Monday, May 30, 2011

The Hub Knows About Internet Stuff

So it seems that The Hub is putting out a new kind of ad campaign, first noted when they posted a short parody of Katy Perry's "California Girls" on their website, and then sent a sneak peek of the extended version to Equestria Daily, complete with a Bronies shout-out:

And now they're promoting the addition of Jem and the Holograms (the original 80's series, not a remake) by having Randall (of Honey Badger Don't Care fame) give it the Abridged Series treatment:

Frankly, it's not that funny, but I like the direction the Hub seems to be taking. Are more internet-meme-inspired promos on the way?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty Six

At long last, the episode that reveals the Grand Galloping Gala.  As we all suspected, it was impossible for it live up to the mane cast's high expectations, but one way or another, they all managed to have...
The Best Night Ever
Pinkie Pie's so excited for the Grand Galloping Gala, she can't stop bouncing, though she does have help from a trampoline.  All her squeeing is disrupting Twilight Sparkle's studies, and Rarity puts a stop to anything that might cause her dresses to be ruined by sweat.  As Applejack and the others arrive, Twilight finishes her preparations and shows off the fruits of her studies: turning an apple into a carriage, and mice into horses, ala Cinderella.  Her transformations need a little work, though, as the horses are still mousy enough that Rarity's kitty Opalescence tries to take them down, frightening them all away.  Twilight wonders how they'll get to the gala without them, but Rarity simply uses her feminine charm to garner new transport.
While the girls get themselves ready for the gala, Spike demands to be let into the dressing room, but Rarity refuses, since they're all in various states of undress.  Applejack points out that they're normally undressed anyway, so Rarity reluctantly lets Spike in.  Spike is under the impression that they're all going to be hanging in one big group, despite the fact that all the ponies have their own disparate plans.  But Twilight promises they'll find some time to get together.  Spike also is under the impression that the ponies will want to leave the gala at some point and see the sights of Canterlot, though he expresses this while driving the coach, so none of the girls hear him.  And the ponies roped into pulling the carriage don't appreciate Spike getting overenthusiastic with the reins, since they're only doing this as a favor to Rarity.  So it's over the river and through the woods, to the gala they go.
Once they arrive, Spike plays footman, and is awed by the sight of all the girls dressed up (didn't he see them get in the coach?), but the girls don't even hear him, as they are awed by the castle and their hopes for the night to come.  Which of course means it's the perfect time for another awesome Sondheim-inspired number!
Backed by a twenty-pony choir, each girl sings of her plans for the night: Fluttershy will see and befriend the animals in the garden, Applejack will sell her wares, Rarity will meet her Prince Charming, Rainbow Dash will get to join the Wonderbolts, Pinkie Pie will fulfill her party destiny, and Twilight Sparkle will get to talk with Princess Celestia one-on-one for the first time in forever.  Spike's plans, however, are instantly dashed as each girl runs off in a different direction, leaving him alone.  
Twilight makes a beeline for the Princess and takes her place at her side.  Rarity instantly spots her prince from across the room, and follows him outside, trying to find a balance between keeping him in sight, but not seeming too eager, either.  Fluttershy spots a meadowlark, and when she echoes its song, she hears it repeat and follows the sound.  Applejack, meanwhile, sets up her cart of apple treats in a prominent spot in the courtyard and instantly makes a sale to one of the Wonderbolts, an entire apple pie.  And Rainbow Dash manages to fly in and save that very pie from falling, garnering her an invite into the VIP area, since they remember her from the Best Young Flyers competition.  It seems the night is going well for everyone, especially Pinkie Pie, who is in an absolutely euphoric state over the shiny dance floor, pretty party ponies, and fancy band.  So euphoric that she can't help singing out her joy ("It's all I ever dreamed!") to the horror of the prim and proper ponies around her, until even she notices their disapproval and sadly tones it down.
Out in the garden, Rarity is approached by her prince, who introduces himself as Prince Blueblood, and proves himself to be a bit of a jerk when he takes the rose Rarity pointed out and, rather than offer it to her with phrase like "not as lovely as you, of course," places it in his own lapel, pointing out how it complements his eyes.  Fluttershy catches up with her singing meadowlark, only to find it was actually the old caretaker, whistling.  But all is not lost, as she stumbles onto the heart of the garden and spots all the rare and exotic animals therein.  Who all run and hide the moment she gets near.  Oops.  Rainbow Dash is having the opposite problem, as the VIP section is so crowded and noisy that she can barely get near any of the Wonderbolts, and when she does, she can't make herself heard over the crowd.  Twilight Sparkle finds it hard to hold a conversation with the princess, due to all the guests who have to be welcomed, Applejack fails to make any sales past her first one, and Pinkie Pie can't get over how unlike her dreams the gala actually is. Though the night got off to a good start, the girls are starting to get disillusioned.  But they each refuse to just give up on their hopes!  No matter what it takes, they'll make the gala live up to their dreams, or die trying!
