Monday, 28 August 2017

Episode Review: S7E16: "Campfire Tales"

Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash being adorable sisters
Just give me 22 minutes of this and I'll give you five stars
We had a new writing team for this episode: Barry Safchick and Michael Platt. I don't know a thing about either of them, so I was going in blind as to what to expect. I did know that this was a sort-of follow-up to "Sleepless in Ponyville", the first episode I reviewed on this blog and still one of my all-time favourites. Could this new ep live up to its illustrious predecessor?

No. Not even nearly. I was pretty underwhelmed with the format, for a start: the legends which make up the bulk of the episode's running time stop the episode from feeling coherent; it's more like watching three short specials than an ep in the conventional sense. Those legends tie into the IDW comic series Legends of Magic, but that doesn't make a huge amount of difference to my enjoyment (or otherwise).

Okay, praise first: the best thing in this episode, by a mile, is Rainbow Dash's attitude to Scootaloo. She really does come across as a big sister (and even uses the phrase!), and there are numerous little examples of her facial expressions and body language showing just how much affection she really does have for the filly. It's absolutely heart-warming, and in this if in nothing else the episode lives up to "Sleepless in Ponyville".

The dragons in Flash Magnus's legend loom large
Rarity's shadow pictures really are impressive
It's just a shame that Scoots herself is so one-dimensional – we're back to the "scaredy-pony" she was on her first camping trip, and in this case I don't think Fluttershy's point from a fortnight ago applies. Even for someone who likes Scootaloo as much as I do, she starts to grate after a bit. At least she does get some nice interaction with the other CMC, something I very rarely get tired of watching.

The legends were... well, Rockhoof's could have been good, but the sudden "then magic happened, ta-da!" resolution was hugely disappointing. A fanfic pre-reader would throw something like that back in an author's face. Mistmane's legend was easily the most interesting, with nice world-building, though the ending was blah. And Flash Magnus's... if you can credit Torch being there, it's okay, but again a bit too obvious.

I'm really not a fan of the flyders – in my case, I don't mind spiders too much, but the flyders' bites remind me of Scottish midges (shudder) and bite-covered ponies are just off-putting to look at; I'm so glad they're not like that all episode... The scene with Rainbow's face quite badly disfigured (even if only for a few seconds) is one I find really repellent and will probably skip in future. No more of these bugs in the show, please.

Mistmane in the Empress's palace
The Chinese-inspired designs here are quite interesting
Then the ponies demonstrate that even the mares shouldn't be allowed out on their own. They block up the only known exit from their cave so tight even insects can't get in and light a fire in there with no thought to the fact that they might need, y'know, oxygen. Next, they wander off into the dark, find an underground river and jump right in. I know this is a fantasy show and not to be taken too seriously, but come on.

Maybe it's just that S7 has been so often great, and maybe it's just that "Sleepless in Ponyville" is rather an unfair comparator for any episode, but I really do feel quite disappointed in "Campfire Tales". I'd known about the legends in advance (via the comics) but even they don't interest me as much as I want them to. Is this ep awful? No. It has its moments, as I've said. There just aren't nearly enough of them.

Best quote: Rainbow to Scootaloo: "Don't worry, kid. You've got a big sister this time."

Yays
  • The Scootalove from Rainbow
  • Some nice touches in the legends
  • The callbacks to "Sleepless in Ponyville"
Neighs
  • Feels like a series of specials, not an episode
  • The comics did Equestrian legends better
  • Scootaloo in annoyingly scaredy-pony mode
  • Terrible cave safety practice!
  • Flyder bites were horrible
★★

6 comments:

  1. Sorry to see you didn't find all that much enjoyment with this one. I can understand if irritations from personal experience or otherwise get in the way.

    For whatever reason, the negatives you bring up, while certainly valid, just didn't bother me at all. Or in the case of the comics, I have nothing to go on. And a lot of my enjoyment came from the spectacle of the artwork and music they put in. I still really, really like this episode.

    I guess this is kind-of the opposite to Parental Glidance for us, another Scootaloo-heavy episode by coincidence. That being said, I was definitely tired while watching that one, whereas this episode I couldn't have been more clear-headed.

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    1. It happens, and at least the Scootalove was there to cheer me up. I've never yet seen an episode of this show I truly hate. Must admit I don't often pay as much attention to the music as you tend to, so maybe I'll watch again and concentrate on that at some point.

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    2. That's fine; everyone can enjoy the content in their own way. But if you do give the music a closer listen, the Mistmare segment pleases me the most, with it's Japanese influences. :)

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  2. I'm tellin' ya, man, I'm tellin' ya, they're all fuckin' dead, and everything that happened after about the third legend is afterlife visions. :B Explains why a story told by Rainbow Dash, of all ponies, was kind of bland.

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    1. Next week's episode should be interesting, then! :P

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    2. It BETTER be great or i will be very pissed ;/ I waited for that ep for a long time.
      Its Starlight ep so i bet my souls for it...

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