I was vaguely aware of this show back when it was airing during the mid to late eighties, and I remember watching some episodes and being charmed by them, even though I was too young to remember those episodes in any detail. So I decided recently to rent an episode of MLP because I thought it would be a delightful trip back to memory lane.
All right, perhaps I'm not being fair. Perhaps this episode, "The Glass Princess" was not really a representative episode of what is supposed to be a popular and thoughtful children show. But then again, if this is what they consider an episode worthy of distributing in commercial VHS, then we might have ourselves a problem.
I can honestly say the opening and closing sequences were the best parts of this 35 minute treac-a-thon. The music was upbeat and wistful at the same time, which would beckon kids from whatever activity they may be engaged in at the time and embrace them for the fanciful adventures that will be sure to follow. The closing sequence stripped down to the many flutes provided the proper denouement of a mythical adventure that recalls the dance of the satyrs.
But instead of a carefully considered bit of storytelling, we are subjected to a continuous traffic accident of plot holes barely small enough to cover with an infield tarp, disconnected plotlines that were haphazardly stitched together, carbon-copy characters I could care less about and (worse of all) VERY superfluous songs which were lazily written.
For specific examples, the ponies were preparing for a Pony Olympics at the beginning of the episodes, yet less than five minutes in you wouldn't even know there was a huge event being planned. The main-character pony, Shady, gets into a song about how useless she is, only to be sung back into comfort by one of her human friends - an exercise that could have been easily resolved by a few well crafted dialogue. In this episode, Gusty the magic unicorn and Heartthrob the pegasus were kidnapped along with Lickety-Split the "earth pony" and kept in bondage - even though magic unicorns can *magically* teleport wherever they want and pegasuses can fly away under their own volition as welland were give several opportunities to do so as well. And the show just generally suffers from the fact that it has too much characters and too little time to distinguish between them and make them compelling and interesting enough.
What is really inexcusable, however, is the slipshod animation it serves us. This has got to be the one of the cheapest, most weakest production of a cartoon series this side of juvenile anime. Missing cells translate into jerky and stuttered movement of every character. Continuity of form is thrown out the window. And lip sync? They might as well be dubbing over an Estonian film for the type of attention they've paid to it. Oh well, at least the cartoon has a lot of color that will stimulate the mind of the youngest audience.
All this seems to indicate that the producers of this cartoon only intended to make this a vehicle to which to sell their many toys and pony dolls, which were virtually ubiquitous during that era. Any new and useless character introduced will usher in a new doll and the cycle will repeat itself at the bidding of the toy companies. This is not the 12-year-old boy repelled by anything that would appeal to girls, I showed this tape to two of my younger sisters, and they were appropriately repulsed by it. It's a shame I have to do this, but this saccharine piece of popular watered-down pablum deserves only one star. I was expecting a LOT more.
* out of ****
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