Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic S 2 E 16 Read It And Weep
Not bad, but has a problem or two,
There were some very funny moments in this episode, which made it stand out in my mind, and the moral is of course solid. The problems I have with it are fairly subjective. This is the first episode I've noticed that's tailored specfically for kids. Most of the other morals up to this point were general life lessons, and even if you already knew them, it was still nice to see them reiterated and watch the characters grow from the experience. With this episode, on the other hand, most adults watching will probably take the moral for granted and the conclusion as a foregone one. There's nothing we're being told that we didn't already know and haven't heard before. I don't see Rainbow Dash as taking an interest in reading; it seems out-of-character. Characters can develop, but here, it's as if her individual personality, flaws and all, was pushed aside in favor of shoehorning her into the "skeptical eventual convert" role. A similar thing happened with the rest of the mane 6. They almost stopped being themselves, and became the lecturing adults, or "smart" kids you'd find in an animated PSA. Basically, the actual show, and the quality that came with it, was derailed temporarily in favor of turning it into a teaching tool. But, other than that, it was a lot of fun. Not bad at all.
A Daring Do Disappointment
The basic premise of the episode was sound. Good morals from the biggest "Jock" of the Mane 6, excellent parody material and nods to older fans and parents, plus an Aesop that might just send some the target audience to start actually reading. There are problems with two of the three points, however, that make the episode sub-par for the series. The moral is of course twofold. First, that reading is fun. Second, that it's not just for "eggheads". Unfortunately, it's presented as addicting and drives RD to attempt to steal it when she could have borrowed it. Had she just given in and ASKED Twilight to borrow her copy with a decently embarrassed scene, it would have played out much more on the moral lines. All that needed to happen was the other five mentioning that they were happy she decided to start reading to make it good, and Dash could have written a good letter to the Princess at the end. The Aesop is likewise subsumed by RD's overplayed character flaws here, not to mention that the language used in the story is a shade more difficult than most 10-12 audience would be comfortable with reading. The nods and shout-outs were right on course, though they took up too much of the episode by far (granted this is the most realistic part of the episode, as I'm an avid reader and have had all of R Ds frustrations and reactions happen to me with the sole exception of the ninja theft... to include a chase). The book was SUPPOSED to be completely stock, simple entertainment literature rather than one which provokes deep thought. We're supposed to be thinking about the REST of the episode, and a complex subplot would have actually taken away from it. As a third note, the second season character-focus episodes for the most part are becoming far too hammy. They play up the very reasonable character flaws far past the point of plausibility even for a cartoon, and rush endings with very little or insufficient actual resolution. The first season was great because the characters acted believably and could be related to, but the current team is losing some of that to the show's detriment. There are still gems in there, and even the worst MLP:Fi M episode is doing better than par for television in general. I just hope this unfortunate trend reverses itself before it falls too far.
An Underwritten and Uninteresting Episode
First, we need to analyze the main subplot of the episode: the book itself. The mane character, Daring Do, is an underwritten, flat, stock character. This is particularly unusual, as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is known for its great characters, and most critically acclaimed books are known for their well-written characters. As for the plot, a stock, underwritten character is dropped in a stock environment to find a stock, underwritten macguffin, which gets stolen by a stock, underwritten villain. I can't imagine how this could have translated well to a book, and the action scenes failed to be particularly engaging or exciting because the characters and plot were virtually non-existent. The main plot was also lacking. There were no real consequences to anything that was happening, Rainbow Dash trying to hide her interest in books was mildly amusing at best and uncomfortable to watch at worst, and the interactions between characters were lacking due to the entire episode being an excuse for an extended Indiana Jones parody, which ended up being even more underwritten. While the episode had a few amusing moments, I wouldn't shed a tear if I never saw it again. Hopefully the writers will remember that they need to actually write something for future episodes.
A chance for Team Faust to flex its muscles
It's not that hard to understand why this episode has been received more critically than some. I'm not going to argue against the fact that the story is a bit shallow and the moral leans a bit to the young side (Reading is fun, guys!). As far as development and progression goes, the episode walks a pretty short and straight line. A large part of the screen-time is devoted to a (very) direct parody of Indiana Jones, the Expy of whom isn't exactly ground-breaking (Daring Doo is a pretty boring and flat character, but in the parody context she at least fills her role). The adventure scenes might seem like pointless pandering to the action-loving kids, but I think it at least reminds us of one thing: These guys know how to make a damn adventure scene. In my opinion, at least, the Jones segments were frantic, epic, and very visually appealing. And all backed up with an impressive score. Makes you recall the Powerpuff Girls influence this show has. So in short: Shallow? Yes. But this episode was never meant to be dynamic and moving; it is fun, eye-catching, and a little cathartic. I can just hear the storyboard artists squee-ing at the opportunity to draw those scenes out.
