Monday, 30 September 2019

Episode review: S9E22: "Growing Up is Hard to Do"

"And grown-ups don't even need to breathe!"
This week's Friendship is Magic episode was written by Ed Valentine, a familiar name to fans of the show but one we hadn't seen attached to an ep since "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks" way back in S6. I was quite pleased to discover that Valentine would be writing this one, since he's written several other CMC episodes, with his debut being the very solid "Flight to the Finish". I was hoping for good things. After the cut, we'll see whether I got them!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Worcester Shires ponymeets: friendship's still magic

I'm going to indulge myself here today with something that's very important to me but won't be relevant to most of my readers...

As some of you reading this will know, I'm a regular attendee and occasional organiser of the Worcester Shires, an informal ponymeet which usually runs on two Saturday afternoons each month in (surprisingly enough) Worcester. The English one, not the one in Massachusetts! We had a meet yesterday and as usual it was a perfectly pleasant afternoon with personable people and plenty of pastel plush (and otherwise) ponies.

There was, however, one notable aspect to this meet, as it will be the last one we ever have while Friendship is Magic is still a live series. The next time we meet to talk about ponies, drink caffeinated beverages and eat cake, FiM will be in the past. The meet has been running since 2013, and indeed I was at the very first such gathering, though we only adopted the Worcester Shires name much more recently.

One thing all of us agree on is that we intend to continue with these meets. Why wouldn't we? The fandom isn't going to disappear after the final episodes of FiM air on Discovery Family on 12th October. Nor is My Little Pony, and several of us are at least to some degree interested in other generations past or future. We seem to get on with each other and besides, the café where we hold our meetups treats us very well.

Of course, we can't know where things will go from here. But as with the fandom as a whole, I'm optimistic. After all, we've had new attendees join us even in 2019, six years after these meets began and nine years after FiM itself got under way. Several of us who intend to be there at UK PonyCon in a fortnight are regulars or semi-regulars in Worcester, and doubtless there'll be a little measure of "Worcester meet on tour" in Nottingham.

I think a good deal of our success has been down to Pigasus, our extremely popular meet leader. I also think people have enjoyed the atmosphere, which is deliberately kept laid-back but work-safe, and which unlike some other meetup groups is still very much a Pony meet. Yes, we talk about other things too sometimes, though we keep real-world politics out of it as much as possible, but we're something of an outpost of Equestria.

It struck me today, when we were discussing our future meet calendar, that everybody simply took it as read that we'd still be holding these meets not merely for the rest of this year but much further into the future. Indeed, we spent a little time talking about our intention to hold a G5 movie meet at a local cinema if there is indeed a UK cinematic release for the assumed prequel feature film for the new generation. And that isn't likely to happen until 2021. I look forward to it!

That's enough rambling – so I'll end simply by saying that the next Worcester Shires meet (or "bronyponyneigh") is likely to be on Saturday, 19th October. We certainly welcome newcomers – see the link above (in the second paragraph) for details of location, times and so on. Yes, it will be strange not to have a new episode of FiM to look forward to... but I'm pretty sure the meet itself will feel much as it does now. And that's a good thing. :)

Friday, 27 September 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Daring Doubt"

Okey-dokey-lokey, let's get back to actual ponies on this blog, rather than just photos of trains with a pony stuck in the corner. (Though I don't promise never to post such pics here again!) I'll keep doing this up to episode 23, but though I will do TRR for the final three episodes it'll be a little bit delayed because of UK PonyCon. Given they're all being shown on the same day on DF, I'll also have to think about how to handle that. Right then, back to "Daring Doubt", and...

...once again there was quite a wide spread of views among the written-word reviewers. This time, however, the balance of opinion was tilted heavily towards the negative. The writing and continuity were widely criticised, as was the reformation of Caballeron and Ahuizotl, which a number of reviewers saw as forced. Fluttershy was mostly popular, but even here there were dissenting voices. My own verdict was middling, though part of my frustration was personal, in that I'd wanted a FS/RD adventure for years but didn't really get it.

Cuddlepug – quite positive (graded B-; "surprised me in all the right ways [...] One could argue that the episode is wrapped up a little too neatly by the end, but I think the solution of listening to both sides of the story during conflict is a valuable one")

Dark Qiviut – generally very positive ("During the entire expedition, [Fluttershy] stayed true to her embodied Element of Harmony [and] Daring Doubt is a shining example of giving Dash negative traits without making her out of character or miserable [but] Daring Doubt doesn't adequately explain why Ahuizotl acted so violent this whole time. [Even so,] rough edges aside, it's nicely done.")

