MLP Season Three Overview

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Every time you state an opinion about something, you are making a highly informed decision. You are choosing to believe a certain thing, which will become your truth. Truth is not an inherent property after all—it’s something that you create through belief. So when you say that an episode is “good,” it’s not that the episode is inherently good, it’s that you’ve chosen to believe that it’s good. And if an episode is incongruent with what you have decided is good, then you may wish to decide that that episode is bad.

Here are some decisions that I’ve made.

I’ve decided that I like The Crystal Empire. I could have decided that I hated it, because the plot is a jumbled mess, and no one gives a shit about Sombra or the crystal ponies, and the representations of the mane characters are extremely basic. If I wanted to, I could decide that those things matter to me, and I could focus on those things. However, I’ve decided that those things aren’t that big a deal. What is a big deal to me, though, is Rainbow Dash eating corn. And Rainbow Dash being a bully. And Applejack’s head tilt. Because of those things, I’ve decided to have a sort of ambivalent positive feeling towards the episode.

I’ve decided that I don’t like Games Ponies Play. I could have decided that I liked it, because Pinkie Pie has a cinnamon bun, and Rainbow Dash crashes into the ceiling. These things matter to me, but I also can’t get over how utterly inept the episode’s storytelling is, and how much I didn’t care about the incidental characters. Even though I’d ideally like to love every episode of MLP, I’m comfortable enough with not doing so that when a mediocre episode like this comes along, I can feel a very satisfying dislike for it. The satisfaction comes from defining the dislike so well that I fully understand what disliking it means about me.

But before I continue to talk about season three’s episodes, let’s talk about the structure.

Unless you’re a big fan of this season more so than you are of the other seasons, and I have met some people like that, Season Three was always going to be the worst season by virtue of being only thirteen episodes. I’ve chosen to believe that Season Three has the same density of quality episodes that seasons one and two had, but having half as many episodes necessarily means that it isn’t as good.

That said, I think this is the only manner in which the season is not as good. In my opinion, the first thirteen episodes of season one contained one amazing episode, three or four great episodes, six or seven good episodes, three or four mediocre episodes, and one bad episode. Comparitively, I think that season three contained one amazing episode, four great episodes, four or five good episodes, four or five mediocre episodes, and one or two maybe bad episodes.

Obviously these counts will vary heavily from person to person, but I want to ask that you actually go and MAKE those counts. Before you claim that season three was generally weaker, go back and pick a thirteen-episode stretch from season one, and compare notes. I DO think that the first thirteen episodes of Season Two were much better than either of these thirteen-episode stretches, but my point is simply that I don’t think season three is sub-par for the course.

Now, a lot of you are probably still wondering, why WAS season three only thirteen episodes? And why has Hasbro been pulling the episodes from youtube, and taking down a ton of fanworks with them? What’s going ON?!

From what information I’ve been able to gather, the most likely answer is that Hasbro is preparing MLP for syndication. What this means is that Hasbro will start selling broadcast rights to other networks, so that they can air the show. 65 episodes is the industry standard package size for selling rights to kids’ shows, and after season three, MLP now has that many episodes, making it a clean three-season package.

If this is why season three was thirteen episodes, it would also explain the takedowns. You may have heard the rumor that Hasbro was trying to sell the show’s broadcast rights to China, but that the Chinese networks had said that they wouldn’t pay for what could be had for free online. I’ve still never seen the source of this rumor, and it sounds pretty batty to begin with, but if you replace “China” with something like “Cartoon Network,” it’s a very reasonable idea. Why would a network want to pay to air reruns of a show which are easily available on youtube? Considering that the majority of the blocked videos are blocked solely in the United States, this makes way more sense than the whole China explanation.

The brony stuff on youtube is just caught in the crossfire. The mechanism youtube uses to remove copyright material is automated, and removes whatever it detects as infringement. Fair Use and the definition of derivative works is too unclear and youtube doesn’t have the time or interest in arguing with it. It doesn’t particularly matter to them that the content is gone if it means the problem is off of their hands. More than being a problem with Hasbro or youtube, this is a problem with the shitty, inefficient modern copyright laws.

