• Member Since 18th Jan, 2019
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Latecomer


Started watching midway through the first season. Started writing not long before the beginning of the last.

More Blog Posts11

  • 6 weeks
    All sorts of ponies are awesome

    (Reposted from an old thread on another forum asking about one's favourite kind of pony.)

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    8 comments · 34 views
  • 8 weeks
    Transport and travel, part 2!

    Water
    Just going to cover this part quickly, because it's rather under-served on the show.

    • Riverboats/barges - not seen much, but presumably a thing. Note that before trains, canals were the most efficient form of overland shipping - not sure if this holds up with widespread flight though.

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    1 comments · 26 views
  • 8 weeks
    Transport and travel in Equestria

    What modes of locomotion are available play a massive role in shaping both society and everyday life. Just consider where you've gone in the past year and how, or from how far afield some of the things you bought at your local store originated.

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    3 comments · 25 views
  • 13 weeks
    Season 3 - Short Reviews and Ratings

    Well I have to admit, these haven't turned out as popular as I'd hoped - but I might as well at least post the last set I did.

    (NOTE: while the first half of these (up to Sleepless in Ponyville) were written last March, the latter half dates to last October and therefore takes into account Season 9.)

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    31 comments · 79 views
  • 15 weeks
    Season 2 - Short Reviews and Ratings

    Well, not so much response on mi first set, but if at first you don't succeed... Once again, these date back to last March and were orignallu posted to the comments of SuperPinkBrony12's blog.

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    1 comments · 52 views
Apr
20th
2020

Season 2 - Short Reviews and Ratings · 12:15am April 20th

Well, not so much response on mi first set, but if at first you don't succeed... Once again, these date back to last March and were orignallu posted to the comments of SuperPinkBrony12's blog.

Ah, the season in which the light of Faust slowly faded. Also the season in which I learned that there could be such things as FIM episodes that weren't good. But is there a connection?

The Return of Harmony
(I'm going to handle two-parters as one from here on out - the pilot was an exception due to it's SOL/adventure split.)

What could have been the end - the possible grand finale of a short run, used here instead as the beginning of a new season. And it mostly works well as both (although perhaps the awards ceremony should have been nixed/modified once it was clear the show was continuing.)

The first thing to talk about is obviously Discord himself - and one can't really talk about him without talking about Q, can we? (Although I wonder how many young fans will come at it the other way?) In any case, he manages to top Nightmare Moon quite easily (I think he's still the peak in straight power tier) while having a completely different flavour to her, and generally serves as the foremost source of entertainment here. People may disagree about his later path, but few will say he didn't do villainy well.

Not that he's the only thing going on here - from the squabbling Crusaders to the uncharacteristically serious Celestia to of course our leads themselves, both in the teamwork they show at the beginning and end and the entertainment value of their discorded selves in between. And given that this might have been the end and is actually a new beginning, it's nice to see some continuity - the friendship letters are obviously the key point, but also revealing where the Elements had got too after the pilot and expanding on their and Equestria's history. Even Luna gets a mention (though no appearance yet).

Rating: Excellent. The last two-parter I can give this to for quite a while, mind you... It's a pity that SPB12 found it a bit rushed.

Lesson Zero
The true launch of the second season, and like Ticket Master before it it's a Twilight-focused slice-of-life. The framing's a bit diffent though - there (and in the last few episodes as well) she was the only one with her head on straight, but here we get an inversion, as she slowly goes mad in brand-new TV-Y goodness over something that doesn't seem to matter nearly as much as Gala tickets... to other ponies.

We also get to see the power of both her and Celestia's magic some more, and set up a broader use of the "friendship letters" concept which will remove the necessity of her appearing in every episode. Perhaps a less demanding schedule will be good for her mental health?

Rating: Excellent. This is the first episode not TV-Y7 and puts it to good use while knowing where to draw the line better than some later episodes. And of course, it brought our esteemed host into the fandom, which earns it bonus points.

Luna Eclipsed
It speaks to the hurried implementation of the adventure-based parts of the pilot that Princess Luna, despite much fan desire, was as absent as the Elements for the rest of Season 1. The season opener tantalised folks with a mention, but this episode actually delivered her, and she was both as and not as predicted - as much of a fish out of water as fans had guessed, but much louder and bombastic than one could tell by looking at her pilot design, superseded here permanently by a bolder, more impressive one to suit her personality.

This was also the first episode to be based around an Equestrian Expy of an Earth holiday (all events up until now were seasonal or original). Public knowledge of Nightmare does seem to be up compared to the pilot, but I suppose that that serves as foreshadowing of sorts, given that Star Swirl the Bearded is introduced here as an obscure unicorn wizard. (Likewise, Zecora's role in the festival reminds us that Ponyville can come to accept those it once feared.)

Rating: Good, perhaps rising to Excellent if Rarity's scene hadn't been cut - this season is off to what would be a strong start if I didn't expect this much from the show.

SIsterhooves Social
Our first episode without Twilight, and thankfully does not suffer for it. No lack of unicorn representation though, as Sweetie Belle steps out of the shared Crusader spotlight for the first time to stand alongside her sister (while also revealing their parents on the side). Of course one of her fellow Crusaders and her sister do end up playing big roles as contrasts (and decoys).

Rating: Good. A proof that the show could work without it's lead (unlike SPB12, I don't feel her uninvolvement in a plot requires any more justification than anypony else's.) And just in time too, because this is the last of a 31-episode good streak that the show will never come close to again...

The Cutie Pox
Remember how I said I didn't see why people though that CMC episods were less interesting? Well unfortunately, this season taught me - I find all four of it's episodes focused on the trio kind of lackluster. This first one was perhaps the least interesting episode of FIM I'd ever seen - which is to say, still pretty OK. And it's the closest we'll ever get to seeing how the Crusaders react to one of them getting their mark before the rest - turns out they take it pretty well.

Rating: Fine. It still had high points, just fewer than I was used to. And the next episode wasn't a CMC one, so the quality should return to normal, right?

May The Best Pet Win
Unfortunately, not quite. Oh we did get quite a few gifts (like Dash's dream and our first song of the season, not to mention Tank himself) but it didn't really inspire me any more than the previous one. I'm not actually sure why, but the timing was poor.

Rating: Fine. Still holding above water here- I mean, every show has to have some weaker episodes, and these ones aren't too bad as those go.

The Mysterious Mare Do Well
The show's first real faltering - a poorly thought through moral propped up by unbelievable situations. At least Mare Do Well looks cool (well, what else can one expect from a Rarity design)? And there are still some nice bits here - what's wrong isn't what the episode lacks, but what it has in.

Rating: Bad. Yep, jumping straight down - mediocrity will arrive later.

Sweet and Elite
After all of the above, I was losing faith in pony a little - so what better than a dose of pure Rarity to perk me up? The fashion pony is on fine form here, getting her most obvious plot out of the way with panache before she drops out of the spotlight for over a year. We also get a more broader glimpse of Canterlot high society than offed by the Gala alone - and Rarity begins to find acceptance there. The only real flaw is that this is where it became obvious that the Mane 6 remained unknowns - redacting the victory ceremony would have helped a bit.

Rating: Good. A fine return to form by the show after a few disappointing outings, and a decent last Rarity episode for a while.

Secret of My Excess
The first of the season's two Spike episodes, both of which explore his draconic identity. This one looks at it from an internal perspective, showing how even among ponies he is unavoidably different. The plot structure is interesting, developing from Spike as the protagonist facing temptation, to Twilight trying to help him, then to handle him, and eventually going full monster movie before bending back to a character moment which people will read both for and against Sparity.

Rating: Excellent. Like the previous tenth episode, we have a crisis which shows off the character's skills, but this time there are plenty of other parts too.

Hearth's Warming Eve
The first of two episodes which give backstory to the show's setting, this one on the grander scale (Equestria) and therefore taking up the whole episode. Like much early history in the show, it's nicely presented in an ambiguous format (in this case a historical play akin to the Nativity or the Thanksgiving story) so that we fans can adopt it whole or piecemeal as we choose.