Fluttershy begins by taking a page from Twilight's book and taking the initiative.  She sets up a simple trap (a carrot under a box), but only catches the old caretaker.  Back inside, Rainbow Dash plots to get the Wonderbolts to notice her by "spontaneously" saving a guest (whom she put in danger herself), but it fails.  Meanwhile, Rarity tries to convince herself that her prince has a chivalrous side until they encounter a spill, which he expects her to cover with her cloak, rather than vice versa (though to be fair, she has a cloak and he doesn't).  And Pinkie Pie convinces the band to play a guaranteed party song, The Pony Pokey, which has lyrics that seem to match the predicaments of mane cast pretty exactly:  Twilight taking over some of the princess' welcoming duties to clear up the line faster; Applejack intentionally tripping up a guest to try and get him to taste her treats; Rainbow Dash intentionally kicking a drink off the table and catching it with the same leg, momentarily getting the Wonderbolts' attention, before they're pulled away for a photo op; Rarity and Prince Blueblood having a duel over who should open the door for whom; and Fluttershy going absolutely rabid over the animals refusing to come near her.
Once the song is over, Pinkie Pie is informed that the gala is not the kind of party she thinks it is, leading her to come to the absolutely wrong conclusion.  Meanwhile, Rarity and Prince Blueblood have a battle of the "ahems" to see who will actually pay for apple fritters at Applejack's cart, though when Rarity gives in, Applejack lets her have them for free.  Things get worse, however, when Blueblood actually tastes the fritters and spits them out again immediately when he realizes that they're just "common carnival fair."  He stalks off to get some high class hors d'oeuvres inside, with Rarity angrily following.  Applejack realizes why no one's been buying her wares: they aren't fancy enough! (Not, say, that the rest of the food at the gala is free.)  So she goes off to reinvent her apples, while Fluttershy goes off the deep end in her attempts to get close to the animals, setting up a net to capture whatever animal is hapless enough to wander into it, and laughing maniacally.  And then setting it off herself, naturally.
Everthing comes to a head as Pinkie Pie sets up a DJ turntable, trying to turn the gala into a "par-tay" and forcing the other guests to groove, whether they like it or not.  Applejack arrives, having baked a fancy seven-layer cake with her remaining apples, at exactly the same moment that Pinkie Pie dives from the stage, turning the cake into an unintentional projectile, heading straight for Rarity and Prince Blueblood.  Seeing the cake coming, Blueblood uses Rarity as a shield, which is the last straw as far as she's concerned.  She calls him out on his unchivalrous behavior, but Blueblood sees only the cake covering her body getting dangerously close to his own.  In no mood for this, Rarity shakes the cake onto him, sending him reeling backwards, knocking into a large statue of Princess Celestia.  The statue begins to totter, and Rainbow Dash, seeing her chance to finally impress the Wonderbolts, rushes in to catch the statue before it hits the ground.  She manages to do so, but can't hold the weight of the statue for very long, and soon starts to teeter around herself, knocking the statue into a set of columns, which of course creates a domino effect, ending with Rainbow Dash surrounded by the broken columns and statue.  As if this wasn't bad enough, it's at this moment that Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle finally make it to the main ballroom.
Surveying the damage, and her friends apparently in the thick of it, Twilight mumbles, "At least it can't get any worse."  Which is Fluttershy's cue to show up with a stampede of fleeing animals, completely deranged by her inability to work her usual charms on them.  As the animals run wild in the ballroom, Twilight stands at a loss, until the princess advises her to run.  She signals for her friends to follow her, and they all get out of there as fast as they can.  In their haste, Rarity loses one of her glass slippers, and Pinkie Pie points out this will allow her prince to find her, which is why Rarity smashes it to little bits.
Down at the donut shop, Spike has been drowning his sorrows in donuts and hot cocoa, though Pony Joe thinks he's had enough by now.  Fortunately for both of them, Twilight and the rest of her friends, a rather sorry-looking group by now, show up and fill Spike in on what all went on at the gala.  By the time they finish telling it all, they're able to laugh about it, and even Princess Celestia, a surprise customer, declares it the Best Grand Galloping Gala ever!  And she should know, having been at all of them since the beginning of time.  It seems that the gala is always a very stuffy, boring party, and she invited Twilight and her friends with the hope that they would spice it up.  Mission accomplished?  Twilight realizes that being with friends can make even a terrible evening pretty great, and the others concur.  Spike claims this is what he'd been talking about earlier, and the others humor him, since getting together did make their evening better.  Even, you might say, the best night ever.
And so ends season one.  I wonder if they planned it this way from the start, setting up the GGG at the start of the series and then waiting until the end to reveal it, or if it was just going to be something that happened offscreen (as we all assumed) until one day they thought up a story for it.
As for the actual episode, there's not enough ways to say I loved it.  It's no surprise that I took more screenshots of this one than any episode all season.  It was the perfect season ender, taking everything we've learned about the ponies to put together an amazing story.  And Fluttershy's descent into madness was hilarious.  Here's looking forward to season two, hopefully debuting in September.

