Western Animation: My Little Pony Tales
Released for TV in the early nineties
, My Little Pony Tales
is the second TV series based on the toyline, My Little Pony
, by Hasbro. Unlike the previous incarnation like My Little Pony 'n' Friends
, which was a fantasy/adventure series, this was decided to give the ponies a slice of life
angle, and removed most of the fantasy elements. As the result, the only breed of pony in this series are Earth Ponies. Your mileage will vary on whether this was a good thing or not. The show was set in an unnamed suburb, somewhere in Ponyland.
The show centered on seven pony girls named Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Brighteyes, Patch, Clover, and Bon Bon. However, the show is notable for averting the Lady Land
rule that My Little Pony
normally prescribes to by introducing three male ponies: Ace, Teddy, and Lancer. The show focused on their daily lives and how they dealt with things like stage fright, dating, personal responsibility, the environment, pets, cultural differences, school, trust, bullies, and other things normal kids deal with. This was the first of three attempts to make a Slice of Life
style My Little Pony
show. The producers did this to try to reach their core demographic, girls, who watched the original series but would be old enough by then to worry about any of the above issues the show tackled. Depending on who you ask, it may or may not have been a good idea.
The series was met with mixed responses from its viewers and only lasted a single season
of 26 fifteen-minute shorts as the result. Some see that as a good thing. Others think it was too good to last
. Much like its predecessor, My Little Pony And Friends
, the series was comprised of quarter hour shorts
, but unlike before, shared its running time with no other properties. The series ran for twenty-six episodes told over the course of thirteen airings in 1992.
My Little Pony Tales contains examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: The girl ponies usually had outright fantastical names, like Starlight and Bright Eyes, while the boys tended to have more normal names like Ace and Teddy. This even happened with supporting and one-off characters - one episode has a pony mention offhand that "Justin finally proposed to Moonglow."
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sweetheart and Teddy (although in Teddy's case it's more like Jerkass Façade). And later, Starlight and Ace.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Starlight has a crush on Ace, who's far more interested in Melody, who's more interested in herself. Averted with Sweetheart/Teddy and Bright Eyes/Lancer, however.
- An Aesop: One per episode, many of them pertaining to friendship, not unlike a later incarnation of the franchise. So, Not So Different? Also, a good chunk of them dealt with real life...ish, subjects that many kids deal with.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: The most well-known in the series. Characters are periodically changing from moving like horses to being barely below Funny Animals.
- In "Birds of a Feather", Bon Bon runs out of food and complains that they'll starve to death. In a forest full of grass. Their solution? To go fishing.
- Apocalyptic Log: Invoked by Bon Bon in "Birds of a Feather", when ponies get lost in the woods and she tearfully decides to write a "farewell entry" in her diary, in case anyone ever finds it.
- Artistic License – Geography: Ponyville has a tropical island called "Tropical Island" that somehow qualifies as "foreign" despite being close enough to be seen from a hot air balloon over Ponyville. Long shots of the planet show it's identical to Earth, placing Ponyville in the suburban United States, meaning Tropical Island isn't actually in the tropics. They don't even have the benefit of saying it's magic, as there are no unicorns or anything even remotely supernatural in this generation (with one exception — see How Unscientific below).
- Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Subverted in "Roll Around The Clocks": Melody leads the other girls in giving Bright Eyes an Unnecessary Makeover while Lancer is given a similar overhaul by the boys. Both makeovers wind up backfiring, as they reject each other's new looks and attitudes. It's only when they start dressing and acting normally again that they quietly get together, much to Melody and Ace's confusion.
- Big Eater: Bonbon is seen eating many sweets. She even eats a cookie right after waking up in the intro. At one point, the gang had packed a week's worth of food and turned to find Bon Bon had just eaten all of it.
- Bilingual Bonus: The name of Meadowlark's fiancee Cheval; it's actually a French word for horse.
- Blackmail: Done to Ace and Lancer in "Shop Talk" when the girls lure them into doing something embarrassing to entertain some baby ponies they're babysitting, then take pictures and threaten to expose them unless they stop teasing Teddy.
- Teddy also threatens to show Ms. Hackney the entry in "Bon Bon's Diary" that says she cheated in a test unless she goes to the school dance with him.
- And he was stopped by Sweetheart threatening to reveal his Unmanly Secret. These ponies will fight fire with fire!
- Broken Aesop: In "Just for Kicks", Starlight joins the soccer team hoping to impress her crush Ace, but he keeps humiliating her due to her lack of skill. Patch helps her become a better player, only for Ace to reject her again out of jealousy after she scores a game-winning kick. Starlight seems to realize that she shouldn't let her feelings for Ace dictate how she feels about herself... but then Ace, on the urging of the rest of the team, grudgingly apologizes, and she falls head over heels for him again. So much for finding your own self-confidence...
- Cat Scare: Seen in "Slumber Party" when the girls investigate a noise in the attic.
- Changeling Fantasy: "Princess Problems" turns it on its head, as Patch is horrified at the thought she might be a princess and have to leave her friends and adoptive family behind. Played straight when she realizes fellow orphan Rosy is the real lost princess.
- Clingy MacGuffin: The unlucky white teapot in "Out of Luck". Clover just can't seem to get rid of it, no matter what she does...
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Patch has traits of this, being shown as a very excentric and ungirly girl rather than a (stereo)typical tomboy. She acknowledges her own weirdness, but couldn't care less about what others think of her behaviour.
- Covers Always Lie: The DVD releases of the show in Australia has cover art of G2 ponies.
- Edutainment Show: It was one of the first slice of life type show to enter the market back when the market lacked shows of said genre.
- Fantastic Racism: Apparently, mainland ponies believe that tropical ponies practice cannibalism and make pony sacrifices to the volcano.
- Then again, this belief is only expressed by the main cast (who are kids and likely wouldn't know better,) making a student exchange program unlikely in the first place if such views were commonplace.
- Feather Fingers: My gosh, the confusion here rivals Cars. How the heck are animals with hooves supposed to use guitars and ice-cream scoops anyway?
- Five-Man Band
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the Fantasy Sequence in "And the Winner is...", we see Clover switching channels on a big TV. Among the many briefly visible pictures, some of them just small miniatures on 4x4 or 8x8 grids, are Santa Maria ship, Muppet Babies, a rocker pony, a highway junction, a Shinkansen train, and even a pair of human laced boots.
- Funny Animal: Pretty much. The characters may look like My Little Pony ponies, but their behaviors and concerns are human. You know you're dealing with a Slice of Life show about human-like characters when the kids stand around discussing their problems with their parents as they wash the dinner dishes.
- Furry Confusion: Like Woah. See Feather Fingers.
- The most outstanding example had to be royal carriage being pulled by horses. In a world of sentient ponies. Of course one could assume that in this world draft horses are to ponies what chimpanzees are to humans, but still...
- While it's a later incarnation not canon to this series, Friendship is Magic offers an explanation for such things: in that series, drawing a carriage is a job similar to being a taxi driver. Or, in the case of royalty (as it was in this example) it's the equivalent of servants carrying the palanquin of someone who is Too Important to Walk.
- Garage Band: Rockin' Beats.
- Genre Shift: From fantasy to slice of life. Fans tuned in hoping to see ponies and Megan fighting evil. They got something along the lines of Arthur (or if you want to be period-accurate, Doug) instead.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The animators seemed to be rather fond of Bon Bon's rear. She also got bedroom eyes and even breasts on a few episodes.
- One Imagine Spot featured Bon Bon as a cover girl for a magazine. She's wearing a onepiece bathing suit that resalts her breasts and next to her, two young mares (dressed as nurses) are hugging while they stare deep into each other's eyes. Wow. Considering the scene is about modeling I'm guessing Bon Bon understand what 'adult' models do.
