Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Friendship is Magic - Season Finale

Remember when this blog used to be about guns?  Me neither!  So let's talk some more about how great "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" is.  The first sixteen or so episodes were awesome.  I tell you, I was grinning ear to ear watching every episode up to then, and all of a sudden the series took a sharp nose-dive at around episode 19.  From that point, I felt as if the quality wavered from awful to mediocre back to awful (with a single exception at the end, see below).  Maybe because I had watched 1-16 at LEAST twice each so I was able to look past their faults, but starting at 19 it was painfully obvious to me how awful that episode was.

I noticed a similar pattern with "The Simpsons" years ago, though over the course of a longer timeframe.  There are people out there, like me, who noticed a change in "The Simpsons."  Sometime around 1998-2000 the show just went to shit.  I can't quite pinpoint any one particular episode, but I wanna say starting somewhere at "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" up until "Lost our Lisa" is when I truly lost all possible hope for this show ever recovering.  This appears to be the general consensus on Shacknews, so I know I'm not the only one to notice the decline.

I felt like "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" had followed a similar decline but instead of gradually decreasing in quality over a period of a couple of seasons, it has gone to shit within the span of a single episode!  I can't put my finger on what exactly made episodes 19-25 so horrible, but they just make me cringe watching them.  Maybe it's the stupid voice-overs of the Diamond Dogs and Rarity's whining (Seriously. WTF happened?  The voiceacting, especially Rarity's, were the highlight of episode 8 "Look Before You Sleep" and one my favorite episodes), or maybe it's Spike having too much of an in-your-face attitude (that whole 'Nooooooo!' thing.  Really, what was that about?), or perhaps it's just characters acting like complete, fucking retards for no good reason.

I just rewatched "Cutie Mark Chronicles," thinking maybe my opinion will change on second viewing; that perhaps this 'decline' is all in my head, that maybe I just lost interest in the show.  But nope, I still love episodes 1-16; this was just another irritating episode.  Like I said, I can't say for sure what makes these episodes bad, but the awfulness just radiates from these recent episodes somehow.  Some standout 'retard moments' from this episode include Twilight Sparkle hopping about in circles, Scootaloo being such an annoying character, and things just generally moving too damn fast/transitioning from scene too scene rapidly.

Episode 20 "Green isn't your Color" was OKAY.  I couldn't find any real faults with this episode aside from the fact it just wasn't funny. It was NOT bad, but it wasn't memorable either.  Episode 24, "Owl's Well That Ends Well" was bad, but not "19-21-and-23 Bad".  It had a few good moments, but not quite enough to neutralize this awful episode.  Episode 25 "Party of One" started out good but fell apart around the last five minutes.  I thought Pinkie Pie going insane was hilarious, but like the "New" Simpsons, it was a completely pointless episode.  Additionally, there were more retard moments like the awkward dancing scenes.  What was the point of this episode?  What was the problem and how was it resolved?  Pinkie Pie goes crazy for no reason and the episode ends with her being back to normal without the direct intervention of her friends, who simply shrug off her mental breakdown as normal behavior.

After anxiously anticipating each new episode every week and being letdown for the past five or so episodes, things were starting to look grim and I was about to give up on the series.  But episode 26, "Best Night Ever," really lived up to the name!  I knew it was gonna be a great episode after that fantastic musical number.  The magic that made the first half of the season so great had returned, and I once again had a wide grin on my face as I watched.
I feel the episode was well-paced - not too fast, yet still managed to feature the Mane Six equally.  It was genuinely funny.  No 'out-of-character' characters, no bullshit plot-devices, and Spike managed to remain funny like he was before, without being overly edgy and in-your-face.  Season 1 ended just as it had started - being fucking awesome.  It really brightened my day to see the show recover from a string of atrocious episodes.  This episode may in fact be one of my absolute favorites.

I'm still not sure how Season 2 will turn out.  'FlashinthePan,' an animator who was answering questions on PonyChan, mentioned something about a major change in the studios around episode 19 (I don't feel like reading through his FAQ, but it's on Equestria Daily if you want to find it).  Could this be the reason for such awful episodes?  Is it possible that episode 26 was only good because it was already planned (and possibly completed?) before episode 19 started?  Could it be that Lauren Faust stepped down as executive producer right before episode 19 was in production, which caused the series to spiral out control?  As I've said before, all TV shows have a few bad episodes, so it could be just a coincidence that these bad episodes (19-25) just happened to run concurrently.

I don't have cable so I've been watching these on Youtube on crappy standard definition.  I would definitely buy a Bluray disc set of season 1 if it were available.  I really hope the Bluray release will contain audio commentary from Lauren Faust, or interviews, or behind the scenes, or as some had suggested on Equestria Daily, even in-character commentary from Spike and Pinkie Pie (Ala "Fall Weather Friends") would be neat.

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