DrakeyC – negative ("this episode was meh right up until the third act, when it got insultingly STUPID. [...] At least past Daring Do eps were watchable. This one is just a shitty redemption fic, how apt given its premise.")

Dramamaster829 – mildly positive ("This episode was about the search for truth. [... Fluttershy] made the effort to reach out to [Caballeron's party], offering a hoof in kindness [...] True fans are tired of the whole redemption shtick, that eventually there's going to be a chance to uncover two sides of a story only to realize that one half is truly that bad [though] I still consider it a fun episode.")

JDPrime22 – mostly positive (rated 8/10; "This was a fun episode. Not my favorite Daring Do adventure [...] but an enjoyable sendoff for Daring and her crew. ")

Louder Yay – slightly negative (rated 2/5; "an immensely frustrating episode, not short on fun little moments and nice visual design, but faring less well when it came to coherence and continuity [...] the first act was really rather fun [and] I enjoyed the way [Fluttershy] behaved on the expedition [but I disliked the] episode's cavalier disregard for continuity and, frankly, common sense in the resolution.")

Mike Cartoon Pony – slightly negative ("the cracks in its construction show far more then past Daring Do episodes [...] The action and adventuring [...] is decent, but merely competent when compared to examples of past episodes. [...] The more I unpack the episode’s plot, the more contrivances pop up [though] Fluttershy is balanced well [as is Rainbow. This] isn’t an abysmal episode, even if it’s the weakest Daring Do episode without much thought [and there's Dubuc's] awful habit of writing stories that don’t fit in with those before she joined the show")

MLEEP Reviews – generally negative (rated 5/10; "a half-assed rehash of Season 7's "Daring Done" [...] the same tired lesson of 'there are two sides to every story' [...] ended up ruining the continuity of two of the best villains that we ever had during the Daring Do adventures [...] extremely average")

Present Perfect – rather negative ("Fluttershy working her epic kindness abilities [...] Redemption was maybe not something I ever wanted for Caballeron, but it fits with the show’s themes. [But] not only is redemption for [Ahuizotl] not something I, personally, wanted, it’s a bad idea. Or at least, it was mishandled to an extreme degree here [...] This is not a redemption story: this is a retcon.")

SuperPinkBrony12 – negative ("a little too much of a stretch to be believable [...] I don't really recall anyone wanting [Caballeron or Ahuizotl] to reform, so why did Nicole Dubuc decide to do it? [...] Daring Do is definitely in top form [but] Fluttershy comes across as an idiot for trusting [the villains], and reforming both villains feels like a huge contrivance to make her right. ")

The Railfan Brony – extremely negative (rated Atrocious; "Seriously, what this episode is telling me is that Dr. Caballeron, one of Daring Do's greatest archenemies, is misunderstood? [...] They even double down on that godawful twist by calling Ahuizotl misunderstood [...] The continuity overall with past episodes is just a mess [...] when the only character that's actually well written is Fluttershy [...] then you really have a problem.")

TheDragonWarlock – very negative (rated 2.5/10; "a pity that despite such a concept that sounded so promising, this episode dropped the ball. [...] seriously no way at all Fluttershy should be this gullible [...] writing is subpar for the most part [...] the action is pretty decent [but] the villains are given terrible redemptions, the plot itself is filled with holes, and the moral itself is botched.")

Thursday, 26 September 2019


The Text Review Roundup for "Daring Doubt" should be with you tomorrow, so here's a filler post in the meantime. As I mentioned the other day, I went off for a day of steam trains at the weekend, with a couple of friends from the Pony fandom. The weather was spectacular for the second half of September, and sunburn was more of a worry than rain. 'Twas a good day. Anyway, here are a couple of photos, one with a (slight) pony theme – which lets me get away without using the "non-pony" tag! – and one without.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 266

Read it Later story count: 238 (+2)

After a couple of weeks of feghoots, it's back to normal today with a small selection of stories culled from my Read it Later list. Though as you can see if your eyes have strayed to the line in bold above, I've also added a few fics to the queue and ended up with more there than I began with. Such are the trials of the ponyfic enthusiast. Just three reviews this time, and they're of:

Behind the Scenes by Bad Horse
Those Who Live Forever by Moose Mage
Moonstruck by Sharkrags

★: 1 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 23 September 2019

Episode review: S9E21: "Daring Doubt"

"The red one? Accounts. Now you know why I only have the one cloak"
It's time once again for a Friendship is Magic episode review. Not many of these left now, at least not for eps I'm seeing for the first time. I was excited when I first found out this would be an episode featuring both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, as I think they've been woefully underused as a team in recent seasons. I wasn't expecting another "Hurricane Fluttershy" masterpiece, but maybe Nicole Dubuc could bring me the RD/FS adventure story I'd craved for so many years?