- The episode "Birds of a Feather" had Ace and Bright Eyes massaging her rear end and flanks. Granted, they were just rubbing mud onto her nettle-stings, but still.
- Gossipy Hens: Melody and Starlight in "Shop Talk", kicking off that episode's plot when Sweetheart won't participate.
- Green Aesop: "Who's Responsible", and to a lesser extend "Birds of a Feather".
- Happily Adopted: Patch, and in "Princess Problems" she's not happy about the idea of having to leave her adoptive family.
- How Unscientific!: The episode "Up, Up, and Away" features a UFO and... unicorns. (In fact, the UFO is this group. It was actually the light shining from them as they traveled.)
- Not just unicorns... one was an alicorn! And it's not a one-scene animation error this time: The pegasus that fixed up the hot-air balloon did so with magic from his or her (probably her) horn. However, as this is 18 years before Friendship is Magic made wings and a horn on the same pony equal God Emperor, the alicorn is not named and silently flies around fixing the damage instead of being the leader as you'd expect, let alone doing anything like raising the sun.
- Human-Focused Adaptation: Rare example of an inversion — this and all series that followed were completely human-free. However, in a way, this does fit it - the focus is on humanlike characters in an Earthlike world.
- Invisible Anatomy: The Ponies can hold objects, grip on things, press buttons, play musical instruments, hold small pencils and operate precision machines, using just their hooves.
- Jerkass: Everyone took turns to be this against each other, but Melody, Patch, Ace and Teddy were the biggest offenders of all.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Again, everyone: they always learn their lessons in the end and usually didn't have malicious intent in the beginning. Teddy was really intended to be this type of character, but in practice, we've only got Sweetheart's word to suggest that Teddy is a saint with a Jerkass Façade, as most episodes that heavily feature him basically make him the villain of the story, and he learns his lesson at the end just in time to get Aesop Amnesia by the next time. Ace, the designated jerk character, on the other hand, fits better as he has more than one Pet the Dog moment that wasn't forced on him.
- The Kiddie Ride: This Youtube video's description says it all. For those unable to see the video tho: The rides were made in the early 90s and were modeled after My Little Pony Tales characters. They were licensed, but frequently mismatched the color of the ponies with their symbols. The company that made the ride was subsequently bought over by Jolly Roger.
- Lady Land: Much much much less so than most series. The core cast and most of the other characters who do most of the talking are female, but in addition to Ace, Teddy, and Lancer as oft-seen recurring classmates of the gang, we have two-parent families, and in one episode a king and a queen. Male ponies are represented more here than even in Friendship is Magic (with stallions outside Applejack's brother Big Macintosh largely relegated to crowd filler.)
- Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Used at the end of the episode "Just for Kicks"
- Locked in a Room: Lancer engineers this to force his quarreling friends to reconcile in "Happy Birthday Sweetheart". His version involves stranding the lot of them on his father's private yacht.
- Off Model: Boy, the animators cut a lot of corners when making this series (This is AKOM we're talking about after all). For example, when the ponies are facing to the camera, they become something hideous.
- Bon Bon's weight shifted among episodes as if the animators couldn't decide if she was pudgy, fat or a complete porker.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "Up, Up, and Away." We go from plots like "Bon Bon hides her bad grade" or "the girls and the boys run competing lemonade stands" to "There's a UFO... oh, wait, it's just three pegasi and an alicorn flying around the world in the form of a blinding light nobody can see through unless they want to reveal themselves." It's even kicked off by Patch wanting to do something adventurous and picking something significantly more dangerous than what your average kid could stumble into doing - similar to FIM - and it involves a hot-air balloon, which G3 and FIM pretty much turned into an icon of the franchise. With multiple pony races and magic and danger and the balloon, it's like we're in one of the other series for a while. All that's missing is a cute little dragon.
- Paranormal Episode: The episode "Up, Up, and Away", notable for being the only episode featuring unicorn ponies - who were otherwise absent from the show as this iteration had removed most fantastic elements.