Moving along, let’s talk about the artistic differences in this season:

Some viewers have felt that season three was a massive departure from previous seasons. That its fundamental goals, and the driving force behind it, are different. Many have cited the fact that series creator Lauren Faust is no longer around as the reason things feel different. I have my doubts about how different the season really is, and which things would or wouldn’t have happened if Faust were still around.

Trying to read creative intent into an animated series is incredibly difficult. I would know, because I’ve been doing it obsessively for six years. As an anime blogger, my specialty was keeping track of who contributed what to different works, and trying to figure out what stuff came from what minds in the production. It’s very possible that whatever Lauren contributed, that is the one thing which is truly missing, and it’s possible that this one thing resonated with you. While I have an appreciation for all of the things contributed to this series, it’s possible that if your greatest appreciation was for that one thing, and that thing no longer exists, then you might hate this season altogether.

But for me, again, I’m in love with every part of this series. I love all of the things that have remained all consistent across the seasons, which is the bulk of the show, and I also love the new things that have become a part of the show. I perceive this subtle difference in the show’s nature, and I enjoy both natures equally.

Okay! Now that I’ve basically set the stage for the season, let’s go ahead and talk about it, shall we?

For starters, the episodes that I’ve decided I don’t really care about.

Games Ponies Play is, for me, the most forgettable episode of the season. The plot is altogether uninteresting and unengaging, and there’s nothing in there that makes me feel like I need to go back and see it again.

Spike At Your Service and Just For Sidekicks are also episodes that I’ll probably forget about before long. In Spike at Your Service’s case, it’s an episode with a weak structure and plot that isn’t quite saved by the good ideas that it does have. It’s a “gems in shit” kind of episode, whereas Just For Sidekicks is more of a flatline episode. That is to say that it’s entertaining, but it’s also so difficult to really give a shit about that I can’t say I’ll go back to it much. Neither is a bad episode, they just don’t make me care, which is true of every Spike episode.

Apple Family Reunion is just depressing for me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the episode, but it failed to engage me on any level whatsoever, and this is distressing for me because it’s an Applejack episode, and I want to be engaged with her.

And last of this section is Keep Calm and Flutter On, which is probably the most confusing episode of the season. It’s a great concept with botched execution, simultaneously having ideas so good that I wrote a positive review of it, but also with things that were so detestable that I didn’t disagree with Strebiskunk’s downright scathing review of it either. When it comes right down to it, I personally am not invested enough in Discord as a character to care much about what this episode’s failures, and while I’m interested in the way it portrays Fluttershy, so much of it was what I read into the episode that I don’t feel the need to actually watch it.

Now, some episodes that I’ve decided I liked.

The Crystal Empire appeals to me for some reason. Maybe it’s the feeling of adventure, seeing places like the inside of Sombra’s castle. Maybe it’s just that the individual character moments are so fun and ultimately valuable in a capacity outside of how they relate to the actual story. With or without Sombra and the crystal ponies, there’s something in this episode that engaged me and makes me enjoy rewatching it, as I’ve done a number of times. Plus the failure success song might have the stuck in my head record for the season.

One Bad Apple meanwhile is an episode that I didn’t like nearly as much at first as I do now. The episode is a barrel of fun and has a meaningfully engaging storyline, alongside brilliant visuals, and an addicting song. Did I really say I didn’t care for that song in my initial video? The other day, when I heard it come on while watching in a livestream, I just about lost my shit. One Bad Apple is never going to be one of my favorite episodes, but it’s rock solid and easy to rewatch again and again.

So now let’s move into my favorite episodes of season three!

Too Many Pinkie Pies is an absolute joy. The concept is awesome, the execution is flawless, it’s funny the whole time, and marks a moment where the show’s animation reached a new level of quality. It’s an episode packed with fun stuff, and was the inspiration I needed to get back into MLP analysis, leading eventually to this video series.

Ditto everything I just said for Magic Duel, but add in that it has TRIXIE. You know, I’d almost forgotten just how valuable that is until I watched the episode on TV the other day and I went HOLY SHIT TRIXIE IS AMAZING. This can’t be understated.

