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Hearth's Warming Helper

Found 5 results

  1. https://mlpforums.com/calendar/event/15-%7B%3F%7D/?module=events Title: The Mysterious Mare Do Well! Air Date: November 26, 2011 Synopsis: A new masked avenger is stealing Rainbow Dash’s thunder as Ponyville’s resident hero. It will be interesting to find out who the "hero" is.
  2. Hey kids, it's your friendly, neighborhood Batbrony! Gee whiz, another Saturday, another new episode of MLP, boy oh boy I sure am excited! Well, let's embark on what shall surely be an enlightening and fulfilling experience for all of us and watch another new episode of our favorite show, MLP!!! *one episode of I don't know what the buck I just watched later* ... No really, what in the hell did I just watch? Because it sure as hay wasn't MLP! Uh-uh, I refuse to call that MLP, not in a thousand years would I call that MLP! What was that piece of ass strutting around pretending to be MLP?!?! Guys... I have to tell you. I never thought this day would come, and I really hoped it wouldn't, but, it is official... after five years of "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" being my worst episode of MLP ever, I... I now have a new worst. It is this. Fillies and gentlecolts, "Hard to Say Anything" is... it is only TECHNICALLY the worst MLP episode I've ever seen, because I still refuse to consider this abomination to be an actual episode of MLP. It. Is. That. Bad. There is no truly easy way to sum up everything that hurts about this episode, so I'm just going to have to go through the whole episode from beginning to end, sharing exactly what I'm thinking as I first watched this... thing. Well... here goes nothing. This is *throws up in his mouth a little* "Hard to Say Anything." Alright, so things start off with the CMC getting some old costumes! Well, nothing wrong with that really, seems a bit odd that they'd be excited about that at this age, but OK, I'll bite. Well then it turns out that the "costumes" are a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache-gag-glasses. Uhhhhhhhhhhh, guys, you do realize that even five-year-olds know those aren't costumes, right??? Well as long as it's just some throwaway gag I guess it's no big- wait, what's that? These stupid not-costumes are a crucial plot-device that keep getting brought up throughout the episode? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... why? I mean, really, why? The CMC (as demonstrated multiple times, including the past two episodes) are at a point in their lives where they're mentally and emotionally mature enough to solve problems with their intellect and by reasoning things through. The last time they needed costumes for anything was when they tried to get their cutie marks in a talent show, and (1) those were actual costumes that they made, (2) they were younger, and (3) it was just a bucking talent show and one of dozens if not hundreds of things they tried to do to get their cutie marks, not a potentially life changing situation like in today's episode! OK, so... not exactly off to a great start now, are we? Well, what comes next? Wowwwwwwww, that... yeah, that looks pretty bad guys. Frankly, your apple disguise in this episode was a better disguise than these... ...and that should tell you everything you need to know about how these work as disguises OK, Big Mac's here, and we learn he's taking some apples off to Starlight's old village for the fifth time in a single week. First of all, that doesn't seem possible for a number of reasons. First, the Mane 6 had to take a bucking train to originally get there when they first found the village. Because, ya know, it's in a pretty remote part of Equestria, and all. Big Mac, as far as we can tell, is just dragging his bucking apple cart all the way there. Second, Sweetie Belle distinctly mentions later in the episode that it was a long ride, so once again, I find it difficult to believe that even Big Mac could get to a location that is most likely hundreds of miles away five times in a single week just by dragging his heavy apple cart around. He may be strong but even he can appreciate and take advantage of the convenience of a train when the situation warrants it! But anyways, it clearly doesn't seem like that's why he's going, something which the girls quickly notice. Do they notice because they reason amongst themselves that it's downright odd that Big Mac would be making so many trips? Well, kind of, but not really. Really the big factor that leads any of them to conclude that Mac is up to something is Scootaloo saying she noticed him blushing, which just seems... dumber. I mean, who really ever notices anyone blushing unless they're right in their face? It's not like the blush alone was the only give away that something weird was going on, the CMC could've easily concluded that just by reasoning alone, but no, instead they figured it out because of something really stupid and cliche like noticing Big Mac blushing from a distance. Then they make some really stupid bucking guesses about why he's making so many trips and decide to tag along to spy on him. Not only is this decision made in a span of 10 seconds, but the CMC also decide that the best way to go about this is to lug along their "costumes" as "disguises" so that they'll "for realsies be spies guys, like, totally, they're totes legit now!" So now they're not pretending to be spies, they actually think they are being spies by dressing up in a clown wig, a pirate hat, and mustache gag-glasses... I would say this feels like something that S1/S2 CMC would do, but that feels like it would be insulting to S1/S2 CMC. In fact, I'm sure it would be insulting to them. Alright, so they get to Starlight's old village and what do they find? Well, it appears that Big Mac has a crush on Sugar Belle, that cute unicorn from the S5 premiere who used to bake nothing but muffins