Saturday, 9 August 2014

Retrospective review: Over A Barrel

Alright, let's get the last of season 1's bad episodes out of the way.

"Over A Barrel" is easily one of the season's weakest episodes. Boasting a tired "settlers vs. indians" plot, very few funny jokes, and often-frustrating character moments, it's a low point of season 1.

The generic plot can be excused in part because it's a cartoon. I mean, you don't expect intricate, super-unique plotting from it, and to be fair up to this point the show hasn't set itself an especially high storytelling bar. The other reason why the story can be excused is that for this season, it's a bit of a risk. The conflict between settlers and the indigenous peoples is a more serious topic than the show often takes on.

However, this show isn't about that. The actual main characters of the show only ever serve to make things worse, either through attempting to speak for the actual conflicting parties or through Pinkie's embarrassing musical number. Combined with the story not really having anything new to add, that gets really frustrating. However, the story never really goes anywhere. It all ends in a typically unchallenging manner, with everyone getting along and figuring out what to do, which may be satisfying for the target audience but won't do much for anyone older.

But this wouldn't be so bothersome if it were just funny, and most fatally, it rarely is. There aren't many jokes, and most of the ones that are there don't land. The cold opening is certainly fun, but it only goes downhill from there, as joke after joke falls flat. Especially for an MLP episode, it's really quite dull. The episode doesn't take itself seriously, per se, but it doesn't have the humour to be interesting.

The result of these flaws is an episode that is simply tedious, and after the theme song there's very little to gain from it. Of course it probably wouldn't have been a social commentary, but conversely its light tone isn't backed up by anything of substance, and it just isn't funny. At the very least, though, nothing about it is anger-inducing, like some other episodes. Still, it's a low point for the season.

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