Sleepless In Ponyville is probably the fan favorite of the season, and stands out as feeling particularly out there for an MLP episode. It’s the debut of writer Corey Powell, and possibly the first time an episode of MLP has evoked real feelings of terror. For me, it’s a bit of a thrill ride, watching what Scootaloo goes through all by herself, and then being so unsure about how this whole thing will work out. For the feelings of fascination that I had with the idea that Rainbow may or may not be a good older sister, this ep gave me a lot to think about.

Wonderbolts Academy is possibly one of the most serious episodes in terms of how it presents its leading character, and provides Rainbow Dash with a crowning moment of awesome more effective than any other such moment in the show. But besides that, the animation is just utterly unbelievable. Between this episode and the finale was some of the most appealing animation that I’ve ever witnessed in any cartoon, and I’ve seen thousands of them.

And of course, that leaves us with Magical Mystery Cure, which is kind of like the last episode of Madoka or Gurren Lagann or something in terms of presentation, but has the distinction of NOT being the actual finale. This was for me, the most satisfying piece of animation that I’ve seen in years, and currently my favorite episode of My Little Pony. Some time in the near future, I’m going to livestream a shot-by-shot analysis of this episode, so look forward to that announcement.

For those who want an actual ranked list of the season’s episodes from me, pause the video now.

1. Magical Mystery Cure
2. Wonderbolts Academy
3. Too Many Pinkie Pies
4. Magic Duel
5. Sleepless In Ponyville
6. One Bad Apple
7. The Crystal Empire
8. Keep Calm and Flutter On
9. Spike At Your Service
10. Just For Sidekicks
11. Apple Family Reunion
12. Games Ponies Play

Overarching statements about the season: it had a lot of big, satisfying moments. Twilight’s ascension, Rainbow’s moment, Trixie’s redemption, and for many, Scootaloo’s finding a sister. The animation quality continued on season two’s line of improvement, and many of the episodes easily belong on a list of the show’s best (which I’ll probably make sometime).

Ultimately, looking back on this season leaves a good taste in my mouth. I enjoyed more than I didn’t, and I’ve always been pretty good at just forgetting about episodes I don’t like (except Boast Busters, which I am damned to never, ever forget). I can safely say that I’m extremely pumped for season four, especially since it’s going to return to the twenty-six episode structure.

In the interim between seasons, you can expect me to continue my steady stream of video releases. In fact, right now I’m announcing my new bonus channel, Digibrony After Dark. On this channel, I’ll be talking about some of the more strange and expressive aspects of the fandom, as well as making my own fan works and posting them there. It’s just a way of keeping that stuff out of the main channel so those of you who are only interested in analysis of the actual show don’t have to see it. If you’re interested in stuff like fanmade songs, possible fanfic readings, and analysis of things like the pony hypnosis project, you should definitely subscribe to the new channel. So far I’ve uploaded one video, which is my retelling of Luna Eclipsed in rap form.

I hope that all of you will continue to enjoy and support my videos as we move into the off-season, and rest assured that I’ll still be here to cover season four when the time comes.


3 thoughts on “MLP Season Three Overview


    You bring up a good point about opinions: the person attached to them is, however consciously or subconsciously, “writing” and even retconning his or her views on a particular subject. Where it gets complicated is in the matter of figuring out what belief even is. If we were to try to clarify what you’re saying, we’d have to branch out to consider a few terms—probably belief, affirmation, knowledge, and truth.

    Truth would be facts considered in alignment with reality—or if you want to get all ideal-based with it, the source “ness” beyond (maybe independent of) what we sense. Knowledge is an acquaintance/awareness of “related” “facts” that may also imply a performance corresponding with or “doing something with” the data. Affirmation seems closer to your immediate context. And belief? Well, it’s sort of a psychological state. In comments I’ve repeated a few times my conundrum: is belief binary (that is to say, do you simply believe/not believe)? These days I think I may be tending away from that—I’m growing convinced that nonbelief—while existing—does not preclude the reality of the situation, which is that belief is possibly in itself a growing and sharpening state, one that can be *declared*, but imprecisely *quantified*—unless you have no knowledge of the provisional data (the value zero, for instance; like the question of believing or disbelieving a proposition that has never before been outright stated in a particular way). Most times, instead of just saying “I doubt” or “I slightly believe,” people just say “I believe” or “I don’t believe.” In other words, most claims of unbelief might, just might be low values of belief, rather than negative ones.

