Monday, 13 February 2017

Most and Least Rewatchable: Season Six

I have of course noted the character reveals for My Little Pony: The Movie, and I'll be giving my thoughts on those in the near future. Something else for now, though.

Starlight Glimmer singing in "A Hearth's Warming Tail"
And the Muppets can go, too!
I've been promising to do this for ages, but with Season Seven in the offing it's probably now time I got on with the S6 edition of this. I think enough time has now elapsed for me to have a fair idea of which episodes I enjoy watching again. S6 had a lot of "decent, but could have been better" eps, ranging from "P.P.O.V." to "Spice Up Your Life", so this wasn't quite as easy to decide as the S5 list. Past the break you can see what I eventually plumped for.

The most rewatchable episodes of S6

3. Buckball Season
This just beats out "Top Bolt", and would be my pick for most underrated episode of the season. I think it's lovely, and Jennifer Skelly managed to hark back to the early days of FiM while still keeping the pace up. Fluttershy and Pinkie are great together, buckball itself is more interesting than I'd imagined and Snails (of all ponies) steals every scene he's in. Fluttershy's faces on the train are a little overdone, but her "Looks like you really do need practice" is gold.

2. Stranger Than Fan Fiction
This is amazingly fun, even after repeated viewings: the convention scenes in particular are some I could watch endlessly. Quibble is pitch perfect as the annoying guy who follows you around a con to tell you all about why he's right and you're wrong, and the effort put into design is lovely. The jungle adventure scenes keep up the amusement, and "You need to get your money back" is sublimely timed. And of course there are the end credits...

1. A Hearth's Warming Tail
S6 hadn't had any outright zingers in its first seven episodes, but then along came Michael Vogel (a real shame he's not writing for S7) to show everyone else how it's done. Some people dislike this because it's based on A Christmas Carol. Those people are wrong. It's a wonderful interpretation of the tale, with exactly the right amount of ponification. Most of the songs are excellent, and the visuals are glorious. This would be a classic in any season.

The least rewatchable episodes of S6

3. The Cart Before the Ponies
I love "Derby Racers", but the rest of this is a horrible disappointment – and I really like real-world motor racing. The problem is that Applejack, Rainbow and Rarity are obnoxious almost throughout, and seem to have regressed several seasons in terms of character development. Add to that the stupid "Oh it's in arcade games so it'll be fine" track design, without the slightest effort to justify it, and you have an ep that just annoys me when I see it again.

2. Applejack's "Day" Off
This may well be the dullest episode of FiM ever made, and I say that as someone who likes very slice-of-lifey stories. It's a significant reason the return of the Fox brothers for S7 was not welcomed with great joy by much of the fandom. Applejack seems to have taken over from Spike as the character who gets the most raw deals, and this was one of the rawest. It's one of the few episodes where you check the clock after 20 minutes to find you're only eight minutes in.

1. The Crystalling
This isn't here because of Flurry Heart, pointless toyetic princess though she is. Disliking a character doesn't make an episode un-rewatchable. No, my beef with this is that it's that rare thing: a double episode that should have been a single one. The story mostly consists of Flurry zapping things and the Mane Six running around like headless chickens. At least we got to see Sunburst again, but that's about the only positive. This tops the list largely because it's 44 minutes of irritation rather than 22.


  1. I did like your three favorites, but I would only count the Hearth's Warming one among my own favorites. The thing that bugged me most about Buckball Season was how overtly they put a huge chasm between success and failure. Look at the AJ/Dash vs. Pinkie/Fluttershy matches. When there's a jump ball at the beginning, Pinkie beats AJ to kicking it before AJ has even reacted to the ball being there. If they'd both kicked at it, but Pinkie was a little quicker to it, that'd be far more realistic, but when AJ's just left there staring at it, it ends up being really dumbed down.

    I didn't mind The Crystalling so much, but I had kind of hoped Starlight wouldn't end up being successful in reconnecting with Sunburst. It would have made for an interesting but relatable lesson, that it's okay when that happens. Old friends won't always stay friends, but you make new ones. It ended up tasting more like yet another mistake from Starlight's past that she needed to address, or she'd be branded a failure.

