Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thank You, Princess Luna...

So, many of you will probably remember back when I reviewed the controversial My Little Pony-Season 5 episode 'Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?' last year...but for the longest time, I have been torn between loving the episode like I did originally or just finding it okay or bad like in Lily Peet's 'In 5 Minutes' video or Silver Quill's 'After The Fact' collab with VoiceOfReason. It wasn't until GoldenFox's recent and rather emotional review of the episode with Keyframe that I realized why I loved this episode as well as Princess Luna as a character so much...and what I'm about to say on why I think this way may actually surprise you.

For those of you who know me well ever since childhood, I have been judged and pushed around as well as harassed and bullied by other people who thought that I would never be able to accomplish anything in my life because of my disabilities whether it was being able to hold a pencil or to read; and thus I feel like I have to repeat those very words that people used to harm me/take the beatings that I did in the past in order to push myself to do better that I was originally....but at the same time just like what happened in this very episode with Princess Luna, I feel like I have created my own Tantabus that has completely taken over and turned me into my Nightmare Moon that I call False Cobalt and changed me forever from the happy-go-lucky person I used to be into being extremely anxious and depressed who fears what others will think of him as well as what my future will be like because of past actions to the point where I question the meaning of myself/what my purpose in life really is.

So to see an episode where I'm basically in the role of Princess Luna with learning to forgive yourself from your past actions that actually managed to bring me to tears by the end of it really made me realize why I love 'Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep?' so much as an episode that left quite an impact on me and why I love My Little Pony as a show as well as Princess Luna so much as a character that I can look up to; hence why I wrote the letter that I did back at the 'Dear Princess Letter Reading' panel from this year's BronyCon and why I made sure that I got a photo with my friend Sarahndipity Cosplay as Princess Luna afterwards-I knew it was just someone cosplaying as her, but much like Twilight Sparkle...Princess Luna really has left that emotional of an impact on me as a character to the point where I felt like she was really there. Without her to look up to as a symbol of redemption, without this franchise or its fandom...I wouldn't be as socially active as I am now.

As Keyframe said in GoldenFox's review of the episode...we all have our own Tantabus in the form of anxiety/depression-it can never be destroyed and we have to carry it around with us every day, but we need to be able to learn from our past actions and take the first step in forgiving ourselves and realizing that we're not who we were before to save ourselves from letting the Tantabus overtake us and make us become our own Nightmare Moons all over again despite there still being those moments where we regret what we did. The fact that we regret our past actions and try to get better shows that we're not who we used to be...and when you have an awesome group of friends like the ones that I have now because of such a wonderful franchise and fandom, I know that I'll never truly be alone as I have all the help that I need to help get through each day knowing that I can make a difference in this world.

Thank you, Princess Luna...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Cautious Connor

Season 20, Episode 20: Cautious Connor
Written By Andrew Brenner
Ah, Connor-you haven't had an episode to yourself ever since Season 18's 'Last Train For Christmas'...but that all changes in our next Season 20 episode-Cautious Connor!
While going at high speeds, Connor breaks his coupling rod and fears going fast will break it again. I'll be honest, I thought this episode was gonna suck when I first heard about it considering the fact that it was written by Andrew Brenner and some of his recent episodes proving less than stellar...but when I finally saw it, like Stephen said-you need a good story just to get things back on track again...and that's exactly what happened here.

When it comes to the story, it may be predictable since I knew that Connor was gonna be his high-speed self again by the end of the episode...but the execution and moral of how not letting one incident stand in the way of who you really are via a pep talk from Stephen were presented perfectly since it was like watching any athlete in the world of sports acting cowardly after an injury only to pick themselves back up again.

As for the fact, this was one of the five incomplete episodes that Jam Filled Entertainment helped finish for Arc when they bought the studio after Arc went bankrupt and it still looks awesome regardless of what happened with highlights being the damage detail on Connor's coupling rod and the different angles/shots during Stephen's pep talk to Connor.

And when it comes to the characters, I originally thought Connor was out of character when I first saw it...but after a second viewing, I actually don't blame him for being paranoid since it makes sense that he'd feel worried about speeding and damaging himself after he came close to derailing like that.  On top of that, Stephen was great as well-his humor, his interactions and especially that pep talk were all awesome!  Bravo to Jonathan Forbes and Bob Golding for some truly awesome performances!

Overall, 'Cautious Connor' is an episode that goes full speed ahead to get a rating of a 9 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: Mucking About

Season 20, Episode 19: Mucking About
Written By Davey Moore
Ah, Jack And The Pack-our cracking construction crew haven't had much screentime in recent years especially since their spinoff series was cancelled halfway through...but that all changes in our next Season 20 episode-Mucking About!
Max and Monty are being extremely dangerous, but their reckless behavior could soon land them in trouble. I'll be honest, this was an episode I was extremely excited about since we haven't had an episode that focused on The Pack in thirteen years and...for their re-introductory episode, it was really good.
When it comes to the story, it does a great job in reintroducing Max and Monty to the younger audiences and in presenting the moral of how ignoring people who look to cause trouble like Internet trolls is easier said than done as stated by Edward...but the second half is where things start to get predictable because if you know your locations of Sodor well, you know exactly where the rest of the episode will go when Max and Monty start dumping off the bridge; thus making the second half feel boring to sit through.
As for the animation, the team at Arc have done a splendid job with the rendering of the characters from The Pack ever since their return in 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure' and it really comes into play with things like how the vehicles move around as well as when Oliver's frontloader is disabled. Also, did anyone notice that Thomas got a black eye from his accident?
And when it comes to the characters, it's great to see that The Pack haven't changed a bit ever since the classic series and their 'Lost Treasure' return...and it appears that Max and Monty have become even more reckless than ever whether they're criss-crossing the tracks in front of Thomas or not disposing of building waste safely. Bravo to Kerry Shale and Rob Rackstraw for giving some devious performances as our favorite dump trucks!
Overall, 'Mucking About' is a great way to welcome back The Pack and gets a rating of a 9 out of 10.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Three Steam Engines Gruff

Season 20, Episode 18: Three Steam Engines Gruff
Written By Andrew Brenner

We've seen 'Thomas & Friends' tell some pretty famous stories from the world of literature through the years, haven't we...The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Not Now, Charlie!), A Christmas Carol (Diesel's Ghostly Christmas), etc...but let's see what they can do with a famous Norwegian fairy tale in our next Season 20 episode-Three Steam Engines Gruff!

