Friday, December 31, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Ten

So this one isn't exactly one of my favorites.  Not necessarily a bad episode, but not quite up to par, IMO.
Swarm of the Century (or The Problem with Parasprites)
While out picking flowers, Fluttershy finds a flying insect she's never seen before.  Ever the caregiver, she crushes an apple for it to eat, only for it to devour the entire basket of apples.  Blinded by the cuteness, Fluttershy not only lets it nestle in her hair, but takes it back to town to show her friends.  Meanwhile, Twilight Sparkle is freaking out: Princess Celestia is coming for a visit, and the library is still covered in books!  She lays the blame on Spike, but Spike retorts that if she'd read the books one at time, she wouldn't be in this literal mess.  He also suggests that the cleaning would go faster if there weren't two of them getting in each others' way, so Twilight Sparkle leaves him to clean while she checks on how the rest of the town's preparations are coming.
Unimpressed by a banner reading "Welcome, Princess Celest," but pleased by a perfect patch of flowers, Twilight moves at a quick clip.  Over at the bakery, the Cakes' preparations are hampered by Pinkie Pie taste-testing everything they make, much to Twilight Sparkle's horror.  But all horror is forgotten when Fluttershy arrives and shows off her new find, which has suddenly become three insects rather than one.  Twilight offers to take one, as she's never seen one before.  Pinkie, however, reacts with revulsion at these "parasprites" and goes off to find a trombone.  Twilight writes this off as Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie, and she continues on her inspection.  Her next stop is Rarity's fashion boutique, where Rainbow Dash is grudgingly getting fancified for Princess Celestia's visit.  After praising Rarity's work, Twilight's parasprite makes itself known (and has also mysteriously become three), and Rainbow Dash and Rarity are also smitten, completely ignoring Pinkie Pie's request for an accordion.
By the end of the day, the library is sparkly clean, but Twilight still worries about the rest of the town, since the Princess' visit is tomorrow.  Her worries are allayed by the pure cuteness of Spike and the parasprite sleeping together, and she heads to bed.  The next morning, however, brings plenty to worry about, as Twilight Sparkle awakes to find the library filled with trouble-making parasprites.  Her and Spike's efforts to round them up seem to be fruitless.  Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash finds herself in a similar predicament, with a gaggle of parasprites that can't keep themselves away from her, much to her consternation.  Only Rarity actually seems to be making the best of the parasprites endless multiplying, by putting them to work in her shop, though her adoration ends when she sees the way they reproduce.
On her way to getting rid of the parasprites, Rarity runs into Pinkie Pie, who managed to get a harmonica and laments that she still has so many instruments still to get.  She tries to get Rarity's help, but Rarity informs her she has a real problem to deal with.  "You've got a real problem, all right," Pinkie replies, "and a banjo is the only answer!"  Shortly after that, Rarity runs into Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, who both had the idea to take the parasprites to Fluttershy, since she's the resident animal expert, with the hopes of learning how to keep them from multiplying.  But one look at Fluttershy's home is all it takes to see that she's had no better luck than they have.
Seeing that not even Fluttershy can stop the parasprites, Twilight imagines Princess Celestia's visit being ruined by the bugs, but what can they do?  Applejack arrives on the scene with a bushel of apples for Fluttershy, which are instantly devoured by the parasprites.  So Twilight calls on Applejack to use her superior herding skills to drive the bugs back into the Everfree Forest.  With that many bugs to wrangle, Applejack needs all their help, and so between the five of them, they corral the bugs (with a brief interlude for Pinkie Pie to try and get their help finding a tuba and maracas) straight into the forest.  With congratulations all around, the ponies head back to Fluttershy's house to convene and then clean up any messes made by the 'sprites.  Unfortunately, Fluttershy completely borked their efforts by keeping just one.
There's no time to round them up again, so Rainbow Dash pulls out her official weather patrol goggles and creates a tornado to suck up all the parasprites and deposit them in the forest.  It looks like the problem is solved, until Pinkie Pie shows up with a set of cymbals, which also get sucked up.  Dodging the cymbals breaks Rainbow Dash's cycle, and she loses control of the tornado, sending the bugs directly to Ponyville!  Twilight berates Pinkie for ruining their efforts to get rid of the bugs, and Pinkie tries to retort that she's not the ruiner, they are, but gets caught up in the semantics.  With no time to spare, the others run off, leaving Pinkie to complain about them not listening to her.
Back in town, the other ponies are initially quite taken with the parasprites's cuteness, until the bugs start eating everything in sight.  No cafe, food stand, or garden is safe.  Seeing this, Applejack runs off to protect her orchard, leaving the others on their own.  Twilight comes up with the idea to use her magic to stop the bugs from eating the food, and casts a mass brainwashing spell.  Unfortunately, this has the unexpected side effect of making the bugs eat everything else.  Rarity immediately sees the implication this has for all her fashion designs and rushes off to her shop.  But it's too late, they're already there and making a meal out of her outfits.  Pinkie Pie rushes in with a cry of "I'll save you!" but all she does is take a flute from a nearby table and run off again.
In the mean time, Applejack has gotten the rest of her family prepared to defend the apple orchard, unaware of the parasprites change of appetite.  So it's quite a surprise when the bugs devour the whole barn.  Twilight finds herself similarly surprised to find the parasprites literally eating the words right out of her books.  With no other hope, she grabs one of the parasprites and makes for Zecora's house in the Everfree Forest, interrupting the zebra's meditation.  She, however, has no answers for Twilight Sparkle, and the unicorn is literally out of time, as she spots Princess Celestia's coach already on its way.
The princess' imminent arrival and the unstoppable chaos in town cause Twilight to finally lose it, offering a last ditch effort plan: build an exact replica of Ponyville in the remaining minute before the princess gets there.  But the sound of a fanfare brings her back, and she assumes the princess' procession has begun, meaning she's truly doomed.  However, it turns out to be Pinkie Pie, having finally gotten all her instruments together and turned herself into a one-pony band.  She starts to berate the pink pony for ignoring the situation they're in, until she notices that the parasprites are paying attention to the song and following Pinkie Pie out of town.
Twilight and her friends follow Pinkie and manage to intercept Princess Celestia before she makes it to town.  The princess interprets Pinkie's pied piper routine as a parade in her honor, and Twilight quickly assures her that, yes, it's a parade.  Twilight's face is further saved when she hears that the Princess actually can't stay, as she has to help handle an "infestation" in Fillydelphia.  But she can stick around long enough to hear Twilight's latest report on Friendship.  Twilight, of course, hasn't had any time to observe the properties of Friendship, what with all the parasprite business, but the sight of Pinkie Pie's music guiding the bugs into the Everfree Forest gives her an idea, at least.  So she tells the princess that she's learned it's a good idea to listen to all your friends' opinions, even the cloudcuckoolanders.  Princess Celestia gives this her seal of approval and then flies off to Fillydelphia.
By this time, all the parasprites have been safely delivered to the Everfree Forest, so Pinkie can finally stop playing.  The other ponies tell her the Princess has flown off to deal with an infestation, and Pinkie is ready to help out, since she knows the secret to getting rid of parasprites.  But Twilight is certain that the princess has more than enough magic to handle the problem.  The other marvel that Pinkie Pie actually knew what the parasprites were, and she's all "Why'd you think I was trying to get all these instruments?"  The others apologize for not taking the time to listen to her, and Twilight thanks her for saving her reputation and the town.  However, that statement is only half-true, as the town is still pretty much ruined.  And so Pinkie closes things out with a trombone wail.
I have to say, this is the first episode that didn't "do" it for me.  I think part of the reason is that the episode tipped its hat too early by making it obvious that Pinkie Pie had the solution all along, while still trying to make it seem like a surprise at the end.  And it was frustrating how the lesson was "listen to your friends," when Pinkie Pie didn't exactly do that great of a job explaining why she needed all the instruments, and instead just expected her friends to get her drift immediately.  Granted, this has been shown to be part of Pinkie's personality (as in the whole *gasp run away* moment in the first episode), but it's also been shown that she can explain when she needs to (such as telling Rainbow Dash why not prank Fluttershy in "Griffon the Brush-Off").  Furthermore, I was hoping for some explanation of why only Pinkie Pie knew what parasprites are and how to get rid of them.  I mean, not even Twilight Sparkle, who loves nothing more than to study anything and everything, knew what they were (and strangely enough, there was no scene of her frantically searching her books for an answer, like there usually is).  Does this mean that Pinkie Pie grew up somewhere else?  Is that why she's (apparently) staying with The Cakes?  Perhaps this will come up in another episode, but I doubt it.
Now, the strength of most FiM episodes, in my opinion, is that they can take a cliche plot or lesson and tell it in a way that's feels new or at least is a lot of fun to watch.  This episode, however, doesn't really have that for me.  I didn't enjoy it more on the rewatch, as I did with Dragonshy (knowing Fluttershy was going to kick some dragon tail at the end made her waffling more palatable along the way) and I can't pick out any particular scenes I'd want to rewatch, as I usually can with the other episodes.  Even "Griffon the Brush-Off," my previous least favorite, has the fun prank scenes at the beginning.  True, there are a few good lines, and obviously I was able to get as many screenshots out of it as I do with most of the episodes, but this isn't enough to salvage it for me.
With any luck, this episode will remain my least favorite, and the episodes to come will be better.

