tl;dr version of this long ass post: I vent and ramble on about ponies in a cryptic manner so as not to offend the spoiler nazis and if you don't care about ponies, you need to close the tab now. Not even kidding, run far away while you can. No? Well, you've been warned.
Well, this season has been... interesting. I've been holding my tongue for a while but the season finale is today and I may as well put this out here now. So, what's happened with Season Three of My Little Pony? It's past 1am, I'm insomniacking again and I'm kind of incoherent so I'll just give you a bullet list summing up my thoughts on Season 3.
- I desperately needed Ponies in October to deaden the sting of the baseball playoffs and distract me from the stupid election last year. The Season Premiere date was the first weekend after the election, on November 10th. Thanks for nothing, Hub.
- Despite being a two-part episode with a brand new villain and new songs and a heroic quest in a long lost Empire of Equestria the major topic of discussion after the episode aired was Nickelodeon's Gak.
- While it's the worst of the two-part episode it's still really dang good. There are a couple of songs and a few great moments. It suffers from a villain who doesn't do a whole hell of a lot and having the misfortune of being the first episode after the brilliant Season 2 finale.
- And when I say the villain does not do a lot, I mean he is pretty much the Darth Maul of the series. Cool, menacing character who is simply not given enough screen time and doesn't do much other than be defeated when he does show up.
- Episode 3, despite focusing on the pony that alternates with the one at the top of this post as my favorite on the show, in my opinion is easily the SINGLE WORST EPISODE OF THE ENTIRE FRANCHISE.
- Yes, I am including all previous generations and I am saying it is worse than the episode from G3.5 that gave us this and I'm not even kidding.
- And it's not even the entire episode that sucks, most of it is good. It's the last 5 minutes where things get completely horrifying. So bad it damn near put me off the show. If you know what I'm talking about and think I'm crazy, we can discuss it later. I utterly loathe the ending, however, and no one will be able to sway me from this opinion ever.
- The following week we got a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode which was so good it redeemed the season for me. Brand new character, good story with good jokes and nifty references told well and there was even a ridiculously catchy song in there to boot. One of my favorites of the season.
- Episode 5 featured my favorite minor character. If episode 4 had sucked, I never would have watched it because I was somewhat terrified that the show would ruin said character. Luckily, that episode was good and this episode was perfect. I can already say with some confidence that no matter what happens today, this will be my favorite episode from Season 3.
- If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, the episode list is here for your reference, and honestly maybe you need to skip this post unless you want to get sucked into the whole Pony Madness debacle.
- Up next was another CMC episode, this time finally giving focus to our favorite filly Pegasus. This was another excellent episode with a completely unexpected appearance from another of my favorite minor characters.
- I'm really ambivalent about episode 7. On one hand it was excellent at adding real depth to one of the main characters on the show. On the other hand it so thoroughly butchered the ending that it overshadowed the moral of the story.
- The problem with the ending wouldn't have been so bad had the script to the original ending that was ultimately cut not been leaked. This would have been a perfect ending for that story and was not used for God knows what reason, ultimately highlighting every single problem the episode had.
- Again, this is all my opinion here, but literally two seconds of screen time turned what was an unsteady but pretty good episode into a sloppy mess. Which I wouldn't have even known if the alternate ending had not been leaked.
- About this time I started to get a bad feeling that Hasbro was about to put an end to the series. This is not the case, as Season 4 is definitely in production, but the combination of a short 13-episode season to hit the 65 needed for syndication along with seeing an episode that neatly wrapped up the destiny of a main character gave me that feeling that this season was it. Wrong as I was, it still lessened my enjoyment of the show from this point on.
- The next episode featured a long-neglected main character, had some neat gags, another odd but catchy song and had lots of cameos from previous episodes. Pretty darn good episode.
- It was also SAD AS HELL if you read between the lines. While a popular pastime within the fandom, I do not watch ponies so I can have feels. I want funny cute ponies being nice to each other while acting ridiculous. No feels. I can read bad fanfic if I want feels.
- Yes, I'm a 40 year old man publicly using the word 'feels'. Seriously, this is not the right post for you if you are questioning this. There are over 9000 blogs in that sidebar, pick one and come back tomorrow for more silly things about trading cards.
- Episode 9. This episode sucked. But it was a Spike episode and they always suck. There were some really good gags, but the overall plot of the episode was such an old, overused trope that it probably wouldn't have worked even if it had not been a sucky Spike episode.
- I've been trying to avoid spoilers here but I HAVE to get this off my chest.
- The antagonist in episode 9 is a pack of ravenous Timber Wolves, magical creatures made of wood.