    All this to say that, well, belief is only sort of a choice. Probably.

    ANYWAY! Sidetracked. Let me say that I agree with your basic intro premise, and with nearly all of your ranking. Not because I’ve necessarily thought it out for myself bit by bit, but because it seems “right enough” to me.

    About “feel” and Season 3: I think there is sort of a difference, but quantitatively rather than qualitatively (though, arguably, what’s the difference, really?). Take slapstick, which has ALWAYS been, to varying degrees, part of MLP. But the individual jokes got cleverer and less constrained in Season 3. Googly eyes come to mind—ever-present, but used overtly to get louder, more sustained laughs from us as time went on. Ultimately we have to ask: what defines “tone?” The elicited responses, or the “authorial intent?” You might break it down to semiotics and conclude something like the following: (1) if I see gimmicks or patterns similar to ones I’ve seen in known slapstick shows AND (2) the gimmicks seem extended, rather than “negligible” AND (3) the number of these patterns increases over the course of the episodes so that there are 3a) more scenes of this kind and/or 3b) more episodes featuring them THEN the amount of slapstick has increased. But again, who’s making the judgment calls? I’m shrugging, here.

    When you say “not as good,” I know you mean “there is less to be entertained by.” Logically, this statement is true; fair point. You do not mean, I immediately assume, “the proportion between entertainment and non-entertainment (by which we mean…I dunno, “suckiness?”) is lower.” Your next paragraph goes on to make this clear.

    I think authorial intent is a useful endeavor or exploration for someone like you, who’s already a definite otaku and is skilled with this sort of thing, but it’s not a concept to talk out of your ass about (referring to people who just leap into claiming things they don’t understand or haven’t tested). I think it’s a matter of, like you said, knowing precisely what you value and meticulously working your way through the episodes to find instances. Otherwise you—yeah, end up talking out of your ass. In terms of what I value, I agree that Season 2 satisfied my desire for interesting character plot the most. I would add that Season 3 caused me to question the stuff I took for granted at the end of the Season 2 eps, and that Season 1 had a few brilliant, subversive plots (e.g. “The Gala Trilogy”) and the rest were just pretty good/tolerable/bad. Like you, I found something to enjoy in all of them. Even “Mystery Cure”—though I’m still unsure as to what that something would be. You can see Faust’s direct vision in the Season 1 eps that she actually wrote (of which “Ticket Master” is one), but beyond that, we’re really just guessing.

    A last discussion to tie everything together:

    I don’t know what other people mean when they talk about “goodness,” and I rarely use the term, mostly because I’m very bad at describing how I feel about things in traditional ways (e.g. “I wanna punch a wall/needles in my stomach vs. “I feel angry”; “I am feeling fine” is, for me, actually “I feel nothing worth reacting to or discussing”). Here’s how I feel about art/entertainment/episodic TV, starting with some paradigmatic stuff and super-quick, punchy bites of philosophy.

    There are at least a couple of views that I think are worth closer consideration in the discussion of art vs. life or art and society; we can narrow it to a particular “dialogue” (more people were involved) that happened in the States in, I think, the late 70’s. “Morality in art,” so to speak. You had people like John Gardner who said “art informs life” and shit like that. Like society is built, made, protected, damned because of its art—significantly, not totally. That art is how we decide, inculcate, build values (I think his definition of art is supposed to be broad). On the other side you had people like William Gass who thought that “art is apposite (useful, convenient) to life.” Sort of the “is/ought” dilemma. Just because something is a certain way doesn’t mean it should be, and vice versa. You also had guys saying the two were entirely separate and didn’t matter much to each other. I’m pretty sure I agree with Gass in the “this is the necessary situation” sense, and with Gardner in a deeper, yet confined sense.