Misc. Screenshots:
Twilight loves her parasprite
Everyone's reaction to Fluttershy keeping "just one"
Surveying the damage
Nice job breaking it, Twilight
More crazy Twilight

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Nine

This episode features MLPFiM taking on the bigger issues, but with more charm and humor than most shows of its ilk.
Bridle Gossip
It's an absolutely beautiful day in Ponyville, but none of the ponies are outside, much to Twilight Sparkle and Spike's surprise.  They run through the likely reasons the ponies would stay inside, and start straying into the realm of the unlikely:
Spike: Is it... zombies?!
Twilight Sparkle: Uh, not very likely.
Spike: Not likely, but possible?!
As they continue walking through Ponyville, they hear Pinkie Pie beckoning them in a whisper from the Sugar Cube, urging them to come inside before "she" gets them.  Spike's still freaking out about zombies, but Twilight reminds him such things don't exist.  They join Pinkie Pie and the others in the bakery, who are hunkered down in the darkened bakery due to the presence of a mysterious pony in the town.  Twilight is puzzled by how frazzled this pony, called Zecora, has made her friends, since as far as she can see, Zecora has done nothing to warrant such behavior.  Applejack claims her sister Apple Bloom's safety is reason enough, though Apple Bloom would rather not be babied.  The others add that Zecora is sinister and spooky, so Twilight Sparkle goes back to the window to observe some more.  Zecora lowers her hood, revealing a mohawk and stripes, and suddenly all comes clear to Twilight: Zecora is no pony, but a Zebra.  None of the other ponies have even heard of such a thing, and even Twilight has only ever read about them.  This doesn't allay the ponies' fears, however, for Zecora happens to live in the Everfree Forest (after Applejack says this, there's a clap of dramatic thunder, but it turns out to just be Spike knocking over some pots and pans by accident), an unnatural place where plants grow, animals take care of themselves, and the clouds move all on their own!  Her evil is such that Pinkie Pie has a song for the occasion, which she sings at a breakneck speed.
Despite this "evidence," Twilight Sparkle refuses to believe that Zecora has any ill intentions, not even when she hears of how the Zebra comes to town once a month, lurks outside the shops, and digs at the ground, coming up with a logical explanation.  Apple Bloom takes up Twilight's argument, but Applejack tells her to "let the big ponies talk."  Hearing Twilight mention that if anyone was brave enough to actually talk to Zecora, they'd learn the truth, Apple Bloom sees her chance to prove that she's not so little anymore, and sneaks out of the shop.  She can't quite bring herself to approach Zecora, so she simply follows the Zebra all the way into the Everfree Forest.
Meanwhile, Twilight still isn't making any headway with getting her friends to change their ideas about Zecora, and their discussion is forgotten once Applejack notices Apple Bloom is missing.  They run after her and finally catch up with her in the forest.  Hearing their calls, Zecora turns and, seeing them standing in a cluster of blue leaves, warns them, "Beware, beware, you ponyfolk.  Those leaves of blue are not a joke."  The ponies are not impressed by her "curse," especially Twilight, who asserts that there's no such thing as curses.  Rainbow Dash points out that Twilight uses magic all the time, so how can she say curses aren't real?  So Twilight explains that her kind of magic is something you're born with while curses are fake.  She calls them "an old ponies' tale," then does a doubletake, perhaps remembering episode one, when Night Mare Moon was also supposedly just "an old ponies' tale."  But there's no time to think on that now, as her friends are already on their way back home, saying that she'll see some stories are true.
That night, Twilight Sparkle's dreams are riddled with the events of the previous day, and she wakes up with her hair an unruly mess.  "Maybe Zecora cursed my hair," she jokes, but her laughter stops abruptly when she catches sight of her floppy, blue-spotted horn.  She frantically searches her books, but is unable to find a cause or a cure.  Spike points her toward a book called "Supernaturals," but she rebuffs him, saying that supernatural things are just as made-up as curses.  Spike implores her to at least consider the possibility that she's been cursed, but his plea is cut short by the arrival of Pinkie Pie, who has been similarly affected, though in her case it's her tongue that's covered in blue spots, and too big for her mouth, impairing her speech.  And it's not just Pinkie.  All of Twilight's friends are having trouble of one kind or another: Rainbow Dash's ability to fly is whacked out, Rarity's covered in dreadlocks, Applejack is now teeny, and Fluttershy, well, she doesn't want to talk about how she now has the voice of a scary black man.
After his initial shock, Spike quickly sees the humor of the situation, making up appropriate nicknames for everyone, though he's stumped by how to mangle Twilight Sparkle.  Unamused, Twilight sends him to keep looking for a cure.  Rainbow Dash, however, is sure that Zecora has the cure for their curse, which leads to another argument over whether curses are real or not.  While the others argue, Apple Bloom realizes that one way or another, this is her fault, and so she heads off to get the cure from Zecora.  Applejack catches sight of her leaving, and hitches a ride in her tail.  Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity are all for confronting Zecora, and look for agreement from Applejack, but they panic when she's no where in sight.  At that size, anyone of them could have stepped or sat on her without even realizing it!  Seeing that Apple Bloom is gone, too, they all head out for the Everfree Forest and Zecora.  Spike opts to stay home in order to try and find a cure, but in reality he just wants to work on a nickname for Twilight.
Once Apple Bloom reaches the Everfree Forest, Applejack makes herself known and orders her sister to turn around.  But Apple Bloom realizes she's now the "big" sister, and deposits her "little" sister on a branch for safekeeping while she continues on.  She doesn't have to wait too long, though, before the others arrive and Rainbow Dash crashes into the very branch she was standing on.  Quickly working up a makeshift bridle, Applejack takes control of Rainbow Dash's flight and heads for Zecora's.  Or tries to, anyway.  The others are more successful in reaching Zecora's house, and take a peek in the windows.  The decor doesn't seem too inviting, and Zecora appears to be cooking up a brew and singing in an unknown tongue.  Pinkie claims (as best she can) that the song is the same as hers from earlier, and unable to sing herself, turns to Fluttershy to sing it in her deep man voice.  Fluttershy acquiesces, and it is seriously the best thing ever.
Twilight has to admit that the clues seem to be pointing toward Zecora being as evil as they say, but she's quick to point out it could be just as likely that Zecora is just making soup.  So they peek back in the window, just in time to hear Zecora say, "The perfect temperature for ponies, I presume.  Now, where is that little Apple Bloom?"  Even Twilight can't explain that one away, and as she and the others scream at the prospect of Apple Bloom being eaten, Applejack and Rainbow Dash arrive on the scene, crashing into Zecora's house and knocking over most of her stuff.  Twilight and the others join the fray, demanding to know what happened to Apple Bloom.  Applejack leaps off Rainbow Dash and attempts to wrestle Zecora into submission, but is too small to do much damage.  Unlike Rainbow Dash, who is still crashing into everything is sight, including Zecora's pot.  The ponies accuse her of cursing them, and Zecora counter-accuses them of ruining her home and brew.  She and Twilight end up going head to head, until Apple Bloom arrives, confused as to just what's going on here.  She and Zecora share a laugh when Twilight voices their soup fear, and Zecora explains that what they thought was a curse was actually the results of exposure to the blue leaves of Poison Joke (like poison oak, but with a sense of humor instead of itchiness).
The other ponies demand an explanation for the brew, chanting, and creepy decor, which Zecora provides: the decorations mean "welcome" in her homeland, the chant was just a nursery rhyme, and the brew is actually the cure for poison joke, an herbal bath.  Twilight can't understand why she didn't find this cure in any of her books at home, and is chagrined when she sees the book Zecora used is the same book Spike showed her at home.  Its full title is actually "Super Naturals: Natural Remedies and Cure-Alls That are Simply Super."  She and the other ponies have learned their lesson, and she contritely asks Zecora to mix up another batch of the cure for them.  Zecora is good-humored about the whole thing, but she just needs a certain herb from Ponyville that she hasn't been able to get, since all the stores "mysteriously" seem to be closed whenever she comes to town.  And so Twilight and the others go into town to set the record straight about Zecora,.
As they take their healing bath, Twilight writes her report on not judging someone without getting to know them, and they all revel in not being "cursed" any more.
I have to say, this is my favorite episode so far.  It has a ton of good lines, the situations are amusing, and the message isn't to heavyhanded , either.  Fluttershy's deep voice was a definite highlight, and it was great to see Apple Bloom finally live up to having a credited voice.