When the Ffarquhar branch line trio-Thomas, Percy and Toby-hear a noise underneath the watermill bridge, they immediately think that a t...roll lives underneath it. Admit many of us thought this was gonna be our miniature engines episode in this season where got to see Mike, Rex and Bert again in what could've been a TV Series adaptation of the Railway Series story 'Useful Railway'? Well, that's what I thought before we knew what it was actually gonna be about and what we got just sucked.

While I will give the story credit for trying to adapt the famous Norwegian fairy tale 'Three Billy Goats Gruff', I sadly have to agree with many other fans that this was nothing more than a half-assed rehash of the special 'Tale Of The Brave'...with characters that are out of character and a scenario where I knew that this 'troll' the engines were scared of was going to be a cow by the end of the episode and this led to a very predictable and disappointing payoff...and this was written by the very same writer of that special! Really, Brenner...THIS is what you've resorted to?!?!?

While the story is complete shit, the animation looks great as always since Arc knows how to capture the fall season with the falling leaves blowing in the wind and...I will admit that it was nice to see what it's like on top of the watermill bridge and they do manage to make the suspenseful scenes actually look and feel threatening when needed with things like the cloudy rainy sky.

But the same can't be said about the characters because it feels like Andrew Brenner did a complete 180 with them-Toby's back to being a cowardly wimp after his awesome portrayal in Season 19 and the beginning of the season and Percy's pretty much forgotten everything he learned in 'Tale Of The Brave'! The only good thing I can say about the characters is that Trevor The Traction Engine finally got a speaking role after seven years in the CGI series and the voice that they picked suits him well.

Overall, I didn't think anything was gonna top 'The Way She Does It' for the worst episode of Season 20...but 'Three Steam Engines Gruff' took the cake as I give this a rating of a 5 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: The Missing Breakdown Train

Season 20, Episode 17: The Missing Breakdown Train
Written By Davey Moore
Ah, Judy and Jerome-our crazy and comedic breakdown train duo from 'The Adventure Begins' who we haven't seen much of ever since Rocky arrived on Sodor...or have we? Let's find out with our next Season 20 episode...The Missing Breakdown Train!
Judy and Jerome haven't dealt with any emergencies for quite some time ever since Rocky arrived on Sodor and set out on an adventure to prove themselves useful again. Much like the two Glynn episodes, I was excited to see that they were bringing back characters from my all-time favorite Thomas special 'The Adventure Begins' and what new adventures Judy and Jerome were going to have...and for their re-introductory episode, it was good...but maybe not as good as I thought it would be.
When it comes to the story, it does well in providing an explanation as to why we haven't seen or heard much of Judy and Jerome and why they're barely in use anymore...but when I heard about this episode, I thought we'd actually see them try to do whatever they can to prove themselves useful again at the different places that they visited because what we actually get in the episode can be summed up with one word-boring! A majority of the time, we're just watching Judy and Jerome sitting around doing nothing but looking around where they are and I never thought I'd see the day that 'Thomas & Friends' would resort to poop jokes to get a laugh.
As for the animation, there really isn't that much to talk about without repeating myself from previous review...but I will say that the animators did a great job in showing off Arlesburgh Harbor from Judy and Jerome's perspectives as well as the animation when Daisy has her first accident in the entire series.
And when it comes to the characters, it was great to see Judy and Jerome again after the events of 'The Adventure Begins' and I like how Davey Moore didn't shoehorn Rocky into the episode while also keeping the focus on the original breakdown train-bravo to Tim Whitnall and Teresa Gallagher for some comedic performances!
Overall, 'The Missing Breakdown Train' might not be the best way to welcome back Judy and Jerome...but it was still alright for what it was and I give this episode a 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Twilight Sparkle: What She Means To Me