    I'm actually in the camp that likes Starlight. While I do realize she's filling the "friendship noob" role Twilight graduated from, and she's somewhat duplicating Sunset Shimmer's role, she has a completely different angle and mindset than either one of them, and I find her interesting.

    I think my faves would be "Crusaders of the Lost Mark," "The Saddle Row Review," and "A Hearth's Warming Tail." Biggest misses: "Applejack's 'Day' Off," "Flutter Brutter," and "The Cart Before the Ponies."

    Poor AJ. I really like her, but the writers don't seem to, and that "Day Off" episode just moved her backward, completely against the down-to-earth, cut-to-the-chase type she is, and it was a curious repudiation of the complicated yet tradition-driven procedure of growing the Zap Apples

    1. Hah! I hadn't even though of Day Off in those terms. More reasons not to like it. :D

    2. I am entirely and shamelessly biased when it comes to Fluttershy-heavy episodes. If I weren't, "Top Bolt" probably would have made the cut. I like "Flutter Brutter", come to that, despite Zephyr. It's a stupid episode really, but (at least to me) enjoyably stupid.

      I quite like Starlight, too. "The Cutie Map", which I seem to like more than most of the fandom, helps there – but I like her as "Mane Six Point Five" as well. I think it's a shame she's so hated by a slice of the fandom, but I suspect that (as usual with such things) they're louder than they are numerous.

      "Crusaders of the Lost Mark"? Ahem. ;)

  2. Well firstly, I'll re-assert myself as the token %0.001 of the fandom who really likes 'Applejacks 'Day' Off' ;). Although I also agree AJ didn't have the strongest season.

    'A Hearth's Warming Tail' and 'Stranger than Fanfiction' are certainly the strongest for me in terms of re-watchability. While the finale is one of my favourite episodes, I don't see myself returning to it all that often. Likewise with 'A Saddle Row Review'. If I had to pick a third it would probably be either 'Top Bolt', 'Buckball Season' or 'Newbie Dash'.

    Least re-watchable; well that's a tough one as the large majority of season 6, I haven't gone back to since the period where they came out. But looking at the list, the ones which appeal to me least would be 'Flutter Brutter' (Zephr annoys me too much), '28 Pranks Later' (horribly written Dash) or 'The Cart Before The Ponies' (for the reasons you mentioned).

    1. It's always good to be strange. ;) After all, my own liking for "Flutter Brutter" probably puts me in a minority.

  3. Let's see my most watched episodes would be 3.)Top Bolt 2.) The Saddle Row Review and 1.) Stranger than Fan Fiction. My least watched would be 3.) Viva Las Pegasus 2.) Applejack's Day Off and 1.) The Crystaling.

    1. I think the only one there I'd really disagree with would be "Viva Las Pegasus", which I enjoy quite a lot. So five out of six isn't bad! :P

  4. My top 5 most rewatchable S6 episodes ( if you care to know ;3)

    - Hearth Warming Tail. Unlike you guys, i am not familiar with Christmas Carol until i am 24 ;), my first adaptation of Christmas Carol is Disney movie version and Hearth Warming Tail is my second adaptation so it still a fresh story to me. Some people called this ep "just an another rip off Christmas Carol" are oversimplifying it, sure, the 3 ghosts are similar but the main character and the inner comflict is totally different, if Starlight is a greedy alchemist in that story, i can at least understand their criticism. The entertainment value are extremely high, songs, visual, voice acting are pretty pleasant, Applejack song is my most favorite in that ep. How can you bring yourself to HATE this ep??? I still dont get it until now.

    Flutter Brutter. I hated it at first but i love it more and more everytime I rewatch it, its in my top best ep of S6. Fluttershy are really fantastic this season 6, every scene of her are so freaking awesome. Zerphyl is obnoxious, i can understand why people hate him but i like asshole characters in cartoon because they can create story, saints are boring, i rather read stories about world will full of asshole than full of saints. Seeing Zerphyl gets his ass kicked over and over again is refreshing everytime.

    Saddle Row Review. Comedy gold of this season. To be honest, mlp eps are getting less funny after every seasons, almost S2 eps made me laugh at least once, why the comedy is getting bad nowaday? That why i love Saddle Row Review, a modern mlp episode is so funny and creative. This ep deserve to be a classic one, worth rewatching everytime.