Misc. Screenshots
Straight hair Pinkie
To meet
To sell
To find
To prove
To whoop
To talk
Rainbow Dash squees
"Even though your date's a louse"
Secret butt fun?
Fluttershy's got it out for the squirrel

Friday, May 20, 2011

It doesn't take much, I suppose

I wasn't planning on seeing Rio, either in theaters or on DVD, but it just made my Blockbuster queue.  And all because I learned that not only is the villain voiced by Jemaine Clement (from Flight of the Conchords), but he wrote his own villain song:

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty Five

As season one draws to a close, the final two episodes both focus on parties.  The last episode is set at the Grand Galloping Gala (finally!) and here, Pinkie Pie finds she may have overdone it with the parties.
Party of One
Twilight Sparkle's studies are interrupted by the arrival of Pinkie Pie, who is delivering a singing telegram-style invitation to a party for her pet alligator Gummy's birthday.  She does the same for each of her friends, but with different costumes, leaving her pretty darn exhausted when all is said and done.  The actual party is a rousing success, though not without a few snags: Applejack and Rainbow Dash each find a "surprise" while bobbing for apples, Rarity gets grossed out by Gummy-flavored punch (me too), and Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle fall victim to Pinkie Pie's crazy dance moves.  Still, everyone has a good time and praises Pinkie's party techniques.  As the party draws to a close, Twilight Sparkle tells Pinkie Pie they should do this again soon...
The next day, Twilight is woken by a knock at the door.  It seems that Pinkie Pie took her comment to mean "have another party today", and has a "Gummy's after-birthday" party planned for that afternoon.  Twilight begs off, saying she needs to hit the books, and Pinkie understands, though she recommends reading the books rather than hitting them.  Applejack similarly turns her down, claiming she has a lot of apple-picking to do, and while Pinkie Pie is slightly less understanding, she still lets the farmpony off the hook.  Rarity, to get out of going, dunks her head in the trash Spike just took out for her, just to give her "I have to wash my hair" excuse some credence.  And Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy come up with an elaborate excuse about housesitting for a bear named Harry who likes to go to the beach to collect shells and play volleyball.
Back at Sugar Cube Corner, Pinkie Pie thinks over her friends' various excuses, but before she can dwell on them too much, she spots Twilight Sparkle sneaking around.  Seeing her friend enter the shop, Pinkie Pie sends down a tin can to eavesdrop, and overhears Twilight making a covert pick up from Mrs. Cake, specifically mentioning not to tell Pinkie Pie.  As Twilight sneaks out and around town, Pinkie Pie follows after her, Gummy in tow.  She dons groucho glasses as a disguise, but soon feels the need to up her game.
Meanwhile, Twilight Sparkle reaches her destination and passes the box off to Rarity.  They mention not wanting Pinkie Pie to "ruin everything," and then part ways.  Rarity bundles the box into her tail and slinks away, all seen by Pinkie, now disguised as a bale of hay (with groucho glasses).  Rarity in turn meets up with Fluttershy, unaware of Haybob Piepants observing the whole thing.  She overhears them talking about how they had to make excuses to miss her party, and how what they're doing will be so much better, as long as Pinkie doesn't find out.  Fluttershy takes the box and heads in Haybob's direction.  Pinkie tries to get out of the way, but bumps into Fluttershy, freaking her out, and the pegasus takes off.
As Pinkie Pie, still dressed as Haybob, gets bummed out about her friends dissing her party, Rainbow Dash passes by, not fooled for an instant, though she forgets she's supposed to be avoiding Pinkie Pie momentarily, and takes off herself once she realizes it.  Pinkie Pie follows, and uses the same get-there-first powers she used back in Griffon the Brush-Off to trail Rainbow Dash no matter where she goes, demanding to know what's going on.  Finally Rainbow Dash makes a break for Applejack's barn, managing to get in just before Pinkie Pie, leaving Applejack to deal with the now-irate pony.
Applejack does her best to keep Pinkie Pie from coming into the barn, claiming that there's renovations going on, even though the "construction noises" are obviously just being made by the other ponies.  Eventually Applejack just slams the door on Pinkie's head to keep her from looking.  Pinkie Pie doesn't buy it for a second, but she finally leaves, and the others breathe a sigh of relief.