If you were to ask me over three years ago that one of my all-time favorite cartoon characters was a purple pony who thought that studying and reading books were the greatest thing in the world until she discovered the magic of friendship and I said yes, you would’ve probably laughed at me…and I know that there are people out there who still do, but little did I realize that this pony would actually end up shaping my life for the better and help me in the future…that pony is Twilight Sparkle.
Now, today marks the day in the show of the episode “Sweet & Elite” where we found out that it was Twilight Sparkle’s birthday.  So, a few people in the Brony community decided to take this up and talk about Twilight Sparkle.  Now, you’re looking at easily the biggest Twilight Sparkle fan in my family.  So, without further ado...let’s get cracking.
When I first started watching Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle was the first character that I immediately took an interest in.  For a lot of Bronies including myself, the very first episode I saw was the pilot-“Friendship Is Magic” and that episode immediately drew me in to Twilight Sparkle as a character.  I’ve always liked the brainy beauties in terms of characters; prime example being Belle from the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”…and it’s hard for characters like that to be written not as a Mary Sue like Princess Cadence.  With Twilight Sparkle, I never saw that as she’s much more of a role model as the person we want to be as opposed to the people we encounter and it’s great to see that she’s developed as the seasons have gone by.  If it weren’t for Twilight Sparkle, I wouldn’t have given Friendship Is Magic a chance and it feels great to be invested in her and what she goes through.
Why do I like Twilight Sparkle?  Well, the main reason why is because I feel like I’m looking in a mirror whenever she’s on screen because…like Twilight, I was an anti-social bookworm during my elementary through high school years due to the fact that I was heavily teased pretty much on a daily basis as a kid.  But during all that, I didn’t care what they said or did to me as I felt safe and comfortable in my own little world with the things that I loved doing.  So when I discovered Friendship Is Magic shortly after Season 3 had ended by re-watching the show starting with Season 1, I was watching the way that Twilight Sparkle acted and was like “wow, is this really how I was back then?”.  And as the seasons have gone by and as Twilight has developed, I feel like I’ve developed in the same way that she has and it feels weird to say that I haven’t really grown up with a character as well-written as her aside from Thomas The Tank Engine since Thomas was a big influence on my life and I can definitely say that Twilight Sparkle is my influence during my late teenage to adult years.
Now, many of you will probably be saying that cartoon characters aren’t that important since they’re not real…but if you look at these characters as well as Twilight Sparkle, you can see how much she’s developed from being an anti-social bookworm to becoming the Princess of Friendship…and that sometimes means going back to face your past head-on and no episode did that better than in Season 5’s “Amending Fences” where Twilight went back to Canterlot to rekindle her old friendships-heck, we even got to see what would’ve happened if Twilight remained in the state she was originally in through her friend Moon Dancer.  In fact, Twilight Sparkle is actually who I want to be in terms of my personality: I want to have friends like the ones that she has, I want to feel like I belong somewhere, I want to feel like I actually should exist.
Now, like every character in MLP, Twilight Sparkle does have her flaws and that’s understandable if you look at episodes like Season 2’s “Lesson Zero” where she creates a friendship problem in order for her to write a friendship report letter to Princess Celestia or Season 5’s “The Hooffields And McColts” where she thinks that the friendship problem can be solved with a book.  But if you ask me, having flaws isn’t a bad thing as you can then realize what does and doesn’t work as well as what you like and dislike about yourself because…if you were a character with no flaws at all, you’d end up losing people’s interest in your development and it’s so important that Twilight has developed with episodes like the “Friendship Is Magic” pilot or in the “Equestria Girls: Friendship Games” movie when she realizes that the fate of Equestria actually did depend on her making friends and realizing that there was more to life than books or entering an independent study program.  If you’re flawed, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world for you…and with Twilight Sparkle, it made her better because she can develop further off of that and that she has more to work with as this is made prominent in her future episodes.
If you ask me, the episode that made fully accept Twilight Sparkle as a character was Season 3’s “Magical Mystery Cure” as it took what she had been striving to do ever since the beginning and put it to the ultimate test where she realized that her friends meant more to her than anything else in all of Equestria-that’s the main reason why I love Twilight Sparkle in this episode as it made her think about what she wanted to do and I know from the bottom of my heart that she would make a great ruler of Equestria if Princess Celestia needed an heir to the throne.
Twilight Sparkle has pretty much become my biggest inspiration-my inspiration to be a friend to all and to be the best that I can be because I look at Twilight and I can see myself in how I’ve grown up and changed with her.  She’s made me look at things about myself, embrace my flaws, and see that it’s not the end of the world if you’re flawed…and with it being her birthday, I can’t thank her enough as a character.  Getting to meet Tara Strong at BronyCon 2016 was truly an experience that I’ll never forget, especially when I got to thank her for all that she’s done with Twilight Sparkle because not many characters have made an important impact in my life like Twilight has…and with it being a day to celebrate how far she’s come, I think it’s something truly amazing that she’s still developing and that she can only go higher from here…just like me.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Henry In The Dark

Related image
Season 20, Episode 16: Henry In The Dark
Written By Lee Pressman

As Kermit The Frog once said, 'it's not that easy being green'...but what if you were as green as a ghost like Henry was in our next Season 20 episode-Henry In The Dark!
After Henry is accidentally repainted with glow-in-the-dark green paint due to a mix-up from Kevin, Henry has all of Sodor thinking that they've seen a ghost train. I'll be honest...after the modern classic that was 'Henry Gets The Express', I thought this episode was gonna suck since we didn't know much about it and sounded like they were taking a step backwards with Henry's character. But I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and to my turned out to be better than I expected!
When it comes to the story, I kept saying to myself that this is what Season 14's 'James In The Dark' should've been because...whereas 'James In The Dark' was formulaic and boring, this episode does everything that it can to be entertaining and informative at the same time with things like the uses for the glow-in-the-dark paint on railway signs-not to mention that this episode is filled to the brim with comedy!
As for the animation, the team at Arc's work truly shone amongst all the darkness of this nighttime episode since I've always thought it would be so cool to see an engine's paintwork glow in the dark and they took every advantage that they could with Henry as the lead in this episode...and it kinda gives a reason why there are some pieces of Thomas merchandise that actually do glow in the dark whether they're the Trackmasters or MINIS.
And when it comes to the characters...ever since 'Henry Gets The Express', it's been so great to have the Henry that we all knew and loved as kids back after so many years and Lee Pressman did a great job as well as Helen Farrall in combining Henry's original and current personalities at the same time of being a cynical worrier-bravo to Keith Wickham for giving another perfect performance!
Overall, 'Henry In The Dark' is a Season 20 episode that truly shines and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10

Monday, November 21, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: The Way She Does It