Misc. Screenshots:
Rainbow Dash is all "blah blah blah"
Pinkie Pie's puppy dog eyes
Who is this pony?  The owner of the spa?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Care Power Team: The Giving Festival Movie

Closing out my holiday season, here's Care Bears: The Giving Festival, which has the bears preparing for their Christmas-by-another-name celebration by remembering non-holiday related anecdotes.
This one begins with an abruptly abridged version of the theme song as we pan through the clouds to a very blustery day in Care-a-Lot.  Share struggles to get from her house to Grumpy's garage, even though the wind threatens to blow her very belly badge off, but she gets a little help from Wingnut, and together they make it to Grumpy's.  Seeing Share, Grumpy practically drags her inside, annoyed that she would be out in this kind of weather.  But her desire to see his new snow machine calms his ire, though he does accidentally turn it on while showing it off, creating a flurry inside his garage.  The reason for the snow machine: Princess Starglo is coming for the Giving Festival, and since she's never seen snow before, it's their present to her.  But if the wind keeps up like it is, the festival may have to be cancelled, Grumpy points out.  Share tells him to think positive, and Grumpy promises, for her, though it goes against his nature.  He, Share, and Wingnut go to put the snow machine in position and then head over to the Care Power Station, where Oopsy is manning the searchlight (to help Princess Starglo find her way).
At the station, the other bears worry about Funshine and Cheer, who went to get the decorations for the festival, and still aren't back yet.  This reminds them of when they had to help Grizzle find his home, apparently, and thus begins the flashback....
On an ordinary Care-a-Lot day, the Care Beacon's alarm is going off, so Funshine rushes over to the Care Power Station to see what the trouble is.  But it was just the weekly beacon test, much to Funshine's disappointment.  It seems there hasn't been a caring emergency in quite some time, which is technically a good thing, but for a bear like Funshine, it can get pretty boring.  Grumpy points out that he has plenty to do, even during peaceful times, and the girls escort Funshine out of the building, telling him to just enjoy himself.
Meanwhile, Grizzle, up in his lair and sans suit for some reason, complains about how Care-a-Lot blocks his view, and since they built that huge Care Power Station, I can't say I blame him.  He ponders what to do about the eyesore Care-a-Lot has become, and decides to move it out of the way himself with the bears none the wiser.  Unaware of Grizzle's scheme, the Care Bears play, and Funshine spends the day trying to find a use for his Care Power, but to no avail.  Once the day is done, Grizzle descends and attaches a large hook to Care-a-Lot, then ramps up the power on his lair's rockets.  The force of the towing shakes Care-a-Lot and wakes everyone up, but the cloud doesn't seems to be moving.  Grizzle adjusts one of the rocket boosters to see if that will help, but to his dismay, he sees the cable attached to the hook is starting to break!  Despite his best efforts, the cable snaps, and he ends up on the end still attached to Care-a-Lot, watching as his lair sails off into the night.
Grizzle climbs up the cable, but ducks down again when he sees Funshine and the rest wander by, wondering just what that was all about.  Funshine, of course, is all gung ho to get powered up to handle it, whatever it was, but Grumpy is all "and then what?" and then Bedtime shows up and tells them everything this fine, go back to bed.  The next morning, the rest of the Care Bears make sure Care-a-Lot is okay and take care of any fallout, but there isn't that much to do.  Oopsy and Share spot the cable from the hook, but have no clue what it's doing there.  And then they hear the sound of snoring, but it isn't from Bedtime... Grumpy volunteers Oopsy to check out the noise, and he finds the sleeping Grizzle (though he freaks out at first, not realizing who it is, I guess).  Now awake, Grizzle is surrounded by the other members of the CPT.  Grumpy rightly assumes Grizzle had something to do with the previous night's "cloud quake," but Grizzle spins a story about how the mysterious shaking knocked him out of his lair, and now it's gone.  Grumpy's not buying it, but Cheer points out that his lair isn't in the sky any more, so at the very least he needs their help with that.  Funshine rejoices, finally a reason to power up!  And thus, they all power up their badges and fly off to the care station, promising to pick up Grizzle in just a minute.  While they're gone, Grizzle confides in the audience that his original plan may have gone awry, but once the bears are in his lair, he can spring his new trap on them.  Being without his suit, he needs a boost into the cloud car, and ends up in a compromising position on Grumpy.  What purpose this scene serves, I know not.
As they fly through space, Grumpy shows off his fancy locator, but Grizzle doesn't trust it, so he tries to take control from Grumpy.  Predictably, this ends with the locator in two pieces, but it doesn't much matter, as they've already come across Grizzle's lair, which is just floating out in space, having run out of fuel.  They land and dismount, but Grumpy is suspicious, so much so that his belly badge turns into a fish.  Share declares their duties over, but Grizzle implores them to stay so he can give them some lemonade to thank them.  The other bears are hesitant, wondering if they should trust any "lemonade" that Grizzle would serve.  Grizzle tries to get them to let bygones be bygones, but Grumpy points out that most of those "bygones" are attempts to take over Care-a-Lot.  Grizzle blames this on a bad mood, and wants to be friends, though he can't quite say the word.  He goes off to get the lemonade, with the Care Bears asserting their assumption that he's up to something as he goes.
While Grizzle works on a trap, Grumpy finds the other end of the cable and he and the others put two and two together, figuring out Grizzle's whole plan.  Grizzle calls them over, then pulls the lever for his hanging cages trap.  Only Cheer was in his line of capture, but Funshine gets her out of the way just in time.  Grumpy's all "Aha!" and the Care Bears confound Grizzle's cages by running all over the place, then politely stopping on an X.  Grizzle pulls the lever again, but that cage falls a few feet over from its target.  They then stop on another X, but this time Grizzle double checks its trajectory and pushes the bears into position himself.  As he goes back to throw the lever, Share puts a couple of lollipops into the pulley and Grumpy sends a cloud to one of the rockets at the edge of the lair, so that when Grizzle does throw the lever and then goes to see why nothing happened, the cloud zaps the rocket to life, tilting the lair and setting the cage onto Grizzle, which is when Share removes the lollipops.  Long story short, Grizzle ends up in the cage, and the Care Bears laugh at him.
Despite Grizzle's actions, Share still wants to help him bring his lair back to its usual position.  Grumpy and Funshine are incredulous, citing the facts that Grizzle just tried to capture them and never gave them any lemonade, but Cheer reminds them that's it's the right thing to do.  They inform Grizzle of their decision, but bind him up with a rainbow regardless.  As they pilot Grizzle's lair back home, Cheer asks Funshine if the finally got the excitement he was craving.  And he did, plus the knowledge that with Grizzle around, something exciting is always bound to happen if he just waits long enough.  That's pretty much the end of the flashback, but in the present Share adds that Grizzle roomed with Grumpy until his lair was back in working order.
The control panel starts beeping, and the screen shows the wind is getting stronger, putting the beacon at risk.  So Share and Grumpy activate their Care Power and take Wingnut with them to secure it.  Share uses her lollipops to steady it, and Grumpy zaps each one to make it take hold.  While they're up there, Wingnut spots Cheer and Funshine returning at last, so they hurry back inside.  Unfortunately, the wind blew away all the snacks and decorations, making Share despair for the Giving Festival's future.  Funshine reminds her that they've faced rougher times than this, which reminds Wingnut of the time Share wanted to pick rainbow buds...
In the flashback, Wingnut carries Oopsy to that part of Care-a-Lot that's slightly above it, where Grumpy is unveiling his latest invention, an automatic bumbleberry delivery system.  Why Care-a-Lot needs this, I don't really know, but we do know that Grumpy really enjoys his bumbleberries, so hey, why not?  Attach it to a bush and it harvests the berries (somehow), setting aside the best ones in a basket.  One of the berries falls out, so Oopsy goes to replace it, despite Grumpy's objections.  As per usual, he trips on nothing, spilling all the berries, which makes Grumpy slip and bump into his machine, which sets it loose to shoot berries at him and start boring into the ground until Wingnut shuts it off.  Before Grumpy can express his layers of displeasure at this, the beacon on the Care Power Station starts going off, so the CPT power up with an awesome starry background behind them.  As they fly off to handle some kind of emergency, Oopsy and True Heart decide to do something nice for them, and come to the conclusion that the team could use a day off.  So they plan to give the CPT a day at WooHoo World, and go to get the other non-CPTers in on it.