during Starlight's old reign but is now the resident baker and is having the time of her life baking all kinds of yummy treats, many of which "conveniently" require apples to bake, and since they don't exactly have many apple trees in the area, she has to evidently order quite a few from the Apples (though admittedly it even appears that she has more than she needs, BUT she keeps ordering them on a regular basis and, during this segment, is clearly giving Big Mac some verbal and physical cues, and more than a few suggestive looks). I'll be honest, this introduction to these two works for me. Sugar Belle is as adorable as ever, the two seem to be going through the flirty, bubbly, butterflies-in-your stomach phase of a relationship RIGHT when it's on the edge of blossoming into a full blown one, and their chemistry is pretty infectious in this initial scene. This beg's the question however, WHAT'S THE BUCKING PROBLEM!!! No, really, what is the problem? Even the CMC notice that Sugar Belle is as into Big Mac as he is into her, and really their initial encouragement that he just go and talk to her wasn't bad advice. Heck, they even point out that he didn't have a real first crush with Cheerilee considering it was a love potion, which, if you think about it, is kind of the pony-equivalent of a magical roofie. That's more than a little uncomfortable to think about and probably a big reason the writers decided to never go forward with making CheeriMac into a canon pairing; there would always have been questions, very uncomfortable ones, about whether or not their initial relationship was set off by first getting together when they were magically roofied, and frankly those are questions that shouldn't be asked in this show. So why I always did think that CheeriMac was a cute ship and am sad myself to see it die officially, I can understand why they would kill it and don't mind that, of all the ponies to pair him with, they chose Sugar Belle. That's actually a creative choice, really! She's not a local in Big Mac's hometown, and she's not a member of the Mane 6 or even a major character; she's just a random supporting character in a town very far away from Ponyville, which adds an interesting, long-distance relationship dynamic to her and Big Mac's pairing. Really, when we look at this episode from the outside, this is not just a good set-up, but an incredibly promising set-up for a really, really cool status-quo changer in this show that could have been so, so good. So what went wrong? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I'll tell ya what went wrong. We've had shades of what's going to be so, so wrong up to this point, from some of the poor logic exercised by the CMC (namely those bucking stupid "costumes" they keep insisting are disguises, I swear I cringe every time Scootaloo puts that giant clown wig on and insists she's being a spy) but the moment Big Mac tries to express his feelings for Sugar Belle for the first time, this is where the s*** really hits the fan for the first time. You see, when Big Mac tries to do something that should have just been a routine stage in starting a relationship which, by all accounts, was on the brink of starting anyway... this guy shows up... Stop flipping your hair you obnoxious son of a turd's excrement This... is Feather Bangs, or as I like to call him, "Piece of Lazy S*** Excuse for Giving This Plot a Contrived as Buck Conflict." Just... just look at him. Breathe it in, folks, breathe the stench of fail that is this character in. Where do I even start? How about his introduction, or rather lack of one! Yeah, this guy has no build up whatsoever! We aren't told who he is, what he does, why the buck he has a crush on Sugar Belle (seriously, not once, he just seems to want to get with someone for the sake of getting with someone), or where the buck he even came from! I ended this episode still not knowing whether or not he always lived in Starlight's old village, moved there only recently, or if he even lives there at all! So yeah, HE HAS NO INTRODUCTION!!! He just shows up and starts flirting shamelessly with Sugar Belle. And you want to know what the really bucked up thing is? SHE SEEMS INTO IT!! WHY??? Two seconds ago she was eyeing Big Mac up and down and "accidentally" bumping her snout into his! NOW she's into this tool??? Why is this so? Why, why, why, why, why???????? I'll tell you why! LAZINESS!!! GRADE A LAZINESS!!!! Let's take a look at the "special" writer of this episode, shall we? The writer of this episode is a first time MLP-writer by the name of Becky Wangberg. Ya wanna know what else she's worked on? The Fairly OddParents and a bunch of other no-name shows, most of which seem to be on Nickelodeon. Now let me say this; Fairly OddParents at one point was a good show, much like SpongeBob Squarepants was. But also just like SpongeBob, Fairly OddParents lasted too long and got driven into the ground by Nickelodeon's insistence that they keep churning it out, and eventually became a shallow excuse of a kids show. More importantly for the purposes of our beloved MLP, I would never want ANY writer for Fairly OddParents touching MLP with a 10-foot pole because the shows are completely different from each other! Fairly OddParents was almost always a comedy-show first and foremost, actual lessons were largely an afterthought. And when it was good at that, it was just fine! When it was bad at it, it was badddddddd. But MLP has never, ever, EVER been a comedy-show alone; it has had episodes that place more emphasis on the comedy than anything else, but for the most part it usually tries to teach kids and adults alike smart but also accessible lessons. They may sometimes be simple, but the execution is usually so good that one can't help but appreciate the efforts that went into teaching these lessons, and many times the lessons are very complex. This episode was not just an opportunity