Not one to give up, Pinkie Pie knows that there's still someone who can tell her what everyone is up to and why they won't tell her: Spike.  She invites him to Sugar Cube Corner and offers him a big plate of jewels.  But before she hands it over, she pulls out a spotlight and has Gummy clamp Spike's tail.  "All you have to do is talk," she tells him, and so Spike starts talking about the weather.  So Pinkie Pie clarifies: talk about the other ponies.  And Spike does, describing each member of the mane cast.  So Pinkie has to clarify again: CONFESS!  Spike cracks under the pressure and confesses to spilling juice on one of Twilight's books.  And using up all the hot water.  And talking to himself in the mirror.
None of this is what Pinkie Pie's looking for, and she loses her cool, freaking Spike out.  He tells her to just tell him what she wants to hear, so she does: "Tell me that my friends are all lying to me and avoiding me because they don't like my parties and they don't want to be my friends anymore!"  And he does.  At first, Pinkie Pie feels vindicated, but as the meaning of those words sink in, her hairstyle suddenly deflates, leaving her absolutely crestfallen.  Spike, no clue what he's just done, simply chows down on the promised gems.
Never one to give up the chance to party, Pinkie Pie simply makes some new friends, literally in this case.  Rather than inviting some of the many background ponies, Pinkie Pie instead put together a gathering of objects for her guests: Mr. Turnips, Rocky, Mme. Leflour, and Sir Lintsalot.  She treats them as if they were animate guests, speaking for them and getting them punch and cake, though doing so gives her a terrible twitch.  As the party goes on, she begins to slip deeper and deeper in the world she's created, until it seems that the "guests" are speaking on their own, disparaging her old friends and convincing her to never talk to them ever again.
Which is when Rainbow Dash shows up, inviting Pinkie Pie down to Sweet Apple Acres.  But with Pinkie Pie still riled up, she not only refuses, she starts talking for her guests, weirding Dash out.  But Dash persists, hoping that getting Pinkie Pie out of the room will bring her back to her senses.  Instead, Pinkie Pie positions her new "friends" to oppose Rainbow Dash, and Rainbow Dash even starts talking back when Rocky calls her a chump.  Seeing that even she's started to succumb, Rainbow Dash stops asking and starts telling Pinkie Pie to come, but Pinkie Pie is having none of it, even sitting on Dash's head at one point.  After that, Dash's patience is completely used up, and she just drags Pinkie all the way to Sweet Apple Acres.
As the barn door swings open, Pinkie Pie coldly regards her former friends as they yell out "Surprise!"  They're the ones surprised when Pinkie just glares at them in response.  It seems that in her now-twisted psyche, her friends have decided to throw her a farewell party to officially kick her out of the mane cast.  She confronts them about how they've been lying to her and avoiding her all day, but no one is particularly sympathetic, since surprise parties have to have an element of subterfuge in order work, and she, party maven that she is, should know that already.  Rarity explains that they'd been planning the party for too long to put it off for another, and Twilight points out the cake she picked up earlier that says "Happy Birthday Pinkie Pie" on it.
Surveying the evidence (gifts, banners, the cake), Pinkie Pie finally realizes that her friends threw her a surprise birthday party, and her hairstyle poofs out again in happiness.  She wonders how she could have doubted their friendship so easily, but the others forgive her.  With everything as it should be, the party starts in earnest, and Twilight Sparkle drafts her letter to the princess.  This time around, the lesson is "always expect the best from your friends, not the worst."  As the ponies conga, Pinkie suggests they incorporate Gummy's after-birthday party into her party, so he won't feel left out.  Not a problem, everyone agrees.
One thing that really bugged me about this episode, once it became clear that Pinkie Pie's friends were throwing her a surprise party, and weren't just "partied out," is why didn't they think to have someone distract her.  Even if they all needed to help set up the party, they could have had the Cakes set her up with some "deliveries" or something.  I mean, even the G3 ponies knew enough to have Pinkie Pie distracted while setting up a birthday surprise.  But then, of course, we wouldn't have seen the Spike interrogation scene or Pinkie Pie's descent into madness, both of which make this episode worth watching.
It also kind of bugs me that, unlike in the last episode, no one apologizes for the miscommunication.  Even if it was a means to an end, the other ponies did make Pinkie Pie feel pretty rotten.  And how did she forget her own birthday?  As into parties as she is, it should have been at the top of her list.   And is it just me, or is Gummy kind of creepy?  While I like the continuity of seeing him again, I really didn't need to see him as much as I did here.

Misc. Screenshots
Dash draws a watch
Sir Lintsalot
There's that twitch again
Spike dancing with Rarity?