Season 20, Episode 15: The Way She Does It
Written By Davey Moore
Ah, Daisy...a diesel railcar who likes to do just what work she chooses and no more, let's see what shenanigans she gets up to this time with our next Season 20 episode-The Way She Does It!
When Sir Topham Hatt asks Daisy to take some special passengers to the holiday town of Harwick, she decides that they are so special that she doesn't want to allow children on board and refuses to pull a dusty baggage truck...and her special passengers may not be as special as she thinks they are. When this episode was first announced, I thought it was gonna suck since it felt like three previous episodes that I was not a fan of being all mashed together; those being Season 12's 'Push Me Pull You', Season 14's 'Pingy Pongy Pick Up' and Season 16's 'Emily's Winter Party Special'. But I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind much as I didn't want to admit it, I unfortunately was right.
When it comes to the story, it's exactly what I thought it was gonna be-a rehash of the three episodes that I had previously mentioned: you have the puppet show aspect from 'Push Me Pull You', the main character getting excited for a job that she doesn't end up doing while bragging to the other engines about it from 'Emily's Winter Party Special' and that character not wanting to pull something that she doesn't know is important from 'Pingy Pongy Pick Up'...and when you have a character like Daisy as the main star, you know exactly where it's gonna go. On top of that, the humor was extremely hit-and-miss with some hitting bullseyes like Duck's reaction to Daisy's theater talk and others just falling flat on their face like Thomas mentioning (shudders) Misty Island...really, Brenner? REALLY?!?!?
As for the animation, there really isn't much to talk about without me repeating myself from previous reviews...however, I will say that it was nice that we got to see some more of the Arlesburgh-Harwick branch line again and the team at Arc really did capture the aesthetic of a traditional Punch & Judy show-plus, the three stations split-screen scene was clever of the animators to pull off.
And when it comes to the characters...being someone who was extremely excited for Daisy's return to 'Thomas & Friends' since she was my introduction to the show as a kid twenty years ago, this whole 'lazy, complains about everything and doing just what work she chooses' routine is getting old really fast and nowhere is that more painfully obvious than in this episode. I know that is part of Daisy's personality, but...THIS CAN'T BE HER ONE TRAIT-even Sir Topham Hatt sounded like he's getting sick of her behavior...what was that line he said again in 'Percy's Predicament'? 'My engines work hard, I send lazy engines away' to Topham, SEND DAISY AWAY!!!
Overall, 'The Way She Does It' is clearly not how Andrew Brenner should've done it and gets a rating of a 5 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: Blown Away

Season 20, Episode 14: Blown Away
Written By Helen Farrall
Ah, Skiff-our lovable railboat from 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure'...I wonder how you're getting on with your new life of railboat tours around Arlesburgh Harbor, let's find out with our next Season 20 episode-Blown Away!
Skiff and his new captain Joe are helping everyone to prepare for a big storm approaching Arlesburgh when Skiff's anchor rope snaps and he gets blown down the track into a tree that has fallen across the branch line...which Duck and Oliver are heading straight towards! Much like 'Ryan & Daisy', I was really excited to see this episode when it was first announced since I was one of the many fans who loved 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure' and was excited to see what adventures Skiff would get into after the events of the movie and...for his first episode, it blew me away-no pun intended!
When it comes to the story, the concept of a big storm wreaking havoc on Sodor was already enough to peak my interest and on top of that was executed extremely well when it came to the structure of the story as well as the characters chosen to star in it and the moral of how those that seem small and helpless compared to those who are bigger and stronger than they are can end up becoming the biggest of heroes.
As for the animation, Arc's work truly spoke for itself in this episode and...with the concept of a big storm, they went all out with what they were given especially in things like the build-up to the storm's arrival during the first few minutes as well as the dramatic sequence of the runaway Skiff leading up to when he rescues Duck and OIiver from the lightning-struck fallen tree.
And when it comes to the characters, it's so great to see that Skiff hasn't changed a bit since we last saw him in 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure-he's upbeat, very positive and gullible to persuasion...heck, his voice actor from the movie (Jamie Campbell Bower) even stayed to supply his voice for future episodes! On top of that, Duck and Oliver were great supporting characters to Skiff...and for once, this wasn't an episode where they preached about the Great Western Railway!
Overall as another episode that fans have been anticipating for quite some time, 'Blown Away' is one that certainly blew me away to get a rating of a 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Pouty James

Season 20, Episode 13: Pouty James
Written By Andrew Brenner
Ah, James...I know you like being the center of attention, but your showing off is getting way out of hand...especially when it comes to what happens in our next Season 20 episode-Pouty James!
James likes to show off and be the center of attention...but when he goes too far and the passengers start complaining, Sir Topham Hatt takes his coaches away leaving James feeling very pouty. I'll be honest, this was an episode that I was rather split on when I first heard about it since I thought that James had learned his lesson of not being a show-off by now ever since last season with the episode 'Philip To The Rescue'...but I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and this proved to be better than I ever expected.
When it comes to the story, I cannot believe I'm saying this...but I think this episode handles the concept of James being a show-off far better than in any other episode I've seen especially with the comedy and just how relatable it was for me in terms of the moral...allow me to explain: for those who don't know, I suffer from really bad anxiety and depression because of a very rocky past of relentless teasing and bullying and I've found it hard to keep a positive perspective in the face of adversity for the past few years because of what happened back to see an episode where I'm pretty much in the role of James with trying to stay positive despite life being difficult really makes this a relatable episode for me since it shows that Thomas the Tank Engine will always be there for me to show a way for me to overcome life's obstacles. Uhhhh, Hit Entertainment...are you sure that you don't have cameras secretly following me?
As for the animation, this episode should've been called 'Pouty Memes' as I can tell that the team at Arc was having a field day with this episode when it came to the different pouty face designs for the engines and trying hard not to laugh...and I just know that these many different faces will soon be made into jokes and memes by the entire fandom.
And when it comes to the I said, James was so relatable in this episode when it came to keeping a positive perspective in the face of adversity and how going around in a sulk can result in nothing but trouble for everyone else around you-bravo to Rob Rackstraw for a simply splendid performance!
Overall, after the past few weeks I've had...'Pouty James' was just the episode I needed to see as it has now become my favorite episode of Season 20 and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: Ryan & Daisy

