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My offsite blog posts reposted here a day later.

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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: "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

 

Current numerical scores for My Little Pony media

"In mid-2016, I introduced a new scoring system based on four criteria: entertainment/humour, characterization, themes/morals, and story. Each of these is graded out of ten, and are then added together to find a mean grade out of 100. Here, I will list every MLP episode I have graded on this scale, alongside their rating out of 100. For accuracy's sake, I will not attempt to grade episodes entirely on distant memory. Ratings might be subject to change with future rewatches, and this list will ex

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: "A Royal Problem"

This is not what I wish it was. The Celestia and Luna episode I wanted was a light-hearted, humorous slice-of-life. This is a semi-serious moral-driven episode. But it wouldn't be fair to begrudge the episode for that, especially since the episode we got is still very entertaining and hugely admirable. This entire season has had a laser-focus on moral-driven stories, and while that's often been for the worse, "A Royal Problem" demonstrates how well this formula can go with the right jokes an

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

 

Episode review: "Spice Up Your Life"

The map is back.   I thought it was over. Season 5's pitiful excuse for a running storyline, the cutie map is nothing more than a poor excuse to get specific pairs of ponies in certain locations. The show has never questioned it, never explained it, and never explored it in any detail, and worse, it brings with it a deeply predictable formula which rarely provides any development for the main characters or delves into its settings beyond mere regional flavours. I hated it, and the fact that it

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Hard to Say Anything"

I'd almost forgotten how it feels to hate an episode of My Little Pony this much. How long has it been? Since "What About Discord?" I mean, "Fluttershy Leans In" was awful, but at least it didn't sink to this level of annoyance and odiousness. "Hard to Say Anything" has almost nothing to redeem it. Most of its jokes fall flat, its plot is tired and lazy, the characters are borderline reprehensible, and the moral is pedestrian at best. Every season has its stinkers, but I was really hoping we'd m

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Parental Glideance"

There's a reason humour is my highest priority in this show. A funny or cute episode with narrative inconsistencies, a predictable storyline, or flawed characterization is still a funny or cute episode, whereas a boring episode with zero inconsistencies, is still a boring episode. The wonderful "Parental Glideance" is a strong example of that, demonstrating how energy and charm can overpower even a weak moral, and while I can't help but feel frustrated with the direction the moral took, everythi

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "28 Pranks Later"

"28 Pranks Later" was a particularly worrisome synopsis. It promised to repeat the worst crimes of "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well" and continue to have Rainbow Dash re-learn already-known lessons. Thankfully, the episode itself is surprisingly good-natured and entertaining, even though it still feels like a repetition of earlier character development. It's just too bad that this is the show at its most thuddingly predictable and simplistic, repeating all of the previous episode's mistake with bett

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: "Flutter Brutter"

As early as season 5, news abounded about an episode where we learn about Fluttershy's layabout brother. Considering the increased prominence of Pinkie Pie's family since then, curiosity has been high about the families of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, the only members of the mane six whose families we haven't seen. Now "Flutter Brutter" has finally arrived, months after news of it first surfaced, and it turned out about how I expected it to: a solid Fluttershy showcase with an entertainingly loa

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "The Times They Are a Changeling"

My Little Pony, as a fantasy setting, is prone to depicting some of its races as consistently evil, or at least consistently unpleasant. While the griffons and dragons aren't necessarily evil, they are stereotyped with negative traits, and the changelings - one of the most fascinating and enigmatic of the show's races - is distinctly shown as almost exclusively villainous. "The Times They Are a Changeling" is the show's third - and, to date, most successful - attempt to give one of its "evil" ra

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

 

Episode review: "Honest Apple"

"Honest Apple" is an Applejack and Rarity episode, and I'm genuinely not sure if I have anything constructive left to say about episodes they share. Of course I didn't like "Honest Apple," because I think that pairing is inherently unentertaining. Of course Applejack's worst traits are exaggerated here, because that's just how episodes starring this duo work. If there's one thing I can uniquely criticize about this episode, it's the moral, which is even more unbalanced than that of "Parental Gli

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

 

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

 

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

 

Episode review: "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks"

One of the most promising changes made in season 5 was the Cutie Mark Crusaders finally acquiring their cutie marks. Although the trio had already been shifting towards more varied episodes after two seasons of grating repetition, gaining these cutie marks not only put an end to their most significant character arcs, the exact nature of these marks also paved the way for new stories, as the trio consecutively gained cutie marks which showcased how they applied their passion for cutie marks into

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

 

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: "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: "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: "Viva Las Pegasus"

Despite appearances, season 6 has radically changed the way that these cutie map episodes play out. For one, season 6 has introduced the unprecedented notion that these episodes could be fun, and even - gasp! - light-hearted and energetic. It's a positive development, but not one without negative side effects. As these adventure-driven episodes become more and more entertaining, they become less and less adventurous, to the extent that this latest entry, "Viva Las Pegasus," comes packed with alm

AlexanderThrond

AlexanderThrond

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