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty Four

And so, 24 episodes in, Spike gets his very own episode.  Is it worth the wait?
Owl's Well That Ends Well
As the day draws to a close, Twilight Sparkle and Spike prepare for a meteor-viewing party.  And by that I mean, Spike grabs everything they need while Twilight Sparkle gushes over the upcoming meteor shower and butters up Spike by calling him her number one assistant.  Just before they leave, Twilight remembers she wanted to bring her astronomical almanac, and Spike rushes to get it.  But the dustiness of the book ends up making him sneeze, breathing fire on all the pages inside, leaving only crispy scraps behind.  He hastily replaces the book and tells Twilight he couldn't find it.  As they head for the hills of Ponyville, he puts it out of her mind with a little flattery, and sets up the awesome spread he made once they arrive.  Everyone is thoroughly impressed by Spike's work, and lay on the compliments, much to Spike's delight.  Rarity even made him a gem-encrusted bowtie.
Once the meteor shower begins, the ponies ooh and ahh, but Spike finds himself struggling to stay awake, and before the night is over, he's curled up in the punch bowl, fast asleep.  "And now the punch has been... spiked!" Pinkie Pie jokes.  With the shower over, everyone heads home, and Twilight tucks Spike into bed.  Unlike a certain baby dragon, Twilight isn't sleepy at all, and begins to write up her observations on the meteor shower.  A noise near the window distracts her, but when she checks, there's nothing there.  She fails to latch the window after checking, so when she checks on a noise by the other window, the scroll she was writing on goes flying off into the night.  Twilight paces, wishing Spike were awake so he could get the scroll, until she sees that a friendly owl brought the scroll back for her.  She asks the owl to stay and keep her company while she works, and the owl agrees.
When the morning comes, Spike wakes up in a panic: he overslept!  To his surprise, Twilight is not upset, informing him that his usual chores were already taken care by the owl, now dubbed Owloysius.  It seems Twilight has taken the owl on as a junior assistant, to keep Spike from working himself to exhaustion.  Spike, rather than being grateful for the help, is worried about the owl's intentions.  Twilight heads out, so Spike goes to scope out the competition formally introduce himself to Owloysius.  The owl greets him by doing that creepy head thing, which does not make a good first impression.  Still, Spike tries to be friendly, but finds himself falling into a bit of "Who's On First"-style bantering with the non-anthropomorphic owl.  Annoyed by the whole exchange, Spike storms off, thoroughly convinced that Owloysius is after his spot as Number One Assistant and fully determined not to let that happen.
While Spike studies up on the enemy, Twilight introduces Owloysius to the rest of her friends, who all take to him more readily than Spike did.  Rarity even gives him a little bowtie, just like the one she made for Spike.  Seeing this, Spike storms off, making his jealousy clear to the others.  Twilight insists that Spike knows he can't be replaced, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite Spike's resolution to step up his assisting game, Owloysius keeps beating him to the punch when it comes to finding books.  Not wanting to be shown up again, he goes to great lengths to find a quill when Twilight's last one breaks.  Unable to find one in the library, he charges into town, ignoring Twilight's call for him to wait. Oddly enough, Quills and Sofas is completely out, and Pinkie Pie can't help him either, though she does bring out a number of things that sound like quill.  At long last, he's able to wrestle a feather from a chicken, and returns home, battered but triumphant.  Or not so triumphant, as Twilight reveals that Owloysius gave up one of his feathers already, which is what she was trying to tell him when he left.  Spike's rage is such that the feather flares up in his hand, though he simply says he'll start on his other chores, if Owloysius hasn't done them already.  But after running around Ponyville and wrestling a chicken, he has no stamina left and simply collapses on the stairs.  Twilight assures Owloysius that Spike will warm up to him eventually, since he's a good little dragon at heart.
Or so she thought.  Spike has a rude awakening when Twilight thumps the astronomical almanac (bet you forgot about that) down next to him, wanting to know what's up, since he claimed it was missing, but Owloysius found it just fine.  Spike blames Owloysius for making him look bad, and, claiming that "two can play at that game," heads into town.  As he angrily ponders how to stop the owl, he spots a mouse skittering across the road and gets an idea.  An awful idea. Spike got a wonderful, awful idea.  Donning a cape, top hat, and mustache, he becomes Spikely Whiplash and sets his plan into motion.
After waiting for Rarity and her kitty to leave, Spike sneaks into the shop and steals Opalescence's toy mouse, with the intent of using it to frame Owloysius for killing a mouse, thus making Twilight kick him out.  Back at the library, he roughs up the toy, spilling its stuffing on the floor, and then covers the whole thing in ketchup, laughing maniacally all the way.  He rips up a pillow to leave a trail of feathers for good measure, but is caught in the act by Twilight Sparkle.  Despite this setback, he feigns innocence and waits for Twilight to get rid of the bird.  Twilight, however, isn't sure whether to be more insulted that Spike tried to set up Owloysius or that he thought she'd be stupid enough to fall for it.  "This is not the Spike I know and love," she admonishes him, and walks out again.
Spike misunderstands Twilight's sentiment and, believing Twilight no longer cares for him, runs away from home.  As he wanders the Everfree Forest, it starts to rain, so he takes shelter in a cave, where he finds a mountain of gems.  Temporarily placated, he chows down, but soon finds that a full stomach doesn't fill an empty heart.  And all too soon, the cave's owner returns: a full-grown green dragon.  The dragon demands to know what Spike is doing there, and Spike tries to play the solidarity card, but the dragon is having none of it.  Spike then tries to insist he isn't intimidated, even when the dragon shows off his retractable claws and tail spikes. Spike blows out a little stream of green fire, and the dragon returns the favor by breathing a real flame, which Spike just barely dodges.  Out of options, Spike makes a run for it, and the dragon gives chase, quickly backing Spike up against a wall.
It looks like the end of the line for Spike, but then a familar "Hoo hoo!" sounds.  That's right, it's Owloysius and Twilight Sparkle to the rescue!  The owl manages to distract the dragon and is too quick for the dragon to hit, which leads to the dragon accidentally hitting himself with his own tail spikes.  With the dragon otherwise engaged, Twilight calls for Spike from the entrance and bids him ride her, and the three of them run away from the cave as quickly as possible.  The dragon isn't about to let this slide, and follows after them.  The forest is too dark for Twilight to navigate, so Owloysius takes the lead, guiding her away from potential pitfalls.  The dragon's path is soon blocked, and he rages, unable to follow them any longer.
Once safely outside the Everfree Forest, Twilight finally stops running and tells Spike how worried she was, and asks why he ran off like that.  Spike admits that he felt unneeded and unloved, so Twilight sets the record straight: even though she was disappointed by his actions, he's still her number one assistant and friend.  She only brought on Owloysius to help at night, when Spike's asleep, not to replace him.  As they share a hug, Spike apologizes for his behavior, and Twilight apologizes for not being more clear earlier.  Spike also apologizes to Owloysius, but just gets more "hoos" in response.  With all that taken care of, Spike wonders how they found him so quickly, and Twilight reveals that he'd stepped in enough ketchup to lead them straight to him.
Back at the library, Twilight prepares to write her report to the princess, but realizes that Spike was the one who learned a lesson today, and asks him to take care of it.  And so Spike writes up what he learned this week, and there were plenty of lessons this week: Jealousy and lying get you nowhere, there's enough love for everyone, and know your limits, as Spike falls asleep mid-sentence.  Twilight rolls her eyes, but even she gets caught in the "who" trap with Owloysius.  Better just call it a night.
The big question this episode raises: if Owloysius was supposed to help at night, then how come he kept helping out during the day?  Even if he was just trying to make a good impression, owls are nocturnal (and this is even mentioned by Twilight), so he should have been sleeping sometime.  Other than that, though, this was a nice episode, especially since it showcased Twilight Sparkle and Spike's relationship.  And the Spikely Whiplash part was pure gold, seriously.