    I totally know what it’s like for certain images or impressions to burn themselves into your memory and essentially BECOME the work. I know this, most recently/personally, because I just came back home from a 2.5-hour-walk from my gran’s—and I kid you not, the whole way here I was blasting Taku Iwasaki’s Track 9 from Vol 2. of the Gurren Lagann OST. It’s not too impressive of a song (though I’ve analyzed/done an exegesis of it), but if I’ve EVER had feels, that song gives them to me. Sort…of. More like, I have images of when it was played in the series and scenes from my own writing that I try to match up to it. I’ve been in love with it for a year and a half now, playing it obsessively whenever I get the chance. Before that it was “Bodhisattva Cathedral.” Before that, “Accettami.” At one point, I’m pretty sure some Sagisu Shirou stuff was in there (but his stuff is so repetitive and derivative, anyway, that it gets hard to keep liking).

    None of this changes that tastes aren’t a given, nor are they universal. Ep 1 of Soul Eater (just started on Toonami), for me, consists of interesting character designs, 2 or so ten-second fighting snippets paired with OST songs (“Krieg” and “tactics”), “Women’s intuition,” and trying to look up Blair’s skirt. Some of it’s more relevant: for example, it’s pretty clear to me that Iwasaki was building the OST on postmodern borrowings from composers like Shostakovich and Stravinsky. I love it to death for that; I’d call it his magnum opus, if I cared enough to declare it. Even the setting art (e.g. sun and moon) is clearly (post)modern. Some of this thought holds some social currency, and most, I would guess, doesn’t hold a great deal.

    At risk of being a biased asshole: what I think everyone respects (who is mature and sane enough to) is honest and fair evaluations of belief, sincere and thorough depictions of angst, conflict, choice, and consequence. If you try to understand a great deal of other sides, and throw up your hands when you don’t have an answer, when you say, “I wrote this desperately truthfully, examined all of the options available to the characters, and this tragedy is what the muses gave me,”…I feel there’s something haunting to that. Which is why King Lear blows me to smithereens every time I read it. I think that’s the “secret sauce” of fiction, what keeps fiction socially and paradigmatically pertinent, and level-headed. I don’t deny that Madoka and Katanagatari entertained (Katanagatari half-assed its entertainment), or that they were clever. I respect the writers for that, and would never cuss out a review rightly elevating that cleverness. It’s just that (fucking especially Katanagatari), the beliefs of the author seemed like bullshit even they didn’t quite believe, almost like saying “the earth feels flat, so physically the earth is flat.” Paradigmatically, there are constructs according to which it is useful to conceive of the Earth as being flat (topography), ones according to which it is useful to conceive of the Earth as being a perfect sphere (Newtonian physics, basic astronomy), and ones according to which it is useful (and precise) to conceive of the world as not perfectly spherical (environmental science)—because it’s not; the Earth is chubby around the middle, and your math will miss important details on occasion if you don’t account for that. Without context, authorial or narrative claims are always liable to sound fucking stupid, annoying, or frustrating.

    Do I enjoy FIM? Yes, hell yes. For all kinds of shared and idiosyncratic reasons. But precisely because I’m fine with being alone with and obsessing over my tastes, I try to find something a little “truer,” rather than trying to define the fandom (maybe giving up on defining it’s a bad thing, though). And you—honest person that you are—find yourself doing this, too: analysis. That’s why you call out badness and bullshit when you see it. And you try to figure out what your limits are, what you’re okay and not okay with.

    This is why I saw no use to arguing over how great “Mystery Cure” is—it would be wrong to, since: (1) I dislike musicals, and (2) there aren’t other works like this in the series. If there were other works to compare this to, if I felt sufficiently in control over my bias, and if I felt comfortable close reading musicals, then I might be able to properly assess it, or to assess it better. But as it is, I can’t help thinking of musicals as lending themselves to being an “inferior” form of fiction: by no fucking means INHERENTLY—but usually, because musical theater in its very form is meant to entertain and indulge in ways that we excuse by social tradition or even, perhaps, “necessity.” A “good” musical entertains, stirs up feels, has a little bit of (admittedly simplistic) plot, lets you think a bit—even if the experience would feel very “spotty” or “choppy” in another medium. It’s a spectacle. If I were to be strict, I would say that “Mystery Cure” is not great fiction—and if we’re being honest about it, most musicals age VERY badly—but it is a beautiful, inexpressible spectacle for those who appreciate it. And a story does not need to be great fiction in order to excite and to stir up feelings—to, in effect, feel like or even be a great story. It’s okay to just slip in our own feelings and thoughts here and there, because of the semiotic suggestions and the associations in our minds. It’s almost what the medium expects of us.