On the appointed day, Surprise "informs" the CPT of an emergency at the theme park, then joins the others who are waiting to surprise the team.  And they are very surprised indeed.  Oopsy promises to take care of any emergencies that may arise while they're spending the day at the park, which should be minimal, since all the other bears are spending the day at the park, too.  All except True Heart.  Oopsy pushes her to join the fun, but this only drives her away in tears.  He spends the day chasing after her, but with no luck.  As he searches, the CPT thank him for holding down the fort, and Share invites him along on their rainbow bud-picking excursion the next day.
Wingnut finally finds True Heart crying behind the bushes, and calls over Oopsy.  True Heart initially sends him away again, but opens up to him when he asks what's wrong: she wants to ride the Funderbolt, but is too afraid.  Oopsy sees this as his chance to handle a real caring emergency, and declares his vow to help True Heart overcome her fears.  True Heart is down with this, fortunately, so Oopsy and Wingnut imitate the CPT's Care Power On poses.  Being Oopsy, this ends with them both in the lake, and True Heart laughs at them.  Later that night, they sneak into WooHoo World, and Oopsy tries to figure out just what about the Funderbolt frightens True Heart.  The individual elements (being up high, spinning, sudden drops, going fast, etc.) aren't usually a problem, but the combination is what gets to her.  So Oopsy hypothesizes that if they can get her used to each element on its own, then she'll be able to take riding the Funderbolt.
A bench covers the element of height, and Oopsy and Wingnut can spin her just fine, but the rest is a little harder.  Oopsy has her ride the ferris wheel to combine heights and spinning, which is all well and good, until Wingnut accidentally hits the speed lever, setting it to Fastest.  Oopsy and Wingnut struggle to get it back down to Slow, but hearing True Heart's screams, Wingnut simply goes for the Emergency Stop.  Luckily for both of them, True Heart had a blast and is now ready to face the Funderbolt, as long as they're both with her.  Of course, it is the middle of the night, and Bedtime shows up to bust them for not being in bed.  So they all go home with plans to meet up in the morning.
Their morning meet up is interrupted by Share and some other Care Bears on their way to pick rainbow buds.  Oopsy turns down her invitation, and True Heart thanks Oopsy for staying with her.  Then it's off to the Funderbolt!  Oopsy assures True Heart that she can still back out, but she's determined to go through with it.  Meanwhile, the bud-pickers head into a cave where rainbow buds grow (?), and Harmony has some fun with her echo before they get down to business.  The picking is relatively easy, but when Grumpy finds one that refuses to come loose, it attracts the attention of the others and they gather around him, making an unfortunate landing for him once he finally wrenches the bud loose.  The impact creates a cave-in, trapping the bears inside.  So the CPT turns on their power, and Grumpy tries using some thunder to break up the rocks blocking the entrance, but it just bounces back at them.  Cheer's rainbow beam suffers a similar fate, which puts a kibosh on anyone else trying something.  Figuring that Oopsy and True Heart could do something, they have to figure out how to get their message out.  Funshine spots a crack in the cave's ceiling, and so all the bears, CPT and non-CPT alike, combine their badges' power and manage to set off the Care Alarm, just as Oopsy and True Heart are about to ride the Funderbolt.
Hearing the alarm, and seeing no CPT members answering the call, True Heart and Oopsy put aside their ride and rush to the Care Power Station with Wingnut in tow to see what's going on.  Finding the station empty, Oopsy pushes the button to find out the nature of the emergency, and sees the cave-in.  He starts to panic, calling for them to get help, until True Heart points out that they're the help.  Which is all the excuse Oopsy needs to put on his costume again.  The three of them brainstorm a way to get everyone out that's quick, and Wingnut remembers Grumpy's machine from the other day boring into the ground, and hypothesizes that it will bore through rock just as easily.  With no better ideas, they take off to implement Wingnut's plan.  But first they have to figure out how to get the heavy machine to the cave, which is also on the cloud just above Care-a-Lot.  The fastest solution is to use the Funderbolt to catapult it up there, especially since they just spent all that time getting True Heart ready to ride.  And so True Heart and Oopsy head off, and with Wingnut adjusting the track at the appropriate time, they make it up there and have an awesome time doing it.
With the machine in place, it's just a matter of seconds before the rocks break and fall away, freeing the captive bears.  But the strain was too much for Grumpy's machine, and it falls to pieces.  Grumpy is quick to point this out, but is glad that it was for a good cause at least.  He gives Oopsy and True Heart rainbow buds for their trouble, and then they all go home for a celebratory Funderbolt ride.  Several, in fact, leaving the other bears woozy, but True Heart is still raring to go!  Fortunately, Wingnut is ready and willing to be her ride buddy, while Oopsy worries that he's created a monster...
Share completely misses the point of the story and thinks it's an attack on her poor planning of their rainbow bud-picking excursion, but before they can debate this, the wind picks up again, making the cancellation of the Giving Festival a real possibility.  Oopsy comments that they'll just have to stay inside, giving the others an idea!  They'll just hold the Giving Festival inside the Care Power Station, using Grumpy's stash for snacks.  The bears and Wingnut leap into action getting the station ready: cleaning, multiplying the berries, and putting up decorations.  But just as they're about the get the word out about the festival's new location, the Care Alarm goes off: Princess Starglo has been captured!  So it's Care Power On time (minus Bedtime--where is he, anyway?), and the CPT use their badges to fly off into the night.  But the wind is still too strong and threatens to blow them off track.  Share spots Princess Starglo, who tries to warn them, but the wind blows even harder and knocks them back.  Not ones to give up, the bears just fly in with more determination, but soon they reach a standstill, despite their best efforts to keep moving.
Suddenly, they hear evil laughter, and Princess Starglo's captor shows himself.  Some kind of wind creature named Windle, he claims the bears are trespassing on his part of the sky, but the CPT just want Starglo back.  Windle refuses, and with a mighty breath he nearly blows them right out of the sky.  But they rebound and realize they need to take action.  Windle tries to blow them away again, but this time they're ready, and Cheer uses a rainbow to capture him.  But before it can grab him, he teleports away, turning up right behind her and blowing both her and Grumpy out of the way.  This leaves him off-guard, however, and Funshine manages to clock him with a light ball.  With Windle out of the way, Share uses her badge to make a key to open Starglo's cage, but he blows it right out of her hand.  Having had enough of his attitude, Share outright asks him why he captured Starglo.  It turns out he has some beef with the Giving Festival, which of course just earns him a big fat Care Bear Stare.  His mood lifted by the stare, he lets Starglo go and apologizes.  She forgives him and goes to join the Care Bears, leaving Windle all alone.
Seeing this, Share invites him to the Giving Festival, but he turns her down, since he doesn't have anything to give.  Grumpy guesses this is his real beef with the festival, and the others assure him that his very presence is a kind of gift.  So Windle joins them in Care-a-Lot.  With the source of the wind taken care of, the festival is back outside, and Grumpy is all set to get his snow machine started, much to Princess Starglo's delight.  Unfortunately for both of them, all the wind caused a branch to fall and damage Grumpy's snow machine, with no time to fix it.  On top of that, there isn't any time to decorate, either.  Windle feels guilty, since he was the cause of the wind, but Cheer points out they can still have the festival in the station.  Which, of course, is Oopsy's cue to show up with a decorations-related disaster.  Looks like the festival is off after all, until Starglo reminds them that the festival is about giving, not having.  And so she gives them her gift: a sparkly, twinkly Care-a-Lot.  With the festival spirit back, the bears start sharing what they plan to give, which just reminds Windle of how little he has to give, being a wind creature.  Cheer tries to cheer him up by telling him that he's probably good at different kinds of wind, with Grumpy snidely adding "cold winter gales."  Which inspires Share: Windle can cool down the clouds!  Windle catches her drift, and goes to create some snow clouds.  As the flakes drift down, Starglo flips out over seeing real snow and declares the start of the Giving Festival.
And so, there's a song and a montage to close out the show, with trains and dancing, and a present sent to Grizzle.  Aw.
Now, when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I had it in mind that the Giving Festival was the Care Bear equivalent of Thanksgiving, so I was kind of surprised that it turned out to be their Christmas instead.  I'm not really sure why I thought that, other than the "giving" part of Thanksgiving, or maybe because of the wind, and November being a windy month.  At any rate, the movie was pretty cute, though not particularly Christmas-y except for the very, very end.  And it was actually out on DVD, which is a definite plus in my book.

Misc. Screenshots:
Around the campfire
Funshine winks
Oopsy has an idea

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope you folks had a nice Christmas.  I spent a lot of it on the road, but it was all worth it in the end.  However, this means that I didn't get to see the results of The Hub's Naughty or Nice-a-thon, but I heard that Fluttershy won for Nicest and Megatron (of the new Transformer series) got Naughtiest.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Year's Holiday Story

I consider myself a casual South Park fan, mostly because I didn't actually get into the show (besides catching episodes here and there) until last year, mostly due to my husband randomly watching the reruns (which is how he watches most shows).  So it was about this time last year when he had on the episode "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics."  I was doing something else, not really paying attention, until this segment started:

I was shocked, shocked I say, for despite having never seen this episode before in my life, I knew the sequence by heart, though not exactly as it appeared on the show.  You see, a few years ago, I discovered the Carols For a Cure CD series, a charity offering where every year the current casts of various Broadway shows (and the occasional Off-Broadway show and special guests) record a track, and the profits go to help fight aids.  And in 2003, guess what the cast of Hairspray did:
The joke here being that Marc Shaiman, who wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics for Hairspray, worked with Trey Parker and Matt Stone on the songs for that episode, which originally aired in 1999.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Comics - Carol of the Waa

(Click to read the rest of the comic and hear the carol)
I was kind of debating whether or not to post this, since to really get it, you need to know a little bit of Brawl in the Family's past.  But I just enjoyed it so much that I had to post it, regardless.  For Christmas this year, BitF is parodying various Christmas carols, and today's strip takes on Carol of the Bells with Waluigi, who occasionally takes over the strip.  I was hoping that there would be a youtube video made that I could post here (since there was one made of yesterday's strip, a Frosty parody starring King Dedede), but no dice.  If one gets made later, I'll update this post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Christmas Tree

As I am wont to do, I sought out a Christmas special I vaguely remembered from my childhood, which I was actually looking for last year when I found Christopher the Christmas Tree instead.  Unlike Christopher, this special, generically named The Christmas Tree (which actually has exceedingly little to do with the plot), is animated so badly with even worse voice work that it actually becomes hilarious in parts.  I'm not going to summarize the whole thing, but just know the general plot involves an Orphanage of Fear run by Mrs. Mavilda, who, besides being generally mean, routinely uses the town's donations to play poker with her buddies.  Things are so bad that the kids turn the pine tree in the back into a surrogate parent named Mrs. Hopewell.  When the Kindle family comes to town, Mrs. Kindle and her kids have to stay at the orphanage while Mr. Kindle works at the mill (why exactly they have to live apart is not explained), which briefly brings hope to the kids, and makes Mrs. Mavilda accountable to someone when the mayor brings over the money for Christmas.  When she loses it in a poker game, she schemes to have Mrs. Kindle framed for stealing (so she can fire her) and Mrs. Hopewell cut down (to spite the kids).  The orphans, unable to warn Mrs. Kindle in time, instead turn to Santa Claus to solve their problems.  And that's when the coincidences begin.  The thievery plot is thwarted by a Christmas accident, and the mayor just happens to drive by when the orphans and Mrs. Kindle try to prevent Mrs. Hopewell from being cut down.  And Mr. Kindle shows up for absolutely no good reason.  And then, when Mrs. Mavilda takes the chainsaw to cut down the tree herself, she's struck by lightning!  Immediately followed by the arrival of Santa Claus, who magically decorates Mrs. Hopewell, and the Mayor declares it the town's official Christmas Tree.  He also magics the kids some new clothes, The Kindles adopt all the kids and are put in charge of the orphanage, and Mrs. Mavilda somehow survived.  But don't worry, the narrator assures us, she's turned good now, as she learned that when you're good, you always win if you're bad, Santa will strike you down.
So yeah, not really a classic.  And as I said, the animation is totally bad.  Most of the time, the characters, especially the kids, look like they're seriously depressed, regardless of what they should actually be feeling.  And Mrs. Mavilda seems to have only two facial expressions: cranky and evilly gleeful.  She also talks the most, which means that she gets the worst lip synch animation I've ever seen.  Ever.  And don't even get me started on the leering mayor:
I know that he's not supposed to seem creepy in the scene, but come on, animators, what's up with this?  It doesn't help that he's watching Mrs. Kindle with the children in this scene, and describes her as a "fine woman."  Brr....
As for the voice acting, the line delivery is so terrible that it almost isn't funny.  Almost.  You know it's bad when unemotional child voice actors actually sound good in comparison to pitched up adults.
You know, I would love to see The Nostalgia Critic take on this special (maybe the Chick), or have it turned into clips by Worst Cartoons Ever or Everything Is Terrible.  That would be awesome.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Eight

We finally get to focus on Rarity this time around, though she shares the spotlight with Applejack.
Look Before You Sleep
On a beautiful, sunny day, the pegasus ponies are hard at work, moving clouds into position.  It seems that the they are in charge of making sure Ponyville gets enough rain, and since they accidentally missed a shower last week, they've planned a downpour for that evening to make up for it, meaning all the loose branches need to be pulled down from the trees to keep them from doing any damage during the storm. Rarity, however, would rather graft the branches back on and create pretty topiaries, much to Applejack's annoyance.  And thanks to Rarity fussing around, it starts raining while she and Applejack are still out.  Applejack suggests taking shelter under a nearby picnic table, but Rarity balks when she sees the mud underneath.  This leads to an argument that basically devolves into "does so/does not."  The two ponies agree to go their separate ways, but a bolt of lightning brings the term "safety in numbers" to mind.  Applejack hunkers down under the picnic table, but Rarity refuses.  Fortunately for her, it turns out that they're not too far from the library, and Twilight Sparkle calls for them to come in from the rain.  Applejack questions the wisdom of going inside a tree during a thunderstorm, but Twilight informs them about the library's magical lightning rod.  Rarity makes Applejack wash the mud off her hooves before coming in the house, which Applejack goes to do, with much muttering under her breath.
While Applejack attempts to work a hose, Twilight and Rarity make small talk about the storm, and Twilight invites them to stay the night, since Spike is away on "royal business."  It hits Twilight that this could be the makings for a slumber party, and she gets all excited.  Rarity, not keen on spending an entire night with Applejack, pretends to have suddenly remembered a pressing engagement, but Twilight is so excited about having her first slumber party (and her first chance to actually use her book on slumber parties) that Rarity just can't say no.  And so when Applejack comes back in, her hooves sparkly clean, she is quite surprised to find the two unicorns with mud all over their faces.  This is step one of a successful slumber part: makeovers!  Realizing the implications of a slumber party, Applejack also attempts to back out, but a clap of thunder reminds her it's probably better to stay put.  And so her face is mud masked as well (though when Rarity adds cucumbers for her eyes, Applejack just eats them).  Twilight squees over following the book's recipe for a fun slumber party, which Rarity uses to force a truce between her and Applejack.  Applejack attempts to seal the deal with a spit hoofshake, but Rarity is just squicked.  It looks like their truce is going to be harder to uphold than they thought.
After makeovers, the next thing on the list is ghost stories, which Applejack and Rarity try to use to needle each other.  But then Twilight hits the lights and tells her ghost story, The Legend of the Headless Horse, which is successfully scary.  Next up, s'mores!  Rarity tutors Twilight in the art of perfect s'mores, but Applejack is not impressed, seeing them only as tasty snacks.  Twilight keeps rolling with her slumber party checklist, leading to a game of Truth or Dare.  Applejack and Rarity ignore the actual rules to snipe at each other, putting their fight in plain view.  Twilight attempts to get things back on track by reading the official rules, so Applejack dares Rarity to go out in the rain and ruin her hair-do, which Twilight insists she must do, according to the book.  And she does, and then dares Applejack to dress up in a frou frou princess dress (which Twilight happens to have, for some reason).  This all just leads to more fighting, so Twilight suggests they move on.
After an epic pillow fight, Twilight, a casualty of war, decides it's time to just call it a night.  While Twilight sleeps, Rarity and Applejack are unable to drop their feud, even to fall asleep, as Rarity gripes about Applejack's muddy hooves, then snags the blankets after the earth pony shoves her hooves in her face to show she got all the mud off.  When Applejack snags it back, Rarity pushes her out of bed so she can make the bed again, and then insists Applejack scooch her way under the covers as she does.  Not in any mood to acquiesce, Applejack instead divebombs the bed, bouncing Rarity right out.  Applejack feigns sleep, but Rarity snatches the blanket clean off, leading to a tug-of-war, until Twilight finally has enough and calls the two ponies out for ruining her slumber party.  As she demands to know what else could go wrong, a bolt of lightning hits a tree next to the library.
As the three ponies watch a chunk of the tree teeter ever closer to the house next door, Applejack essentially blames it on Rarity, telling her this is why they needed to take down the loose branches.  Not quite sure that this is the same thing, Applejack.  Before Rarity can defend herself, Applejack opens the window and gears up to lasso the branch and keep it from falling.  Rarity calls for her to wait, but Applejack refuses.  She lassos the branch and gives it a tug, sending the entire thing crashing through the window and into Twilight's bedroom.  Rarity tells her, "I tried to tell you so," while taking cover from the wind and rain now pouring into the room, and Applejack apologizes to Twilight.  But Twilight is more concerned about how having a giant tree branch in your house effects a slumber party, and searches her book for an answer.  Meanwhile, Rarity starts picking up the books that fell off the shelf, and Applejack, seeing she's getting no help from either pony, tries to beat the tree into submission on her own.  When that doesn't work, she calls for Rarity to help, but Rarity ignores her demands until Applejack finally swallows her pride and apologizes, admitting that Rarity's eye for detail would have kept them out of this mess.  She asks for her help with the tree branch, but again Rarity balks at the thought of getting icky.  Applejack starts to gripe, but switches tactics and simply asks her to put her aversions aside because she's the only one who can save them now.  And so, while Twilight continues searching her book on how to turn this into a slumber party solution, Rarity uses her unicorn power to turn the branch into a bunch of little topiaries.  Applejack prepares to kick away the last bit of branch, but with a glare from Rarity, she checks herself and merely drops it out the window.  And so the day is saved, though Rarity is all covered in mud and leaves.  Applejack just adds some cucumbers for her eyes, and the two share a pony hug.  Meanwhile, Twilight finally notices that the branch is gone.
With the feud over, Twilight, Applejack, and Rarity spend some time having an actual good time playing 20 Questions.  When Twilight points out that they could have been having this much fun from the start, it almost looks like Applejack and Rarity will start fighting again, but they end up in a bit of good-natured back-and-forth over who is more sorry than who instead.  Twilight declares her slumber party a success, since she can finally check off "have fun."  While Rarity guides a blindfolded Applejack through a maze, Twilight writes to Princess Celestia about what she's learned (even ponies who are totally different can still get along and be friends) and is ready to start planning her next slumber party.  Rarity and Applejack are not quite as enthusiastic as she is.
There's been some debate over whether or not Twilight Sparkle was out of character in this episode, as her being so enthusiastic over the slumber party activities made her seem as if she was channeling Pinkie Pie, and her comment that she's always wanted to have a slumber party seems to clash with the who-needs-friends-when-I-can-study kind of life she appeared to be leading in Canterlot.  But at the same time, wanting to go exactly by the book, and being slightly socially awkward about the whole thing is very much in line with Twilight Sparkle as we've seen her in the series.
I really liked this episode, and was surprised that Rarity and Applejack arguing so much didn't get old fast, as I thought it would.  I've said it before, but it merits repeating that one of MLPFIM's strengths is that it can take the same old plots that almost every cartoon and sitcom has done before it and yet still be new and entertaining.

