronger is a pretty- universally agreed upon point. I'll spot you on S6's weakness, it's has lengthy streaks of unsatisfying episode that are just there. That said, these seasons are generally just weaker continuations.
The last two, which I don't feel like bothering to decide which is worse right now, well, they'll remain down there for all eternity. That's all I want to say on the matter for now.

5184171
I'll of course respect your desire to leave the late seasons out of things for now, but (as I'm sure you know) rating S3 above S5 is really pretty rare. I'll be very interested to see your comments when you get there.

Login or register to comment