Them's Seeing Ponies

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  1. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Is the show made for bronies now?

    Isn't Hearts and Hooves Day basically an over-the-top satirization/masked explanation behind the lack of relationships for the M6, considering that the episode appears to address the issue of absurd/unrealistically exaggerated romantic relationships in kids' TV of the FiM demographic (note that the CMC, the show's default child characters until S8, were conspicuously included as the catalyst to this plot additionally)? The show has since defied this principle with Big Mac and Sugar Belle's romance (which I find one of the show's more inexplicable developments - how is Big Mac receiving a romantic interest exactly compelling character development?) but it appears to continue to apply to the main cast, presumably because the target audience are below the age to fully understand or relate to such an issue (Big Mac is more a surrogate older brother type, which at least partially justifies the inclusion of the SugarMac relationship).
  2. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Is the show made for bronies now?

    I suspect that the main difference the OP is noticing is the shift in the show's focus and priorities over the seasons. The earlier seasons are more focused on the daily pursuits and chemistry between the mane six, yes, but the show isn't necessarily 'made for bronies' as a result of the shift away from this, regardless of the increased volume of fanservice and worldbuilding in the later seasons (S5 is possibly the most similar to a version of FiM adhering to the OP's statement, and its audience reception is far from sour in many cases). It's certainly possible to perceive that the series is more geared towards the bronydom than it was in S1 or 2 owing to the shift in tone and treatment of its material (in particular, S4-8 hold their content in a conspicuously more serious way than the Faust seasons, which can lead to the impression that the show is deliberately pushing its own maturity onto the audience) but declaring that it's devolved into merely a sandbox is somewhat of a generalization, even though the show has changed both in approach and general sprit/disposition since its infancy.
  3. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Best writer in each season

    Considering that Big Jim noted that the Lady Writers were absent specifically for 'this season' (in reference to S8), the possibility of them returning for S9 is actually more plausible than one may think. Still wish Larson and AKR could return as well, but that's mostly pure wishful thinking on my part at this point by comparison. Not to mention that, in light of DQ's post about Pinkie's mischaracterization in Filli Vanilli, I should presumably have given at least an honorable mention to AKR for her S4 work, considering that all three of her effort were above-average (despite the inherently shopworn plot of Filli Vanilli, it was nonetheless a relatable depiction of social anxiety with one of the more plot-relevant examples of fanservice during the McCarthy seasons).
  4. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Best writer in each season