    As for my ep preferences this season: I loved Sleepless in Ponyville because that seemed like sublime fiction to me. It’s scary, dangerous as fuck; Luna’s bursting into Scootaloos dream is allusive of various myths (and morally tentative). I loved Too Many Pinkie Pies and Magic Duel (a little bit less, fiction-wise) for the same reason (and OHMIGOD TRIXIE’s “leave Ponyville for-ay-evar” at 4:15 had me squeeing like crazy).

    I made a little bit of a face at the conflict of “One Bad Apple,” but pretty much liked it (Apple Bloom’s breaking the fourth wall “Seriously?” and Pinkie’s stoner sense of humor). Wonderbolts was sort of the same thing for me (and I liked the flying scenes). The rest I only tolerated and tried hard to enjoy, for not-fiction-related reasons. Games Ponies Play, however, destroyed me, and Apple Family Reunion just felt all wrong (mostly because singing and working together WAS the answer).

    Season 4? You know I’m there. But I’m scared. Twilight with wings? Why? And what happens next? Will she rule an actual place? Are there other princesses? And what about the rulers/ambassadors of other lands who are NOT alicorns (Saddle Arabia; “Magic Duel” 20:45), but look FAR more like Celestia than they do the adults of Ponyville? All of this suggests divine/enlightened monarchy, I’m telling you.

    • Awesome comment all the way through, trying to figure out which points I should address.

      >>It’s a spectacle

      This! When I was talking about this episode, I got reminded about a conversation with ghostlightning about Mass Effect 3 (a long one that had us at each other’s throats for a little while). At one point I was complaining about how in ME3, control is often taken from the player, or limited for the player, to focus on some kind of dramatic spectacle either happening graphically or mechanically (like, sliding down a hill, or jumping out of an explosion or something). These things were meant to add spectacle, but they pissed me off because I didn’t want to have my control taken away or limited. It made me feel broken off from the experience.

      Ghostlightning said, “I like the spectacle. It makes the game spectacular.”

      And that’s basically how I feel about Magical Mystery Cure. Other people are bothered that there is an absence of the writing mechanics that they hold important in fiction. I am less attached to those writing techniques, and more attached to the spectacle of animation and visceral drama. I’m not sure I gave enough credit to Byter for calling me on this, though his choice of words was to say that I wasn’t using my brain, because he seems to think that in thinking, I would have to come to certain conclusions.

      Anyways, re: creative intent, yeah. It’s hard. I think it’s easy enough to recognize that the first three episodes feel a certain way that other eps don’t feel like, but the funny thing is, that’s kinda in a bad way. Episode two is really mediocre, and episode three is interesting, but boring. A lot of this has to do with the weaker animation of being early in the production cycle. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also an aspect of Lauren’s writing just not being that interesting. There must be a reason I’m not that interested in the other stuff she’s done.

      But you know, I would never talk about an anime director based on just one work, and I’m not comfortable reading creative intent into this show where it isn’t obvious. MA Larson episodes very clearly and consistently have more continuity than other writers. Polsky episodes consistently feel like he was stoned when he wrote them. These things are obvious to anyone. But the actual influence of Faust? Especially when her titles throughout the production were so vague? Not something I’m ready to talk about with any confidence.

      • I think it was E.M. Forster in his “Aspects of the Novel” who said that Aristotle’s ideas of drama weren’t too far off with novels (and thus pretty badass), but off enough that they needed to be modified slightly. See, he didn’t really know about novels or straight-up fiction (though epic stuff like Homer’s works would technically have qualified, I guess), so he said that the sharpness or movingness of a drama is in the action (which implies subtler things based on character movement, facial expressions, choreography, etc.). But since he *was* referring to plays, Greek theater, he would understandably be out of his element by a couple of millennia.

