Tuesday, 22 October 2013

DVD review: Call of the Cutie

"Call of the Cutie" DVD front cover
How do you like them Apples?
Clear Vision have released the second in their series of UK-spec DVDs of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes. This time around, I found the disc in the enormous Asda in Minworth on the outskirts of Birmingham. It cost me £6, but if you don't have an Asda nearby then fear not: although there's a slightly annoying 9-12 day wait, Amazon.co.uk stock it too. Unlike with its predecessor Welcome to Ponyville, this disc's online price matches the supermarket's. Is it worth it, though? Come with me past the break and we'll see!

The cover design isn't bad, with the front showing Applejack, the CMC and Fluttershy, plus a random bunny (not Angel) and some butterflies at Sweet Apple Acres. On the back, we get a different Sweet Apple Acres scene with the same ponies joined by an airborne Rainbow Dash. It's nothing special, but I like it. This time we only get five "crusading" episodes, which I'll come to in a minute, as there's one whinge I'd like to get out of the way right now:

Fluttershy sings "So Many Wonders"
I love everything... except the picture quality
And that's this: the video quality is really not very good. Of course I don't expect miracles from DVDs, but I got the impression that it was worse than on the previous disc. The sound is all right, and apparently pitch-corrected for those who can't stand the sound of the usual 4% speedup, but it really would have been nice if the picture quality had been higher. If you've ever seen Pony in HD, even via YouTube, you'll notice it and it will probably irritate you. Anyway, the episodes here are:

  • Call of the Cutie
  • Fall Weather Friends
  • Stare Master
  • The Show Stoppers
  • The Cutie Mark Chronicles

This is a very solid selection indeed. "Call of the Cutie" didn't interest me much the first time round, but these days (having become quite a big CMC fan) I like it a lot more. The others are all at least good and in one case — "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" — truly outstanding episodes. All except "Fall Weather Friends" have a strong CMC angle, so it's a bit strange that this (highly entertaining episode as it is) wasn't replaced by "Bridle Gossip", which was the first ep to give Apple Bloom a significant role.

Applejack pony profile
Drink cider, watch ponies, learn everything
The main extra is again a commentary track: this time the one for "The Show Stoppers". It's certainly worth having, and the team are clearly a bit more comfortable with the setup than they were in the "Friendship is Magic" commentary. There isn't much else: a short profile of Applejack (including some S2 material), the same Walkin' Talkin' Pinkie Pie ad as on the first disc and a rather boring "Pin the Cutie Mark on Pinkie" game and colouring page to be printed out from PDF.

As before, we're granted 5.1 audio in English, French and Italian, with 2.0 for Spanish and Arabic. You can also watch in English with French subtitles. And no, the Italian version does not give you the loved-by-many anime-style opening theme; just a rather out-of-tune Italian version of the normal one. More interestingly, there are a couple of French adverts: a fairly long one for the Gameloft, er, game and a quick live-action one for the Royal Wedding Castle set. Nothing thrilling, but mildly diverting.

French Royal Wedding Castle advert
Well, how d'y'all like that? Those fillies are speakin' in Fancy!
Call of the Cutie is probably worth buying at its low price of £6, especially if you don't already have the commentary via the R1 box set, but don't go expecting anything all that special. The poor video quality, which is especially apparent if you watch on an HD screen, is a niggle throughout; I'd actually advise watching these eps on an SD telly if you can! The big plus is the selection of episodes, which include some of the best of S1, and that's why this DVD's mark is very slightly higher than Welcome to Ponyville's.

  • Much better episode selection than Welcome to Ponyville
  • Includes 5.1 audio without any PAL speedup
  • Commentary track included
  • Rather poor video quality
  • Basic, flimsy case
  • Did we really need the same Pinkie toy advert again?

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