Season 20, Episode 12: Ryan & Daisy
Written By Davey Moore
Ever since the end of 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure', Ryan and Daisy have been running the new branch line between Arlesburgh and Harwick and we fans have been excited to see the many episodes that would come from this pairing of engines...and today is the day as it's time to take a look at our next Season 20 episode-Ryan & Daisy!
Daisy encourages Ryan to help her out with her passenger duties, but then she makes him do even more of her responsibilities resulting in confusion and delay. When this episode was first announced, many fans including myself were excited to see it since it was finally giving us a glimpse into the friendship between Ryan and Daisy and I'm happy to say that this episode delivered perfectly.
When it comes to the story, it can easily be described as Season 9's 'Thomas' Day Off' done right as I think they handled the conflict of a steam engine helping out a lazy diesel with all of their jobs far better here than they did back then with Thomas and Dennis...who I'm pretty sure has been forgotten forever due to being a one-off, although I think a Dennis and Daisy episode would be cool to see. Not only that, but I love the moral of how it's good to help a friend and how your friends should help you as well.
As for the animation, the team at Arc always delivers and it shows in this episode as we got to see more of the Arlesburgh-Harwick branch line with things like Arlesburgh West where the miniature engines work as well as Ryan and Daisy's shed...not only that, but it was great to see old locations return like the quarry and Knapford.
And when it comes to the characters, it was so great getting to finally see the friendship between Ryan and Daisy explored as we could see that Daisy can be quite manipulative when she wants to be and Ryan being more than willing to help out any engine in need...not only that, but they have a great dynamic chemistry between the two of them-bravo to all of the voice cast and especially Steven Kynman for filling in the shoes...or wheels of Eddie Redmayne as Ryan.
Overall, as an episode that fans have been anticipating for quite some time, 'Ryan & Daisy' makes for a very worthwhile episode and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.

Friday, October 28, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Saving Time

Season 20, Episode 11: Saving Time
Written By Andrew Brenner

Ah, Samson...I sadly haven't been a fan of you or your episodes-mostly because they feel very formulaic, but hopefully our next episode in Season 20 will make me think different about you...let's take a look at 'Saving Time'!

Samson and Thomas has been assigned the same task of taking stone from the Blue Mountain Quarry to Brendam Docks, but Samson tries to show everyone how important he is by taking more trucks than he should insisting that it will save time.  Much like 'Over The Hill', we had no idea what this episode was going to be about and it made us all the more excited to find out...but when we eventually did find out, I wasn't too keen when I found out that this was going to be a Samson episode.  But I did my best to go into this episode with an open mind and I was actually left surprised.

Now, the main problem with Samson episodes are that you've pretty much seen them all if you've seen at least one since they all follow a similar pattern of Samson being given a job and thinking that he's better than everyone else by trying to do more than he should...and that plays a factor into the story since it follows the pattern of Samson's previous episodes and honestly felt predictable...however, I will say that this is actually Season 18's 'Samson At Your Service' done right as there actually was a clever reason behind Samson's arrogance and it does manage to provide some good comedy among the characters.

As for the animation, there really isn't much to talk about without me repeating myself from past reviews...but I will say that I love a lot of the different camera angles and shots especially when Samson is trying to make his way over Gordon's Hill, so I have to give kudos to Arc for once again delivering some awesome animation.

And when it comes to the characters...while Samson is still his arrogant and pompous self, he's not as annoying as he could've been like he was back in Season 18 as there was actually a reason behind him acting this way in the form of Thomas' cheekiness...and while some would say that this was another episode where Thomas felt shoe-horned, I think what they did with him was actually really clever especially with how he gets punished for his cheekiness by being Samson's back engine-bravo to Joseph May and Robert Wilfort for another awesome performance!

Overall, 'Saving Time' may not be the best episode of Season 20...but it's easily Samson's best episode to date and gets a rating of an 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: To Where And Back Again

Season 6, Episodes 25-26: To Where And Back Again
Written By Josh Haber

Well, everypony…this is it: the Season 6 finale of ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’, coming to us from writer Josh Haber…who actually turns out to be leaving MLP after this episode. But after last season’s interesting but weak finale, can Haber make a massive improvement to go out with a bang? Let’s end Season 6 with ‘To Where And Back Again’!

Without the help of Twilight Sparkle and the Mane Six, Starlight Glimmer assembles an unlikely team of heroes to defend Equestria from the return of one of its greatest threats-Queen Chrysalis and her Changeling army!  I'll be honest, I've been excitedly anticipating this episode for quite some time because...ever since Thorax first appeared in the season premiere and later on had an episode to himself with Spike, I knew right away that the finale was more than likely gonna involve a return of Queen Chrysalis and her Changelings...but fan-favorite villains returning doesn't automatically make it a great episode because I also knew that this was also gonna be Starlight Glimmer's big moment to shine in the series to the point where I was even theorizing about who she was gonna have on her team and did it all come together for an truly awesome finale?  Yes, yes it did.

