Hello everyone, and welcome to Day 3 of Ponies Through The Ages, where we will be looking at our first batch of standalone episodes. To those of you who are reading these little “before” snippets about my health, I can’t really comment on that this time around. This entry is actually being written only an hour or two after the previous entry, because I know that I’m going to be incredibly busy on November 3rd, so I’m just going to be writing this on November 2nd. Also, it just occurred to me that I never mentioned whether I’d be doing this in airdate order or production order, so I should probably clarify: I am going in airdate order. This is the way that we got to experience them, so I will analyze them based on how they fit in that way.
Now, episode three of a series ought to be an average episode. Episodes one and two are there to get your viewer interested. At this point, your viewer is already interested, so you need to just show them what to expect from the show on a regular basis. FiM does something a bit different though. “The Ticket Master” was actually the original pilot that Lauren Faust showed to Hasbro to get them to give her the job for the show. (Well, okay, it was an incredibly basic version of Ticket Master, with only two tickets instead of five, and Twilight only had to share them with Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. And it was only 11 minutes. And all of the characters were voiced by Tara Strong. Rainbow Dash’s “bribe” was also different, as pegasus ponies couldn’t control weather in the original draft.) So with an episode already written, they just tweaked it to fit the new format of the show, and aired it. Airing it as episode three was a bit of a mistake though. Obviously, you can’t have all your episodes be the same quality as the season premiere, so Episode 3 has to have a drop in quality from Episode 2. But it could at least be a small drop in quality as opposed to a big one. The other seasons handle this much better. But let’s actually explore that in detail, shall we?
Today’s episodes are “The Ticket Master”, “Lesson Zero”, “Too Many Pinkie Pies”, and “Castle Mane-ia”.
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“The Ticket Master” is, as previously mentioned, bad. It does set up the Grand Galloping Gala story arc, and I will give it one point for that. Where it loses about 8 million points, though, is the inconsistency. Non-unicorns use levitation, for example. Spike seems frightened of Rarity, rather than having a crush on her, for another. There’s just a bunch of little things like this that add up. Which makes sense, as it wasn't really written for this show originally, just some alternate version of the show.
On to “Lesson Zero”. This is my least favorite episode of the show. Not because it is bad or the worst or anything, but because it started the biggest problem that the show ever had: Writing for the bronies. It was the first episode that Lauren Faust wasn’t in charge of, and what do we get? Spike does “Pinkie Pie”-esque fourth wall breakings, Big Mac says “Nope”, Twilight goes crazy, Rainbow does a Sonic Rainnuke, and so on. It isn’t necessary. Season 1 proved that you can be good without any of that stuff. But bronies liked it, so they threw it in. I will give positive points for one thing though: the ending. Until this point, Twilight is the only character to appear in every episode. Why? Because the premise forces it. She must write a letter to Celestia every week about what she learned about friendship. This means that every episode must (1) have her in it and (2) have a friendship lesson in it. This changes both of those things. Now, it doesn’t need her, anyone can write Celestia a letter, but “only when you happen to discover them” eliminates the need for even that. It’s definitely a good step for the show to take, as it means that they are no longer restricted in how they can write their episodes.
“Too Many Pinkie Pies” is decent. Season 3 doesn’t really have any episodes that are “good”, so “decent” is about as good as it gets. I absolutely love the G3 Pinkie face. And I like the premise overall. Creating too many clones is definitely a good Pinkie problem. Overall, not too many complaints.
“Castle Mane-ia” is a bit of a disappointment. With Twilight mentioning the box at the beginning, we were led to believe that this would be a recurring thing in every episode of the season, and it wasn’t. Then there was the “Pinkie Pie is playing the organ” twist that was so predictable that I’m not even going to call it a spoiler. And then there was the creepy ending with the REAL Pony of Shadows… that was never followed up upon. Also, everyone seemed to be acting out-of-character here. With the exception of Fluttershy, who is scared of everything, all of the ponies seemed to be scared of things that shouldn’t actually scare them. Introducing the journal at the end was a nice touch, though.