Also bundled with the play is an actual holiday, and our first sight of winter not on the way out. These two things will pretty much always and only appear together in future, to the point where one wonders if snow is just another Hearth's Warming decoration like the tree...

Rating: Good. The part with the Mane 6 is kind of shallow, but it's not really the point. (The play is kind of shallow too, but it gets away with it by being that kind of play - this episode invites generous judgement.)

Family Appreciation Day
Our second setting history episode, but since it's the local setting (Ponyville), it's just the last part of the episode, the rest being fairly standard CMC fare. At least we got to hear it clearly from the mouth of a still-living founder herself though, and the reveal of Diamond Tiara's family (well, the paternal line) deepens the story of her rivalry with Apple Bloom.

Rating: Fine. The history bit brings it up from what might otherwise have been a Mediocre.

Baby Cakes
A babysitting episode seems mandatory for these earlier seasons, but each has it's own twist - in this case, using actual babies, and revealing more details about pony infancy and breeding along the way. Besides that, it's pretty average, just like last time's thirteenth.

Rating: Good. So I guess it might be above average after all...

The Last Roundup
Applejack had the bad luck of blowing through most of her basic material - her main character flaw and two big rivalries - early in Season 1. So it's taken a while for her to get another episode - and when she does, all anyone can talk about is Derpy!

The Grey One aside however, there's still quite a lot to like this episode - all the things SPB12 talks about plus a new town, a new character, and a climatic chase. Even the ending was funny (if a bit mean).

Rating: Good. Which I suppose is my own "second-place rosette" - fitting, no?

The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
On the one hoof, we get some fun new antagonists this episode, and fodder for plenty of alcohol jokes (so much that I believe it was initially? banned in my country, where cider is not for kids)! On the other, the writing of the conflict was forced and confusing (to even more of a degree than one would expect from trying to discuss economic matters on a kid's show), to the point where a lot of folk weren't even sure if Flim and Flam were con artists or honest businessponies. The lesson pretty much sums things up - I wonder if the writer and director enjoyed some "research cider" before putting this one together?

Rating: Mediocre. Technically our first, except it's really more of a Bad saved by the FlimFlam Bros.

Read It and Weep
Ah, the humble roots of Daring Do. (And given what she gets up to, Dash was going to end up in the hospital sooner or later - she should just be glad it's her wing and not her head!)

Honestly, I liked the real-world scenes more than the fiction, but the fact that we saw pony fiction at all was inspiring. That they had made-up stories too gave the world a certain depth - and I won't hold later stripping of that depth against this episode.

Rating: Fine. A bit slow (it is in essence a story about a character sitting in hospital reading a book), but the chase at the end perked things up. And i heartily approve the moral.

Hearts and Hooves Day
Our third and final holiday ripoff this season (what? No April Fools?) and the first episode in the show wholly devoted to romance. And it doesn't really go any better here than in the Rarity/Blueblood subplot, in this case due to the misguided antics of the CMC. (I disagree with SPB12 - this is the season's meta lesson, aimed straight at shippers! Oh, and I don't think they were after their marks in Family Appreciation Day, either.) Fortunately, we'll see some more successful love stories as the season goes on - and even CheeriMac is left surprisingly open, with regards to both history and the future.

Rating: Fine. A decent outing for the CMC and a pair of supporting characters that neatly sidesteps showing us what the Manes are up to on this "couple's day".

A Friend In Deed
The Smile Song which opens this episode is the embodiment of all the wonderful sides of PInkie Pie's character. This is to build up character credit, because the rest of the episode shows her at her worst - really, it took a total Deus Ex Machina (in the form of some of that successful love I was talking about last time) for her and Cranky to not end up as enemies. It was also nice to be reminded that despite the name, Equestria and Ponyville are not places for just ponies.

Rating:Mediocre. A tricky one here, because the episode combines very good and very bad parts - but there's more of the latter than the former, and the happy ending feels forced.

