Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic season 4 blogs - Filli Vanilli

Well, this was an interesting episode!  I started out thinking I'd hate this episode, but it turned out I loved it!  It might just be one of my new favorites, despite one major, consistent problem.  Still, I can't help but adore this episode, and I'll get to why...

First let my just say, HELLO AMY KEATING ROGERS, glad to see you're back again!  ...Sort of.  I have to admit, I was never all that fond of A.K.R. as a writer, specifically sense a lot of her episodes then to leave me...  very angry or annoyed.  But hey, she won back some good will with Pinkie's Pride, so maybe she'll do well here!  Hopefully...  With any luck.  Anyway, onto the actual episode.

It starts out with Fluttershy singing, and I'm thinking "Oh shit, are they're wasting their song on the cold open?!  Dang it, this song will be too short!"  Thankfully, that's not the case, and regardless, I loved the song...  Some might say the episode exaggerates Fluttershy's singing talents, but my goodness, I just love it so much...  I could listen to her sing for hours...  Actually, this reminds me of an interview with Andrea Libman, where she said she hated her voice:

I think she later clarified by saying she only "hates" it in the sense that she talks all the time with it and thus doesn't think that much of it.  I guess this would make sense, you'd be kind of an egotist if you loved your own voice so much, plus you get tired of things the mroe you're exposed to them.  Still, if this episode proved anything, it's that Andrea Libman's voice is...  beyond words...

Anyway, it turns out Fluttershy's friends all JUST SO HAPPENED to be there as she was singing.  Why they were all there is never really explained, I guess to help prepare for the fundraiser for the Ponyville Pet Center.  They're all amazed, but of course, Fluttershy's not too happen that someone heard her singing.  This is a nice call-back to her original fear in Hurricane Fluttershy, where just the IDEA of performing in front of others was enough to have her completely paralyzed with fear...

Of course, this DOES beg the question of why Fluttershy, who can't even stand the idea of performing in front of her close friends, would participate in one of the biggest competitions in Equestria and ACTIVELY be judged on everything she does!  Yeah, Ponyville Pride my ass, this is a straight-up contradiction now!  ...Maybe this episode was meant to go before Rainbow Falls...  Still, REALLY hard to swallow in retrospect, even moreso then before.

And then Pinkie stars talking...  And there goes my faith in Amy Keating Rogers.  Yep, I'm now thoroughly convinced that Ms. Rogers is the WORST person to write for Pinkie Pie, and that most of the good stuff to come out of Pinkie Pie in Pinkie's Pride must have come form Jayson Thiessen.  Given The Last Roundup, A Friend in Deed, MMMystery on the Friendship Express, and now this, A.K.R. seems to have a REALLY BAD habit of writing Pinkie Pie to be as OBNOXIOUS and INSENSITIVE as possible!  Hell, you even got hints of this in Pinkie's Pride, with Pinkie being so forceful about her parties at the beginning, and Pinkie giving off an evil glare as the screen fades to black in the middle of the episode.  Seriously, you'd think Ms. Rogers would have learned by now that annoying does NOT equal funny, and by constantly doing this, you're making Pinkie look bad!  It's seriously so bad that Pinkie actually comes close to being this episode's antagonist...  and I'll explain why further down the line.

Anyway, the mane 6 are all impressed with Fluttershy's singing, but are perplexed to hear that she doesn't want to sing at the fundraiser...  I don't know why, seeing as they should know by now that Fluttershy is timid in nature, so this shouldn't be all that unexpected, but the episode still goes out to explain that Fluttershy has stage frights...  and then goes on to explain what stage fright is...  like the viewers are idiots or something.  Yeah, sorry, this just felt really out of place here.  Maybe there are kids who don't know what stage fright is...  eh, whatever.

Then we cut to the preparations for the fundraiser, and we "meet" the Ponytones...  By which I mean we see Rarity, Big Mac, and two other ponies.  You know, it's weird, when I saw this episode, I thought we were going to see a new band or something...  and while we do see a new band, these two ponies are not involved in the plot at all.  Hell, I don't think the blue pony even gets any lines, it's super weird!  I mean, seriously, they're part of the group so you'd think they'd be just as invested as Rarity or Big Mac in seeing the group perform.

Well, whatever, we still hear them practice, and this is probably one of the few times we hear Big Mac say more then one word...  and it's through song!  I love it!  I also love how into the singing Fluttershy is!  SUPER adorable!  ...Then Spike comes in, praises Rarity, but dismisses the other members.  Yeah, thanks for that one throwawy joke, Spike...  and also thanks for reminding me how you still love Rarity even though you did absolutely nothing when she was fawning over another dude in the last episode!  ...Ah well, at least he isn't abused in any way in this episode, so I'll give the writers that.