When it comes to the story, the set-up is fantastic as so many elements from episodes in this season all came together without us seeing it coming especially with things like how Starlight's friendship with Trixie actually playing a central role.  Not only that, but I praise the staff for properly setting up Starlight's motivation and conflict into an Equestria-wide threat like Chrysalis...which I actually have to admit that her second attempt at a plan to take over Equestria is much better planned out than how it was back in 'A Canterlot Wedding' and it actually reveals the deeper meaning behind the newly released Guardians Of Harmony toys...and while I would question how the Changelings managed to kidnap so many ponies without anyone raising the alarm, but then I'm sure many of us in the fandom would cry foul if the staff actually showed that happening because it actually gives us time to appreciate the ego-driven personalities of characters like Trixie and Discord...but I'll get to that in a second when I talk about the characters.

As for the animation...we may have only gotten a hint of world building about the Changeling kingdom back in 'The Times They Are A Changeling', but this episode took so many more chances to delve deeper into the world building of the kingdom and it really comes to play with things like the design of the kingdom from the outside to the inner working with things like the throne room-even Chrysalis' unsettling and quite disturbing initial reveal to Starlight in the climax...and while many in the fandom have cried foul over the new designs for the Changelings after they get reformed, I actually think they look pretty maybe this was how they looked before Chrysalis intentionally misled them all in order to keep them in her service despite already knowing the truth.

And when it comes to the characters, Discord was right in saying that it was quite a combination of secondary characters as this is actually the first season finale to not focus on Twilight and the rest of the Mane 6 but rather three reformed villains and a character who never wanted to be evil to begin with.  Starting with Starlight, this set-up truly was her big moment to shine in the series as she wasn't really scared of being rejected by the ponies in her old village but rather being trusted to step up as a leader by those that she wronged all the way back in Season 5.  As for Trixie, who wants to bet that she only tagged along on this rescue mission just so she could have something to gloat to Twilight about for the rest of their lives?  As for Discord, I praise Haber and the staff for not taking the easy route and making it clear that he couldn't just save everypony with a snap of his talons or with Starlight and her immense amount of spells.  And now we come to Queen Chrysalis herself who I'm proud to say hasn't changed a bit since we last saw her-she's still her deceitful and manipulative self even to the point where she used Discord's feelings for Fluttershy against him...quite a disturbing set of mindgames on the Lord Of Chaos if you ask me...and I'm so thankful that Haber and the staff didn't try to reform Chrysalis at all and are instead keeping her around as a threat for future seasons...maybe a backstory episode explaining her past and how she became who she is today, possibly?

Just when I thought there wasn’t gonna be an episode this season to top ‘A Hearth’s Warming Tail’, ‘To Where And Back Again’ comes in and knocks it out of the park to give it a rating of a 10 out of 10 since it brought everything that had been built up this season to a close in the best way possible…and that’s what I love the most about Season 6 as it picked up right where Season 5 had left off with the story arcs that it had closed like the CMC earning their cutie marks or Starlight Glimmer giving up her evil ways to become Twilight’s apprentice in friendship and expanded upon them like how the CMC are going about their lives helping ponies with cutie mark problems…and not only did it close even more story arcs like Rainbow Dash finally becoming a Wonderbolt and Starlight Glimmer’s redemption coming full circle, but it opened up so many more new story arcs as well…and while some episodes in this season fell flat like ‘Applejack’s Day Off’ or ‘The Cart Before The Ponies’, a majority of the episodes in Season 6 hit bullseyes…and much like ‘Twilight’s Kingdom’ back in Season 4, everything about ‘To Where And Back Again’ set a new standard for Friendship Is Magic and I would honestly be fine if they ended here as it feels like a good conclusion…but no, we get more and I’m fine with that too since I can’t wait to see where they go with these new set-ups. This was a great way to close a great season, here’s to Season 6 with an overall score of a 9 out of 10 hereby making it in my opinion the best season of MLP....and with that said, I'm True Blue and I'll see you all for Season 7!  Until next time, stay awesome 'cause friendship is magic!

MLEEP Reviews: Top Bolt

Season 6, Episode 24: Top Bolt
Written By Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco

Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash…we don’t really have that many episodes with the two of you together, so it’s quite a treat when we do get one of these in a season…much like this week’s episode, so let’s take a look at ‘Top Bolt’!

Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle are sent to Wonderbolt Academy to help two friends, Vapor Trail and Sky Stinger, solve an important friendship problem that is keeping them from getting into the academy.  When I first heard about this episode, I was actually rather intrigued because…now that Rainbow Dash is finally a Wonderbolt, she has to be seen as an inspiration to so many ponies who want to follow her dream…but did this turn out to be an episode of my dreams?  Yes, yes it did!

When it comes to the story…unlike ‘Pony Point Of View’ and ‘Where The Apple Lies’ which relied on formulas that we’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of times before in other media, this episode is actually one of those that makes you step back and ponder your own life especially since it focused on a conflict that you don’t see very often or at all and the way that the characters were written as well as the moral of how even the best intentions for those who we want to succeed and find happiness or purpose in their lives can lead to negative consequences really helped to make this episode stand out from others…also, who didn’t love the comedy spread throughout the episode?  I mean, I’m sure the writers were constantly trying to make Rainbow Dash the butt of all the jokes and it works really well.

As for the animation…much like what they did with the Ponyville Hospital in ‘Where The Apple Lies’, DHX is once again expanding upon existing locations and doing more with them especially with this episode where we get to see the Wonderbolt Academy again with old favorites like the Dizzitron to new locations like the classroom…not to mention the flying montages look simply beautiful as I can tell that the animators were trying a whole bunch of new tricks and techniques.

