Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Episode review: "Campfire Tales"

My Little Pony does not have interesting mythology. The fact is, the vast majority of its world and backstory are either heavily based on other stories or designed to fulfill a specific role. That doesn't need to be the case, but this is a children's program where most worldbuilding is made up during the scripting phase rather than taken from any grander vision, so the easiest route is simply transplanting ponies onto familiar stories from human mythology, or taking creatures from other fantasy stories and building a rudimentary, sometimes overly simplistic society around them.

With "Campfire Tales," the show seems interested in finally adding some weight to its mythos, and yet it falls into all the same traps. There are three stories in this episode, but all three are simple moral lessons which transplant human cultures onto Equestria without exploring them in much detail. Add in a framing story which tries to tie that to the actual main characters of the show, and you have an episode which can't do justice to either Equestria's past or present. It's still nice to see a diverse range of environments, and there's moments of charm and tension here and there, but it's not enough to make the episode particularly exciting.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Episode review: "Triple Threat"

One of my weak spots as a fan of this show is pony politics. Good or bad, if a My Little Pony episode revolves around the main characters struggling to adjust to new responsibilities - especially if said responsibilities are related to diplomacy - then I'm bound to get some enjoyment out of it. "Triple Threat" is a little too predictable to be on par with "Party Pooped," my favourite episode of this type, but it delivers the sympathetic internal conflict which always drives these episodes, and has a lot of charming and funny moments to boot, as well as a great moral.

If anything brings "Triple Threat" down, it's the story itself, which is very predictable and is often expected to drive scenes with few jokes to liven things up. "Triple Threat" admirably gives its story more time to breathe than many episodes this season, but it still refuses to add any twists or even unexpected quirks, and while there's enough fun moments to carry the rote narrative, it's simply too familiar to sustain attention through the entire 22 minutes.

Still, this is a major improvement over the likes of "Forever Filly."

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Episode review: "Fame and Misfortune"

Alright, we've got one of those meta episodes here, and this one is directly criticizing the fandom, so I'm gonna need to take a step back and try not to take it personally. The show has never gone this far in addressing its viewers before, and while I know there's a lot of people who get overly aggressive with regards to this show, I don't think all of the criticisms presented here are entirely fair. If you're gonna criticize the people who support your product, you should really proceed gently so as not to alienate them, and "careful" doesn't really describe My Little Pony anymore. Instead, we get a strained metaphor which seems vaguely contemptuous of the adult fanbase in general, and doesn't supply a whole lot of sympathy for or even understanding of what it presents as the "other side."

But that's all subtext. The real reason why "Fame and Misfortune" doesn't work is that, like so many other episodes this season, it relies entirely on characters being creepy or irritating for humour, and even though it has the benefit of not making a recurring character unsympathetic, it's just not weird or creative enough for these obnoxious, unpleasant ponies to be anything other than obnoxious and unpleasant. However I might choose to interpret the subtext, I just don't enjoy this sort of humour, and that holds back the episode for me.