        A novel, on the other hand (or maybe “modern fiction”) thrives on the elaborated interaction between a character’s inner world and the outer world—some kind of negotiation process between the two. We have conventions or analogues to that in formal theater: Shakespearean asides and soliloquies, among other things. Not so much in musicals, though they’re still arguably there: the aforementioned, plus solo songs. The question becomes one of whether the musical meets the standards of the traditional play. It *could*—we must logically allow for that hypothetical—but they rarely (if ever) seem to. I’m not sure why this is, except to say that the music (a huge part of the medium) serves the purpose of dragging the audience into situational and emotional empathy with the characters (which is precarious, since it doesn’t work that well for many). And the testing of values is, at best, merely suggested—and usually puppeteered by the writer. It isn’t like, “Okay, this is the only honest way the tragedy could go, and I know this because I’ve carefully tested the options available to the characters.”

        This to say that the “spectacle of…visceral drama” may have more legitimacy than one might initially think. So criticizing the spectacle can easily put a hater on pretty slippery ground.

        I was in church musicals/pageants as a kid, and in a few musicals in high school. I remember shaking and freaking out following a performance of “Grease” because I had suddenly become convinced the story was teaching conformity. I almost couldn’t go on with future performances. And when I think of it, beyond social currency, when was the last time you heard people going on and on talking about musicals like Cats and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? Even this Les Miserables one that came out; a lot are saying, “Fuck it, just read the novel.” Then again, I guess there’s West Side Story and Wicked, and maybe musical fans are simply concentrated in particular areas and demographics.

        Why all this, though? Having gotten around to watching the Crepuscular Bronies podcasts (you mentioned me, lol), about Byter’s argumentation: if you aren’t stirred up emotionally, you have to come at the issue from the POV of “how this might stir up people to emotion” and “why the writer/composer might have chosen to do things this way.” His “sameyness” might merely be thematic unity. You can’t really assess it using “standard” modes. Or you can, but you’d be disingenuous about both the point and target of the mode. It’d be as stupid as criticizing light novels for not being drawn out enough: uh, noooo…they’re *supposed* to be minimalist. It’s when the aesthetics and implications of minimalism are not fully or sufficiently explored in a work that I personally become disinterested (which is usually, though not always). It’s still a question of tastes; the entertainment value of the medium doesn’t work *for me,* but I need to recognize that entertainment value is its niche and initiate the evaluation or articulation from there. I think this is what you were going for when you mentioned Tarantino.

        What I think I’m trying to say is that his standards of what make good musical music are too wobbly. He’d be on more solid ground if he was talking about opera, maybe, where the music is very artsy in the first place (art music plus traditional uses of voice). But the purpose of showtunes is primarily or usually to stir up empathy or interest, one way or another—so if it happens, it happens. That’s what’s always a little fucked about visual media, particularly movies. Visual media never really loses the “spectacle” element; it’s a bunch of media tied together. When the media come together to stir you up to passion (I like that you brought up the emotion of passion in that last podcast), we say a good job is done. Only afterward do we pick apart the music, because of the desire to relate or rationalize the associations in our minds.

        You know I’m with you on the the first two eps and “Ticket Master.” In terms of what the show is capable of, I thought it’d be advantageous to close read an ep that Faust wrote (to placate critics), with a concept already done in other series (for useful comparison), that still is intriguing. Beyond that, I see its mehness, or even lameness, however clever and level-headed the writing is. I can guess that, since Amy Keating Rogers (co-writer of the ep) claimed to know nothing about the borrowing and throwbacks from “Winner,” logically Faust did ( Maybe we can work out her “power” over the show from there: since the trajectory trended away from those three eps, her power either weakened or morphed (i.e. maybe she went with the flow).

        What I think people do is elevate Faust to apotheosis, thinking that her drive was some monolithic entity. It’s like how people say Napoleon did this and that, whereas way the fuck more factors were involved in his campaigns. I can’t tell exactly *what* she did before FIM. There’re some stories she wrote, but maybe the works were not all that groundbreaking.

        What we need is a real documentary. Not of the fandom, but of the project itself. We won’t get it, because there probably were no film interviews. The best we’d get would be a biography. And then a heck of a lot of people would dispute it.

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