I found this episode pretty entertaining. It was well done, but I can see how some people wouldn't like it. I still found it quite enjoyable, especially the Indiana Jones parody/homage. It was also nice to see Rainbow Dash get some character growth as well. This also has a good connection to the adult fanbase, many of whom probably felt exactly the same about getting into this show as Rainbow Dash did. Not perfect, but still good. However, I can see why some people might not like it, it doesn't have much intercharacter interactions. But if it's in your nich, you'll probably get a kick out of it.
Rainbow Dash is back and this time she reads about a female Indiana Jones like character. It's after a crash that poor Rainbow Dash is so badly injured that she is taken to the hospital. Twilight gives Rainbow Dash a book that she is not interested in. But then Rainbow Dash reads the book as she follows a heroine in her adventures. Overused Indiana Jones parts and not so interesting like The Mysterious Mare Do Well where the action is non stop.
Does Not Fly Twice as High, Unfortunately
An amusing, although ultimately disappointing episode. Like The Mysterious Mare Do Well before it, it eschews the show's true strength, which is the complex relationship between the characters and their interactions, in favor of a gimmicky conceit. In Mysterious Mare Do Well, it was superhero tropes, and here it's an extended Indiana Jones parody. By spending so much screentime on Daring-Do, rather than going into more depth about how Rainbow Dash's Guilty Pleasure affects her and forces her to keep up her macho facade for her friends, what could have been a poignant character-driven story about a young mare and her insecurities (like, for instance, Winter Wrap-Up or Green Isn't Your Color) is boiled down to, as Twilight remarks, petty theft. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and as always it's well-written, well-acted, and a delight to watch, but it doesn't have the emotional resonance of the show's better episodes.
A heart-wrenching epic tale soaked with symbolism and poignant poetry
Ha, just kidding. It's just another episode of a great show. I'm sure this is an episode that a lot of fans are going to identify with, since it features guilty pleasures and as those go, men liking things meant for little girls is right up there with some of the more disturbing sexual fetishes. Luckily, the guilty pleasure in this episode is something rarely seen in this day and age: READING. After being hospitalized for breaking her wing, Rainbow Dash wonders how she'll pass the time on bed rest. Twilight suggests she read a good book, but Rainbow Dash staunchly refuses to read anything. This lasts all of one minute after her friends leave her to rest, then she gets bored and gives the book a try. The book itself features a pegasus mare who also injured her wing on her way to an Indiana Jones parody, and Rainbow Dash quickly gets sucked into the story. Problem is, after taking such a firm stance against reading, she kind of has to keep this a secret, which becomes a nuisance when her friends visit regularly and a real problem when she is dismissed from hospital care, cutting off her access to the book. And right in the middle of a good part, too! How will she be able to finish the story without letting anypony know? As mentioned, it's easy to place yourself in Rainbow Dash's hoofsteps if you're a fan of the show and needed to keep it secret from others. Given the Periphery Demographic of this show, it can be assumed this is aimed at quite a large chunk of the fandom. The aesop is that discovering a new interest doesn't change who you are and you shouldn't be ashamed of it, which I think is a superb lesson for the primary audience and especially the bronies. The only criticisms I might give are admittedly nit-picky: Why does Rainbow Dash need the hospital's copy of the book after being dismissed? Are there no other bookstores in Ponyville? Also, the book's story gets a very large focus in the episode, and it might go on a little too long for some viewers. These don't spoil the episode for me, though, because they only become problems if you focus too hard. In summation, this is a really great episode that I believe everyone should watch. My opinion in Cindy Morrow's writing continues to climb, and I wonder how she will surpass herself next time.
Another (relatively) simple episode
Now, I could excuse The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 (wow, that's a long title) for being simple because it followed the action-packed Last Roundup. This episode, though... also has an excuse: the Indiana Jones Stock Parody! I found this to be a little on the simple side, though still quite good. 8/10 Other notes: