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My offsite blog posts reposted here a day later.

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Season 8 reflections.

This year, I had an exit strategy. If My Little Pony wasn't entertaining me by the third episode of the season, I'd bail. As it turned out, I watched every episode, so clearly this season was an improvement over last year's wretched showing, and there's actually a lot of trends this season which were pleasant surprises for me. At long last, this show is making some serious changes to its approach which have been long overdue, and as it turns out, this season wasn't half-bad. I mean, it's two-fif

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

As it turns out, weekly shorts are perfect for "Equestria Girls"

I thought this series was done for. By August of 2017 Equestria Girls had fallen so low that new content was being cheaply outsourced. A new series was reportedly on the horizon, but one look at the so-called "Summertime Shorts," which were so awkward and poorly-made that they almost resembled a bootleg version of the series, gave little reason to hope. Surely this was a series with nothing new to say, and which the company making it had no faith in. Some moderately satisfying music videos

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

My top 26 favourite episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

This list has been sitting on my drive, first draft done and awaiting revisions, for well over a year now. Since then, I promised not only to publish the list, but to expand it all the way up to 26 to fill a whole season's worth of episodes, which only led to further delays. Part of the reason was that I hadn't seen several of my favourite episodes in years, and wished to binge the whole show in order to confirm my opinions and see if anything else threatened the top spots. What I want from My L

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Quick update

At the end of my "Shadow Play" review, I promised: 1. a season 7 wrap-up review, 2. a top 10 Worst Episodes list, 3. a top 26 Best Episodes list. I've not gotten around to the latter two yet, and for that I'm sorry; unless there's particular demand, I've decided not to go forward with the "Worst Episodes" list, as I'm tired of my own negativity towards this show. Such a list would probably look something like this:   "Look Before You Sleep" "The Mysterious Mare-Do-We

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Season 7 reflections.

This show needs direction. I've been saying that for a while. The show has become increasingly scattershot and inconsistent since as far back as season 5, and nobody involved seems to actually understand what to do with the main cast. These past three seasons have all been heavily reliant on new characters, heavy-handed moralizing, and various other crutches - anything to give them an excuse to not actually consider what direction the main characters should go in. This show has never b

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Shadow Play"

Last year, I was worried that "To Where and Back Again" would be a by-the-numbers, over-serious finale which just rehashes the same plot points the show had been trucking out for years now. To my delight, it turned out to be something else entirely, and it quickly became one of my favourite two-parters in the entire show. "To Where and Back Again" excelled because it was a character-driven story which focused on the human side of the story rather than the rote details, and as such it was refresh

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Uncommon Bond"

Look, "Uncommon Bond" is perfectly inoffensive. It has a decent moral. The core dilemma is moderately relatable. It's not obnoxious, it doesn't have any structural defects, and doesn't feel lazy. But it's slow, safe, and mundane, and it predicates its entire emotional core on a relationship which hasn't been given much development. It's another season 7 episode which doesn't care about anything other than checking off boxes and getting a moral episode. I mean, at least it's competent and not ent

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Secrets and Pies"

There's a small list of My Little Pony episodes which I consider guilty pleasures. These are episodes which have enough clever gags and fun dialogue to keep me happy, but which have bad enough plots that it brings down my enjoyment somewhat. Season 2 had the sloppy but energetic "Putting Your Hoof Down." Season 3 had some of the show's best dialogue layered on top of the asinine "Spike at Your Service." I find these two episodes hugely entertaining, and even though their poor narratives kill my

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Once Upon a Zeppelin"

Despite eschewing a lot of the tired story structures of the past, season 7 has several familiar tropes of its own. It's heavily reliant on externally driven stories where a main character is troubled by some external force, and many of these stories are written heavily to theme to the point of tedium. However, these formulas don't always ruin their stories, and many episodes transcended those tropes, either with nuance ("The Perfect Pear") or humour ("Parental Glideance").  "Once Upon a Ze

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Movie review: "My Little Pony: The Movie"

The appeal of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comes from a combination of factors. Aside from its lighthearted tone and cute art style, its characters are surprisingly three-dimensional, and its best episodes can be quite funny as well. This show's cult following didn't come out of nowhere, and much of it comes down to the show's main themes. To me, the most important part of Friendship is Magic's appeal is that so many of its stories revolve around the main characters needing to move past t

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Marks and Recreation"

With the Cutie Mark Crusaders now in the business of solving others' problems, their stories have a lot of potential to expand the lore of what "cutie marks" are, how they work, and what they mean to the inhabitants of this world. Last season, we got "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks," an adorable episode which fulfilled all of that potential and then some, exploring one of the two biggest issues imaginable for the Crusaders. "Marks and Recreation" follows up on the other half of the equation, but i

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "A Health of Information"