    In light of the show's oft-shifting writing roster, I considered creating this thread to discuss which writer had the best 'track' record in each individual season. Note that it's perfectly acceptable to list a single writer for multiple seasons. My preferences would encompass: Season 1: M.A Larson. Penned only three episodes, albeit said three are essentially a triad of majorly formative installments - Swarm of the Century solidified the charmingly witty and self-referential comedy of the Faust seasons, Sonic Rainboom pioneered the show's ability to handle spectacle and tension (the climax remains one of the best to this day) within standalone episodes and The Cutie Mark Chronicles stands as an emotionally affecting finale to the character arcs of S1. All three are fundamentally significant to constructing the foundation of the series both throughout S1's progression and to the show in subsequent seasons. Season 2: Cindy Morrow. All of the four episodes penned by her here are highly effective in their ability to combine the show's Faust-era charm and humour with solid emotional storytelling, thus solidifying the early seasons' ability to convey cliched stories far more effectively than contemporary shows of its category - Sisterhooves Social is both adorable in a low-key manner and serves as Sweetie Belle's breakout moment, Family Appreciation Day is a textbook example of utilizing the third act to recontextualize a decent-yet-shopworn preceding two acts into an altogether more poignant narrative, Read It and Weep is one of the show's best portrayals of Rainbow Dash and features some amazing comedic sequences (despite its dissonant moral for a show focusing on the social interactions between the main cast) and Hurricane Fluttershy is a rock-solid masterpiece. How is this the same writer who would go on to botch up a simple bullying moral a single year later? Season 3: A bizarrely difficult decision, considering the season's shorter duration, but I'll go with Corey Powell, given the phenomenal solidity of Sleepless in Ponyville (otherwise the episode which placed Scootaloo fully onto the map) and the decency of Just for Sidekicks. Season 4: Dave Polsky. The myriad of different style (particularly the larger-scale McCarthy-esque aesthetic of Equestria Games and the more somber and introspectively driven tones of Rarity Takes Manehattan and For Whom the Sweetie Belle Tolls) he tackles throughout the season is successful as a majority, which definitely counts for something considering his distinct comedy-based tone in his S1 and S3 work (thus marking a shift to a more experimental and varied creative palette in a way which the show's other recurring writers have generally not displayed in a comparable way). The only episode out of the five I would consider to be subpar is Daring Don't, although I believe that 'uninspired' is a more accurate term for its qualities as a whole than outright bad. Season 5: M.A Larson again. The Cutie Map is among the show's best and most tonally intriguing two-parters, Slice of Life is one of S5's more successful forays into experimentation (due to its high comic energy) and Amending Fences is touching in an odd, intangible way to me, which stands out amidst the season's bizarre combination of the lighter, more Faustian work of AKR and the more sardonic material of the newer writing team. Season 6: Surprising coming from me, but the Lady Writers (Lewis and Songco). As much as I find their general style and comic leanings polarizing (their best material can be hilarious, but their worst is lame and dissonant with the show's tone as a whole), their two episodes were some of the most memorable of the season - I find Gauntlet of Fire overrated, but its treatment of Spike is a considerable improvement over previous seasons, and Top Bolt is easily my favorite of the episodes catalyzed by the dreaded Cutie Map (due to possessing the strongest plot and character chemistry of the episodes in that particular category). I nonetheless maintain that Mike Vogel has a better grasp on the show's McCarthy-era tone, but the Lady Writer's individual episodes were conspicuously stronger in this otherwise relatively banal season. Season 7: I'll go for Wetta and Crowley - I'm not a huge fan of A Flurry of Emotions , but it was generally cute fun and featured Twilight in a solidly characterized role for the first time in multiple seasons, whilst A Health of Information surprised me in its handling of Fluttershy's character (her episodes are typically better when she actively chooses to leave her comfort zone, which this episode utilizes wisely to push her character forward and set her into a less cliched role than, say, her S4 and S5 episodes tended to). Season 8: Mike Vogel. As I've noted earlier, his style seems to be the most versatile of the current writing team in that he can lean into both the relative charm of School Daze and the looser comedy of The Mean Six. Anyone else willing to share their thoughts here?
  5. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Season 9 Waiting/Speculation Thread -

    Doesn't that run the risk of being overly similar to Dungeons and Discords though?
  6. Them's Seeing Ponies

    An episode a day Marathon

    Considering that this thread has been barren for a month now, I figured that it deserves a revival, considering that the marathon is now approximately 2/3 finished. As for my thoughts on S5... *sucks in huge breath of air*... The Cutie Map: A solid and compelling premiere with a uniquely grim atmosphere (and villain) and some great dialogue (particularly courtesy of M.A Larson's amazing lines for Pinkie, a pleasant surprise following her near-consistently awful portrayal in S4). Fluttershy's major role was also a welcome addition after multiple consecutive two-parters laser-focusing onto Twilight. Castle Sweet Castle: Largely forgettable and bland (most notably in regards to the plot, which is a little too negligible and thin for my tastes) despite a decently genuine ending and some impressive directorial techniques. Bloom and Gloom: Uniquely introspective into Apple Bloom's character in a way the show has seldom endeavoured towards before or since. Outranked by "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Tolls", but definitely one of S5's more conceptually solid episodes. Tanks for the Memories: Still deeply flawed - my main issue this time stems more from how brazen and unquestioning Dash is about her ploy despite being a leading weatherpony. I understand that the show can't exactly incorporate Tank dying into the plot, being a kids' TV show, but having him simply hibernating renders Dash's behaviour here extremely disproportionate considering that it's clearly written to parallel grief (in addition to robbing the episode of much of the tension it seems to believe it has). Fortunately, the excellent comedy in several scenes (Applejack's confirmation that she 'cries on the inside' and the Cloudy Skies exchange, both obviously Larson's touches) and the Dash/Fluttershy interactions in the third act lightens the problematic main plot minorly. Apploosa's Most Wanted: Generally weak and unimpressive, albeit once again salvaged by the comedy (the 'mob' exchange). The earlier half of S5 is fascinating in this regard - M.A Larson's personal writing style is easily the most distinct of the show's story editors thus far to the extent where it's typically easy to abduct which parts of these episodes were specifically penned by him. It's just the plots that tend to feel more haphazardous than the McCarthy episodes. Make New Friends but Keep Discord: The quintessential Larson-edited episode - a heaping ton of hilariously energetic fanservice loaded around a relatively limp plot, almost to the point of resembling a series of gags over a cohesive narrative. Fortunately, much of Larson's writing is enough to absolve this (particularly Pinkie's characterization, which has improved by leaps and bounds here from the more hyperactive Pinkie of S4) and the moral is a solid one. The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone: Structurally uneven (particularly in regards to the blandness and inconsistency surrounding the worldbuilding) and Gilda's characterization is virtually alien from her previous appearance (despite possibly being an improvement), but the fanservice and comedy here is genuinely difficult for me to entirely resist - the Junior Speedsters reprise, the return of Pinkie in her S1-2 persona (I don't know if I cried a tear of joy at her quirky wordplay describing Gilda)… it's obvious stuff, but not to the extent where I can't appreciate it. Slice of Life: A gigantic, bombastic pile of successful absurdity, most notably in its unique high energy and ability to back up the reams of fanservice with less context-specific gags. Definitely one of S5's more successful experiments. Princess Spike: Well-played direction (S5's direction and animation are definitely among its most consistently admirable attributes) squandered on a dry and repetitive story which leans on narrative contrivance and never builds to any successful punchline. Party Pooped: I'm nowhere near a fan of Nick Confalone's huge emotional takes (which he seems to believe are funnier than they actually are to me), nor the first act's emphasis on the yaks' destructive nature for comedy (which begins to feel tedious after only a short while) but the energy of the animation is great - similarly, Pinkie's monologue in the second act (which definitely feels more Larson-ish than Confalone's louder and more sitcom-esque style) and the ending are both well worth the awkwardness of the initial 10 minutes. Amending Fences: A stone-cold masterpiece of pony fiction. Since others have already pretty much expressed my feelings here, I must admit that my fondness for Larson's writing style stems from its energetic nature - his work has an absurd self-referentiality like Haber's and Confalone's but feels less sardonic than the former and less over-the-top than the latter, which leads to a light, brisk 'Faustian' touch that is surprisingly effective and, for lack of a better term, 'awesome'. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? : An awkwardly-written Frankenstein's monster of an episode that watches more akin to a mid-tier fanfiction than a legitimate FiM installment. The episode pushes for an emotional climax surrounding Luna's depression/self-harm, but ultimately fails due to all of the extraneous material clogging the episode's narrative gears (including the return of inconsiderately zany ADD-addled Pinkie). One of the show's worst episodes. Scare Master: A cliched outing salvaged by some incredible cinematography and art direction (the scene with Fluttershy creeping through Twilight's castle is visually one of the best in the series). Canterlot Boutique: Well-written and excellently characterized on Rarity and Pinkie's parts, albeit somewhat simple despite the grandiose presentation of the story. Rarity Investigates!: Slightly overrated, but solidly written and amusing (although I'm not typically one for the broader 'Nickelodeon-esque' comedy of the Lady Writers) with yet more excellent direction. Made in Manehattan: The blandest and most awkwardly paced of the S5 map episodes. In particular, the episode's plot is stretched noticeably thin and the comedy often leaves a somewhat sour edge. Brotherhooves Social: Whilst the episode overplays the Orchard Blossom gag, the ending is well worth it as one of the show's most touching moments. Crusaders of the Lost Mark: Slightly overrated, but the grandiosity of the episode's execution transforms the otherwise simple plot into an altogether more emotional and cinematic experience, which definitely counts for something memorable. The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows: Pinkie's characterization is mostly solid, but the episode suffers from an overemphasis of its core gag and the lack of other material to ground the comedic main plot more securely. Hearthbreakers: The Pie family is amazing, but the actual plot is repetitive and the climax's impact softens considerably in light of this. What About Discord?: One of the show's most tedious and bizarrely wrongheaded installments. I honestly don't think that the plot here could work in any major way regardless of polishing, which is not a criticism I could apply to most of the show's worst episodes ("Putting Your Hoof Down", "One Bad Apple"). The Hooffields and McColts: I appreciate specific elements of this episode (the deliberate focus on the pettiness of the conflict was okay), albeit this is not enough to redeem the cliched nature (and somewhat over-idealized ending) of the episode's remainder. The Mane Attraction: Potentially presents its simple narrative in an overly grand way, but an affecting and emotional experience nonetheless. I'll definitely be missing AKR and Larson's writing in this show going forward into the more recent seasons. The Cutie Re-Mark: Incredibly ambitious and dark, yet ultimately feels too structurally uneven to support either quality (particularly considering that the M6 defeated each of the villains portrayed in a relatively short time - surely the rest of Equestria's population isn't so inept as to be unable to defeat Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon and the like, in addition to unbalancing the episode's message to indicate that the M6's friendship is mostly meaningful and important in that they happen to be six pieces of a potent magical force as opposed focusing on the other, more intangible/emotional benefits of friendship, which would have cohered more with Starlight's arc). Starlight's degeneration into a petty comic book villain (asides from a few scenes) also does not aid in this (I understand that they were leaning towards her being internally petty and enraged, but the way this is actually executed on-screen feels too over-the-top). A bizarrely disappointing finale, as admirable as its drive to experiment is. In conclusion to the surprising cynicism above, I rate S5 as a good season, and definitely one of the most unique of the series. Unlike S6, which I recall being altogether more conservative, most S5 episodes aspire towards a certain dramatic finality which provides a neat watching experience and a collection of more interesting failures than the dead ends of subsequent seasons, in addition to the season's highs being deservedly lauded as some of the show's best and most emotionally charged. Not to mention the excellence of the visuals this season - I love the sleeker look of S1-4, but the lightning and motion in this season is significantly more eye-catching and cinematic despite its occasional tendency to jar with the established character designs/background aesthetics. And next up is S6... my personal least favourite season, although I'm open to re-evaluation. As it stands: S2 > S1 > S4 > S5 > S3 > S8 > S7 > S6
  7. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Have you ever cried during an episode?

    As someone who only sporadically cries at media, "Celestia's Ballad" and the ending of "Amending Fences" were the only two occasions I teared up while watching.
  8. Them's Seeing Ponies

    What year did you first start watching MLP?

    I began during the S1-2 hiatus in 2011. The wait for S2 was a highlight of the year.
  9. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Aspects of Friendship is Magic that have gotten better over time?

    That's fine by me. I simply felt that the episode overemphasized him and relied too greatly on the audience finding him comical to give some of the elements of the episode I found to be more solid breathing room (like Fluttershy's growth, which the episode actually portrays mostly fine). His interactions with Dash also left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable, which is not exactly the kind of emotion I tend to positively associate with a show of FiM's tonal qualities.
  10. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Aspects of Friendship is Magic that have gotten better over time?

    "Flutter Brutter" was brought down immensely by Zephyr Breeze's overly obnoxious behaviour, but admittedly the scenes focusing more on Fluttershy's increased firmness (despite the sloppiness of the surrounding episode, I find Zephyr's behaviour as a concept to be interesting as an implied consequence of Fluttershy's lack of assertiveness as an elder sibling, although the episode itself never really seems to be aware of or acknowledge this) were its main redeeming factors. I also doubt that "Flutter Brutter" was the first Fluttershy episode to not focus on her timidity. "Keep Calm and Flutter On' and "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" were technically the first of that specific breed of Fluttershy narrative (although "Keep Calm" portrayed her as uncharacteristically manipulative whilst "Breezies" was a decent character showcase clogged by a ton of extraneously saccharine material which felt below the show's usual target audience and tone).
  11. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Map of Harmony episodes

    Who names their kid "Farmer" anyway? The Cutie Map is an extremely conspicuous plot device and has been since its introduction in S5, most notably in that its rules remain undefined and inconsistent (how does the map decide which ponies to summon, what is stopping the M6 from defying or subverting its commands (most notably how seriously Twilight treats her exclusion from missions during S5 - what is preventing her from accompanying Pinkie/Dash and AJ/Rarity exactly?) and how can Sunburst, Starlight and Spike be summoned if they're not connected to the Tree of Harmony as the M6 are?) yet the show utilizes it as an integral catalyst for a number of episodes in recent seasons. Needless to say, I'm not holding out for much explanation regarding the subject in season 9.
  12. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Best aspects of each Season?

    The Lady Writers' style of comedy still doesn't do much for me, which is why I believe the dialogue of S8 to be an improvement. I guess we should agree to disagree in this case.
  13. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Best aspects of each Season?

    It was okay. S8's was simply sharper and funnier.
  14. Them's Seeing Ponies

    Best aspects of each Season?