- Apparently old, dead, brittle, dry discarded wood such as you would find on the floor of your average enchanted forest.
- Spike is a dragon.
- Who motherbucking breathes FIRE.
- WHAT WAS THE FRIGGING PROBLEM HERE?!?!??!!??!!!
- After this episode there was a two week hiatus until the next one. Since the Spike episode was instantly forgettable, I got to dwell on the sadness of the previous one for a month before there was new pony.
- Episode 10. Utterly Brilliant. Like Ep. 5, this could have been screwed up so horrendously but it was executed perfectly. The pony at the top of this post was awesome as usual. John De Lancie reprised his role and was magnificent. The script was tight and excellent. It was also written by the same guy who did my least favorite episode this season so that was a nice surprise. In the long run it may ultimately end up turning out to be my favorite from this season.
- Episodes 11 and 12 are pretty clever actually. They show the events of a single day from the perspectives of different characters. The plots aren't intricately intertwined or anything but they do share a couple of scenes. Kinda neat for a show whose entire existence ultimately depends on how many plastic pony toys it sells.
- One half of this defacto two-part episode is another Spike episode. Surprise! This episode doesn't suck! That's because it's not actually a Spike episode at all, he gets the spotlight for about 17 seconds before the Cutie Mark Crusaders come to bail him out.
- The CMC are the big winners this season. Every episode where they play a major role is excellent. If Hasbro decides that they need to sell more fillies and decree that Season 4 will focus solely on them, I won't even mind that much.
- That won't happen though, because there's a new toy coming out that costs fifty smackers that will be driving the marketing for the forseeable future. I'll talk about that in a minute.
- Episode 12 has yet another threadbare overused trope for a plot, but in this case it pulls it off well. The jokes are good, there's some good character growth, a certain pony who was woefully neglected this season has a small but significant role and Hasbro got to show off their new toy line and pretty pink princess pony one more time. All in all, a solid episode.
- Despite the fact that most episodes this season have been very good (and if you take away the endings of two episodes, they are all good except the obligatory lousy Spike ep) the fanbase has been in a completely insane uproar for the past two weeks solid. This is due to a number of factors all converging at the same time:
- Bronies were rightfully worried that the series would end once it hit enough episodes for syndication. The airwaves are littered with cult shows that were cut off before their time and cartoons are almost always cut off at this point. While evidence for a season 4 was pretty overwhelming at this point, it wasn't formally announced until this week, and that was in a magazine article. So to start off, we already have some existential angst amongst the fandom.
- Next, a bunch of episodes were purged from YouTube. This was no big deal as it happens every so often. The fact that YouTube is now selling episodes on a special pay channel makes it even more obvious. Unfortunately some fan parodies were purged along with the actual episodes by the copyright bots. Anger ensued.
- Lots of fan-made pony games are out there, fulling a vast void that was only recently filled by a cute but unplayable Farmville clone that popped up late last year. There was a very slick pony fighting style game that was in development for almost 2 years that was just about to be ready. In a move that should have been quite obvious, a cease and desist was ordered and the game was shut down. Many fans are absolutely incensed about this, even though it should have been painfully obvious that Hasbro was never ever going to let this game see the light of day.
- A spin off series was announced. Basically the ponies travel through a magic portal and become human high-school age girls. The art looks pretty much like your average cartoon targeting little girls. So of course the fanbase who defied conventional wisdom and enthusiastically embraced a cartoon that is essentially an advertisement for toys for little girls, immediately decried this move as the Worst Thing Ever and refuse to give the show even the slightest chance of succeeding.
- These things pale in comparison to the last thing that is "rustling jimmies" in the parlance of our times. Something happens in today's episode that has come as a bit of a shock to many people. This video sums the whole mess up pretty well:
So yeah, that's been the past few weeks in the life of a pony fan except not as uproariously funny. And yes, that is going to be the new toy I mentioned earlier, brand new wings and all. Today's episode was written by my favorite writer on the series so it will probably be excellent and all the uproar will be replaced by applause come 11:00am today. Ok, maybe there will be some complaining about the long wait until next season. There seems to be a lot of complaining right now which is the prime reason why this post is a hell of a lot more negative than I would have liked. Ponies are awesome, but a small but vocal part of the fanbase is not making things very fun at the moment.
As you can tell, I'm kinda ready for baseball. Don't worry, ponies won't be leaving the blog forever, there's still a comic series to get us through the long offseason and Enterplay Series 2 hits stores in April. Dang, I still need to find the last card to complete my Series 1 set, don't I?
UPDATE: Everything's going to be just fine.