Monday, February 3, 2014

A Canter on the Weird Side

Snow day at Stevenson today... though the snow didn't actually show up until late morning.  The "precip" started as sleet and changed to snow for a couple of hours.  Conditions were worse north of us, and a lot of students still commute, so I figure that the school was playing it safe in cancelling so early in the morning.


"Playing it safe" is a charge on which My Little Pony can certainly plead "not guilty," based on the evidence of the past two new episodes.  "Pinkie Pride," with the celebrated guest appearance by Weird Al Yankovic as the party pony Cheese Sandwich, was much the more ballyhooed, but "Three's a Crowd," which preceded it, took an even larger leap of faith by entrusting non-singer John de Lancie, the voice of chaos-causing Discord, with a lengthy patter song.  De Lancie carried it off quite well IMHO, though listening to the thing without the crazy visual accompaniment takes away roughly three-quarters of the bit's charm.  Incidentally, Discord originally starts this little performance because he's sick and wants Twilight Sparkle and Twilight's visiting sister-in-law Princess Cadance to bring him a glass of water.  The demands escalate from there.

True to his nature as a semi-reformed chaos-causing agent of mayhem, Discord is actually faking his illness; he simply wants Twilight to show how devoted a friend she is by showing that "she'll go to the ends of Equestria for him."  Before uncovering the ruse, Twilight and Cadance must fight a mythical giant worm and retrieve petals from an incredibly huge flower.  While so doing, they display the ability to literally shoot laser beams from their unicorn horns.  It's a surprise on several counts; Twilight is still learning the full extent of her alicorn powers, while Cadance has never gotten a real chance to show the full extent of hers.  Outside of that one off-the-wall comic-book arc that parodied 80s teen films, Cadance is still somewhat lacking in personality, and "Three's a Crowd" sadly fails to budge her off that "bland" setting, with one curious exception: Cadance mentions to Twilight that, because things were getting a bit boring back home in the Crystal Empire, she preferred the excitement of this visit to the quiet "quality time" experience that Twilight had originally planned for her.  I think that Shining Armor has some work to do in the old boudoir, if you catch my drift.

Pinkie Pie has been acting like a caricature of her already-somewhat-Toonish self this season, and Pinkie well and truly bottomed out during her brief appearance in "Three's a Crowd," swooning over an ad for "used patio furniture" and constantly being distracted by balloons.  She's random and zany, but she ISN'T simple-minded or crazy.  Once I learned about the plot of "Pinkie Pride" and realized that this would probably be the ep in which Pinkie had her "Elementary crisis" and got her "rainbow key," I felt sure that a rehabilitation project was coming.  That's exactly what happened.  Cheese Sandwich turned out to be, not the snarky and antagonistic fellow I was half-expecting, but a genuinely nice guy who also happens to be an awesome party-thrower.  Facing the existence of someone who presents a challenge to her in the realm of her own special talent -- and might even be better than her at it, in some ways -- Pinkie goes through a major identity crisis, with "rainbow hints" being dropped along the way.  Talk about returning to "first principles of characterization" with a vengeance.

But even as she's momentarily despairing, Pinkie is remembering all the great parties that she's thrown for her friends, and she performs a quick 180, deciding to challenge Cheese Sandwich to a "goof-off" to see who's worthy of organizing Rainbow Dash's "birthiversary" party.  Sight gags aplenty, and one of Weird Al's signature polka riffs, follow in due course.  The visuals even include a couple of live-action cut-ins a la Spongebob SquarePants.

But when Pinkie screws up one of her stunts, she decides to forfeit the contest, declaring that she shouldn't have let her foolish pride get in the way of Rainbow having the best party ever.  Soon thereafter, Cheese uncorks the confession that, as a youngster, he was inspired to become a party pony by visiting one of filly Pinkie's very own bashes.  The two join forces to pull off Rainbow Dash's bash, and Pinkie earns her "key" in the form of Cheese's rubber-chicken traveling companion.

"Pinkie Pride" has quickly become a fan favorite, and it's easy to see why.  The fourth season has been so full of "gimmick" shows that it was easy to imagine Weird Al's guest shot being an excuse for another content-less "fun romp" on the order of "Power Ponies."  But we wound up having our "rubber chicken" and getting some real meat to chew on, as well.  Hopefully, future eps with Pinkie won't forget that she can be a serious, and sometimes even quasi-tragic, character when the foundation of her buoyant nature is called into question.

Next week, we get another Rarity-centric episode!  Can't wait.

1 comment:

Pan Miluś said...

I hate that Discord isn't a villian any more (at least they could play with him more beafore they made him reform in the very second episode he was in) but In a way him wanting to be "friend" of the Ponies makes him more inpredictible. He makes me think of Superman villian Mr. Mxyzptlk.

I'm GLAD I'm not the only one who notice Candance lack of personality, especialy in an episode which was about her bonding with Twilight. Ironically I think the comics did a better job presenting her character.

Also the monster the Ponies fight in this episode was creepy as hell...

As for "Pinkie Pride"...I did enjoyed Weird Al Yankovic Pony preformance. Makes me wonder who they will get next as a guest star (I especialy liked when he started singing Pinkies theme song) but as a whole I didn't found myself loving this episode. It was just ok. I wish that the songs where as cathy and clever as they where in the older seasons.

Or maybe I'm getting to old?