Misc. Screenshots:
Curlers for everyone!
Applejack snickers
Applejack and Rarity get in each other's faces
Applejack hanging

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I Read - All my friends are dead.

I volunteer at my local library, and the other day when I came in to cover books, I found this sitting on the desk:
All My Friends Are Dead
and of course I had to read it.  And I was glad I did, as I was thoroughly amused by the whole thing.  You can see a little more of it here, but that small preview really doesn't show the funniest parts, in my opinion.  But if you're intrigued, I would definitely recommend picking it up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hubworld: Naughty or Nice?

This Christmas, The Hub is having a contest to see which characters from their line-up are the nicest or naughtiest, with the winners getting a marathon on Christmas Day.  You can choose from seven characters in each category, though you can vote more than once.  Characters relevant to this blog include Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy, and Strawberry Shortcake for niceness, and Nightmare Moon for naughty.  What makes this contest slightly different from any other character poll is that you can choose how naughty or nice a character on a scale of one to ten.
Although The Hub has promised a marathon for the winners, I'm guessing that what they probably mean by that is a marathon of episodes featuring these characters, and this contest just picks the order.  But we'll see come Christmas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Episode Seven

A very nice group episode this time around, though it's better the second time around.  Also, there's a lot of facepalming.
Fluttershy spends a typical day at her woodland cottage home, helping feed the various animals that surround it.  When she coaches the bunny Angel (who is a boy, apparently) on how to eat his carrot, he gives her a hard time, and frankly, I don't blame him.  You don't tell a rabbit how to eat a carrot.  The other animals may put up with her overprotectiveness, but not Angel.  In the course of running away from her, he spots a trail of smoke high in the sky, heading straight for Ponyville!  But it takes an awful lot of coughing to get Fluttershy to realize what's going on (as she's still fixated on his half-eaten carrot).  Once she does, though, she heads into town to try and alert the other ponies to the problem.  She's unable to get her voice heard in the park, as Rainbow Dash attempts to break the ball-bouncing record and Pinkie Pie plans a party to celebrate her attempt.  But Fluttershy keeps trying, until Twilight Sparkle arrives on the scene and gets everyone's attention instead.  She reveals the source of the smoke: a dragon!
Later on, Twilight fills in her friends on the situation, as told to her by Princess Celestia.  The dragon is just taking a nap, and his snoring is causing the smoke.  Rainbow Dash is all for taking action against the dragon, but Twilight emphasizes the need for diplomacy on this mission.  If they can't get the dragon to leave, Equestria will be covered in smoke for 100 years!  She calls for the girls to meet her with supplies in one hour, and as the others leave, excited for the mission, Fluttershy hangs back.  Cut to a montage of each pony getting ready: Dash puts on war paint, Granny Smith, Apple Bloom, and Big Macintosh get Applejack's rations, Pinkie Pie busts out with sunglasses and a bunch of balloons, Rarity trades her camo-helmet for a more stylish chapeau, and Fluttershy gets freaked out by her door closing, and then they all pose Charlie's Angels-style.
Once everyone is assembled, Twilight explains that the dragon is snoozing in a cave at the top of a (relatively) nearby mountain.  Fluttershy is apprehensive, and goes to tell Twilight that she'd rather just stay in Ponyville.  She nearly gets away with it, too, since Twilight was reading a map and not really listening, but unfortunately for her, Twilight realizes what the other pony just said and insists that Fluttershy come along. After all, her uncanny way with animals will surely come in handy when dealing with a dragon.  And even though the mission involves a dragon, Spike stays behind to watch all the animals that Fluttershy will be leaving behind.  Rainbow Dash is also apprehensive about bringing Fluttershy, but Twilight is confident that Fluttershy, despite all appearances to the contrary, will be fine once the trip gets going.  And so the ponies begin their mission, sweeping up Fluttershy as they head for the mountain.
By the time they reach the foot of the mountain, the dragon's snores have become audible.  Rainbow Dash is ready to just fly straight up to the top, but Applejack catches her before she can fly off and makes her stick with the rest of the group.  And so up they go, Rarity and Pinkie Pie bantering a bit about the dragon as they climb.  Twilight tells them to knock it off, and then asks Fluttershy, the animal expert, about the dragon.  Only Fluttershy is still at the bottom of the mountain, afraid of the steepness.  Rainbow Dash suggests, with more than a hint of sarcasm, flying up, but when Fluttershy does, the sound of the dragon's snores snap her wings firmly to her sides, and she plummets right back down to the bottom of the mountain.  Twilight gripes that they don't have time to wait around for her, so Applejack snags the map and volunteers to take Fluttershy up a less steep path.  She promises to be up "lickety-split," but Rarity and Pinkie Pie have time for 35 games of Tic-Tac-Toe before they actually get there, since she basically had to drag Fluttershy the entire way (if you were gonna do that, you might as well have just dragged her up the steep path, Applejack).
The whole team together again, they reach a gap in the path.  Everyone jumps over with ease, but Fluttershy can't get herself to do it.  Not until Pinkie Pie sings her a little song about taking "a hop, skip, and a jump," that is.  Twilight nearly ruins it by telling her not to look down, which of course saps her resolve, but fortunately the gap was short enough that she could have just walked over it and been fine.  With a push from Dash and pull from everyone else, she finally gets across.  Further along, they come to an avalanche zone.  Twilight warns them all to be quiet, but the already nerveracked Fluttershy mistakes a leaf falling on her rump for the start of an avalanche, and cries out in fear.  Applejack stops her, but it's too late, the damage is done.  The ponies manage to avoid all the falling rocks, but now their path is blocked by the residual rubble.  There's no choice but climb over it all, with Fluttershy in the rear.  Which naturally means that on the way down, she stumbles and knocks into Rarity and Applejack.