And when it comes to the characters…with the way that the story and moral are presented, they couldn’t have chosen any better characters since Twilight thought it was better to tell the brash and overconfident Sky Stinger what he was doing wrong so he could improve while Rainbow Dash didn’t want to crush his confidence…neither did Vapor Trail, who really made me wonder how many soft-spoken and timid characters we’ve gotten in the series so far-I mean, we have…Fluttershy, Coco Pommel, Marble Pie, and now Vapor Trail and Angel Wings…is this gonna be a recurring thing with the show introducing more and more of these kind of characters?

Overall, ‘Top Bolt’ soared its way to the top of the class to get a rating of a 10 out of 10…and here’s hoping that the season finale ends this year with a bang!  Until then, see ya next time!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Where The Apple Lies

Season 6, Episode 23: Where The Apple Lies
Written By Dave Rapp

Ah, Apple Bloom…my favorite member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders who tries every day to be like her big sister Applejack, but what would happen if she didn’t embrace her sister’s element?  Let’s find out the truth with ‘Where The Apple Lies’!

When Apple Bloom tells a white lie to cover up a mistake, Applejack shares the embarrassing story of how she came to value honesty following a series of lies that almost destroyed the farm and landed the whole Apple family in the hospital.  When this episode was first announced, I was excitedly saying to myself ‘oh my gosh, are we finally getting the episode where we find out what happened to Applejack and Big McIntosh’s parents?!?’…I mean, my expectations for this episode were incredibly high.  So, I went in expecting an episode of my dreams and…while nothing at all like I thought it was gonna be, it was still pretty good for what it was.

When it comes to the story…it may suffer from the predictable ‘liar revealed’ formula that I can’t stand in any form of media and while some would call this Season 2’s “The Last Roundup” all over again, I actually think that this is that episode done right in terms of the great set-up for the familiar characters that we’ve come to know over the years as they show their youthful and prideful need to prove themselves to others even to the point of short-sidedness where they end up making things worse…in fact, this episode even out-schools Season 2’s ‘Sweet & Elite’ which also used this very same ‘little white lies’ set-up and yet Rarity got off scot-free for them!

As for the animation, it’s great that DHX have been expanding on existing locations throughout the series and doing more with them since we’re mostly at the Ponyville Hospital for this episode and we get to see so much more of the building itself with things like the waiting room where we see Screw Loose make a return ever since Season 2’s ‘Read It And Weep’ to the operating theater where the climax of the episode takes place…not only that, but there were plenty of Easter eggs spread throughout the episode from the two little girls that were seen in ‘The Shining’ to possibly figuring out why Derpy got her crossed eyes that she has today.

And when it comes to the characters, I personally loved how Applejack came to value her element of honesty after she kept making everything worse and how Big Mac was always around to point out what she was doing wrong yet was contributing to the problem all along…in fact, we even find out the rather intriguing reason why Big Mac has become a pony of a few words like ‘eeyup’ or ‘nope’.  Not only that, but it was also great getting to see more of the humble businessman Filthy Rich and his fiancĂ© Spoiled…Milk?!?  Kind of a weird maiden name if you ask me, but it makes sense since I wanted to toss her in the garbage when she was first introduced!

Overall…while ‘Where The Apple Lies’ wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it turned out to be a pretty great episode and I have to give it a rating of a 9.5 out of 10.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

MLEEP Reviews: Love Me Tender

Season 20, Episode 10: Love Me Tender
Written By Davey Moore

Ah, Donald and of the Thomas fandom's favorite set of twins that sadly haven't gotten an episode to themselves since Season 7's "Bad Day At Castle Loch", but that all changes in our final festive episode for Season 20-Love Me Tender!

Donald and Douglas argue over which tracks to clear of snow, but their arguing soon leads to trouble as Douglas is soon left stranded in the snow without his tender.  When I first heard about this episode, I was extremely excited to see it at the thought of the Scottish twins returning to the series and getting an episode to themselves after so many years...but did my excitement pay off for the best?  Yes, yes it did!

When it comes to the story, it can easily be described as Season 6's "Twin Trouble" done right as it was much more action-packed and intense than that episode and it felt like there was a lot more on the line (no pun intended!) considering the time of year that the story takes place...not to mention that I love the re-introduction of Donald and Douglas to the younger fans who are unfamiliar with them as well as the references to both the episodes "Twin Trouble" and "The Deputation".

As for the animation, the team at Arc truly knows how to capture each time of the year-especially winter and it really comes to play during the dramatic sequences of Douglas' tender coupling snapping as well as Donald searching for his brother especially at the end against the twilight-lit sky.

And when it comes to the characters, the sibling rivalry and bond between Donald and Douglas is spot-on as...while Donald is headstrong and Douglas is more irritable to the point where they fight constantly, they will always be there for each other-bravo to Rob Rackstraw and Joe Mills for providing a sensational performance as our favorite Scots!

Overall, "Love Me Tender" is not an excellent way to welcome Donald and Douglas back into the series, but it's an episode that I truly love on a personal level and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10...until next time, Merry Christmas!

MLEEP Reviews: Over The Hill

Season 20, Episode 9: Over The Hill
Written By Helen Farrall

Ah, Glynn The feels so great to see you back in working order after so many years, but I wonder how you're getting on with your new life up at Ulfstead Castle.  Let's find out with the fourth of our five festive episodes for Season 20-Over The Hill!

Stephen has become jealous of the Earl obsessing over Glynn working at Ulfstead Castle, so he challenges him to a race to see who is the fastest and who will end up becoming an exhibit in the Earl's railway museum.  When this episode was first announced, no one knew what it was going to be about...but that made us all the more excited to see it because it kept us guessing as to what it was going to be about and the end result was simply brilliant.

