Episode Review: My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic – Pinkie Pride
When it comes to television series, one of the things that has gotten out of hand within the last 20 years, has been the idea of guest stars. Most of the time, the networks can’t help but just plaster their big guest star front-and-center on their advertisements. Pretty soon, guest star appearances were trumpeted on almost every other Simpsons commercial, and even Britney Spears’ appearance on Will and Grace was all that NBC seemed willing to tell people about.
But there were times when guest stars were able to “blend” into an episode. Lest we forget, Kelsey Grammar’s first turn as Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons, was met with almost no fanfare whatsoever (even Dustin Hoffman managed to sneak in under the radar for an episode).
Within the last few years, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has been able to be a cultish success without trumpeting big-name guest stars. In fact, the only big-name guest one could say the show has had, has been actor John De Lancie. De Lancie came on board with the Season 2 opener, playing the chaos creature named Discord. John’s name didn’t turn many heads (unless one was a Trekkie), but his voice-acting here brought him a new fan-following, and made Discord a fan-favorite character.
In many circles, I’m sure there have been plenty of people who have speculated on famous faces who could find themselves “ponified” into Friendship is Magic, and with the latest Season 4 episode, the showrunners have done just that…with Weird Al Yankovic.
In Ponyville, Pinkie Pie is eagerly anticipating putting together a Birthday party for Rainbow Dash. However, the event is doubly-important, as it’s also the anniversary of when Rainbow first came to Ponyville, making it: her “Birthiversary!”
However, the festivity-planning is interrupted by a lanky-orange stallion, calling himself Cheese Sandwich. As he introduces himself, Cheese then sings about how his “Cheesy-sense” told him about a party in Ponyville, and that he intends to use his own party-planning expertise to help make Rainbow Dash’s special day even better. However, as everyone seems to rally around Cheese, Pinkie begins to doubt her own party-planning skills.
So far, Season 4 of the series has not had a whole lot of impressive episodes to me. Several have seemed like summer movie fluff (like Power Ponies, and Three’s a Crowd). I’ve always been enamored with the episodes that could get a little deeper into emotional territory, and Pinkie Pride seems to be one of the first episodes so far that is both emotional, AND funny at the same time!
The writers of the episode have actually given Cheese Sandwich, a little “meat” to his character. Much of the time, he has a very serious demeanor, but when it comes to parties, he just breaks out of his shell. That idea of an introvert/extrovert characterization was a nice way to go, as I’m sure some of us out there can relate to such things.
In fact, one of the coolest things the writers have done, is establish an underlying Western theme to the episode. We first see Cheese wearing a hat and poncho, shades of Clint Eastwood in The Man With No Name. As well, we get a rousing chorus sung by the Ponyville townsfolk, and even…a showdown!
One of the biggest elements in this episode, is that Pinkie grows concerned and sad that her talents seem to be less-than-stellar to many of the things that Cheese can put together for a party (seriously, the stallion talks about “fruit punch lakes” and “cake-filled pinatas!”). To me, Pinkie has been one of the most intriguing characters to analyze. Season 1’s episode titled Party of One is one of my favorites, as we get to see that even if she may seem wacky and a little off-kilter, there’s more to her underneath the cheerful facade (and no, not in the way of ridiculous fanfictions, thank you very much!).
There’s quite a lot here, that I could see some people really getting into. Pinkie’s dejected feelings that she might not be able to stack up to someone who seems to have more talent, is kind of how I’ve been feeling for the last year. I’ve been trying to get myself back into being creative, but out of laziness and being my own worst enemy, I’ve been rather slow to pick up a pencil, and do anything.
Daniel Ingram continues to churn out more tunes for the series, and brings us 6 songs in this episode, putting one in mind of Season 3’s finale, Magical Mystery Cure. However, it feels like the songs in this episode actually work a little better in the episode’s favor. What’s so weird is that most of the songs sound like something Weird Al would write…but Ingram has managed to channel Al’s stylings! It’s like the way the writers on Aladdin largely wrote the Genie’s part for Robin Williams, and their writing just sounded perfectly natural for Robin!
Even with Al’s vocals, the stage is also shared by Pinkie Pie’s singing voice, Shannon Chan-Kent. Shannon’s most memorable turn singing for Pinkie was the song Smile from the episode, A Friend in Deed. Here, she sings for Pinkie in a number of emotional ranges, and keeps us feeling invested in Pinkie at almost every turn. Even though Andrea Libman voices Pinkie’s speaking role, I still feel the Shannon owns the character in this episode.
While the episode is highly entertaining, it isn’t bullet-proof. There’s the general mob mentality in cartoons where as soon as Cheese arrives, the townsfolk seem quick to forget just how excited they were about Pinkie Pie a few moments before. As well, there are a few items that seem introduced, but were streamlined or cut out for time. One that looked like a fun foil, was Cheese’s mascot: a rubber chicken named Boneless. However, he only figures into a few scenes. There also seems to be an awkward transition regarding the end of some songs. It feels like the scenes should end there, but then it pushes back into the main storyline in an abrupt fashion.
At times, the episode also feels a little like a “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” fanfiction. For those not-in-the-know, those types of fanfictions usually involve someone creating a character that comes into a storyline, and is quickly embraced and brought into the main character’s fold. There are a few instances of that feeling in this episode, notably how Rarity praises Cheese Sandwich’s “party-planning expertise” almost every other time she has a spoken line.
Even though there are negatives as outlined in the paragraphs above, Pinkie Pride does so many other things right, that it has been the most entertaining episode of Season 4 so far. Seriously, I can’t stop watching this thing!
While it may not do much for most of the cast, its focus on Pinkie Pie, as well as Cheese Sandwich, makes it something that is incredibly entertaining, not to mention the music that just gets so infectious to listen to after awhile. This episode came out a week before my Birthday, and I’m pretty sure it was the reason I sang two Weird Al songs when I went to a Karaoke Bar the other day.
There are some that do talk about Cheese Sandwich possibly returning, but I think he works best as a one-off character. Besides, it fits with the Western theme of the episode: the mysterious stranger who comes into town, sets things right, and then leaves, off to another locale.
Word is that the ratings for this episode performed incredibly well, and that can be both a good and a bad thing. Let’s hope that in terms of what those ratings were, Hasbro doesn’t suddenly decide to bombard Equestria with a plethora of famous voices wanting to be ponies. The series still pulls in impressive numbers just on its popularity alone, and it’s hopeful that there’s still plenty of character development that can be done, without throwing our Mane 6 into drastic circumstances.