to teach a good lesson about starting a romantic relationship, but was also a status quo changer for a major supporting character on the show. So who do they give it to? A veteran MLP writer? OF COURSE NOT, THEY GAVE IT TO A FIRST TIME SHOW WRITER WHO HAS NOTHING ON HER RESUME THAT WOULD SUGGEST IN THE SLIGHTEST THAT SHE WAS QUALIFIED TO HANDLE THIS EPISODE!!! If there is one thing that defines this episode more than anything else, it is how much the laziness put into the writing defines it. It is a laziness we are unaccustomed to seeing in this show, and it is quite remarkable how much said laziness, something you might more typically see in a show like Fairly OddParents today, brings down a treasure of a show like MLP so, so much. I will discuss this laziness later, but suffice to say that it is present, it is at the core of what's wrong with this episode, and it brings it down so, so, SO low! Alright, so... picking up where I left off, Justin Bieber as a pony shows up (man, I really wish I never had to say that), acts like a dumbass, and for some reason Sugar Belle now likes this. So Big Mac panics, because... Feather Bangs can juggle??? Anyways, he panics and the CMC decide to help. Heck, they even make a point of assuring him that they are MUCH more mature than they were the last time they tried to help him with his love life and would NEVER think of magically roofieing him or Sugar Belle! Well that's good, so do they suggest he do anything competent? HA HA HA, you poor bastards give this episode too much credit if you think they do! No, the characters who are probably late tweens or early teenagers by now (seriously, two weeks ago we had Sweetie Belle telling us she was into experimental theater right now, make up your mind show!) suggest that he do things as one would... in a fairy tale. This is dumb. OK. It's dumb. I don't want anyone telling me that the characters who tried to figure out if a griffon could somehow have a cutie mark, have time and time again tackled their own insecurities and feelings of failure and inadequacy, and are now helping other ponies do the same on a regular basis, would suggest that someone should try to get into a relationship by doing things as a Prince Charming would in a fairy tale in SEASON 7 OF THIS SHOW!!! Heck, I don't think they would in Season 1 or Season 2 either, but Season 7??? REALLY??? Guys, if you wanted to do the "Character A needs help expressing his feelings to and starting a relationship with Character B with the help of Character C" trope, why did you pick the CMC in the first place? The only circumstance in which they should have been the ones helping Big Mac out with his love life is if he and Cheerilee were for real getting together; that would have been an interesting opportunity for the CMC to make up for their past mistake when they tried to force them together. But why are they here??? They don't know this town, they don't know Sugar Belle, and none of them have ever been in any relationship, SO WHY ARE THEY THE ONES HELPING HIM??? A friend and I agreed after this episode that it would have made far more sense if either (1) Starlight Glimmer, or (2) Applejack were helping Big Mac in this situation than the CMC. First, they're both older so presumably at least know a little more about relationships by virtue of age alone. Second, they both know the town and Sugar Belle, as well as Big Mac; Starlight Glimmer is at least sort of friends with him, and Applejack is his middle sister who can easily take charge of a situation at a moment's notice. Either of these two would have easily been able to contribute more here than the CMC could, especially the CMC as they're being written HERE! OK, so first up, they try to concoct a false peril for Sugar Belle by having Scootaloo feign stealing her saddlebag. Can I just say I've never liked this trope? Anyone willing to create a false, EMERGENCY situation to attract a girl's attention, well... that comes off as douchey... at best. At worst, it comes off as a little creepy even. Maybe even cowardly. Point is, how much do you really care about someone if your icebreaker is MANIPULATING them?! Anyways, it doesn't work, because once again Feather Bangs pops out of nowhere and intercepts (literally) Big Mac's save. How he does this, I don't know. Once again, there is no explanation for his seemingly just knowing when Big Mac is about to try to make a move, or why he gives a buck! He's just there, and the thing that makes Sugar Belle falling for this even dumber is that she could see plain as day that Big Mac was about to catch her saddlebag before he even did! SHE KNOWS HE INTERCEPTED BIG MAC'S SAVE AND STILL SEEMS INTO IT!!! WHY?!?!?!?! His douche baggery was just on full display for all to see!!! Oh wait, I know, sing it with me kids, LAZY WRITING!!! So next, the CMC, HOLY CRAP---- D'awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, you're so cute!!! Who's a cute sweepy pony, WHO'S A CUTE SWEEPY PONY? YOU ARE! YES, YOU ARE!!! Ahem, anyways, the CMC decide that the best thing for Big Mac to do is... kiss Sugar Belle awake because that's what fairy tale princes do??? ... ... ... Uh oh... So like a smart person, Big Mac says that that's creepy and nowhere near reflecting where they're at in their relationship- oh no, he goes along with it. Wait, what? Uh, Big Mac... Dude, seriously, stop! Well, what did ya think was gonna happen you creepy dumbass!!! OK, people, in a different show the sequence of screen shots I just showed you could EASILY be the start of a VERY different sequence of events in, say, a show like Law and Order: SVU! Let's put this in perspective. Kissing someone awake is... not exactly something that many people except for the closest of couples do, like, couples living together, and even then it's not something they do on a regular basis. But are Big Mac and Sugar Belle a couple at this point? NOPE!! They are (although