Friday, 20 September 2019

Text Review Roundup: "A Horse Shoe-In"

I'm off to look at (and ride on) steam trains again tomorrow, but before I go I'll let you have the TRR for last Saturday's episode. As happened last week, the text-based reviewers had a wide spread of opinions, although there were more in favour than against. Much of it seemed to depend on what each reviewer thought of StarTrix as a team. I was perhaps very slightly above average in my assessment.

Cuddlepug – positive (graded B; "another strong episode [and when Starlight tells Trixie the truth the] exchange is one of the most heated in the history of the show and makes you feel genuinely bad for Trixie .")

Dark Qiviut – very positive ("SG has (once again) a fantastic appearance [...] does a fantastic job reintroducing the Vice Headmare occupation without contradicting continuity [...] Ariel Shepherd-Oppenhein did a splendid job in her Pony debut and executed a very solid, very good episode")

DrakeyC – positive ("kind of a repeat of "What About Discord" with a dash of "All Bottled Up" [...] The final result is kinda obvious in hindsight, but only because it really is a perfect resolution to the story arcs of Starlight and her friends [...] dependant on how much tolerance you have for Trixie being Trixie. And I have a very high tolerance for that so I found this hilarious and fun.")

Dramamaster829 – positive ("While I did admit that going in I wasn't so sure how this episode would turn out, especially with a new writer on board, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome we received. I'd say this would be considered a guilty pleasure episode for me especially for folks who can relate to the situation Starlight and Trixie are involved in.")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 9/10; "This was fun. Starlight was insanely adorable. Trixie was obnoxious for a bit, but she came around after Starlight yelled at her. I really do love how we're getting some closing episodes before the grand finale.")

Louder Yay – positive (rated 4/5; "quite frankly [Ariel Shepherd-Oppenheim] did better than one or two much more experienced FiM writers have managed this season [...] Starlight certainly learned a friendship lesson – but this one was also a leadership lesson [and though] I simply couldn't believe that Trixie would be capable of the spell she cast to bring part of [Froggy Bottom Bogg] into the classroom [this was still] an entertaining and interesting episode")

Mike Cartoon Pony – positive ("one’s surface-level enjoyment for this episode is likely to be somewhat inversely proportional to how irritating they find Trixie here [...] Sheperd-Oppenhelm gets the universe of FiM really well, better then most current writers [...] a really well-thought out ending [...] Trixie being an irritable butt throughout is only a minor problem.")

MLEEP Reviews – mixed (rated 6.5/10; "great that the show staff are using as many of the classic and fan favorite characters [but] basically a lazy rehash of one of the sequences from Season 8's "A Matter Of Principals" [though] definitely a little better than 'Student Counsel'")

Present Perfect – positive ("The Terrible and Incompetent Trixie is 257% amazing and can carry any episode she’s in all by herself. [...] this was maybe not an all-time, top-tier, 100% amazing classic episode, but it was really fun [though] we’re getting our first actual hints of “This is the Starlight and Friends Twenty-Two Minute Drama Hour now”, which much of the fandom has been afraid of since season six")

SuperPinkBrony12 – very negative ("basically a rehash of "All Bottled Up" and "A Matter of Principals", a bad mix that sees Trixie sink to a new low she is unlikely to recover from! [...] if this is the last we ever see of the school until then, it's not a good end note at all!")

The Railfan Brony – extremely negative (rated Terrible; "a huge problem with Starlight/Trixie episodes [is that b]oth ponies bring out the worst in each other post-redemption. [...] I almost feel like there was no thought was put into [the ending] whatsoever [...] Rehashed story elements, fanservice for the sake of fanservice, and apathy towards potentially toxic implications down the road.")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (rated 7.5/10; "for Starlight's final episode of the series, it's certainly a pretty good way to send her off. Starlight is handled well, the minor characters are fun, and brings some closure to Starlight as she begins her new career [though] Trixie ultimately is living proof of one thing; with friends like you, who needs enemies?")