Fluttershy comes along to praise the Ponytones, and Rarity comments how everything is going smoothly and no drama is going to happen.  Yeah, this is what TV Tropes calls "Tempting Fate", and honestly, I thought the show grew out of this trope after season 1...  Twilight was the most frequent offender of this trope, but she wasn't the only one (I think), and honestly, it's kind of annoying.  Maybe it's because it's so cliche by this point that the only way to make this funny is to over-exaggerate the tempting of fate, or to make it a subversion, where they tempt fate and nothing happens.

Unfortunately, that's not the case here, as the next day comes, and surprise surprise, Big Mac loses his voice (BTW, anyone notice that the series has now grown accustomed to calling Big Macintosh "Big Mac"?  Thank goodness McDonalds hasn't gotten on their case yet).  Why?  Because apparently he lost it in a...  turkey-calling contest...

...Um, okay, first of all, the Apples throw a turkey-themed festival?  Since when?  Seems like straight out of left field!  Second of all, why have the festival now, when there's a fundraiser going on?!  You'd think that either Fluttershy or Applejack would organize each event to be further away from each other, so they don't coincide and take away participates for each event?  Third, Big Mac ended up straining his voice...  trying to beat Pinkie Pie...  So basically, Pinkie is responsible for all of this.  And look in the flashback, you see Pinkie in the background, an evil grin on her face!  Seriously, Amy, what the Hell is WRONG with you and writing Pinkie Pie?!

Anyway, Fluttershy gets the idea to go to Zecora for a remedy, and she, Rarity, and Big Mac (but not the other two ponies...  Wonder what they're doing during all of this?) go to her, but she says her remedy won't work in time for the performance.  Fluttershy and Rarity lament, but Zecora gives the idea, in a nice (I guess) callback to Bridle Gossip, that Fluttershy can use Poison Joke and become "Flutterguy"...  Incidentally, am I the only one weirded out that the ponies all use this term?  I thought it was just a joke nickname from Spike, but here, all the ponies called Fluttershy "Flutterguy" without a hint of irony.  It feels really weird...  Anyway, Fluttershy refuses, as she can't stand the idea of performing in front of others, but Rarity gives her the idea to sing behind the curtain as Big Mac moves his lips in time to what Fluttershy's singing (well now where know exactly what the title of this episode is referring to).  What I like about this scene is that Rarity tells Fluttershy to think about the animals, and Angel gives a sad face.  This is probably my favorite appearance of that darn rabbit to date, not a complete jackass, not supportive in a way that feels out of place given his normal jackassitry, not even even a playful brat.  I guess what I'm saying is that he's just there...  kind of like how Spike is, except here it's good, because it's putting Angel in his freaking place!

I should note that after this is where the episode gets good, and it's why I like it so much.  Despite Fluttershy having feminine gasps, she sings in her Flutterguy voice, and man-oh-man is that song catchy!  I was wagging my feet in time to the song, I love it!  This must have been the song that got Jim Miller a free coffee at Starbucks!  ...Did I remember that right?  I think what I like about this scene is that Fluttershy really enjoyed it...  You get the impression that she loves singing, she just doesn't like having people looking at her while she does it, and as the song goes on, the more into it she gets.  I also like how Big Mac looks nervous at first, but then finds his grove...  Also, I didn't realize this at first, but Cheerilee faints during the performance...  Hearts & Hooves Day reference?

So the fundraiser goes off without a hitch, all the pets get adopted, and everything goes fun...  but then this...  French pony?  He sounds foreign, but I can't nail his accept, asks the Ponytones to sing at his daughter's cute-ceañera.  ...Seriously, this pony looks like he's based on someone, but who?!  Anyway, Rarity declines, saying it's too short notice, but Fluttershy, apparently feeling sorry for the poor girl, says they should do it.  And so they do, after which Mayor Mare asks if they can do it, to which Fluttershy suggests they do that as well.  Rarity immediately catches on that Fluttershy's enjoying this, and agrees.  We then get a string of performances where Fluttershy keeps suggesting that they agree to.  What I find funny about this is that Fluttershy gets so into it that she starts ad-libbing the song and Big Mac tries to make it look like he's singing it.  Fluttershy's so adorable when she's grooving!  Then there's a party at Sugarcube Corner...  I don't know why, and I don't really care, Pinkie might have thrown another party or whatever, and Fluttershy gets all excited...  until she finds out that Big Mac got his voice back...  Fluttershy's disappointed, but Rarity and Big Mac decide to let her sing for Big Mac on more time.  Unfortunately, Fluttershy gets a little TOO into it, thus knocking off the curtain and revealing that she was singing the whole time...