having flirted quite heavily already) technically just business acquaintances and nothing more at this point in the show. So what he just tried to do? Yeah, I'm calling it, that's attempted sexual assault in a public space and this episode is too stupid to even realize it! I don't care that it doesn't work, the show does not understand HOW bad what he just tried to do is. Throughout the episode they keep mentioning that the love potion was a REALLY bad thing, but this? This is played for laughs, and frankly, this is a million times worse than the love potion was even if one considers it a magical roofie. The love potion was a bad idea from kids who don't understand what makes for a healthy relationship, but this is a grown ass adult who has actual romantic intentions for a pony who, at this point, does not return said intentions. He is attempting to kiss her without her prior knowledge in a public space without her consent. THAT. IS. ASSAULT!!! YOU DUMBASS WRITER!!!!! So obviously Sugar Belle freaks out (because what the buck else would you do if a dude you kinda like but aren't in a relationship with was leering over you as you slept in a public space and about to kiss you without your knowing, I mean, REALLY GUYS!!), but then, who should show up but Douchey McDouchemane, I mean, Feather Bangs (gosh I hate that name... also his name doesn't really make much sense since he's not even a pegasus, what the buck). He offers her a random carriage ride, and she seems to happily accept; buck me, at this point she's giving him the same kind of eyes she was giving Big Mac earlier in the episode, so she seems to be pretty into him. I would be madder about her going along with his schtick, but frankly, he was the far less creepy one in this scene, and that's pretty badddddddddddddd. So finally, the CMC decide that Big Mac should try to win her over with a love song. Granted, it's cliche but frankly it's a breath of fresh air (at least in theory) after the night terror we were just presented with in Mac's last disastrous attempt. And honestly the song isn't that bad at first. It's nothing special, but it's pretty sweet (aside from the whole sneaking into her store thing and closing the door while turning the lights off), and Sugar Belle seems to appreciate it too. But then Feather Bangs comes back and we get easily the worst scene in the whole episode (and possibly the worst songs we've ever heard in the entire show), because HE brought his own song as well and... well, it's a Bieber song. I don't know what else to tell you. It's the MLP version of a Bieber song, and not a good one, with PLENTY of suggestive lyrics and visuals (I don't care if they were played for laughs, it made me more than a bit uncomfortable at points). Even worse, the whole sequence turns into a pairing of dueling numbers, so basically we keep jumping back and forth from a clumsy, increasingly bad country song to a terrible pop song, and the two genres clash so badly that they just further amplify how bad it all is. It's like somebody split up a bad bro-country song by completely separating the pop from the country, and it resulted in an equally bad pop song and country song. Sugar Belle's not into any of it, and is most DEFINITELY not into Feather Bangs... wait, what? Yeah, this whole song she clearly seems miffed at Feather Bangs when in the very last scene she was eyeing him up and down like a kid with a brand new lollipop and I don't know what the buck is going on now! Was she ever into him? Based on her earlier reactions, she had to be! Oh wait... oh you sons of bitches... LAZY WRITING STRIKES AGAIN!!! This is possibly the most egregious example of this in the whole episode. The only reason Feather Bangs is supposed to be here is because we're supposed to believe that he is a viable rival lover to Big Mac, vying for Sugar Belle's affection as much as he is, for most of the episode. The only way they're able to make us believe he has any chance as a rival is by showing Sugar Belle digging what he's doing, at least initially. But now that we're supposed to believe that she's really into Big Mac, not Feather Bangs, she is inexplicably showing NONE of the earlier interest she showed for Feather Bangs, even though he's basically doing the same s*** he was doing before, just on a bit of a bigger scale. Holy buck, that is AMAZING in its laziness! I mean, really. I don't even know what to say at this point other than... wow. Just wow. Characters flipping their behavior back and forth on a dime as easily as one would flick a light switch on and off. Buck me, that's lazy. This whole scene was ear-and-eye cancer... like, all of it, I seriously feel less healthy for having watched it So what more is there to say? After the "dueling songs" go disastrously, with Big Mac and Feather Bangs essentially destroying most of Sugar Belle's store, Big Mac and the CMC finally figure out what should have been a far easier lesson to teach, that showing someone you care about them in an especially special way means showing them that you know who they are and what they care about, and that you in turn care about them and what they care about. WHY WAS THIS SO HARD TO TEACH!!! So Big Mac makes her a new shelf, she loves it, they get together after some CMC shenanigans (involving, yet again, those bucking stupid NOT COSTUMES, WHY IS THIS A CRUCIAL PLOT DEVICE, IT'S NOT CLEVER?!?!?!), and they look really sweet and cute together. THE. BUCKING. END. Oh wait, no it's not, because in the last 30 seconds we're supposed to feel sorry for Feather Bangs and hope that the CMC help him figure out how to talk to mares. Uh uh, no way, you bastards don't get to pull that lazy, tired, "ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, he's not a bad guy, he's just misunderstood" trope in only 30 seconds when we have seen nothing redeemable about this twat since he was first introduced (if you want to call