Thursday, 19 September 2019

UK PonyCon this year may be rather emotional

All being well, I'll be going to my sixth UK PonyCon next month. It runs over the weekend of 12th and 13th October. Originally, we thought that this would be the weekend before the show ended for good – but Discovery Family recently sprang a surprise by announcing that three episodes would be shown on the final day. And that means that the end will come on... 12th October.

Now, it's true that thanks to the leaks, quite a few people will have seen the final episodes before they head off to Nottingham. DF is showing them in US primetime, in any case, which will be in the wee small hours over here. Not ideal when you want to be up early on the Sunday! And of course a lot of us will have been spoiled on at least some of the episodes' content.

But even so... UK PonyCon is the only MLP convention in the world that has run as a standalone event every single year of the G4 era.* Even though it's a multi-generation con, that special status means that some attendees will have been following the fortunes of Friendship is Magic since it was first announced, long before 4chan coined the word "brony". It's going to be quite something.
* My Little Pony Fair in the US was subsumed into Hascon for 2017, although it returned the following year.

Naturally, that multi-gen status also means that there's likely to be plenty of looking ahead to what G5 may bring in a year or two's time. It'll be interesting to find out what the general mood of the convention is about that, but my hunch is that optimism will be the order of the day. After all, when it started in 2004, the G3 toyline was only a year into its life and A Very Minty Christmas still lay in the future!

I always report back from UKPC, as longer-time readers of this blog will know all too well, and I shall be inflicting my ramblings on you again this year. I suspect I may be rather emotional too. After all, Friendship is Magic and G4 in general have changed my life, and overwhelmingly for the better. Knowing we're finally leaving that era behind is going to be quite something.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 265: Feghoot winners, part 2

Read it Later story count: 236 (nc)

Right then, it's time for me to look at the six best-placed entries in the Fimfiction Feghoot Festival! I've been looking forward to this, and I'm really hoping for something pretty special once I get to the sharp end. Will I be satisfied on that score? There's only one way to find out, so off we go.

6th: Roc Banned by AlexTFish
5th: Rarity Borrows a Knife by AlexTFish
4th: Ghost Butters by DragonGeek
3rd: A Diamond Dog Applies For a Loan by Twinkletail
2nd: Si vis bellum, para scilis by TheDriderPony
1st: Into the Twily-verse by Raugos

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 16 September 2019

Episode review: S9E20: "A Horse Shoe-In"

"I'm still winking, Starlight, even if you can't see me. WINK."
Slowly, inexorably, Friendship is Magic moves closer to the end. We're now into the 20s in terms of S9 episode numbers, but rather to my surprise we got a brand new writer. I knew nothing at all about Ariel Shepherd-Oppenheim, but of course I was hoping she'd hit the ground running and give us a good 22 minutes. After all, the odds were that it would be her only FiM credit. You know how it goes: join me past the cut for some episode-related rambling!

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Sounds of 2012: Nos. 72 to 67

It's long past time I got back to looking at Everfree Radio's Top 100 of brony music from 2012. As always, my four rules determine whether I should feature each track; this lets me skip any where it's fairly clear that the artist wants them gone from the internet and there's no overriding reason why I should go against that apparent wish. Here's the summary:

Rule 1: Still available in the same or (1b) similar form direct from the artist
Rule 2: Available from a third party, with reason to believe the artist is fine with this
Rule 3: So famous that it would be plain silly to leave it out
Rule 4: Being unlisted is not, on its own, grounds for exclusion

The entire half-dozen can be categorised as Rule 1 this time, so yay for that! I'll talk about each song in detail after the cut below, but here are the six tracks that I'll be featuring today:

72: H8_Seed – Neverending Strife
71: Stormwolf + WoodenToaster – Fruits Of Her Labour
70: Aviators – Melody
69: Eurobeat Brony – Diamond Dogs (Euro Dirt Mix)
68: Forest Rain – Memory Lane (cover)
67: dbPony (feat. EileMonty) – Miles

If you want to know more about these tracks, please keep reading!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Text Review Roundup: "Dragon Dropped"

I'll write separately about this soon, but the announcement that the final three episodes (ever!) of Friendship is Magic will be shown on Saturday, 12th October means that the end will happen during UK PonyCon weekend. We'd all better stock up on tissues... anyway, that's for another post, so right now it's off to TRR to see what the text-based reviewers thought of "Dragon Dropped".