Misc. Screenshots:
Spike made cookies
Twilight winks
Creepy owl
"He is quite the charmer."
Owloysius in the shower
Twisting his tail

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Berry Bitty Adventures News

So it seems that Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures has been renewed for a second season of 13 episodes, according to this press release.  I wonder if the series will continue to be full half-hour episodes, or break into two 11 minute episodes per show?  I'm inclined to think it's the former, since AGP has been upfront about that in the past.  Which is kind of a shame, really.  Much as I love the design, characters, and overall world of the new series, most of the episodes just don't have enough in them to fill a full 22 minutes.  Part of the problem, I think, is that Strawberry is usually the voice of reason, the character with the solution (and being a show for young girls, the solution is usually pretty obvious).  Thus, to stretch the episode out, Strawberry is often kept apart from the other girls as they go about their ways of trying to solve the problem, making it seem that they're all better friends with each other than with Strawberry, even though she's supposedly the heart of the group.
I've often thought, and probably said here, that Sushi Pack and Adventures in Care-a-Lot, would have benefited from being given a full episode for their stories (and the Care Power Team movies proved I was right), and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic just wouldn't be the same if the episodes were half as long (though it would probably still be awesome).  But in the case of SSCBBA, I really feel that the stories would be better served in 11 minute chunks.
Of course, I'm getting off topic from what I really wanted to talk about.  According to the press release, the new season will introduce a new character whose special talent is music.  This is apparently the first time a new character has been added to the SSC franchise in "more than 5 years," which strikes me as a little odd.  I mean, I started this blog less than five years ago, and I've blogged about new characters debuting in the DiC series.  So either those characters were created well before AGP let anyone know about them, or they're just looking for a nice, round number.  That "more than 5 years" phrase also puts the kibosh on the new character being a reimagined character from either the 80s or the 2003 series.
I know I sound kind of negative here, but I'm actually really excited about this new character.  I just wonder what confections are left to make characters out of?  Perhaps Carrot Cake will finally join the cast?  Or some kind of Buckle?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Episode Twenty Three

Ah, the long awaited flashback episodes.  This time around, we learn how our favorite ponies got their cutie marks, and Scootaloo goes nuts.
The Cutie Mark Chronicles
In a misguided attempt at cutie-mark-getting, The Cutie Mark Crusaders give ziplining a try, though only Scootaloo's all that into it.  But as with most of their attempts, it was not meant to be, as shoddy equipment leaves them plummeting to the ground, with only sap and pine needles to show for it.  While washing up, Scootaloo bemoans their lack of success at not getting covered with sap, Sweetie Belle suggests pillow-testing, and Apple Bloom points out that ponies who already have cutie marks might have pointers for them.  The rest of the CMC are down with this, and Scootaloo's ready to start with the coolest pony they know: Rainbow Dash!
And so it's off to town, scooting along in Scootaloo's scooter.  But on the way, Scootaloo screeches to a halt to avoid hitting some on-the-run bunnies.  Turns out they're running from Applejack, having stolen some of her apples.  But since she's there, Apple Bloom asks how she got her cutie mark, much to Scootaloo's annoyance.  And so Applejack flashes back to when she was even younger than the CMC, and left farm life behind for the bright lights of the big city.  Staying with her Aunt and Uncle Orange, she got a crash course on how to pass as a Manehattenite, but found herself perplexed by folks with no clue about life outside of the city and left hungry by city-sized portions.  With the dawning of the sun, her homesickness reached its peak, when out of the blue, a rainbow pointing straight to Sweet Apple Acres crossed the sky.  Realizing that the farm was right where she was meant to be, she hightailed it home, and no sooner did she cross its threshold than her cutie mark appeared.
Her story over, Applejack suddenly remembers the rabbits and takes off, leaving the CMC to their journey.  But before they've gone too far, Fluttershy suddenly jumps out of nowhere, causing Scootaloo to veer off, and the whole group takes a tumble, when all Fluttershy wanted was for them not to hit the ducklings.  When she hears that they're looking for Rainbow Dash to hear her cutie mark story, Fluttershy tells them about how she got her cutie mark, thanks to Rainbow Dash.  This one time at summer flight camp, back when she was rather gangly and not a strong flyer, the jerk ponies from "Sonic Rainboom" (in younger form) taunted her and Rainbow Dash came to her defense.  She and the jerks set up a race for Fluttershy's honor, but their starting flight was so quick it knocked poor Fluttershy right off the clouds.  She would have been history if not for a kindly rabble of butterflies mobilizing to catch her.  Instantly charmed by a world she had never seen before (having stayed in her cloud home all these years), she sang its praises.  Until an unexplained (and rather colorful) boom frightened off all her new animal friends.  With steely determination, she went to every single one of them and calmed them down, discovering not only her uncanny ability to communicate with animals, but also her cutie mark.
Scootaloo demands to know what happened with Rainbow Dash and the race, and Fluttershy realizes she never bothered to find out what happened.  Thoroughly annoyed by this, plus two sappy stories, Scootaloo's all for getting out of there.  Sweetie Belle thinks Rarity might know Rainbow Dash's location, but instead they end up getting fitted for dresses.  Hearing the CMC's frustration over the marklessness, Rarity remembers how she couldn't understand why she didn't have her cutie mark back when she was their age.  Even then, she knew that she wanted to be a fashionista, and had even designed all the costumes for the school play, though she felt they lacked something, and still no mark.  But unicorns have a helping hand when it comes to discovering cutie marks: their magic.  So when Rarity's horn suddenly began dragging her (quite literally) across Ponyville, she stuck with it, hoping to discover her destiny.  Which is why she was less than impressed when she finally stopped right in front of a huge rock.  As she cursed at her horn and the rock, there was suddenly a huge boom that split the rock wide open, revealing a treasure trove of gems.  She incorporated the gems into the costumes for the school play, and seeing what that extra sparkle did for the whole production, her cutie mark finally made itself known.
Scootaloo is exasperated at yet another story with too much "finding yourself" and too little action, and pushes the others out the door, only to get roped into hearing Twilight Sparkle's story.  As a young filly, she attended the Canterlot Summer Sun Celebration, and after being wowed by Princess Celestia raising the sun, she dedicated herself to studying all things magic.  Such was her devotion, her parents enrolled her in Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns and she was accepted.  Of course, first she had to pass an entrance exam: using her magic to hatch a dragon egg.  Under pressure, her magic fizzled, but just when she was about to give up, a mysterious boom jolted her powers to life, hatching the egg (with baby Spike inside), but also awakening her latent magic.  Unable to control the aura of magic surrounding her, Twilight accidentally levitated the examiners, turned her parents into potted plants, and made baby Spike huge.  The situation brought Princess Celestia herself to the examination room, and with a mere touch, she brought Twilight Sparkle back to normal.  The magic ended, everyone was changed back, and Twilight expected to be punished, but instead learned that the princess wanted to train her herself, thanks to her incredible raw magical power.  And on top of that, she got her cutie mark!