it that). I hate that lazy trope, and it's yet another perfect embodiment of the utter laziness that characterizes this whole bucking episode!!! Buck Feather Bangs and buck his lady problems, I hope every mare turns him down harder than a jackhammer chews up a sidewalk! So let me reiterate if it wasn't clear already... People, this was trash. Hot, steaming, burning, wretched smelling trash. This was SO much worse than "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" in every way possible. "MMMMystery on the Friendship Express" insults my intelligence, and the intelligence of any brony out there, BUT to its defense (and I never thought I'd be saying this) it is well aware that it is nothing but a throwaway episode. Nothing important happens in it, it is just an episode for the sake of having another episode, that's it! THIS was supposed to be a status quo changer, THIS was supposed to be a major development for a major, recurring supporting character! We have barely seen any of the characters in the show get into relationships or the show itself handle the topic of romantic relationships; I hope it largely stays that way, but I also always hoped that the show would address it to a certain extent, because I always thought that this show, as good as it is, would probably be able to handle romantic relationship subjects better than most kids shows can. I still believe that, even after this episode. Sugar Belle and Big Mac are honestly, as I said earlier, a cute couple, and I think they could be a really good couple going forward! Nothing about the pairing itself is what turned me off in this episode, in fact, that's where the tragedy of it lies. This episode, for as bad as it is, feels like half of it IS good MLP. There are signs of the quality from MLP we've come to expect on a regular basis. The few genuinely funny lines in there (like Apple Bloom's "Quick, act like apples" line or Sugar Belle's "That's the whole town! It's just the one street" bit) are typical MLP fare, little details like Sugar Belle's reactions throughout the song numbers as well as the fact that Starlight's house has been replaced by a tree, the largely inoffensive beginning and ending, the three mares who keep fawning over Feather Bangs (the fawning itself is disgusting but they have fantastic character designs and are pretty entertaining to watch), these things work! Sugar Belle herself was honestly perfectly fine aside from when the script forced her to like what Feather Bangs was doing, besides that she was sweet, adorable, and her VA has the cutest voice! But at the end of the day I found myself and a friend agreeing with one another that the end of CheeriMac is the least of this episode's problems, and that should tell you a lot right there. The problem is the good was in a jumbled mess with sooooooooooooooo much bad, there was no clear cut divide between the two and on top of that, this was a lot of bad in an episode that should have been incredibly easy to do right. What we got instead was patronizing to its audience, treating us as though we were too dumb to handle a more complex plot, and even worse it had no right to be patronizing because the episode was so much dumber than it thought it was! If someone just understood who these characters are, how they behave, this premise, even with the CMC involved in it, could have easily turned into a good to great episode! And that's why I keep referring to laziness as being at the core of what makes this episode a disaster, because I don't know how else to explain it. A first time writer for this show bucking up an episode this badly in a critically acclaimed show that is in its seventh season? Laziness, plain and simple. There is more than enough material for this writer to have watched to have gotten more than a clear understanding of who these character's are for the purposes of her own episode, and frankly, I just think she didn't bother to do her homework. The only other alternative is that she's just that bad of a writer, and I really hope that's not the case because if so, I don't know how she's still getting work. But for the time being, I'm chalking it up to unforgivable laziness, and for such a piss poor effort put into what should have been such an important episode, "Hard to Say Anything" gets an F---------------------- from me. It is not even in my book an episode of MLP, because it is unrecognizable as MLP. I would expect this level of quality from other shows that Ms. Wangberg has worked on (on their bad days), but for MLP, this is simply unacceptable. DHX, please, learn from this and don't ever let this person work on this beloved show ever again, much less on episodes that should be so important. In fact, don't ever assign first time show writers such important episodes ever again. Congratulations, "Hard to Say Anything," you are now my least favorite episode of MLP, and I hope it stays that way, because I shudder to think of what an episode would have to do to make me hate it more than I hated this one. Buck me... that's all I got for ya this week everypony. Until next time (in a Celestia-willing better episode than this) this is Batbrony signing off. I'm off... to get a drink... or twenty!!! *cue dramatic exit to the bar* When an episode drives Batbrony to get drunk dressed as Superman, you know it done bucked up