...Now, what's interesting here is that once Fluttershy's revealed, everyone applauds and cheers.  You'd think they'd start laughing at a girl with a very deep baritone voice, but then again, that would have made this all the more heart-wrenching to watch.  Fluttershy gets ultra-anxiety, similar to how she reacted in Hurricane Fluttershy, and then runs of crying...  incidentally, "Flutterguy" crying is hilarious to listen to...  I'm terrible.

Applejack rushes to Big Mac demanding answers, despite already knowing what's going on and just checking with Big Mac to make sure she's on the mark.  Seriously, did everypony start calling each other by Spike's cruel nicknames after that?  We cut to Fluttershy's house where she's taking the herbal bath to restore her voice, and her friends are trying to comfort her...  And Pinkie Pie is NOT HELPING IN THE SLIGHTEST!  Like, oh my gosh, I'm sorry, but when you make Fluttershy cry and make your friends call you out on your bullshit, you know you've crossed a line...  and yet Pinkie Pie STILL continues to being such an insensitive bitch!  I mean, sure, she doesn't MEAN to be insensitive, but like The Mysterious Mr. Enter said in his first impressions of this episode:

The Mysterious Mr. Enter: First Impressions Filli Vanilli

Patrick didn't mean to be malicious when he glued Spongebob to his wringer, but that's still a cruel thing to do regardless!  Supposedly, Amy Keating Rogers "explained" on Twitter that Pinkie wasn't thinking before she spoke, but again, like Mr. Enter said, just because she "explained" why Pinkie did it that doesn't "excuse" what she did.  I put my foot in my mouth all the time, but at least I apologize and try to do better!  Pinkie doesn't even TRY to improve her act, she just keeps making things worse!  Again, it's like in A Friend in Deed, where she continues to pester Cranky Doodle Donkey despite burning his personal belongings and being told to just leave him alone!  Well, at least this episode has the distinction of making sure Pinkie ISN'T rewarded for her bad behavior, and has her friends actively calling her out on such instead of just faceplanting into a book.

Anyway, her friends finally confront her and try to comfort her (with Pinkie failing every chance she can get), and Rarity tells her that Fluttershy DID in fact live through her worst nightmare, and asks if it really was all that bad.  She replies with a sobbing yes, much like in Hurricane Fluttershy, except here, her friends remind her that it wasn't as bad as she thought it was.  Fluttershy hates performing in front of others because she was relentlessly mocked as a child, but here, she was praised and the ponies loved what she did.  It's here she realizes that it really wasn't as bad as her fears, and after which, she performs, in her normal voice, alongside the rest of the Ponytones in front of her friends!  Aww...

However, when Rarity mentions performing at the Apple Family's Zap Apple affair (another callback... I guess a year really has past, though these event seem a lot closer then they used to), Fluttershy declines, admitting that she's not ready for something like that...  Then we get the best part of the episode, the moral.  Fluttershy admits that letting your fears take hold of you is never a good thing, but also adds that in order to face your personal fears, you need to face them one step at a time.  I really like this moral, because really, a LOT of people have stage fright, or doing something in front of other people.  We have public speaking classes for a reason, you know.  It's important to note that just because you've gotten over your initial fear, that doesn't mean you can't still be nervous about doing something on a grander scale, and thus you have to work up to it.

Again, this is why I'm so hesitant on seeing Fluttershy on Ponyville's team in Rainbow Falls.  Even if you DO accept that this episode takes place before Rainbow Falls, it still makes you wonder how Fluttershy could possible get over such a deeply rooted anxiety problem so easily.  Her pride for Ponyville feels like an EXTREMELY flimsy excuse in comparison to what we've seen from Fluttershy when it comes to performing in front of others, and this is an event where not only will she be performing in front of ALL of Equestria, but she's going to be actively JUDGED for her performance!  Like, seriously, it's such a big oversight on her character, I honestly don't blame all the people who have a hard time accepting Rainbow Falls because of that!  Again, I still liked that episode, but it's still hard to swallow.

Anyway, this episode's great.  The weakest link is Pinkie Pie, and I seriously hope that Amy Keating Rogers improves when it comes to writing her.  Take a note out of what she and Jayson Thiessen did in Pinkie's Pride and try not to make her TOO overbearing, obnoxious, or...  questionable...  But yeah, great episode, really, truly loved it!

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