Thursday, April 19, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Horse Play | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 7: Horse Play
Written By Kaita Mpambara

Everypony has their strengths and weaknesses on their journeys of discovering their true destinies such as Twilight Sparkle specializing in magic or Rarity being able to find precious gems.  Ever since she was a filly, Princess Celestia's destiny has been to raise and lower the sun over Equestria day in and day out...but did she ever have any second thoughts on what her calling in life would be and did she have any foalhood dreams?  Let's find out by raising the curtain on our next episode in Season 8, this is 'Horse Play'!

Princess Celestia's fillyhood dream of being in a play is realized when Twilight Sparkle casts her in production, only to discover Celestia's talents lie elsewhere.

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I've gotta tell ya...when Princess Celestia finally started getting episodes to herself back in Season 7, the My Little Pony fandom was going crazy as we were finally seeing a side to Celestia that we had never seen before whether it was her fears of letting her star pupil Twilight Sparkle strike out on her own in 'Celestial Advice' or getting to explore her sisterly bond with Princess Luna by living each other's lives in 'A Royal Problem'.  Now that we are getting another episode about Celestia where we get to explore her foalhood dreams, will it be the episode that shines above the rest?

PROS:
  • Princess Celestia's onesversary-the fact that Princess Celestia has been raising the sun for 1,111 years alone with everything that she has went through over the years from banishing her sister to the moon to defeating evil villains is most impressive...not to mention that I LOVE the continuity with the Journal Of The Two Sisters!
  • Nicole Oliver as Princess Celestia-I've said it before and I'll say it again, Nicole Oliver does a spectacular job with voicing Princess Celestia and I can tell that she must've been having a field day in the recording booth especially during the scenes of her fangirling over being in a play in the opening and the rehearsals where the show staff clearly enjoyed poking fun at Tommy Wiseau...oh hi, Twilight!
  • The importance/message of theater-what Princess Celestia says about how theater brings out the best in everyone in order to create a magical experience for others is something I'm sure that anyone who wants to get into acting whether for television, movies or even Broadway can relate to
  • The introduction of the School Of Friendship Theater-always great to see more world building for new locations in the series and I love how the students are all involved in the play as well
  • The return of On Stage and Raspberry Beret-it's been three seasons since we last saw these two Method Mares in 'Made In Manehattan', so getting to see these two again in order to give Princess Celestia acting lessons was quite a nice callback especially when going over the acting approach of improvisation
  • Celestia isn't perfect-sure Twilight Sparkle may still hold Princess Celestia up on an unapproachable pedestal, but it's so great to see that even her idol has flaws and has failed a number of times as we've seen throughout the series

CONS:
  • N/A

Overall, 'Horse Play' truly was a magical experience that brought out the best for the debut of another new writer and I give it a rating of a 10 out of 10.



Horse Play-10/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.75/10

MLEEP Reviews: Surf And/Or Turf | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 6: Surf And/Or Turf
Written By Brian Hohlfeld

Everypony...or should I now say every creature in Equestria has that one special place that they call home whether it's the Castle Of Friendship for Twilight Sparkle and Spike or Sweet Apple Acres for Applejack.  But every now and then, you may find somepony who just doesn't know where he or she belongs and that's exactly what happens with a new friend for the Cutie Mark Crusaders in this week's episode...this is 'Surf And/Or Turf'!

With family members on Mount Aris and sea pony relatives in Seaquestria, the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to help a young Hippogriff figure out where he belongs.

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So, here we have our first Cutie Mark Crusaders episode as well as our first movie-centered episode...and this was one that actually had me rather intrigued as it would hopefully answer the question of why Silverstream was able to transform from hippogriff to sea pony at will back in the Season 8 premiere, but could an interesting concept with a brand new writer make for a good episode?

PROS:
  • Expansion on The Cutie Map to include more characters-having Starlight Glimmer and Spike be summoned by the map to solve friendship problems last season was quite an unexpected surprise and having the map being expanded to include locations from the movie opens it up to so many more story possibilities with characters like the Cutie Mark Crusaders being summoned by the map like in this episode
  • Continuity with 'My Little Pony: The Movie'-through an exposition dump from Apple Bloom on the history of the hippogriffs/sea ponies, it helps get those who didn't see the movie get caught up to speed on what they had missedd
  • The return and expansion of Mount Aris and Seaquestria-it is so great getting to see more concepts and locations from 'My Little Pony: The Movie' being brought into the series in order to help keep the continuity strong as well as getting to see more of these locations that we didn't get to see in the movie...the animation of the returning locations however is another story
  • The explanation on why hippogriffs can turn into sea ponies at will-more world building for new locations and characters is always welcome in my book!
  • Terramar-not only is he a great new addition, but he is actually quite a relatable character for those people who have family members that are divorced and they can't decide who they prefer to spend time with
  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders as sea ponies-even though this is an obvious corporate move by Hasbro to sell CMC Sea Pony toys, you can't deny that they look adorable!
  • Your Heart Is In Two Places-while not one of the best songs by the Cutie Mark Crusaders, this was certainly a step up from the songs that we were given in the Season 8 premiere

CONS:
  • The recreation of Mount Aris and Seaquestria using Adobe Flash-with how beautiful and epic that these two locations looked in the movie when the animators used Toon Boom Harmony, seeing that animation budget being cut in half to recreate them for the television series with Adobe Flash is gonna take a bit of getting used to...but I won't deny that they do look nice for what we're given

Overall, 'Surf And/Or Turf' presents a very mature subject that makes for a really great episode and I'll give it a rating of a 9/10.


Surf And/Or Turf-9/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

Saturday, April 14, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Grannies Gone Wild | #MLPSeason8


Image result for mlp grannies gone wild
Season 8, Episode 5: Grannies Gone Wild
Written By G.M. Berrow


Back in Season 6, Applejack and Fluttershy were sent by the cutie map to a city that is so loud and wild that it would definitely give Manehattan a run for its bits-Las Pegasus, where the fun and parties never rest with its wide range of games and entertainment for everypony in the family...but let's see what happens this time when Rainbow Dash gets into some crazy shenanigans of her own with some overly excited elders in this week's episode-this is 'Grannies Gone Wild'!

Granny Smith and her friends are headed to Las Pegasus with Rainbow Dash tagging along as a chaperone so that she can ride the best roller coaster ever before it closes 


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I'm just gonna say right now...out of the first five episodes that we were getting in Season 8 of 'My Little Pony', this was the one that I was the most excited to see-just from the title alone, I knew that this episode was just gonna be a whole ton of fun.  But when I saw that the writer for this episode was G.M. Berrow-a writer who I haven't been particularly fond of in the past, I feared that my excitement would all be for nothing...although I will admit that she is slowly starting to get better when writing for the series.  Can G.M. Berrow prove me wrong and make a winning episode?

PROS:
  • The extremely humorous story-even though I've seen this particular story of 'elders can be awesome' done before in shows like Fairly OddParents and All Grown Up, I would say that My Little Pony handled this concept the best and it is only made better when it is packed to the brim with humor that ranges for everyone in the family from the kiddies to the adults...even if it does have a suggestive title based on a since ended explicit video series
  • The return of Las Pegasus-ever since the events of 'Viva Las Pegasus' from back in Season 6, many of us Bronies and Pegasisters in the fandom were wondering how the Flim Flam Brothers were getting on with their new positions as managers of what used to be Gladmane's Resort and it is still as wild of a big party vacation spot as ever
  • The numerous nods to different franchises-not only is this entire episode basically one big nod to 'The Golden Girls', but some of the background ponies also pay tribute to many other recent famous franchises from 'Rick And Morty' to 'Breaking Bad'...but be careful, these are all 'blink and you'll miss it' moments

CONS:
  • N/A

I can't believe I'm saying this, but G.M. Berrow actually managed to make an overall very entertaining and worthwhile episode as 'Grannies Gone Wild' has easily become one of my favorites from Season 8 so far and I'm gonna give this episode a 10 out of 10


Grannies Gone Wild-10/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 8.38/10

Saturday, April 7, 2018

MLEEP Reviews: Fake It 'Til You Make It | #MLPSeason8

Season 8, Episode 4: Fake It 'Til You Make It
Written By Josh Hamilton


Rarity and Fluttershy...when it comes to episodes where you two share the spotlight, it's been very rare in the series since the last time that you two shared the spotlight was back in Season 4's 'Filli Vanilli' and the only other example that I can think of was all the way back in Season 1's 'Green Isn't Your Color'.  But let's see if this week's episode can change things up for this season and give you two the starring roles you two have needed for a long time...this is 'Fake It 'Til You Make It'!