When it comes to the story, it was an awesome dive into the personalities and psyches of both Stephen and Glynn as writer Helen Farrall not only referenced their prototypes' histories with events like the Rainhill Trials that Stephen competed in as well as the adventures that both engines have had throughout their time on Sodor like Stephen finding King Godred's crown in 'King Of The Railway'...but I think this was also her way of poking fun at the wacky antics that the elderly can get up to especially with that epic burn to Gordon from the two old-timers and I have to wonder if the Earl building a railway museum has anything to do with the upcoming episodes on the 'Extraordinary Engines' DVD coming out next year.  Also, 'Eye Of The Tiger' in Thomas...brilliant, just brilliant!

As for the animation, it's great that the team at Arc are expanding upon existing locations in the series and doing more with them and it really comes into play during the tour of Ulfstead Castle during the winter season...not to mention that I love the old-time sepia tone film flashback at the beginning of the story showing Glynn's past before Thomas started work on his branch line.

And when it comes to the characters, Glynn and Stephen were both in top form as neither character was the villain as it was a form of jealousy that we all know and can identify with in terms of the competitive set-up which leads into great comedy supplied by the two engines...bravo to Bob Golding and Keith Wickham for an outstanding performance as our two old-time trains!

Overall, "Over The Hill" is a excellent episode about respecting the elderly and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: The Railcar And The Coaches

Season 20, Episode 8: The Railcar And The Coaches
Written By Davey Moore

Ah, Daisy...the classy and sassy diesel railcar that started it all for me in terms of the TV series back when I was two years old and it feels so great to have you back after so many years in the third of our five festive episodes for Season 20-The Railcar And The Coaches!

Daisy is sent to work on Thomas' branch line while he's on quarry duty, but when she is extremely rude to Annie and Clarabel...the two coaches have a plan of their own to get back at her.  When I first heard about this episode, I was excited that Daisy was finally getting an episode to herself after so many years and the fact that she would be sharing the spotlight with Annie and Clarabel made me even more excitement...but did my excitement pay off for the best?  Yes, yes it did.

When it comes to the story, not only did it give a great re-introduction to Daisy for the younger fans who are unfamiliar with her as well as provide continuity from her debut episode with how she treats Annie and Clarabel...but the way that the three branch line beauties were written was great as well as the moral of how two wrongs don't make a right (insert Fairly Oddparents reference here)-not to mention that the ending punishment Annie and Clarabel receive was friggin' hilarious!

As for the animation, it's great that the team at Arc are expanding upon existing locations in the series and doing more with them and it really comes into play during the opening sequence where we get to see Arlesburgh Harbor again after the events of 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure' as well as finally getting our first look at Harwick Station-not to mention that Daisy is beautifully rendered to match her model series and real life counterpart.

And when it comes to the characters, they play off each other brilliantly as it's so great to see that Daisy hasn't changed a bit since the last time we saw her so many years ago-she's classy, sassy and extremely boastful...not to mention quite funny when Annie and Clarabel put ideas into her head.  Speaking of Annie and Clarabel, it's great to see these two get another episode to themselves after Season 18's "Not So Slow Coaches" I said, the ending was hilarious as they get their "just desserts" for being unkind to Daisy by having Diesel pull them instead.

Overall, "The Railcar And The Coaches" is an excellent way to welcome Daisy back into the series and gets a rating of a 10 out of 10.

MLEEP Reviews: The Christmas Coffeepot

Season 20, Episode 7: The Christmas Coffeepot
Written By Helen Farrall

Ah, 'The Adventure Begins' all-time favorite Thomas special for adapting the stories that started it all and made them better than ever before, but one thing was left unanswered: what did happen to Glynn after Thomas got his branch line and why wasn't he at Ffarquhar in Season 19 or 'Sodor's Legend Of The Lost Treasure'?  Time to find out with the second of our five festive episodes-The Christmas Coffeepot!

Marion is sent to clear an disused siding on Thomas' branch line, but she is amazed when she finds a talking Christmas tree...when it turns out to be something even more special-Glynn The Coffeepot Engine.  I'll be honest, I was extremely excited to see this episode at the thought of Glynn returning to the series especially since I've voiced him in both a community remake and two redubs of the special 'The Adventure Begins' and I must say that his re-introductory episode turned out to be pretty good.

When it comes to the story, it did a great job of answering the question of what happened to Glynn after the events of 'The Adventure Begins' and I like how they keep Glynn hidden for the first half of the episode before he is finally revealed...but it does ask the question of who moved him from siding to siding and didn't tell Sir Topham Hatt about his existence-not to mention that the humor is hit-or-miss because of Marion herself, but I'll get to that in a second when I discuss the characters.

As for the animation...much like last episode, the team at Arc truly knows how to capture the winter season and it really comes into play with the many pine Christmas trees around Thomas' branch line...on top of that, Glynn's design still looks incredible even with rust and tree branches on him-not to mention that the dramatic music when Glynn fears he'll be scrapped really makes you feel sorry for him.

And when it comes to the characters, it's so great that writer Helen Farrall expanded upon the friendship between Thomas and Glynn ever since they first met in 'The Adventure Begins' since Thomas was willing to do anything he could to save the engine who used to run his branch line and Glynn gets his wish to be Really Useful again at work with Stephen and Millie up at Ulfstead Castle.  As for Marion, I like her for her innocence and comedy...but seriously, what was she smoking?!?  I'm pretty sure she now thinks the miniature engines made the Christmas tree talk...

Overall, "The Christmas Coffeepot" was a great way to welcome Glynn back into the series and gets a rating of an 8 out of 10.