Thursday, February 20, 2014

Filli Vanilli: MLP Season 4 Being Too Gimmicky?

So I was in the middle of a discussion on a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic forum I go to, when a thought occured to me...  According to Amy Keating Rogers on Twitter, this episode was originally going to be called "The Return of Flutterguy", before it was decided that that would be too spoilery...  That had me thinking...

This season seems to be all about gimmicks, as in each episode seems to be selling itself on a single gimmick, and the episode seems to be built around it as opposed to something that makes sense in the context of the series, thinking about how the characters would react in a certain situation, or anything like that.  Castle Mane-ia was a pretty flat "spooky" episode, Daring Don't's gimmick was Daring Do, a previously thought fictional character, being real, Power Ponies was a BLATANT comic book episode that felt completely interchangeable with any other TV series, Bats! felt like an excuse to turn Fluttershy into a bat, Three's a Crowd having Discord faking being sick just because, and now this, an episode that seems to want to bring back the Flutterguy voice.

I should note that that doesn't mean this season is all that bad, or only has gimmicky episodes.  Rarity Takes Manehatten, Pinkie Apple Pie, and Simple Ways feel like episodes right out of any previous season (though in the case of Rarity Takes Manehatten, that's kind of bad, given the whole "no one notices Twilight's a princess, but that's another discussion).  Hell, even episodes that DO have something of a gimmick, Flight to the Finish being both about Scootaloo's flight problems and tying into the Equestria Games subplot, Pinkie's Pride guest starring Weird Al Yankovic, and even this very episode, managed to make the episode more meaningful using that gimmick, as opposed to the other episodes, in which the gimmick drives the whole plot.

But here's the thing about this episode...  in retrospect, I feel like this episode's gimmick was thought up before the episode.  It feels like "hey, let's make an episode where the Flutterguy voice comes back, the fans really liked that!"  Part of me feels like this is kind of a bad way to go about this, since it opens up a lot of questions...  like how come Zecora has a potion that can instantly regrow chipped teeth yet her cure for a sore throat takes more then a day, why do the ponies refer to her manly voice as Flutterguy when it was originally used as teasing nickname from Spike, why did the ponies applaud a clearly female pony that has a really deep male voice instead of laughing, etc.  Like I said, the episode manages to address the idea of loving to perform but hating performing in front of an audience spectacularly well, but I feel like you could have done that WITHOUT the gimmick of the Flutterguy voice.

Eh, this was just a thought I had, and while I feel like this might be an issue with this episode (and season 4 as a whole) I don't think it's AS bad as Pinkie's characterization in this episode.  Like I said, the episode is done really well, despite the gimmick possibly holding it back.  Here's hoping the writers get more introspective with the series as opposed to just throwing ideas out there and fitting them into the plot later on.

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