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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 1, Episodes 17 and 18

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM

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Episode 18: "The Show Stoppers"


Deep within Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack is bequeathing her old clubhouse to Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. It's a bit of fixer-upper, and not at all unsafe.


Apple Bloom fixes it up, her carpentry skills having improved considerably since the previous episode, though still not enough to get her cutie mark. (And who wants a picture of a hammer on her flank, anyway?)


At the same time, Sweetie Belle has been working on a theme song, because what's a secret society without a theme song?


She teaches it to Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, whose voices are perhaps not as good as Sweetie Belle's was established to be in the previous episode. Still, they've got a clubhouse, a theme song, and a map of Ponyville.


They proceed to montage all over town to find their special abilities and thus their cutie marks, including but not limited to pig-farming, hairstyling, psychic research, mountain climbing, and scuba-diving. Nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope. Nor does rummaging through books at Twilight Sparkle's library do anything.


Twilight and the visiting Cheerilee suggest they maybe should concentrate on things they already know they like to do -- and that the upcoming school talent show is the perfect place to do those things.


The Cutie Mark Crusaders love the idea. (And the written pony language appears to be based on Wingdings -- good to know!) They brainstorm about all the things they might try, like juggling and acting and magic tricks and square dancing and tightrope walking and tiger taming and and and --

Getting the series' second title shout-out and the episode's first, Twilight points out that her little ponies are missing the whole "doing things you already enjoy" point. Oh, right, that.


They go on a supply rampage throughout town, including fabric kifed from Rarity, lumber and paint, a fan, and most intriguingly, back to Twilight Sparkle for a copy of Ghost, Goblins, and Ghoulish Figures.


Of course, they're keeping their plan to themselves: a big wicked rock 'n' roll number. But who'll do what?

Sweetie Belle is the best singer, but she doesn't want to sing in front of a crowd, so she elects to design the costumes and scenery.


Scootaloo has the best moves, so she should do the choreography, but she'd rather sing. She also writes the rest of the song, which is not her forte.


And Apple Bloom can't dance, though she has mad kung fu skills -- which look quite a lot like her sister's applebucking -- so she agrees to do the choreography, which isn't really her strong suit, either.


Their progress in creating their show can be summed up in two words: dumb fabric.


As the show approaches, Applejack peeks in on their rehearsal and is vaguely mortified by what she sees.


Oh, older siblings. They never understand the genius in their families. (Speaking here as the youngest of four children.)

It's showtime! The Cutie Mark Crusaders are the third act, after a magic team (hi, Snips and Snails!) and a roller-skating poetry recital. Though their appearance is largely glam, and their stage show has a nice Phantom of the Paradise vibe, the song is quite possibly the best 1980s homage I've ever heard.

In fact, the synth, bass, and rhythm guitar all bring to mind Neil Young's 1982 song "Berlin" -- which is extremely high praise coming from me.

The Crusaders are crestfallen when the audience laughs at them. Hey, they were being serious! But hey have a Tommy Wiseau-level change of heart when they win Best Comedy Act. (Still no cutie marks, though.)

For a Shoehorn that we assume will get written at some point after the credits, they tell Twilight Sparkle that they've learned that they shouldn't try to force themselves to do things that aren't right for them, and they should instead embrace what they know now to be their real talent: comedy!


I stand by my assertion that the show is as serialized as it needs to be, but I must sadly report that as of 22 episodes into the second season, including a few more Cutie Mark Crusaders storylines, they have yet to put on another performance. Oh, well. I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Six seasons and a movie!

Next Time: Rarity twofer! It's the year of the scavenger and the season of the bitch when she takes on the Diamond Dogs in "A Dog and Pony Show," and a reluctant Fluttershy gets the fame Rarity always wanted in "Green Isn't Your Color."

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Sherilyn Connelly


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