This is the second week in a row where an episode I never had much interest in proved to be a pleasant surprise. "A Health of Information" is kinda simple and rather expository, but it's got a breakneck pace, a strong collection of jokes, and some surprisingly high stakes which lend the episode a lot of intensity. As I've said before, this show doesn't need a strong emotional core or a sharp eye for continuity to impress me. Those things are nice, but before it has that, all I want from it is to

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You"

It's always the ones you don't expect, isn't it?  Last season, I was surprised to enjoy "28 Pranks Later," a fairly messy episode that was nonetheless made enjoyable by a handful of solid jokes and a decently creepy atmosphere. From the synopsis, it seemed likely to have a mean-spirited, vindictive tone, but unlike the similar "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well," it used its plot as an excuse to have some funny visual gags and indulge in zombie tropes rather than wasting time humiliating Rainbow

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Daring Done?"

Daring Do has long been one of the most consistently entertaining characters in My Little Pony. As an obvious Indiana Jones homage, she allows the show to tell the kind of adventurous stories which were always part of the package without being constrained by the characters, and her appearances often boast more charm and creativity than many of the show's other adventure episodes. Until this point, all three of her episodes were great fun, but Daring Do as a character has never been explored in g

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "To Change a Changeling"

Humour will do a lot to save an otherwise subpar episode for me, but I do have my limits. "To Change a Changeling" tells a largely uninteresting story with unclear themes and shallow characterization, but it also has a lot of great dialogue and humorous moments. The latter does a lot to keep the episode afloat, but there's only so many issues I can forgive before they start to overwhelm the humour, and while this episode is on the right side of the line, it's teetering near the edge, and it'd ne

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

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

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

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 h

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

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

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Equestria Girls special review: "Mirror Magic"

And that's a wrap. This is the last piece of Equestria Girls content we're getting this year. Three shorts, 66 minutes, and yet not a single note of substance. "Mirror Magic" is easily the worst of the three shorts, rehashing ideas from earlier two-parters while piling on other tiresome tropes and possessing absolutely no emotional resonance whatsoever. All three shorts are vacuous and mostly unimaginative, but whatever positive qualities were present in the other two are largely absent here. It

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Equestria Girls special review: "Movie Magic"

Okay, so "Dance Magic" was a fluke. This second short, "Movie Magic," is still low-stakes and impersonal, but it's a lot funnier than the first short, and makes much better use of both the Rainbooms' character traits and some of their magical powers as well. While I may dream of nuanced character arcs and satisfying narrative payoff, all I really ask of My Little Pony in all forms is that it's entertaining. I always felt that "Movie Magic" had the most potential of these shorts, and although it

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Equestria Girls special review: "Dance Magic"

Up until now, Equestria Girls has only told stories equivalent to the main show's two-part episodes. Even Legend of Everfree, which tried to incorporate several slice-of-life elements, eventually came back to having a magical villain threaten the camp, and the three films before that established high stakes from the beginning. As fun as some of these movies are, much of this series' appeal is in seeing familiar faces in this new, mundane, relatively familiar setting, and I've always hoped it wou

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "The Perfect Pear"

Melodrama is one of My Little Pony's foundational blocks. So many of the most emotionally affecting episodes of the show are melodramatic in nature, from "The Last Roundup" to "Hurricane Fluttershy" to "Wonderbolts Academy." But starting in season 5, the show's most dramatic episodes have become increasingly grand and pretentious in nature. Even the most naturalistic episodes of this time, "Amending Fences" and "The Mane Attraction," strained to have a greater point and to reflect the show at la

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Discordant Harmony"

Thanks, Australia.  I am generally biased in favour of Discord. The only episode starring him which I didn't at least enjoy a little was season 5's "What About Discord?," and that episode was meant to be unpleasant. A character who can bend the laws of reality to his will gives a lot of room for funny and creative visuals, and the only thing really holding him back is that he's always seemed like an unpleasant person to be around. He's always appeared emotionally immature and somewhat apathe

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Season 7 midway reflections

God damn it. My Little Pony has been in decline since season 3. While I still have a soft spot for the third season, its short length and terrible finale were a step down from prior seasons, and in the years after, the show struggled to achieve the strength of its early years. To me, though, season 6 moved away from that decline, showing a willingness to experiment and adding a satisfying new element in the form of Starlight Glimmer. But rather than continue what worked in season 6, season 7

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Not Asking for Trouble"

In any other season, "Not Asking for Trouble" would be a middle-of-the-road throwaway episode. It's simple, it repeats a lot of jokes, and its moral has already been done in this show. In season 7, however, I'm just glad the episode was funny, even though its simplicity wasn't enough to carry the handful of funny gags. Those repeated jokes are at least good on their own, Pinkie Pie is consistently delightful, and it's neat to learn just a little bit more about yak culture, but this is hardly a m

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

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