The general reception for this episode was all over the place, with no real consensus at all. Several reviewers did feel that the ep didn't do anything really new, and others lamented the lack of a definitive resolution to the Sparity plotline – which, after all, began in the very first episode of the show. The comedy was generally appreciated, however. For a change, my assessment was below the average.

Cuddlepug – very positive (graded A-; "will resonate with a lot of people, no matter what age you are [...] poignant [...] that Friendship is Magic touches on [changing friendships] in its final season is fitting... and a little melancholic.")

Dark Qiviut – extremely positive ("Like in ["Sonic Rainboom"], Rarity’s bad side here was thoroughly explored while not making her unlikeable or out of character [... Gabby and Spike] show excellent chemistry [...] Rarity’s best episode of the show. If it’s her last, a phenomenal conclusion.")

DrakeyC – negative ("I want to care [about the resolution] but it's so trite and rushed that it comes off as kinda insincere [...] we get no closure on Sparity at all, no change in their relationship, no real development from either of them.")

Dramamaster829 – mixed ("While I won't say that this episode was 'terrible' by any means, there were a few funny moments, for me the premise of this episode was something I've already seen before.")

JDPrime22 – very positive (rated 9/10; "I really did enjoy this one. It shows us that Spike isn't just subjugated to Rarity's beck and call. And yeah, Rarity was a little out of line here and there, but [...s]he learned her lesson and Gabby was still as awesome as ever.")

Louder Yay – slightly negative (rated 2/5; "main character regression to suit the story, rather than a story being written around said character as she is now. [...] This is just the sort of territory that a really accomplished Friendship is Magic episode could have explored in a mature and complex way [though the ep was at least] quite funny")

Mike Cartoon Pony – mixed ("another Season 9 episode that not only reflects very poorly on the growth and maturity of a long-time character, but also writes them unappealingly in some aspects (though to a much less damaging degree then “2, 4, 6, Greaaat” [...a] decently funny one with some neat recurring gags, undermined, like some previous episodes, by recursive character writing")

MLEEP Reviews – largely positive (rated 8/10; "quite an entertaining case of the classic 'love triangle' situation even if it's a plot that we have seen countless times before")

Present Perfect – underwhelmed ("It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, it just was. Though as someone in stream said, Rarity’s last episode was this? [...] we haven’t really gotten any resolution [to Sparity] It was fun. It just wasn’t an episode about anything I particularly care about")

SuperPinkBrony12 – underwhelmed ("Rarity still remains a character I'm not entirely sure if [Haber] knows how to write properly [...] a lot of scenes that just feel like filler [...] feels like an eleven minute episode stretched into [22.]")

The Railfan Brony – very negative (rated Terrible; "just a stereotypical "someone gets jealous when their close friend hangs out with someone else" plot [...] so boring and cliched that you'll end up forgetting about it six hours after watching it.")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (rated 8/10; "I think it manages to handle the jealous story line good, albeit rather predictable [...] The comedy itself is also good [but i]t does suffer from some questionable writing for both Rarity and Spike.")

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 264: Feghoot winners, part 1

Read it Later story count: 236 (-3)

The Fimfiction Feghoot Festival contest that Super Trampoline ran recently was quite a success, with something like 60 entries in the end. Of those, the large panel of judges (about 30 of them!) chose 11 as worthy of note: five runners-up, three honourable mentions and then the "medallists" (my term). Today, I'll be looking at the runners-up; I'll get to the other six soon. In reverse order of their placing, today we have:

11th: The (Second) Rise and Fall of the Storm King by TheDriderPony
10th: Rarity Dreams of Non-Electric Sheep by Kris Overstreet
9th: Here I am at Camp Sonata by TheDriderPony
8th: What About Mistmane? by bahatumay
7th: Sugarless Gumption by FanOfMostEverything

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Episode review: S9E19: "Dragon Dropped"

Some nice attention to detail from the animators on the O&O accessories
I've been thinking on and off throughout S9 that maybe it's good that the series is ending now. Last week's episode was one of those that I enjoyed enough to go back into "Aw, it's ending" mode, and it's not alone in that, but there have been several this season that I've felt were well below par. That being so, I was hoping that Josh Haber's latest effort would continue the last couple of eps' incipient streak. Did it? You know how this works by now. Past the cut!

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Yes, it's one of those weeks again

I got home from a day out much later than I expected this evening, so I'm not going to have time to finish my review of "Dragon Dropped" before tomorrow evening. Therefore, I'll shift things later by a day once again. The episode review will appear on Tuesday, Ponyfic Roundup probably on Thursday, and Text Review Roundup on Friday or Saturday.

Yes, this really is the most interesting thing I have to report right now. :P

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Is that BronyCon fanfic panel around?

Sorry for the vague title, but unfortunately I can't remember the precise name of the panel in question. I think it was something like "It's In Our Hands Now", but I'm not certain. I do know that it was at this year's BronyCon, and that it was about the future of ponyfic once the show itself ends. Anyway: was it filmed, and if so is the video easily accessible anywhere? I'd be interested in watching it if so, but a YouTube search on things like "BronyCon fanfic panel" doesn't seem to turn it up. Can anyone help, please? Even just letting me know if it wasn't filmed would be useful. Thanks!

PS: I definitely don't mean either the "There Can Be Only One" panel or the "Them's Writin' Words Live" panel. This one was specifically about the future.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Text Review Roundup: "She Talks to Angel"

I haven't really got anything interesting about my life to say here, and even though that doesn't usually stop me from rabbiting on, this time let's get straight to the meat. The text-based reviewers tended to feel that "She Talks to Angel" was a decent episode, though as always there were some exceptions. The "veggie carnivores" thing didn't exercise that many people, though I moaned about it while Dark Qiviut defended it, partly on the grounds that Equestria isn't Earth.

I was bang in the middle of the pack this time, and my positive but not gushing verdict was a common one. I will, however, (ab)use my editorial position here to make it quite clear that some of us did want to see Angel again! Several reviewers stated or implied that nobody did (though I didn't quote all of them) and I wish to place it on record that an Angel episode that wasn't "Putting Your Hoof Down" has been something I've hoped to see for years. So there. :P

Cuddlepug – mixed (graded C+; "It's all nonsense, but it is entertaining nonsense all the same [...] comes across like an alternate universe slice of fan-fiction [...]  fine, I guess, and decently entertaining, but I struggle to understand quite why it exists.")

Dark Qiviut – mostly positive ("There's some to dislike [such as some of Zecora's recklessness], but a lot to like. She Talks to Angel resolves Angel's jerkiness from PYHD, intertwines the animal sanctuary quite well, and is the second-best Fluttershy episode of the show. ")

DrakeyC – very positive ("so much fun, so much humor. I can't even... [...] comedy gold [...] My only critique would be that Zecora REALLY should have told the two what her potion did [...] If this is our last Fluttershy episode (and it probably is), this is a great one to go out on.")

Dramamaster829 – mildly positive ("This episode may not be perfect as the previous episode (Such as the questionable tactic of predators doing a 'herbivore' diet), but I admit there are some fun moments like Libman's 'Angel' portrayal [...] does add some closure on this chemistry the two have had.")

JDPrime22 – positive (rated 8/10; "probably the last time we ever get to see this little rabbit. WOOHOO! [...] this episode was pretty entertaining. From the get-go, the showrunners remind why we all hate Angel.")

Louder Yay – positive (rated 3/5; "[I didn't like] the too-convenient way Fluttershy resolved the predator-prey relationship [but the ep was] funny while not descending into pure slapstick, it provided a better look at the animal sanctuary than "Fluttershy Leans In", it explored a fairly serious topic quite well, and it made a reasonable way for Fluttershy's arc to end [though] It didn't feel all that special")

Mike Cartoon Pony – positive ("one of the show’s funniest in a while [...] The protracted first act means the rest of the episode is slightly rushed [but] If [Andrea Libman's voice acting here appeals] a lot, you’re in for a real good time. Otherwise, you have a solid, funny episode, just perhaps not a keeper for the ages.")

MLEEP Reviews – positive (rated 9/10; "always great to have [Zecora] on screen [...] if you can manage to get through all of the scenes involving Angel Bunny acting like the biggest asshole in all of Equestria, you'll find that you might actually enjoy 'She Talks To Angel'")

Present Perfect – positive ("Andrea Libman gives maybe the best vocal performance of anyone in this entire show’s run [...] Angel learning about what Fluttershy does first-hand was a really strong character arc [...] Not perfect, but I much prefer episodes that are flawed in the outset than in the finale.")

SuperPinkBrony12 – fairly positive ("definitely funny, particularly when Angel is in Fluttershy's body and acting all sassy. But Angel is unbelievably selfish in this episode [...] Twilight and Spike's cameo doesn't really contribute [much] feels like they only put [Zecora] into the episode because they knew fans wanted to see her again")

The Railfan Brony – positive (rated Excellent; "Despite the stock storyline and moral, it felt quite fresh and it's all I could really ask for. As a matter of fact, Fluttershy has been the true highlight of season nine as far as I'm concerned.")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (rated 6.5/10; "She Talks to Angel is pretty much the same thing as [A Royal Problem] really nothing new brought to the table [...and Zecora was] reduced to a mere plot point [...] the comedy portion does help liven it up a bit [...] For what it is, this episode is a serviceable enough one, but nothing that amazing.")

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 264

A tiny portion (perhaps 2%) of the Hay Cinema Bookshop
I have a good reason for the low story count this week: I've been to Hay-on-Wye! Thanks to someone kind giving me a lift there (I can't drive for medical reasons) I had a great day poking around the second-hand bookshops. There are so many there (well into double figures) that I just couldn't find everything I might have liked, but just being in a bookshop with six-figure volume counts spread over three floors was wonderful. And Hay has two of those. Plus all the others.

Read it Later story count: 236 (-3)

Anyway, since I'm writing this later (on Tuesday night!) than I might have liked, please accept my apologies in advance for any stupid errors I may make. I absolutely would welcome them being pointed out in the comments! Here are today's three:

Saboteurs by Raugos
The Fastest-Paced Story Ever Told by DmitriTheWriter
I Don't Want To Write This by Aragon

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Monday, 2 September 2019

Episode review: S9E18: "She Talks to Angel"

Remember when 'Shy couldn't control the Stare? Now she can take it across species!
It's episode review time once again, and this one was special. This one was a Fluttershy episode. Not only that, but it promised to give a substantial role to Angel, who I've always liked rather more than much of the fandom. The writer this time was Nick Confalone, mostly seen on Equestria Girls of late but the second-longest-standing writer on Friendship is Magic today, having begun in mid-S5. His last writing credit on this show was for "The Washouts" nearly a year ago. Read on to discover how I feel he did with this one.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

UK PonyCon events schedule and music line-up published!

Update: schedule link fixed!

Well, this is a nice distraction from all the uncertainty about when and where and how the remaining Season 9 episodes will appear. UK PonyCon has published this year's events schedule, slightly earlier than last year's. It looks pretty much what I'd expect from a UKPC timetable – there are a couple of time slots where I'll have to decide between two interesting-looking panels, but c'est la vie. And the Pub Quiz is present and correct, so all's right with the world.

There are also a few stretches where nothing appeals all that much, but I'm really not worried about that. Those are the times when I browse the merch stalls, go and grab some food – and, of course, chat to Pony-minded friends, which is by far the thing I look forward to most at conventions. Naturally, I'll also be swinging by the karaoke at some point, since I've already been roped into attempting a duet with someone. Should be fun(ny)!

The big attraction for me this year is the screening of the 2017 movie in the late afternoon/early evening on Saturday. Given UKPC showed the G1 film last year, this isn't an enormous surprise, but it's still fantastic that they've managed to arrange the necessary permissions. The cinema hall is one of those steeply-banked lecture rooms, so although the screen isn't massive the view is good. I just hope it runs at full speed this year!

Last year's popular Saturday evening concert has been brought back for another go this autumn, albeit renamed Beach Party to fit in with this year's "Ocean Adventure" theme. I will say that I hope the audience doesn't talk non-stop through the entire damn thing like last year, but I don't hold out much hope. :/ The line-up once again consists of four acts and was actually confirmed a little while ago, but as I didn't remember to post about it at the time here it is:

Back to the con in general, and it appears that food provision has been improved. Last year, a tiny "catering pod" on the lower level was entirely inadequate for the number of attendees. This year, we'll have the use of both a café for snacks and (over the lunchtime period) the building's refectory for hot meals. This is very welcome. I still have a slight reservation about Saturday evening, as all that seems to be open then is a bar, and last year that meant just drinks.

It's now less than six weeks until UK PonyCon 2019 opens for business. These things really do rush up on you! I'll try to remember to post a few of my tips for first-timers between now and then, but in the meantime just keep in mind the most important tip of all: wear comfortable shoes!