  3. OK, sorry I'm a bit late to the party everypony, I just needed to absorb and process how amazing that episode was. Welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews". Today's episode is what I would describe as quintessential MLP; something that captured everything we love about the show to begin with while also doing something new (surprisingly considering this holiday, and the story they recycled, are both very well-established). It also highlighted what I love about Starlight's addition to the main cast this season, namely the fact that her presence gives them the opportunity to retread old stories or themes while making them still seem fresh and new since, obviously, she has not participated in most of the Mane 6's adventures in the past and still has a lot to learn about friendship. Without further ado, let's dive into "A Hearth's Warming Tale". So let's get this out of the way first: the only bad thing about this episode, the single worst thing about it, is the fact that it released in the middle of May. That's about as hilarious and ridiculous timing for a Christmas-themed episode as you can get, and it's completely unseasonal in every sense of the word. It's not a big deal in the slightest, it's just funny is all. Hee hee, pissed off Starlight Glimmer pleases me That out of the way, let's begin. So the story is essentially MLP's take on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with some minor elements of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" thrown in there. It's Hearth's Warming Eve (yet again, man this show is getting inconsistent with the seasons, I cannot keep track of how they work in Equestria at this point), and everypony in Ponyville is loving it. Everypony, that is, except Starlight Glimmer. Turns out she's grown to not see the big deal in Hearth's Warming. She doesn't think most ponies care about its origins and that the stuff they really care about is superficial, so to fix that, Twilight sets out to tell her her favorite Hearth's Warming story, "A Hearth's Warming Tale". We've seen this setup for Christmas episodes in A LOT of shows, but as so often happens in MLP with similar setups like this, what made this stand out was how fantastically everything was executed. First and foremost, the fact that Twilight approaches this problem by reading Starlight a story is perfect for her! The show likes to remind us a lot that Twilight is an egghead, but usually for jokes or just to begin solving problems. An entire episode is rarely covered by her love of reading, so it's nice to see her channeling her bookishness so positively throughout an entire episode. The other way it surpasses other shows that have done a similar setup before is how it conveys the themes. There's a lot of parallels you can draw between Starlight's concern that ponies don't really care about the origins of Hearth's Warming and just stuff like presents and parties instead and both Christmas media and people in real life who fear that it's just a superficial, materialistic holiday these days where people don't really care about the more religious aspects of it. A lot of Christmas media take this approach, but the difference is what conclusion they come to and how they get there. In some cases you have people try to get people to abandon the materialistic aspects altogether and wholesale go back to the spiritual roots; it's rare, but sometimes happens, and those can be done well, but oftentimes aren't. The best example of this I can think of is "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which almost entirely foregoes any materialistic aspects of the holiday in favor for a very somber message. More commonly you have the compromise approach; someone tries to show how the materialistic and spiritual sides of the holiday can complement each other and are both equally important. This can be executed very well, or horribly. An example of doing it well would probably be "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"; conversely, a horrible way to do it is in Kirk Cameron's wretched and dreadful "Saving Christmas". What makes this stand out is that it's super rare that a 22 minute television episode could cover these themes as well as MLP does here. In an episode which includes setup and a conclusion before the actual meat of the episode, we get a wonderful message about how presents, parties, and celebrations with friends and family can, when approached correctly, embody as much of the spirit of a Christmas-like holiday as understanding its roots and celebrating those as well. Neither aspect is thrown under the bus; Hearth's Warming's origins are just as important as what holiday it has become, so long as they're about the celebration first and foremost. The celebration of the holiday is what's most important, embodying all the good of where it comes from and what it's led to. This is as nuanced a message as a full-length Christmas movie could be which convinces an audience that the good to be found in giving presents at Christmas is just as much what Christmas is about as celebrating the birth of Christ, as long as both come from the same place. It also works perfectly for MLP's setting considering friendship and community, we know by this point, are quite possibly the most central aspect of the most powerful magic in Equestria. Overall, it was just a wonderful handling of tried and true themes, made all the more impressive by the short amount of time they had to cover them all, and MLP writing at its best. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, these sets are GORGEOUS!!! A huge part of how they were able to execute this episode and deliver its message so well was the fact that it was a musical episode, and a delightful one at that. First of all, it's about time we got a musical Hearth's Warming Eve episode, not just with one song thrown in at the end. All of the songs did a great job of telling the story, capturing the spirit of the holiday, and just bringing the episode to life. This is Daniel Ingram at his best, and my goodness it was delightful to see him get to make music for a holiday episode finally. It also helps that they chose some of the characters with the best singing voices to carry these songs. The opening ensemble in Ponyville was fantastic, Starlight Glimmer's Snowfall Frost had yet another great villain song, Ashleigh Ball proved yet again (in my personal favorite song of the episode) that Applejack has possibly the most underrated, gorgeous