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.