    - Stranger Than Fanfiction. Every bits of this episode is gold, i cant stop rewatching it every week ;), the second best S6 episode in term of story and humor. Rainbow Dash in this ep is Rainbow Dash i want to see for so long, she is 20% more cooler even without even trying. Quibble Pants is amazing, best stallion of the year, season 6 had best male character.

    - Spice Up Your Life. This is My second best map episode (excluding Cutie Map). The pacing is well-done, the characters are lovely, some people called Rarity out of character but i dont see the same way. The moral enlightened me so much, after watching this ep, i wont let others opinions dictate my taste ever again, that what make this episode so special to me.

    1. Thanks! It's always interesting to read these. :)

      Most of the people I know who really dislike "A Hearth's Warming Tail" do so at least partly because of overexposure to A Christmas Carol. More than one of these people had the story stuffed down their throats at school again and again, and that rarely makes people happy.

      I'm with you on "Flutter Brutter" – I think it's very watchable indeed, Zephyr included. I like the song, too, even though most people seem to find it a bit on the meh side.

      "Spice Up Your Life" is in the middle of the pack for me. It's a good episode, and I don't have any massive problems with it. (The worst thing is probably Minuette, of all ponies, being snobbish.) On the hoof, it's not an ep I want to go back and watch again and again. The song is also okay, rather than amazing, though I appreciate the different style.

  5. Before I begin, I'd like to say that "Applejack's 'Day' Off" was an OK episode for me, but I can see how it would so easily be boring. Even I find it stretched, and I like the whole "traditions that don't make sense anymore" schtick behind it. I think that, with a few rounds of editing and an actual B-plot to cover the pacing issue, it could've been a good episode.

    Most rewatchable ones? Oh no, I can't choose them so easily! I can only point to episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    - "The Gift of the Maud Pie": A lazy knockabout episode, but the character interplay is what makes it so good. Maud, Rarity, and Pinkie never stopped being amusing to me.

    - "Gauntlet of Fire": Drama, comedy, heartwarming moments, action: all combine to make a stellar Spike episode with fantastic new characters.

    - "The Saddle Row Review": A golden comedy of errors with a well-executed narrative framing device that enhances the comedy wonderfully.

    - "Flutter Brutter": I relate so hard to Zephyr's fear, and he's kind of a funny foil and cosmic chew toy before the great last quarter. Dash's reactions were great. Fluttershy was on top form.

    - "Spice Up Your Life": Multiculturalism, sweet and sour new characters, culinary status and philosophies, and an inclusive moral that fit the story neatly. Remove the map element and this one's perfect!

    - "Stranger Than Fanfiction": Rainbow and Quibble Pants worked off each other brilliantly, and Patton Oswalt voiced him so well I hope he comes back. Fun, self-aware adventure story, too.

    - "Buckball Season": I'd like to see this sport expanded upon. Interesting take on Snails. Main characters great, especially how their attitudes to the sport were at cross-purposes.

    - "Viva Las Pegasus": Fluttershy! Applejack! Together! Yay! Also Flim and Flam versus Elvis Presley impersonator villain in the land of eternal parties. Need I say more?

    - "Top Bolt": Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail had such a sweet yet fascinatingly rocky relationship, and were instant favourites. Twi and Dash were good too: I initially thought them caricatured, but they get better with each rewatch.

    Instead of least rewatchable episodes, I have the shameful-that-it-has-to-exist-at-all category of conceptually unwatchable ones: anything involving reformed-Starlight. Villain-Starlight I don't mind (because she's so good at it), but I strongly disliked the so-called morality of the ending of the Season Five finale. The sheer scale of her crime and of her sadism is completely disproportionate both to her Freudian excuse and to her "redemption". That's bad enough on its own, but the idea of her joining the main cast as a regular was flat-out repulsive to me.

    And then when I figure I might give her character a chance, I end up seeing, in a preview clip, the most infamous five seconds of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic".

    That was the last straw. Reformed-Starlight is basically dead to me, and single-handedly ensured this was the first season in which I never saw all the episodes.

    But I suppose if we're going for ones I've actually watched, the list would be:

    - "Dungeons and Discords": A waste of Discord's unusual character, and mostly a bore-fest when you care little about D and D in the first place.