Rainbow Dash is still annoyed about Fluttershy being on the trip, but now her moment has come; they've reached the dragon's cave.  Twilight goes over everyone's part of the plan: Rainbow Dash will clear the smoke, Rarity and Pinkie Pie will create a diversion if needed, and Applejack will use her apple-fu if the dragon decides to attack.  But that's only if she and Fluttershy can't convince the dragon to leave, of course.  Twilight enters the cave, unaware the Fluttershy is not with her.  So out she goes again, and tries to get Fluttershy to come with her this time.  But not even a push from every single other pony is enough to get Fluttershy to budge.  Fluttershy tells them that she can't go in the cave because she's afraid of dragons.  As if to prove her point, the dragon lets out an extra loud snore, covering the whole area in smoke.  Twilight, however, calls attention to her wonderful way with animals, and Fluttershy responds that they aren't dragons.  This is her response to Rainbow Dash reminding her of the manticore in episode two, and when Pinkie points out that Spike is a dragon, she responds that he's not a full-grown dragon, and that makes all the difference.  Twilight demands to know why she didn't say anything about this earlier, conveniently forgetting about Fluttershy trying to get out of the trip back in town, and how much she's been dragging her hooves this whole time.  Applejack, meanwhile, tries to appeal to Fluttershy's sense of duty, but Fluttershy just can't bring herself to face a dragon, not even with Equestria's fate on the line.
With or without Fluttershy, the others still have to try and get the dragon to move along, so Twilight heads in to try the diplomatic method.  Seeing the dragon face-to-face, she begins to realize that Fluttershy may have had a point.  Still, she attempts to get the dragon's attention and give her spiel, even after getting a snootful of dragon morning breath.  In response, the dragon just blows more smoke in her face.  Rarity goes in next to try the charm method.  She lays on the flattery, all while helping herself to a fraction of the dragon's hoard.  Her honeyed words seem to be working, and nearly gets him to leave, until she mentions watching over his hoard while he's gone.  Her true motives laid bare, the dragon roars and she hightails it out of the cave before he can do anything more.  While she grouses about not getting any of the jewels, Pinkie Pie decides to try the laughter approach, but is shot down before she can say anything more than "Hi."
Well, by now Rainbow Dash has had it.  "We've tried persuasion, charm, ...whatever it is Pinkie Pie does."  She goes in herself and gives him a kick right in the snoot.  While this doesn't seem to actually hurt the dragon much, it does get him riled up, and he roars so loudly that Rainbow Dash is propelled right out of the cave and into the others, knocking them all over like bowling pins.  As the dragon emerges from his cave, they cower in fear, making an easy target for his smoke breath, which is strong enough to knock them all back into a nearby rock.  Right where Fluttershy was hiding all this time, it seems.  Seeing the damage dealt to her friends, Fluttershy suddenly switches from timidness to righteous indignation, demanding "How dare you?" straight to the dragon's face.  She goes all alpha on him, much to her friends' surprise.  With a whimper, he tells her that Dash kicked him (and Dash actually has the audacity to be smug about this), so she apologizes for her friend, but reminds him that he's bigger and should know better.  She goes into Mommy-mode and lectures him about sleeping where his smoke can effect other creatures, ending with "What do you have to say for yourself?"  Her lecture is super effective, and the dragon breaks down crying.  Fluttershy comforts him and tells him he just needs to get a move on.
While the dragon packs up his hoard, the other ponies surround Fluttershy to congratulate her on a job well done (if a little late).  And so the dragon flies off, the pegasi of Ponyville clean up the smoke, and Twilight makes her report back to Princess Celestia, giving Spike a break from trying to keep up with Angel.  She includes this week's lesson on friendship in the report, which is "never give up on your friends."  As soon as she finishes her letter, Applejack calls her to watch Rainbow Dash break the ball bouncing record.  But just as Rainbow Dash is about to do it, she hears a roar and freaks out, thinking the dragon came back.  But no, it was just Pinkie Pie practicing her dragon imitation.  "It's okay, Rainbow Dash," Fluttershy tells her,  "Not everypony can be as brave as me."  Dash, not in any mood to take this from the resident shrinking violet, promptly blows a leaf onto Fluttershy's rump, making the pegasus panic while everyone laughs.
Okay, after this episode I'm 87% sure that Cathy Weseluck (Spike) is Fij Fij on Maryoku Yummy.  And speaking of Spike, how come they didn't bring him along, too?  Wouldn't another dragon have related to the dragon better than an animal specialist pony?  Or perhaps he would have been too much of a distraction to the other dragon, so that's why they left him home.  I wish they'd addressed this, seriously.
The end credits changed to a more readable font with this episode, with the voice actor credits broken into two pages, but we still don't have any additional credits listed.  What's up with that?  Even the rebooted Pound Puppies and Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures change up their credits each episode to tell you exactly who is who, and frankly, MLP:FiM should be better than them in every way.  Stop letting those shows beat you in in the credits, MLP:FiM!  Get on the ball, whoever is in charge of the credits!

Misc. Screenshots
Angel facepalms
Rainbow Dash salutes
Rainbow Dash Posing
Applejack Posing
Pinkie Pie Posing
Rarity Posing
Fluttershy Posing
Rainbow Dash facepalms
Did you just say "avalanche zone?"
Twilight's reaction to Pinkie's chicken
Ponies getting cried on