Putting Your Hoof Down
AKA "that Fluttershy episode where nearly everyone in Ponyville (including her) is a jerk". Besides that and our intro to minotaurs, this episode is most memorable to me as being one of the only ones which might kind of plausibly take place before Twilight came to Ponyville.

Rating: Fine. Though I admit that this is partly down to that unintentional idea - the thought of a "stealth prequel" kind of thrills me. Not that the episode itself is bad, either.

It's About Time
Time travel is often a big can of worms, and I was cautious when I heard that it would be used as a one-episode plot device. But in the end it was done fine, with a strictly limited form which was used to deliver a lesson applicable to even we who follow the linear path of time (while Spike delivered it's balancing counterpoint).

And in retrospect, it's neat that an episode about an omen from the future is also the one where we first learn of Tartarus (and Tirek presumably escapes offscreen). I think our first mention of Las Pegasus was here too - I wonder if there were any more seeds of things to come lurking?

Rating: Good. I liked seeing Twilight and Pinkie work together, too - they make a good team.

Dragon Quest
Our second Spike episode this season has him looking outward, at his draconic cultural identity. Which makes it probably the closest parallel to a G1 episode - Spike's Search - and therefore invites comparison. Some changes are down to the Spikes different personalities - G1's human friend Danny accompanies him openly whereas G4's pony friends follow in secret to protect his pride. Other things are the same - in both cases, the dragons he finds are actually thugs and bullies. But the two end on very different notes - I think I'll post them both and you can decide.

G1!Spike: I guess I'll never learn how to be a grown-up dragon now. But if being a dragon means being a bully...
Danny: Nah! Look how many different kinds of ponies there are! Earth ponies, pegasi, flutter ponies... So there are probably all different kinds of dragons too. When the time is right, you'll find the ones like you.
G1!Spike: You really think so? Well then maybe for now being here is the right place to be! Anyway, I did learn one thing from the dragons...
Danny: Yeah? What was that?
G1!Spike: (roasts marshmallows)
Everyone Laughs Ending.

Okay, a bit bioessentialist, but compare to this:

Spike: Dear Princess Celestia,
Seeing the great dragon migration made me wonder what it meant to be a dragon. But now I realize that whoI am is not the same as what I am. I may have been born a dragon, but Equestria and my pony friends have taught me how to be kind, loyal, and true! I'm proud to call Ponyville my home, and to have my pony friends as my family.

Yours truly,
Spike

[egg cracking]
[phoenix chick chirping]
Spike: Aww. [chuckles] Hey, welcome to the family, Peewee! Stick with me. I've got plenty to teach you about being a pony.

Well, I suppose different folks will like each one better. But to me, this feels like the origin story for a Boomerang Bigot ... and while that's bad enough when looked at as an interracial adoption thing, the fact that dragons and ponies are very strongly associated with masculinity and femininity here adds another uncomfortable layer. (And I'm saying this as a guy who was mostly raised among girls and has very little machismo.)

Rating: Fine. As an episode it warrants a Good, but the moral really weighs it down.

Hurricane Fluttershy
An excellent tale which spotlights Ponyville's pegasus community, with strong role from both our winged Manes and also plenty of new cameos, some of whom will go on to bigger roles. It also shows the value of each of our best efforts, however small individually, has when we work together.

Rating: Excellent. Well, I kind of gave that one away in the summary, didn't I?

Ponyville Confidential
Our fourth and final Crusader ep this season, and like all the others it didn't inspire me much. I suppose the moral was solid enough. (And in direct response to SPB12 for once - people are like that with gossip, and why on earth would you not want to see Silver Spoon again?)

Rating: Fine. This season's brand of blandness is still peppered with decent stuff.

MMMystery on the Friendship Express
Another well-written episode spoiled by it's ending. The problem with a mystery is that you need a reasonable culprit, or as here, set of culprits, and these ones don't work very well. (It might have been a bit better if the ruined cake was Pinkie's own work, which would give her the right to offer forgiveness.) Still, the solving was fun even if the solution wasn't.

Rating: Fine. Since the problem is in the ending, it does better on a first watch than subsequent ones IMO.