Fluttershy looks after the Manehattan boutique while Rarity is away while taking on a series of characters to cope with the intimidating clientele, but learns that she was already the best pony for the job just by being herself.

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I've gotta tell ya: after the disaster that was last week's episode in the form of 'The Maud Couple', I was really hoping that this week's episode could help to get Season 8 of My Little Pony back on track especially since this was an episode that was hinted at and adapted in the annual book for next year...that was until I saw who the writer for this episode was: Josh Hamilton-a writer that started off brilliantly last season with 'Parental Glideance' but progressively got worse throughout the season.  Can Hamilton turn things around for the start of a brand new season and make a truly fabulous episode for both Rarity and Fluttershy?

PROS:

  • Getting to see old locations from past seasons make their return-even though we are at 'Rarity For You' for a majority of the episode, it was great getting to see it again ever since Season 6's "The Saddle Row Review" as well as the return of Sweet Feather Sanctuary since Season 7's "Fluttershy Leans In"
  • The story-I know that there are going to be several people in the fandom comparing it to Season 2's "Putting Your Hoof Down" and I wouldn't lie if I said I also saw the similarities, but the major difference here is that Fluttershy never went too far with changing into different characters nor did she reach the uncomfortable levels that Putting Your Hoof Down did
  • The designs of Fluttershy in her different 'characters'-I can tell that the animators had quite a lot of fun when designing Fluttershy for when she takes on the clients of Manehattan whether she is an upper class snob, a hipster or goth...and I'm pretty sure there's gonna be a whole lot of new material for the fandom to work with whether it's fan art, cosplays or plushies
  • Andrea Libman's performance as Fluttershy-we all know how well Andrea has done with voicing our shy pony of kindness ever since Day 1 of the series...but when it came to Fluttershy taking on different characters to face Manehattan, I can tell she must've been having a ton of fun in the recording booth

CONS:

  • N/A

Overall by simply being itself, 'Fake It 'Til You Make It' made for a very worthwhile episode especially with how it managed to do right what 'Putting Your Hoof Down' did wrong and I give it a rating of a 9 out of 10....and be sure to join me next week 'cause we're going back to Las Pegasus!


Fake It 'Til You Make It-9/10

SEASON 8 OVERALL RATING: 7.83/10

Monday, April 2, 2018

Derpy Hooves: Everyone Can Make A Difference | #AutismAwarenessMonth

DERPY HOOVES: EVERYONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

April is more than just one day of foolery and protecting the environment, it is also the start of Autism Awareness Month-a time when those with complex neurobehavioral conditions can come out of the shadows and share their stories of how autism has changed their lives. Now, you would normally think that I would go into a whole speech about how Thomas The Tank Engine has helped children on the spectrum for years...but I am instead going to talk about a character who by her very inclusion helped a show that no one took seriously to become as popular as it is today-Derpy Hooves from 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic'. But what does Autism Awareness have to do with Derpy? Well, sit down and enjoy a muffin because it's time for a little history lesson!


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For those of you who don't know who Derpy Hooves is, Derpy started off as a background character in the very first episode of 'My Little Pony' that came about due to a technical glitch or as some called it 'a derp'...and because the Internet is the way it is, they noticed it and blew it up to epic proportions. Every little thing Derpy did in the first season of the show caused the fandom to create more of a personality for her such as loving muffins as established in 'Applebuck Season' or being a mail mare as established in 'Feeling Pinkie Keen'; thus the Internet affectionately dubbed her 'Derpy Hooves'. Since the show staff of 'My Little Pony' are always up to date about what's going on in the fandom, they had seen what the Bronies and Pegasisters were doing with Derpy by the time that Season 2 of the show had rolled around. They thought it was cute and eventually put Derpy into the show as well as giving a speaking role in Season 2's "The Last Roundup" as a nod to the fans for their creativity and passion and how did the fanbase react...they sent death threats to the voice actors and show writers. Yeeeah, quite a few people found this portrayal of Derpy offensive; thus the episode was pulled from iTunes and Netflix as well as all future reruns, Derpy's voice was replaced and all references to the name 'Derpy' were removed.