    Season 1: The inclusion of subtlety and pacing of the M6's introductory arcs - S1 is usually generalized into being 'an introduction to the cast', which is true to an extent, but I feel it often remains overlooked for the way it paces and balances the arcs of its main cast, which no other season manages to pull off in a comparable way. Even the 'filler' episodes are typically filler in that they happen to be written poorly ("Boast Busters", "The Show Stoppers") or oversimplify certain conflicts (therefore rendering them somewhat dull after seven seasons of successively greater bombast) as opposed to true 'filler' where the entire episode could easily be omitted from the lineup without any effect at all. I should also mention that I vastly prefer Pinkie's quirky optimism here to her less grounded hyperactive zaniness in later seasons, but that's debatably yet more subjective. Season 2: The crisper colour palette and sharper comedy. The latter in particular is a major influence - many of S2's greatest episodes carry a surprising amount of their weight both on tackling their themes in an introspective and compelling way (I guess S2's treatment of its themes is another of its major strong points - episodes like "Hurricane Fluttershy" are simple through a surface-level lens despite their ability to build upon these themes in a way which renders them head and shoulders above the vast majority of kids' TV to take on these themes) and adding memorable comedy - "It's About Time" and "The Last Roundup" (should I even mention the Pinkie Promise sequence?) are the ultimate examples of this to me. The two-parters also emerge into their own here, with "The Return of Harmony" debatably lying among the best of the group due to providing dually introspective and comedic views into the M6 whilst structuring the narrative to incorporate the six in a way which doesn't occur again until "The Cutie Map" while maintaining a solid plot which matches its level of ambition (which places it above "The Cutie Re-Mark" and "Shadow Play" in that regard, despite both of the latter episodes being technically more impressive). Season 3: The number of shifts in the status quo over the relatively brief 13-episode order. In the span of half a season, the show introduced one of the first significant non-Ponyville locations, increased the CMC's ranks (albeit in a sloppy and tepid way), 'reformed' (I guess?) Trixie, expanded upon Scootaloo's character and her relationship with RD, featured RD ascending into the ranks of the Wonderbolts Academy, introduced the entire Apple family, reformed Discord and drastically upended the status of the series' main character. The hit-to-miss ratio here was far from perfect, but that's a pretty interesting move nonetheless for a season tasked with maintaining the brony craze at its height whilst living up to the sky-high expectations set by S1 and S2. Season 4: The employment of more ambitious material, including the increased grandiosity of the musical numbers, in addition to the more ambitious directorial techniques and greater scope for experimentation compared to the previous season. I already said my piece here in the recent season 4 thread. Season 5: The direction and animation in this season is incredible by the standards of Flash, which elevates even the more tedious filler episodes to bearing some merits - as meaningless and tepid as "Scare Master" was, the art direction and lighting was surprisingly dramatic and visually appealing (particularly the sequence of Fluttershy walking through Twilight's castle), whilst the frenetic pace and looseness (possibly also courtesy of Sibsy's and Nicole Wang's storyboarding) of "Party Pooped"'s animation adds flavour to an otherwise underwhelming narrative. I should also note that, while it isn't typically as effective as the writers seem to believe, the notes of finality and grandiosity to S5's episodes render even its failures at least interesting failures for the most part (save for "Princess Spike" and "What About Discord?", which are both generally among the show's most irredeemably tedious). Season 6: The worldbuilding provided to the dragons and changelings was genuinely compelling - particularly the way in which the changelings' social structure ultimately catalyzed the events of the finale. Spike's treatment as a character (courtesy of Josh Haber, who is surprisingly adept at writing him despite his other shortcomings) also proved to be a major step up. Season 7: The season's focus on the families of the M6 was a nice touch, particularly considering that the writers either framed them in the season's more memorable plots or gave them relatable and understandable traits. The fact that they somehow created authentic characters out of Twilight's parents (both of whom were scarcely even the episode's main characters) was the main redeeming factor of "Once Upon a Zeppelin" to me. Season 8: The dialogue has noticeably improved from S6-7 to the extent where, despite the underwhelming quality of several episodes, the comedy actually proved to be a redeeming factor of several episodes in a way I felt was largely absent from the show since around the S2 period. Similarly, S8's lore and worldbuilding also marks a considerable improvement over previous seasons due to its greater sense of creativity (as opposed to merely being allegories of human fables or simple fantastical regions).
  15. Them's Seeing Ponies

    In your opinion, what was the worst episode of MLP?

    "Hard to Say Anything" is probably the worst. It doesn't exactly glorify obstructive moralizing in the way that episodes like "One Bad Apple" or "Magic Sheep" debatably do, yet it feels so unbelievably asinine and painfully unfunny (which tends to be an issue for an episode which clearly wants to focus on the humour aspect of its narrative) in a manner which violates everything that I feel elevated the show to greatness. FiM has played dumb comedy successfully before and since (Madame Pinkie and "but it could've FALLEN IN THE FIRE!" stand out here) but never in such a sloppy and pervasively brainless way, which additionally leads to a certain obnoxious tone that doesn't fit FiM in the slightest.