singing voice on the show in her delightfully simple and nostalgia-inducing number as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past, Pinkie had a surprisingly touching but still incredibly bouncy number as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents (HA), and Luna came out of bucking nowhere as the Spirit of Hearth's Warmings Yet to Come and, in her first number since "You'll Play Your Part" since Season 4 (and first solo ever) absolutely KILLED IT!!! Finally, the episode ended on a lovely ensemble with all the ponies celebrating. Through and through, each number was delightful and thematically seemed to cover different aspects of the holiday season, making for an excellent way to convey the episode's message and themes. The tunes themselves did not just tell the story, they told the themes, and that's quite impressive if you ask me. By far one of the most impressive musical achievements on the show in some time, I loved every minute of the music in this episode and once again have to tip my cap to the always phenomenal Daniel Ingram on an incredible job well-done. I was particularly fond of this number, but they were all phenomenal in their own ways Dang, Luna got HUGE! You been working out girl? Besides those two big points, there's not too much more to cover. It was "A Christmas Carol" MLP-style, so no reason to go over the story really, they just updated it in a few ways for the purposes of the setting. The fact that main characters yet again assumed the roles of these story characters was a nice callback to the first Hearth's Warming episode where they staged the pageant in Canterlot together. Twilight was adorable as she told the story, especially when it was suggested that she was actually singing the song numbers as she read. I would have liked to see a bit more of Starlight's reactions as the story went on, but that's forgivable considering they could only fit so much into one episode. The animation was probably the most gorgeous we've ever had for a Hearth's Warming episode; we've never seen Ponyville celebrating it, and it did not disappoint, the whole town and Twilight's castle simply came to life entirely as they should for this celebration, not to mention the animators also got to play around with lovely 19th century Victorian-style animation for the "A Hearth's Warming Tale" setting in old Canterlot and other surrounding towns. That Snape-pony was kind of hilarious (seriously, who else could they possibly be referencing with that guy?), and I seriously couldn't get enough of that older setting, especially the outfits! Holy cheese, those outfits were amazing!!! My personal favorite was Applejack's and Rarity's, and for the former that's quite a testament to how great the design and animation were considering AJ was pretty much one color palette in her whole design. It just had this simple elegance to it as so many other dresses AJ has worn have had, and showed once again why I adore little things like that with her character when they just tweak her ever so slightly and have her step outside of her comfort zone and adorn things she normally wouldn't. Get rekt, m8 Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the background ponies. In the both the present and story-setting we got to see some of our favorite familiar faces from around Ponyville (I was especially pleased to see Blossomforth and Cloud Kicker get some nice screen time, those two sometimes get overlooked), and it was loads of fun getting to see all of Ponyville celebrating the holiday. My personal favorite of course (because I'm me) was Derpy becoming the best Hearth's Warming Eve star EVER, but nearly all of the major background ponies got some sort of fun appearance, and you can tell that the animators had a lot of fun playing around with them on this one. Overall, as I said earlier, this was about as quintessential MLP as we can get: it had a great message, story, pacing, animation, music, humor, and just great everything in general. It's possibly my favorite Hearth's Warming episode they've done to date, though I'll have to think about that carefully considering the Season 2 one is pretty darn amazing in its own right. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out as soon as you can; as for me, I can't wait to see it a second time as soon as possible. That's all I got for ya'll today, everypony. Until next week, this is Batbrony signing out. I'm off! *cue dramatic exit* I think we can all agree that best Hearth's Warming Tree Star was the best part of this episode
  4. OK, welcome back everypony to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews". This week, we're looking at "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone". My apologies for the late review, the weekend's just been a bit wonky is all. So to start, I really liked this episode. It was our second "Cutie Mark Map" episode of the season (and the first to feature simply a pair of the Mane 6 rather than the whole bunch, a pattern that I imagine we will see repeated this season a few more times), and just like the first two episodes, it introduced us to a really cool new setting, Griffonstone. On top of that, we got some great bits of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash bouncing off of each other and working together quite swimmingly (at least in the end) as well as the return of none other than Gilda the Griffon! So let's start by talking about the new setting. I really like Griffonstone for a couple of reasons. We've never really seen a community in the show that's struggling economically, and by extension has many very apparent social difficulties as well. It was kind of jarring to see that in MLP, but kudos to the writers for not shying away from showing such an imperfect place. The history of the city-state (let's call it that, it wasn't exactly defined what kind of kingdom it was, but the griffons we saw at the