Remembering the joy she felt on that day, Twilight Sparkle starts to hop around chanting "Yes!" just as she did back then, to the CMC's embarrassment.  They beat a hasty retreat while she's distracted.  But scooting through town reveals no Rainbow Dash, only a surprise stowaway: Pinkie Pie.  Knowing there's no stopping it, Scootaloo reluctantly agrees to hear her cutie mark story, and quite a shocking story it is.  It seems that Pinkie Pie spent her childhood on a rock farm, raised in an austere family that had no time for talk or smiles.  One day, as she was following the rest of her family inside, she was knocked off her socks by a sudden boom, followed by a rainbow.  The force of the explosion left her previously ramrod straight hair in a mass of curls, and the ensuing rainbow made her smile for the first time in her life.  Feeling this joy, she wanted to share it with everyone she knew, but wasn't sure how to go about it.  But one trip to town later, and she had everything she needed.  Beckoning her family into the silo, she showed them the fruits of her labor, something called a "party."  Though initially shocked, the rest of her family soon warmed up to this party concept, and thus Equestria was born!
Or so says Pinkie Pie, leaving the CMC boggled.  But by then they've reached Sugar Cube Corners, where they're sure to find Rainbow Dash, and sure enough, there she is, along with the rest of the mane cast.  Having already been briefed on the CMC's latest quest, she launches right into her story, picking up where Fluttershy left off: her very first race, with Fluttershy's honor on the line.  Having never flown in an actual race before, she discovered just how much fun it was to fly that fast, and even more fun to win.  Striving to beat the remaining jerk (one already crashed and burned), she inadvertently created her first sonic rainboom, something that was thought to be mere legend (though the jerks, both out for the count, missed it completely).  During her victory lap, her cutie mark appeared, icing on an already awesome cake.
Hearing Rainbow Dash's story, the older ponies see the connection between the sonic rainboom (and the subsequent rainbow) and the events of their own cutie mark stories.  Not only did they all get their cutie marks on the same day, it was all due to Rainbow Dash!  Realizing they've been friends even before they knew each other calls for a group hug, which Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom appreciate, but Scootaloo does not, especially when the other two wrap her up in a group hug of their own.  Fluttershy calls for another song, and Scootaloo lets out a big NO!
Later, Twilight Sparkle writes up her report to Princess Celestia, but the group hug left her feeling a little sappy, and what comes out sounds more like an inspirational poster than an actual report (you and your future friends may be looking at the same rainbow), as Spike points out.  "Just write it, Spike," she tells him, and continues to revel in the mysteries of friendship.
The main draw of this episode, of course, is a peek into the pasts of our favorite ponies, and it did not disappoint.  Who would have guessed that Pinkie Pie's full name is Pinkamina Diane Pie, or that Twilight's mom was G1 Twilight?  And I just loved Young Fluttershy's design.  So cute!  I do have one quibble about the song she sang, though:  "If I'd known the ground had so much up its sleeve/I would have come sooner and never leave."  Surely it wouldn't have taken too much more work to come up with something that didn't mix tenses?  Also, while I was watching the episode, the whole "Rainbow Dash's sonic rainboom features in every flashback" thing was kind of annoying, but the pay off at the end made it all right.
Before this episode aired, Hubworld had a "My Little Pony Tales" page where folks could "vote" on Rainbow Dash's cutie mark story, not that their choice had any affect on the episode, since Rainbow Dash had already mentioned how she got her cutie mark in "Call of the Cutie."  That is, it appeared after her first race, and since only one of the choices involved racing, it was pretty obvious which choice was the right one.

Misc. Screenshots
Tearful Granny Smith and Little Macintosh
Welcoming Applejack back home
Pinkamina sees the rainboom

Friday, May 6, 2011

Crocheted Gift

You may have noticed that April was pretty light on posts, and that I'm not fairly behind in my MLPFiM recaps (the rest are coming, don't worry).  The reason for this: I spent most of my free moments crocheting up a storm, working to finish up a blanket for my nephew's birthday at the end of the month:

(All-Star Blanket from Crocheted Gifts)
It took me ages to find a decent pattern for a kids blanket that wasn't a baby blanket, and that would look good.  For the record, my nephew loves it, and it even matches the rocket ship sheets he got.
One thing that I liked about this pattern was that the squares were all joined together as you go, rather than sewn together at the end.  Sewing things together is my nemesis, hence why my Crochet-Along blanket is still a pile of squares sitting in a bag.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011