    - "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)": The premise of three good friends holding a grudge felt off from the get-go. Had too few comedic moments for me, and the payoff felt weak.

    For the rest, either I haven't watched more than a few clips before losing interest, or I would at least rewatch for a few interesting moments and/or elements.

    1. Starlight seems to have been a base-breaker like nothing since Twilicorn. I'm broadly on the other side of the divide from you – I wouldn't call her a favourite, I didn't like the end of the S5 finale, and it frustrates me that she hasn't been given some more development (how did she get Our Town started?) – but I like her moderately well.

      Unlike, so it seems, a great part of the Fimfiction community, I even quite like "Every Little Thing She Does". I do get the objection that Starlight's use of mind control magic isn't treated with the seriousness it deserves, but I can accept (although with a little grumbling) the notion that redemption and forgiveness is more easily found in Equestria than on Earth.

      Also, one thing about my doing reviews of all the episodes is that I can't skip any! ;)

      Of the episodes you mention as having enjoyed, only "The Gift of the Maud Pie" is at the lower end of my S6 list. I found it rather dull until the last few minutes. "Top Bolt", on the other hand, is far and away my favourite Wonderbolts episode.

      At the other end, I'm not a huge fan of "Dungeons and Discords" – it's all right, but I don't think it's anything special. I enjoy "P.P.O.V." (admittedly largely for Arrrplejack in the first flashback) but I was hugely disappointed by the bunyip reveal. It came out of nowhere and is the main reason I don't think the ep is very rewatchable.

    2. "how did she get Our Town started?"

      Now that is an episode I wouldn't mind seeing. The funny thing was that, when I first saw "The Cutie Map", I thought she was going to be a one-off villain, and the finale would feature another kind of out-of-control philosophy (a sort of guided tour of how not to do friendship). I half-jokingly suggested, given the surprising parallels between Starlight here and Amon ("no element-benders, all people equal") from The Legend of Korra, that it would be the pony equivalent of the Red Lotus ("no authority figures, all people free to do what they want").

      "the notion that redemption and forgiveness is more easily found in Equestria than on Earth"

      I get where you're coming from - different standards for a different species and/or for a show aimed at a less critical audience - but it makes me uneasy in a different way. The ponies, for all their horse-isms and cartoon quirks, just seem to be strongly humanlike otherwise. It feels too much like letting the writers off.

      As a result, I start worrying about the (in)competence on display instead. Take, for instance, "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", an episode full of fantastic dream mechanics and visuals, and a long-overdue examination of Luna's guilt... in which said guilt nearly destroys Equestria. Watching characters forgiving someone who misuses that kind of ability (Starlight's as well as Luna's), I feel uncomfortable with the implied irresponsibility of the message.

      "(admittedly largely for Arrrplejack in the first flashback)"

      That was pretty funny, though I wish if anything they'd done more with it. Maybe they could do an episode in which Applejack becomes pirate for a day? :)

  6. The whole mind control things are played for comedy, not mean to be taken so seriously. However, i hope those reckless action will bite Starlight ass someday ;). I think Luna will revisit Starlight someday to teach her how not to ruin Equestria because of your petty personal problems ;3.
    Starlight character is fine to me, i think people hate because she is immuned to karma laser until now, other characters are fucked up sometime but the karma laser shoot them in da ass which didnt happen to Starlight yet.

    Yeah i love Starlight and still love her but i can still criticize her, and still hope for the better. ;3

    By a way, i think Twilight faults to go too easy for her, Twilight need to be more strict to Starlight than S6. When come to friendship, Twilight is really a bad teacher.

  7. I'd have put No Second Prances as a least possible one, Twilight to me was REALLY out of character and it hurt as she's one of my favorites. :(

    1. I'm a huge fan of it, but I still find it okay to watch if I forget about characterisation for a while. That's why this list is different from a straight most/least favourites list. :)

    2. It's fine.

      About the season 6 finale, I actually don't hate it as much as I'm used to, and I'm actually fine with the Changeling designs now, I noticed how they look like earth ponies, pegasi and unicorns which is a nice touch, and they do look like they'd fit in Yellow Submarine (maybe those rocking horse people who eat marshmallow pies! XD). I still don't like how they made the Princesses useless there though and I wish the show would stop using that trope.