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Oleks

What makes a good MLP episode?

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Considering some fans’ concerns and criticism regarding the recent episodes, I have a question. What, in your opinion, are key aspects of a good MLP episode?
Which of those are the most and the least important things to you?

  • Interesting story
  • A good lesson / moral of the story
  • Continuity
  • Characters acting in character
  • Character/world development
  • Or add your own options.

Some MLP episodes, indeed, have all or most of those, but often writers sacrifice some elements for the sake of the others. So I wonder what people are looking for in MLP episodes these days.
 

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This is a tough question to answer in any way that isn't simple.

To me an episode should always know it's own continuity, even if it isn't based on previous events, at least make sure it is present that way we don't get any mistakes in established character traits. An episode should have a solid story that feels like it can have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Character development is always important, world development is only important for special episodes and not needed every single time, 5-6 episodes of strong lore and worldbuilding is great (which is what we usually get anyway).

Idk, I just want a good story with characters I enjoy, if I feel the characters or off or the shows established lore is being sacrificed to tell this one story, I will not be pleased.

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15 minutes ago, Oleks said:

Interesting story

This is absolutely paramount. Even bad episodes can have something to like or talk about as long as they have something interesting within them. The worst sin to be committed in entertainment is to be boring. So yes, this would have to be the absolute base-line of what makes a good episode - and not just in MLP.

16 minutes ago, Oleks said:

A good lesson / moral of the story

This is not necessarily important for me personally; I can still like an episode whose moral at the end I don't agree with, and I can hate episodes that have good morals. MLP: FiM is constrained by its moral framing, though, and it always will be given the SoL direction it generally takes, so a good moral wouldn't hurt the episode, at least.

17 minutes ago, Oleks said:

Continuity

Somewhat important. Established characters should behave like their established personalities in other episodes. I don't think episodes have to continue off of other episodes, although the fact that this show does build off of other episodes is a strength in its favor. That being said, MLP: FiM is primarily episodic more than story-arc driven, like A:TLA, so if an episode doesn't have much connection to other episodes, it's not going to count against the episode so long as it doesn't contradict previous episodes, either.

A lot of people are bothered by little details, such as debating over an Equestrian year and how much time has passed between x event, but those personally don't bother me and I don't expect the show staff to keep intimate track of that.

It is, however, really impressive when an episode does keep track of that, so again, like a good moral, it wouldn't hurt the episode to have strong continuity.

20 minutes ago, Oleks said:

Characters acting in character

I think this relates to continuity. Again, somewhat important.

21 minutes ago, Oleks said:

Character/world development

For some shows, character development isn't that important, but MLP: FiM has shown that character development and interaction is a big focus, and therefore it is pretty important to MLP: FiM in particular. A character shouldn't be learning the same lesson over and over again, for instance.

World development is not really important much at all. MLP: FiM is a SoL show with some action at the end of the day. It's not your next Lord of the Rings, and I don't expect it. Again, as I said with the previous things, it doesn't hurt the episodes - so long as the world development is done well. If it contradicts previous development, it might raise some eyebrows. In addition to that, if the world building dilutes the focus of an episode, I'd rather cut out the world building than anything else the episode presents.

 

Entertainment is the most important part of an episode as well as considering the audience and implications in the episode. Characters are, at the end of the day, tools for storytelling. I'm willing to forgive some out of character moments if the ride is enjoyable, or that out of character moment is justified well enough. World building is something I don't go to MLP: FiM for, so I personally am not into that, but I can understand why other people enjoy it since it's a fantasy land and fantasy lands have the most interesting world building of any. Still, I do think that MLP: FiM should have some internal integrity. It's just that some things that may be implausible at their current explanation I'm willing to forgive if an episode has the right amount of heart and strong character interaction. It bugged people that Scootaloo was up all night on her own in "Flight to the Finish" for instance, but it was something that didn't personally bother me as much because the core message and everything else about the episode make me like it enough that it just didn't get to me much. It's not that it's not a valid complaint, but I'm willing to forgive an episode's flaws more if it's got heart, or if it's really entertaining the full way through.

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No more maude pie, shes a boreing charater i wanna kill

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8 minutes ago, Amys-pmvs said:

No more maude pie, shes a boreing charater i wanna kill

Sound like Maude pie hater moondancer_by_lunafate-d95rcvc.png

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11 minutes ago, Scootaloved said:

Entertainment is the most important part of an episode as well as considering the audience and implications in the episode.

This actually resonates with my views. As much as I love continuity and get annoyed when ponies act OOC, if the story is good and as long as the episode makes me smile/laugh/cry or ignites any emotions, I can forgive it many things.

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A good mlp episode for me is one without Pinkie or Rainbow. One that is focused on a mystery perhaps, or something. Where characters stay in character, develop and there is a good moral at the end or something interesting.

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14 minutes ago, Califorum said:

A good mlp episode for me is one without Pinkie or Rainbow. One that is focused on a mystery perhaps, or something. Where characters stay in character, develop and there is a good moral at the end or something interesting.

So I'm guessing you didn't like "Hurricane Fluttershy", "Rarity Investigates", "Pinkie Pride", "Wonderbolts Academy", "Flight to the Finish", "Sleepless in Ponyville", "Too Many Pinkie Pies"... damn that's a lot of episodes.

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1 minute ago, Scootaloved said:

So I'm guessing you didn't like "Hurricane Fluttershy", "Rarity Investigates", "Pinkie Pride", "Wonderbolts Academy", "Flight to the Finish", "Sleepless in Ponyville", "Too Many Pinkie Pies"... damn that's a lot of episodes.

I didn't even bother watching those, as a matter of fact I have hard time remembering what some of those even were. I rarely watch mlp that much nowadays due to time constraints. 

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17 minutes ago, Califorum said:

I didn't even bother watching those, as a matter of fact I have hard time remembering what some of those even were. I rarely watch mlp that much nowadays due to time constraints. 

Strange. "Hurricane Fluttershy" was in Season 2, and "Wonderbolts Academy" and "Sleepless in Ponyville" were both in Season 3.

This is also leaving out "Sonic Rainboom", which is usually cited as the reason a lot of people become bronies.

I'm not saying that I don't believe you, I just find it interesting and curious.

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2 minutes ago, Scootaloved said:

Strange. "Hurricane Fluttershy" was in Season 2, and "Wonderbolts Academy" and "Sleepless in Ponyville" were both in Season 3.

This is also leaving out "Sonic Rainboom", which is usually cited as the reason a lot of people become bronies.

I'm not saying that I don't believe you, I just find it interesting and curious.

It's been actually years since I have seen those. I remember those, but somewhat vaguely. I originally became a fan (not a brony) back in 2012 when I randomly saw things online and mlp was part of it, I liked it and then I got bored in 2013, got back into it in 2016 upon seeing Tirek fight Twilight and I watched all of s5 and s6 but when s7 rolled around I stopped watching sort of. I watch episodes here and there. But what mainly got me back into mlp was the s5 finale and the s4 finale.

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The factors that are listed in the starting post are all good qualities that contribute to the success of an episode yet there are other factors both hidden and in plain sight that provide additional measures. For me, one of them is the voice acting. The performers have gone above and beyond on so many occasions that I've lost count though it always brings a smile to my face on how good they continue to be.

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Posted (edited)

Entertainment value is the main thing that I look for in MLP episodes.  An episode could have some allegedly interesting themes and messages, but if I am bored all the way through, and find watching it to be a chore, than I just can't call it a good episode.  I am looking at you Bloom and Gloom.:okiedokieloki:

Edited by cmarston1
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Boring is a sin.:maud: If an episode entertain me in some ways, i will try to find some positive things to say about it even it was bad. If that episode is boring, i wont even try.

Predictability is not a terrible crime. We consumed media for years so there is nothing new under the sun. Just dont be painful obvious, a little twist and a bit self-awareness can make up for the predictable plot.

Good character interactions is a key of a successful episode.

Dialogue should be decent at least. I love snappy dialogues.:fluttershy: Never underestimate the power of dialogues, good acting should go along with good dialogues.

Be a cartoon, just be silly, just do some crazy stuffs. I watch cartoons to see characters do their cartoonic antics. Standing and talking characters can be a bit boring, more body-language.

Discontinuity is a sin. The writers should watch previous episodes to stay consistent. 

World-building is cool but not this show top priority. Afterall, best episodes from the show take place in Ponyville.

Try not to play too safe. I love the show when it took risk. Explore more interesting theme.

 

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If it makes me laugh and is entertaining then I like it. A good example of an episode that didn't please me is PPOV because it was just the same story told slightly differently 3 times and it turns out they never left the harbour so it just felt like nothing happened in that episode.

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  1. The best My Little Pony episodes are entertaining. In general, this tends to come from either cuteness or humour, but it can also often come from suspenseful plotting, thematic poignancy, or general energetic writing. This show has been able to pull off a lot of different things, but in general, I think all of the best episodes of the show are either funny or suspenseful. These days, I find myself leaning to the former in particular. 
  2. The characters don't need to follow a straight line of development, as that makes them more complex, but it's really helpful to understand their motivations. A good My Little Pony episode often invites sympathy for the characters who are driving the plot, and they do this consistently instead of leaving it for a sudden reveal at the end. They don't just present characters as shorthand for ideas, and they feature internal conflicts so characters can learn and grow. 
  3. As an addendum to the above, this show has made a lot of different conflicts work, but my favourites are all organized around insecurity or failure. 
  4. A lot of my favourite My Little Pony episodes feature digressions. They allow the characters to take breaks from the main plot to just interact organically with each other. The show has generally gotten worse at this over time, alas. 
  5. When an episode of this show is more heavily plot-driven, I like it when there's a really strong driving theme or a lot of entertaining character interactions. Sharp dialogue always helps in this show. 
  6. And yes, a solid moral or theme helps. I tend to find an earnest, strong message very endearing in this show, though only if the story doesn't violate #1 or #2. 
  7. I can deal with some story sketchiness as long as it the concepts aren't too hard to swallow. As long as I can follow the story and agree with its basic assumptions, I'm fine. 

That's all I got off the top of my head. 

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A well done song. "Equestria, The Land I Love", which has become the new equestrian anthem in place of Pinkie's parade song for good reason, and "You're In My Head Like a Catchy Song" both gave me tingles. Those and others that just get really get grab you. Luckily we have talented musicians in the fandom who are able to take the less than great songs from the show and with a little tweaking get us grooving.

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If i'm having fun watching the episodes. For example, some self claimed critics didn't like the last two episodes while i loved them.

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I’m glad that so many people still watch MLP primarily for entertainment and treat it, above all else, as a cartoon.

At the same time I see that different people look for different, often unique things in MLP that make it enjoyable for them, and it’s amazing that the show can provide all of these things to some extent. Personally for me, this precious little thing is references. Classic and pop culture references, sometimes things that are obviously not aimed at the target audience were one of the main reasons that got me hooked. Although I understand that they are not a paramount element of a good episode, I always look forward to seeing new ones.

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A good episode to me, is something that I can easily understand and enjoy.

As a viewer, if I'm entertained and enjoy what I see, I will be interested and willing to sacrifice my time to watch more. I also believe that the viewer should be able to watch something, without having to constantly go out of their way to research external information. Whether it would be something they couldn't grasp or something not explained or shown properly. 

I believe that the show excels in both of these departments. Yeah, some episodes are better than others, but every single episode has left me entertained in some regard and with a fair understanding on the events which occurred throughout it. 

Sorry if went slightly off topic, I just wanted to give my two cents :P

 

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Something that keeps me coming back to MLP is that, predictable as they're often accused of being, the episodes never go quite the way you expect them to go. The writers display an awareness of how unoriginal their basic premises are and there's palpable suspense in finding out what new angle they spin on it. Sometimes it's for worse rather than for better but nevertheless the curiosity remains intact from episode to episode.  

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