A Canterlot Wedding
Ah, the grand finale - like last seasons built around a big social event, but unlike last time it's a two-parter and Twilight will be taking center stage as sister of the groom, one of two three big new characters making their debut here. Apparently this episode (the last Faust had any hand in) went through many revisions and changes during production, but unfortunately the result is still an imperfect product.

For starters, the separation of Twilight's friends from her is a bit of a problem, especially given the moral of Lesson Zero - it would have been better to see them take her side, even though I'm not quite sure how that would have worked with the story. Also, the new characters are kind of flat - simplistically nice and nasty according to their role. But all of them will have the chance to grow into more complex figures later, at least.

Rating: On the border line of Fine and Mediocre - it's two episodes, so let's give it both. It completed my lesson for the season by showing me that even two-parters could be flawed - although looking at SPB12's reaction, not everyone would agree.

Season 2 Overall

5 Excellent + 7 Good + 10 Fine + 3 Mediocre + 1 Bad = an overall score of Fine.

Certainly a sharp downswing from the first season, but the top-quality stuff can still be found - it's just rarer than it used to be. Not as rare as it will get, though,nor is the alternative that bad - Mare-Do-Well stands out for a reason.

Thematically, this season lacks a strong center - instead, having got the basics out of the way, the writers have started making whatever kind of episodes strike their fancy. This probably adds to the seasons somewhat disjointed nature - almost like an expansion pack for Season 1 than a clear progression.

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Comments ( 1 )

You make a good point on how different Season 1 is to Season 2. The first season was developing the characters, gradually setting up for the finale, and playfully executing its lessons. Having Twilight be the one writing on what she learned also gave a kind of consistant take away as she summarized the entire episode's lesson.

Not having 'Twi-Centric' episodes in Season 2 was interesting. However it made a formula that was well established in Season 1 become a bit too wide in, without a singular point of learning, we got very mixed letters that, for me, were kind of made to seem less serious when AJ did hers in the Flim-Flam episode, "Dear Princess Celestia. Today I learned nothing." (Not word-for-word but it was more of a laughable moment over a teachable one)

'Dragon Quest', to me, started off as a, "It's okay to be different over feeling obligated to a stereotype" episode. However it left me as empty in how we still did not see Twilight acknowledge Spike as more than 'a friend'. You don't grow-up with someone from Day 1 and are 'just friends'. Especially if you've, largely, lived together with someone who was an infant upon your first encounter.

There are definitely 'forgettable' episodes in this season. Definitely moreso than with Season 1. Though this could be because different writers got different times to write an episode that failed to follow continuity established earlier?

I felt awful for Amy Keating Rogers when things went sour from 'The Last Roundup'. She did what Hasbro had asked her and was hit with hate letters about downtalking those with special needs when she, herself, has a child with special needs.

I met Amy at BronyCon 2015 and, in doing so, I told her that there are some, like myself, who took Derpy as a way to show how everyday society treats those of us with limitations poorly as a result of not being properly represented. Derpy, despite her clumsiness, was genuinely trying to do an important job and Dash's frustration at her is precisely how I recall being treated over-and-over again from those who don't understand that someone who is blind can be high functioning if the right 'tools' are presented.

For 'future episodes', I can say that "Dragon Quest" and "Read It And Weep" created characters that were always meant to be rivals, at best. Ahuizotel did not come off like he was 'Defender Of Artifacts' and Garble was a massive antagonist over-and-over again until, in Season 9, they had him be Smolder's sister, make him a poet, and left a "Well, Spike. Sorry about all the abuse you took for years from Garble. However we want to redeem him without him even so much as giving any degree of apology."

Redemptions and rewelcomings for Ahuizotel, Cabelaron, and Garble in Season 9, combined with Starlight's redemption, make me wonder why the show went with doing a total 180 with Cozy Glow? *Sighs*


The additional lore and Fluttershy's start to not being a 'door mat' was good. Though, as you said, The CMC had fairly lackluster episodes and Spike got more 'Spike Abuse' as he either was largely abandoned while still being set up as a child who was meant to live up to adult standards.

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