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Too many bad points to bring up
I had several issues with this episode, making this only a so-so one for me.

  • It features none of the main cast save for a cameo of Twilight (without Spike). Yeah, I grown to like the CMC more and more as this season went on, but I watch the show for the Mane Six, and spending A FIFTH OR SIX OR WHATEVER episode on the kiddies seems like a ploy to get them their own spin-off. Twilight was only there for the CMC to have somewhere to find the book on potions, and seemed more like a last-minute fix by the writer who realized, "oh wait. This show is about the Mane Six, isn't it? Time to write in something at the last minute."
  • For an episode featuring Big Mac prominently, he sure doesn't say much. Aside from his usual yes or no, which is repeated ad-nauseum, he speaks more when under the Love poison, but it's only Sickeningly Sweet names he calls Cheerilee, and yes, it is just as annoying to the audience as to the CMC! What happened to the number of lines he had near the beginning of Applebuck Season, where he showed clear judgement and proved to be a developed character? Really now.
  • The show is known for taking a cliche plot and twisting it in a new way that entertains older audiences as well as children..... but this one? Way to cliche even for this show.
  • This is mentioned in the Fridge page: a holiday celebrating romance was spawned by a king deliberately brainwashing a crush he had resulting in the fall of both their kingdoms? Kind of a plot fail, if you ask me. And also, if the poison was SO bad as to be published in a history book, why the Hell was the RECIPE for the poison published in the same book?!
  • The moral is not told to the Princess. It isn't even written! Spike isn't even in the equation! It's told verbatim to the others by the main characters, just like in every other children's show. The letters to Celestia was what made this show different and set it so far above the other children's shows like this because it actually justified the spoon-fed morals that you usually cringe at every week! Bad move. Bad move.
  • The poison wears off after one hour of the two not seeing each other? Yeah, they mention how easy they can make that happen, but they could...... you know..... wait for them to fall asleep overnight. Do they REALLY need to stop the poison before the end of the holiday?
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What can I say? It's good!
Sorry about the late review - IRL issues kept popping up.

Anyway, this was a rather nice episode. We get a musical number, some interesting scenes, and of course tons of Tastes Like Diabetes parts. (Ick.) With that, I give it a 8.5/10

(No other notes this time - this episode is really straightforward!)
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Worth the wait? Yes!
Yup for CMC episode.

It's Hearts and Hooves Day and shipping fics will soon flood.

Ponies are finding that somepony as arcade games is making it into Ponyville.

Applejack is not to be found in this episode but maybe she found a special somepony.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders makes a love potion for Cheerilee and Big Mac.

This love story works and there are many background ponies to look out for like a heartbroken rejected pony.
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CMC surprisingly competent
I wouldn't mind more Lower Deck Episodes like this. Why should the main characters do everything? And in this case, they weren't even needed to clean up the mess.

First up, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They're often portrayed from the viewpoint of the older, more responsible characters, and often it's not pretty. This time they really have center stage, and the cold open already hints at what to expect: First we see them making their present, liberally adding stuff to it, apparently making a huge mess. Then we get to see the big, shiny heart they made. And then they realize they didn't think things through, as it doesn't fit into the normal-sized envelope. This "competent, yet often thoughtless" theme carries over to the rest of the episode.

I think this fits the CMC better than when they were portrayed as making a mess everyone can see, and needing constant supervision. They can do stuff that works, even without adult intervention. And they should - painting the target demographic as incompetent just doesn't fit. (Some time in the future they should get an episode where they actually improve things)

Second, Cheerilee and Big Macintosh. They are better for a plot like this than the main characters (who are after all unused to more than casual dating yet). Both are competent at their jobs, would make good partners, yet are still solo. The explanations that the good stallions in general are taken and that Big Macintosh is shy also work. (There might have been an age difference of a few years that prevented them to get together as teens but doesn't matter now)

And it's not as if they're not interested. Cheerilee's question whether Big Macintosh already had plans was quite straightforward, as was her idea to play along with the CMC plans for a while. I think this budding relationship makes it believable that they're not angry at each other after the potion wore off. But the CMC didn't recognize that as they expected Love At First Sight and Happily Ever After.

The episode also had some weak points. The time limit could have been presented differently, eg that they'd have to be apart for as long as they've been together. That way, falling asleep wouldn't automatically break the spell. I also disliked the apparently electrical tools and some needless turnoffs while searching for a partner for Cheerilee. But overall, a solid episode.
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CMC Get Another Episode; Hilarity Ensues
Okay, so i loved this episode. I thought there were many random and funny moments, and I don't seem to be the only one, if you take a look at the funny entry for this episode.

So the premise is that Equestria has an analog to Valentine's Day and the CMC want to hook Cheerilee up with a special somepony. After a musical number (with a pony who's obsessed with jelly for no other reason than Rule Of Funny), they decide on Big Mac. The fillies trick Cheerilee and Big Mac to meet under a gazeebo. For Cheerilee, they claim to need help in identifying a tree[[hottip: To which we get to see Cheerilee act in a Deadpan Snarker way to when she realizes it was just an apple tree. For Big Mac, they claim they need help with the gazeebo getting fixed. Needless to say, things get awkward.

The fillies then get an idea for a love potion from a book, which quickly causes a sickeningly sweet love between Big Mac and Cheerilee. This leads to all kinds of hilarity as Applebloom panics about what will happen if they don't fix it.

You know, I can't even really go on describing this, because I'm lazy/want to go trope more about it.

Bottom line is I found it hilarious.
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Mane cast? What mane cast?
It's time for a Lower Deck Episode! Moreso than others like "The Show Stoppers" or any given Spike episode, this episode doesn't even show any of the primary six ponies except for one Twilight cameo. But is it entertaining? Certainly!

The Cutie Mark Crusaders present a gift to Cheerilee on Hearts and Hooves Day (think Valentine's Day for ponies) and learn that she doesn't have any romance in her life. They think Cheerilee is a much better pony than I do, so they set out to find an eligible stallion and end up settling on Big Mac. Getting them together, though, proves to be harder than the CMC thought.

But wait! An impromptu history lesson from Twilight (who has no idea what's going on, bless her heart) reveals that a love potion might give Cheerilee and Big Mac a Relationship Upgrade. Luckily no pony knows this history except bookworms like Twilight, so Cheerilee and Big Mac down the potion without a second thought. The potion works... in a manner of speaking. Diabetes ensues, and the CMC are so disgusted that they aim to undo what they've done.

Usually I'm not a fan of the CMC as a group because the lessons they are supposed to learn are quickly forgotten, among other complaints. But in this episode I actually felt they had learned something a majority of the fandom hasn't, and their reactions to their mistakes are well done. This is easily my favorite episode as far as the CMC go, and bonus points go to Sweetie Belle for a great song and other hilarious moments.

The details on the love potion, on the other hand, are kind of iffy. The antidote could be very well executed simply by having the two lovebirds fall asleep, but they are not under the spell long enough to establish that they can or cannot do so. I also find it disturbing that a love holiday started with a self-destructive kingdom-crushing brainwashing potion, and NO PONY KNOWS. Presumably not even the teacher who should read about stuff like this. These aren't major problems with the plot, but they do have more merit than your average nit-pick.

Overall, though, the episode is quite fascinating and fun to watch. I enjoyed the Romantic Comedy aspects more than I thought I would, though it might be because Meghan McCarthy (my favorite writer on the show) wrote the episode. Ponies, keep being awesome.
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