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The Third Season

Posted by Sumiki , in Rants, Not Essays!, lol bambi, Life, BZPower Nov 17 2012 · 257 views

(TMD's ongoing series of epic blog entries are known as "Essays, Not Rants!" This might better be known as the first in a series of rambling, barely sensible blog entries known as "Rants, Not Essays!")

The long-awaited Season Three of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is out, as of last week's two-part premiere and this week's Pinkie Pie-centric episode.

To preface what I'm about to write, I pretty much dropped out of "brony-dom" during the latter half of Season Two. To be fair, I never was really a part of it to begin with. During the Great Downtime last year, MLP and its fandom served to fill the Internet void, as strange as that might sound. But even then, I was rarely much more than a passive observer. I found the show to be lighthearted and legitimately enjoyable, but certain portions of brony-dom took it a little too far. My solitary contribution to the fandom took the form of an absurd one-shot fanfic where Pinkie Pie discovers pizza.

Since my "brony drop-out," I've not kept up with the release of episodes from official sources or popular fan sites, as was my norm during the last season. In fact, I credit Bambi's blog for pretty much all the advance knowledge I have before episodes of this season air.

So last week, I sat down and watched the two-part Season Three premiere.

I didn't very much care for it.

Here's five reasons why.

1) The villain. King Sombra had very little backstory, and what we knew was utterly generic and/or terribly lacking.
2) The setting. A Crystal Empire sounds really cool (and some of the architecture and animation were neat), but it flopped horribly - again, because we were given very little information about it.
3) The plot devices. Every single season premiere has suffered the same issue. Season One's was cool because it was the first (though many agree that it's weak), and Season Two had Discord and some novel concepts. But this time around, everything felt rehashed.
4) The timeline. They're all 1,000 years: Luna was in the moon for 1,000 years, Discord was stone for 1,000 years, and this Crystal Empire was gone for, you guessed it, 1,000 years.
5) The Elements of Harmony. Where were they? Surely they could have wiped Sombra out without the rigamarole of the episodes.

Now, I totally understand the need for keeping the plot simple. It is, first and foremost, a show for young girls, and the aspects which draw bronies to the show rarely include the plots. But with Seasons One and Two, the villains which the Mane Six had to battle in the opening two-parters were awesome, and what they did (or tried to do) actually had some implications on the lives of the Mane Six, on Ponyville, and Equestria as a whole. There was fridge horror, logic, and brilliance. With the Crystal Empire, those implications weren't there, and thus the plot carried very little weight.

After watching it, I was disappointed, though not profoundly. I didn't see things to outright hate about it, just a lot of things that bugged me. Its sheer predictability made it boring.

(Side note alert: this was the first season premiere where Princess Celestia was actually able to personally intervene against the forces of evil, but chose not to. Heck, they wrote a logical reason for this into the Return of Harmony script. Trollestia indeed.)

Moving on. The first "regular" episode of Season Three was Too Many Pinkie Pies, wherein Pinkie Pie clones herself and madness ensues. I'm not going to go into specifics, as some may not have seen the episode yet, but I can give some thoughts on it.

Personally, I'm mixed. I had some issues with the resolution (it seemed strange, too forced, and unnatural), but my main qualm resides in the characters. The characters seemed too much like themselves, as if they were caricaturing their personalities. I don't know if this is brony fanservice or not, but I don't like it.

Here's an example.

Paula Deen, for those who don't know, is a chef and TV personality who got famous for her Southern hospitality, exuberance, and willingness to put too much butter into any recipe she made on the air. Her personality was infectious, and my mom enjoyed watching her show - not for the recipes, but just to see what she'd do and say. (A stick of butter is colloquially known in our house as a "Deen.")

As recently as a few years ago, Deen began to change. She no longer seemed like a real person; she seemed to be acting like an echo of the person she used to be. This, according to my mom, made her show not unenjoyable, per se, but significantly less enjoyable than it used to be.

If Too Many Pinkie Pies is any indication, My Little Pony is beginning to head down the same path.

Is it because the fandom has impact? I don't know. Like I said, I kind of dropped out a while back, and I have little interest in returning. A couple of episodes is a small sampling size, but from what I know of the upcoming episodes, this might very well continue. For example the Great and Powerful Trixie - a fan-favorite (for reasons I can't fathom) - will reappear in an upcoming episode. Considering that brony-dom has taken an absurd liking to Trixie, I suspect her return will have fan-service. If it does, I'll consider my earlier theory as being correct.

This isn't saying that I'm no longer a fan of the show. For as long as it is on, I'll still watch the episodes. But if bronies really do have an impact on the show and its characters as much as has been indicated by recent episodes, Friendship is Magic may have prematurely jumped the shark.

NEXT TIME: SUMIKI YELLS AT A PICKLE JAR FOR BEING UNOPENABLE.


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Akano Toa of Electricity
Nov 17 2012 03:57 PM
I was leaning toward naming my latest blog entry on graduate physics textbooks Rants, Not Essays to parody TMD's blog. YOU STOLE MY IDEA!!!

As for the episode, I kind of agree with you. There were parts of it that I liked (Fluttershy I don't think suffered from the "character echo" effect this episode), but there were other parts that left me unphased/neutral.

I think bronies like Trixie because she's sort of a foil to Twilight; while Twi is naturally gifted at magic but doesn't like flaunting it, Trixie isn't particularly amazing with magic but knows how to show it off. That and Trixie is voiced by Gali/Roodaka.

I'm hoping for some better episodes later in the season; I must say that there were episodes that I'm not too crazy about in the earlier seasons, but there are some that I absolutely love (Luna Eclipsed FTW). I think you may be right that incorporating too much brony fandom will cause the show to lose its charm; having occasional shout outs are nice, but fans of anything do not necessarily know what they want, so listening/pandering to them is not always a good idea.

Also, HOW DARE THAT PICKLE JAR! OPEN FOR SUMIKI, DARN YOU!!

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Personally, I greatly enjoyed the third season premiere, because to me it felt like it explored a lot of new territory. Specifically, Twilight Sparkle was faced with pressure to do something without the help of her friends, she was presented with a dire challenge without having instruction from either Celestia or her books about what exactly needed to be done, and strong parallels were drawn between her relationship with Celestia and Spike's relationship with her. Overall, the episode had a lot to enjoy considering what was possible within a forty-five minute double parter, and I think it was much more successful than the series' two-part pilot in presenting a cohesive narrative.

Also, for me Sombra felt remarkably fresh. Never before has a My Little Pony villain been presented who seeks power for power's sake, and I liked the idea of a completely non-sympathetic villain who had long ago sacrificed his humanity (equinity?) for power's sake. I definitely got a Sauron vibe from him.

I don't understand how the plot devices felt particularly rehashed either. Twilight having to look back to a technique she learned from Celestia in order to proceed was very much unlike any previous episodes I remember. The ponies having to do detective work to understand the nature of their mission hasn't come up in the past two seasons. Furthermore, the idea of the Mane Six having to raise the spirits of a huge population of ponies whom they had never met was quite novel.

I think the idea that Season 3 has any more brony-pandering than any other episodes created since the writers learned of the bronies is pretty far-fetched. People threw around this same accusation when we learned Princess Luna would be getting an episode, and when Rainbow Dash got a pet tortoise (as far as I know it had been a running gag in the brony community to give her a pet turtle after she appeared with one in a toy, though it was later revealed that her eventual pet was in the show's original story bible), and we learned Rainbow Dash was going to break her wing (an incredibly common scenario in fan fiction). The truth of the matter is that in most of these cases, the writers used these ideas not because they were studying the fans, but because they are natural extensions of the show and characters as they have been established in previous episodes.

Regarding the latest episode:
Spoiler


As for any Great and Powerful stuff in future episodes:
Spoiler


In general, I'm seeing a lot of cynicism about the new season, but as I understand it the show has not lost any of its inertia and is still providing great entertainment. With that said, I'll be the first to admit I'm easily pleased. I do not look for novelty in everything I enjoy, though I appreciate and take note of when new ideas do turn up. I enjoyed BIONICLE from beginning to end and have found things to enjoy in the Hero Factory story even when the main story medium (the show) is unbearably cheesy and characterization tends to get shoved to the background. Still, I can't shake the feeling that a lot of the "brony references" and "pandering" in Season 3 are just a result of people looking for that sort of thing. And that applies to both the people who dislike the brony references and people who see them as a "gift" from the creators. In reality, I think the creators are interested in creating an enjoyable show first and foremost, and throwing a bone to any fans including the bronies is secondary.
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I felt the same way about some of the characters. They're all pretty much the same, but some of them (particularly Pinkie Pie in both episodes, and maybe a bit of Twilight) are starting to feel overplayed. I'm going to guess this has more to do with season 3 being the first season completely independent of the original creative director than some fanbase influence. The Studio B writing team is in full control now, and while they're great, trying to interpret characters created by someone else can lead to accidental caricature.

Or maybe the Internet adrenaline is running off and we're starting to realize we're watching a show for 6 year olds.
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Tekulo in the Green
Nov 17 2012 04:56 PM
For me the episodes started going downhill with the Season 2 Finale. And that's really disappointing because Chrysalis was the first bland main villain they came up with (Discord was fabulous because of his unique personality and they knew how to use it to their advantage. Now it's just some dude in a costume labelled "villain" who sachet's off without so much as a good explanation as to why they didn't have a shot at succeeding.

Well, okay, so every villain sachets off in the series, but it's getting worse in my opinion. At least Nightmare Moon attempted to destroy the evil's bane and Discord had a nice strategy to defeat the mane six. It was their ego and a bit of misfortune with luck that defeated them. The newer villains seem to follow the "We're good, thus we kick flank" sort of formula. I mean Chrysalis showed a lot of potential by having Twilight attack the real Cadence in her place. At the end she had all the power, she'd taken care of evil's bane and her minions controlled the capital city of Equestria. What does she do when the two ponies who can actually do something to stop her in the exact same room not thirty feet away? Nothing. She literally just steps aside to be defeated. Worst climax ever...

But at least Chrysalis at least had some backstory and potential. The new guy What's-his-mane (I seriously have trouble remembering his name... and character design. XD) was just... uh... a meany pants, I guess?

If the Royal Wedding had been given forty or so more minutes to develop a little more plot and a little more thought and effort into Chrysalis' defeat, then I honestly think turning the two part episode into a full-length movie could have turned the finale from "It was okay. At least they had one good song" to "Wow."

The entire reason I liked the show to begin with was because it wasn't a mindless, cliche stereotype sort of show. Sure, maybe the first two episodes were rough around the edges, but the third? Ticket Master had a genuinely difficult situation to deal with in life; when you're in possession of something each of your friends want and you simply can't make everyone happy. Nice moral, interesting conundrum and the way the episode handled it was entertaining for the ride (everyone buttering Twilight up when all she wants to do is get some lunch. XD And the part of that I really liked was that Twilight, unlike other main characters for children's TV, actually did have a good head on her shoulders. She refused to be taken advantage of by her own greed (she could have easily taken AJ up on that lunch offer, or Rainbow Dash's which would have prevented her lunch from being ruined), instead of digging her own grave by accepting favors and thus feeling obligated to return the favor to each friend (The Mighty B! actually took that route. In the end she got a ton of stuff for a concert ticket and gave it away last minute. The only thing is, there weren't any consequences to the people who buttered her up with no reward, which made me feel the episode was unfinished).

Now then, the new episode had a very similar set-up, only... well... let's put it this way; the line "I bet you can't make a face as creepy as THIS!" was the highlight of the episode for me. Kinda sad too because I caught that on a commercial a few days ago. XD

Well, I have ranted far more than I should have on this subject. I bid thee ado.

WINDFLY!
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I was going to post a little something about how I didn't think Sombra brought anything new to the table as far as villains go, but I think Tekulo summed it up pretty nicely. Sombra could have been interesting as a villain if he had been presented as anything but a "muhahahahaha, I'm the bad guy, I'm going to take over this place you've never heard of because I'm just so evil" villain.
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Tekulo in the Green
Nov 18 2012 01:52 AM
Ah, there's the gist statement. I really need to learn how to write one of those some day. XD
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<span style='font-family: Palatino'>I was going to post a little something about how I didn't think Sombra brought anything new to the table as far as villains go, but I think Tekulo summed it up pretty nicely. Sombra could have been interesting as a villain if he had been presented as anything but a "muhahahahaha, I'm the bad guy, I'm going to take over this place you've never heard of because I'm just so evil" villain.</span>

Perhaps not in the grand scheme of literature in general, but I felt he was quite new to MLP:FiM. Having a villain presented as more of a looming threat than a character gave the episode an interesting dynamic, IMO, and as I said before, definitely gave me a LotR vibe (as far as I remember it, Sauron's motivations and start of darkness were never really explored in LotR, but rather only in supplementary materials, and even then they felt a bit superfluous when being an inhuman force of evil was really his defining characteristic regardless of his origins). Was he as interesting as Discord? Probably not, but the show has room for all kinds of villains and I think rejecting any that didn't seem as interesting as Discord would mean rejecting several perfectly good story scenarios.
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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo


"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva


BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex


What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus


I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok


Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker


He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist


I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens


I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig


I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk


I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome


Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex


Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz


10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome

     

Sumiki
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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

    

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/13 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
8/27/13 - 8/5/14 - None
8/12/14 - Another Chro Original
8/19/14 - Kanohi Zatth
8/26/14 - Miniland Hatpile

    

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle

so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra




You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.

It's a long story.

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