Equestrian games behaved as Equestrian citizens, and it showed up on the Equestria map as well, so I'm assuming it's a part of Equestria) was very cool as well, and actually didn't do much to threaten previous head-fanon in the brony community, something I as a fanfiction writer very much appreciate. As I said, the kingdom/city-state seems to be in a very remote part of Equestria, so it's not very hard for fanfiction writers like myself to simply say that this was a splinter group of griffons that simply emigrated to Equestria, while most griffons live elsewhere. A random tangent, I know, and it probably wasn't intentional on the writers' part, but still, I appreciate it nonetheless. Look at that fly charmer of a griffon king! The aforementioned difficulties facing the community made for an interesting lesson to be learned. I understand that some bronies are upset with the fact that the episode didn't really address the economic difficulties facing Griffonstone even though it quite clearly showed they exist, but to that I say that the minimal effects of what Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash accomplished clear that up. The episode did not say that friendship alone is going to solve Griffonstone's problems, and it didn't even show them resolved. Gilda alone is right now the only griffon there committed to spreading friendship in her community, with the possibility that Greta might join her. So Griffonstone's salvation is hardly ensured at this point. What I think the episode was saying was that you cannot let material idols be the foundation, the basis of all unity and harmony in your community. One can never always rely on material things, they will wither away at some point. The foundation of a healthy community is that it must be one where the citizens inherently care for one another because it's the right thing to do, not because there's something to get out of helping one another. Such a community can carry its citizens through the good times and bad. Is the road ahead of Griffonstone going to be a long and hard one? Most certainly, and the episode doesn't deny that, or provide all the answers even. But a good place to start for a community as devastated as that place is is for griffons like Gilda to reteach its citizens what it means to care about something that truly matters, like each other. Once there's some unity in the community, then it might be able to better start meeting its pressing material needs and once more become a prosperous community as it was before when the Idol of Boreas previously brought its people together. Look at all the bronies, Dashie! Anyways, onto the characters themselves. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash are always a hoot together; it was very bizarre, more than anything else, to see Pinkie Pie of all characters thinking things through more than Rainbow Dash (though that might've been Rainbow trying to get out of Griffonstone as fast as possible so she didn't have to be around Gilda), but I liked that, it showed Pinkie using her noggin in her own strange way. Both of them were wildly entertaining, no surprised there, and had great episodes in their own ways, neither really felt OOC at any point for any reason. It made perfect sense that Rainbow wouldn't want to help griffons or stick around Gilda given her previous experiences with Gilda, but thankfully she came around to seeing they were worth helping fairly quickly as well, and also made up with Gilda quite easily. Gilda, herself, though probably shined more than any other character in the episode. Not only did she take the first steps toward becoming possibly a social leader in her community, but we also got to learn about her past of all things (in an adorable flashback no less!). To put into perspective just how great an episode she had, this was a character who up until this episode I never thought I'd stop loathing, mostly because she made Fluttershy cry in Season One and was just an all around douche in her first episode. But miraculously, not only was she reintroduced, but the writers also managed to redeem her without it feeling forced in the slightest. Pinkie Pie taught Gilda about friendship by example, and really, that's the best way for Pinkie Pie to teach things. She's not so much a words-pony, at least when it comes to delivering lessons, she's a doer, and I'm certain that her treating Gilda just as friendly as she did when she first met her must have left an impression eventually on the stubborn, hotheaded griffon. Overall, Gilda's redemption impressed me more than any other aspect of this episode's writing and execution, and I'm actually really glad to have seen it happen. Buck, these two are gonna get shipped like there's no tomorrow, aren't they? Ah well, 'tis but the nature of the fandom, I suppose Not much else to say about this one. The comedy was great, be it from Gummy, Pinkie, Rainbow, the side characters, whoever. The animation as always was gorgeous (including those very cool history segments, I liked those a lot). Overall, another Season 5 episode that hit it out of the park, what else can ya really say but that it was awesome to watch! We've got a bit of a break now in the season; the next new episode won't be until June 13. But... what an episode it will be. Prepare yourselves, everypony, because the next episode... is the 100th episode of MLP. Oh yeah, 'dis gonna be good.
  5. ChikoritaCheezits

    Spoiler Season 5 Episode 8 REVEALED

    http://www.equestriadaily.com/2015/04/season-5-episode-8-revealed-lost.html#more My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic : The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone Air Date: May 23, 2015) Synopsis: Rainbow Dash and Pinkie pie are called by the map to the ancient kingdom of Griffonstone but have conflicting ideas as to what problem they have been called to fix. YES! RAINBOW DASH AND PINKIE TEAM UP EPISODE!