The problem I have with all of this is that Derpy was huge. For a while, even if you didn't know what 'My Little Pony' was...you knew Derpy Hooves and inside the fandom was hundreds upon thousands of fanfictions as well as comics and fan art exploring and depicting her...and no one found it offensive then-no one had a problem with Derpy as a character until the show staff decided they wanted to make it official...that's not fair! While Derpy thankfully was not removed from the episode entirely, what they replaced her with was worse since they changed her voice to sound like that of an airhead or a stereotypical dumb blonde when Derpy's original voice was adorable-sure it does sound deeper than what we had actually expected, but I think it's interesting how it came about because of a derp since her voice actress Tabitha St. Germain actually thought Derpy was a dude...that is in my opinion a perfect mistake, or 'derp' if you will. But thankfully by the time that Season 4 of My Little Pony came around, Derpy returned with great fanfare as cute as ever and all seems to be right with the world of Equestria again...

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The reason I bring up the history of Derpy Hooves is because there is a lot of people who seem to have a problem with bringing a physically disabled character to the center of attention even if it is for less than a minute...frankly, shouldn't hiding a character that's different than everyone else be seen as more offensive and disrespectful to people who might have similar issues? Hate to burst your bubbles, but those kids need a character to look up to for representation as well as everyone else perhaps even more so whether that character is Drax from 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' or Julia from 'Sesame Street'-even Theo from 'Thomas & Friends'-characters that kids can see and say 'hey, this character's just like me'. Representation like this is important for kids especially for those who might get bullied at school for being different since it gives them validation to who they are and the struggles that they go through. Derpy fits this description to a T-she may have crossed eyes and be clumsy which results in her making mistakes, but she's also sweet and cares about everypony she meets...so censoring Derpy for being clumsy and looking different than other ponies can actually be seen as worse than just leaving her be.

While there is an argument to be made that Rainbow Dash might be slightly more frustrated or angry than she should be in the original, is that any different than how Rainbow Dash normally acts...I mean, it's better than what they changed it to. In the first version, yes Rainbow Dash does get angrier but that's because she's treating Derpy like a person...in the second version, she's a lot more gentle but also comes off as condescending with the mindset of Derpy being another strange creature rather than someone with the capacity for feeling emotions-this implied that anyone who's different ruins everything they touch and are incapable of functioning normally. While I am and always will be in favor of Derpy staying the same, I understand the other side of the argument as well.

Most people use the word 'derpy' in the context of mistake or awkward and there are unfortunately people who use it in place of something like retarded. Even though I can't recall no one ever using it like that, it had to come from somewhere since there was no real solution to this whole ordeal where everyone could be pleased because they put Derpy in the show because they wanted to be nice and they changed her for the exact same reason. Language is tough because stupid meant the same thing as retarded for a while...that was until culture got its hands on it and stupid no longer meant what it was intended to mean with the words 'dumb' and 'lame' suffering the same fate since they were originally used as normal terms for people who are mute or physically disabled until they soon became derogatory terms and later common insults that don't offend anyone in the same way that they used to with physical limitations. How do we use the term 'derp' nowadays? It's interchangable with the word 'oops'-I believe that was the original affectionate intent for Derpy Hooves and it got blown out of proportion. I mean, do you really believe that Hasbro and DHX of all companies would be malicious like this?

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In the end, it's a sad testament to the power of words especially when talking about 'The Last Roundup' as an episode of My Little Pony...but as long as there are characters like Derpy Hooves for children on the autism spectrum to look up to, it just goes to show that everyone or everypony can make a difference