- Powerpuff Girl Hands: See Invisible Anatomy.
- The Prankster: Patch and Teddy. Both have taken it too far, to the point where Patch sabotaged Bright Eye's class project and caused its failure while Teddy got the girls disqualified from a swim meet.
- Product Placement: There is one episode where two ponies are revealed to be drinking Coca Cola, as they clearly state that they are "Cokes".
- Psycho Strings: These are used in "Out of Luck" when Clover returns home and spots the teapot she believes is making her unlucky. They resurface later when the teapot is returned to the house again.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: In "Send in the Clown", they put on The Nutcracker. The actual Tchaikovsky ballet. Is it possible for a show about talking ponies to be on the Sliding Scale of Like Reality Unless Noted?
- Real After All: Patch's ghost story in "Slumber Party" it would seem, as the ghost of the story character Squire appeared to thank Patch for telling the story.
- Schizo Tech: Ponies have desktop computers and... steam trains. Also, the cars on the streets range from pre-war vans to modern convertibles.
- Schoolgirl Series: Despite the limited appearance of guys, the series essentially fits the definition.
- Seven Deadly Sins:
- Starlight: Lust
- Sweetheart: Envy
- Melody: Pride
- Bright Eyes: Wrath
- Patch: Greed
- Clover: Sloth
- Bon Bon: Gluttony
- Short Runner: The show only got one season of 26 episodes. The Two Shorts format means it's actually thirteen.
- Shout-Out: During the Fantasy Sequence described above, we can briefly see Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of Kermit and Miss Piggy from Muppet Babies.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Bright Eyes and Lancer
- Slice of Life: The basic style of the show.
- Take a Third Option: "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" sees the other girls telling Sweetheart she has to choose between them or Teddy: either uninvite him from her upcoming party, or none of them will come. Sweetheart responds by tearfully canceling the party.
- When Clover wins two concert tickets in "And the Winner is...", instead of picking one of her friends to go with her, she decides to hold another lotto with both tickets up for grabs. Melody and Clover win, but wind up pawning them off for pizza money and watching the concert on TV with the rest of the girls.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The only way to tell a background pony's gender is by its single clothing accessory or by the length of its mane. And sometimes, not even then. Teddy's farming cousins with the pink coats and long, curly rainbow-colored manes? Half of them are men. And the father looks identical to the mother, but that's a different trope entirely....
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Once an Episode!
- Theme Tune Roll Call: Well, for the core female ponies anyway.
''Starlight, Sweetheart, Melody, Bright-Eyes, Patch and Clover/Bon Bon's baking cookies, girls, hurry up on over!
- Title Theme Tune: "My Little Pony, My Little Pony, My Little Pony Tales! My Little Pony, My Little Pony, My Little Pony Tales!"
- Through His Stomach: Referenced by Bon Bon's line in the song "Play It Cool":
Bon Bon: Want to catch a boy's eye? / Bake a chocolate cream pie!
- Twice Shy: Bright Eyes and Lancer, until their Relationship Upgrade in "Roll Around the Clocks".
- Unmanly Secret: Teddy didn't want anyone to know he has a teddy bear.
- Vinyl Shatters: Averted in the episode "Roll Around the Clocks"; when Bright Eyes falls while carrying a huge stack of records at the roller rink, they stay in one piece, and are still perfectly usable.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Lancer calls out Teddy and the rest of Sweetheart's friends when their feuding leads to her miserably cancelling her own birthday party.
- Winged Unicorn: "Up, Up and Away" features the four Glow 'n Show Ponies with wings, despite only Starglow being a pegasus in the toy line. Dazzleglow, a unicorn in the toy line, has both wings and a horn here.
- With Us or Against Us: Sweetheart found herself torn between Teddy and her friends several times, with the girls demanding she choose them over him or lose their friendship. (Teddy didn't make it easy with the "Jerk" part of being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Sweetheart was usually the only one who ever saw any solid evidence of that heart of gold.)