Majic’s MLP:FiM S02E03 Off-The-Hoof Review
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!
It's great to finally see a new episode from the genuine Season Two batch. This is the first episode in which Lauren Faust has participated as
"Consulting Producer", instead of Executive Producer like she did in the first season, so it is effectively a debut of the new staff lineup.
This "second generation" of the television series brings more than just some staff changes with it, however. Several elements of the show have
changed, some more obvious, some more subtle, and it's something of a mixed bag, in my opinion.
Fig. 1: Moving forward in every sense of the word.
Technically, the new episode shows off quite a few new gimmicks. We see 3D scrolling landscapes for example, which are most noticeable as Twilight
moves toward the viewer in various scenes. Overall, there seems to be more technical sophistication in the show and a willingness to try novel
effects, even "computery" effects, to add a little more pizazz to the production. While a bit distracting at times, I think on balance it's a nice
trend and an improvement.
Fig. 2: Mass transit comes to Ponyville.
The OP has been spruced up, complete with a train added to Twilight's arrival in Ponyville and a new sound track. I know Daniel Ingram has been
expressing happiness with the remastered theme song, but it seems a bit overproduced to me and could use a little less reverb. The first season
version was excellent and could have been kept as-is, but even the newer "American Idol" version is still a very good song.
Fig. 3: Twilight Sparkle confronts the existential horror of being tardy.
Poor Twilight gets flanderized
almost beyond recognition in this episode, with
more footage of "crazy, scary Twilight" here than in all the other episodes combined. It seems overdone to me.
Fig. 4: This is BEFORE she snapped...
The show has never been afraid of pushing extremes to make a point, however, and I'm actually quite impressed with how they tackled what may range
from perfectionism gone astray to OCD
to pretty much every anxiety
disorder known to science wrapped up in one little pony.
And of course there's a lesson in friendship to be found here.
Fig. 5: As with ants, no picnic is complete without a fainting couch.
Rarity's drama queen schtick was likewise overdone (three times, no less, and a subplot of its own), right down to the literal fainting couch, and all
the more entertaining for it. We also get to see a lot more of her "pouty lips" expression, which is always a treat.
Fig. 6: Rarity unleashes the "Magnum".
The way magic is represented in this episode is also much more overt, and there's more of it. The "magic auras" are more distinct and match the
ponies' "cutie mark" theme colors.
Fig. 7: This scene is even more sinister than it looks.
Twilight's magic is more purple-tinged (like her "compass rose" mark), for example, where it used to be a much lighter shade before, as were all the
magic auras. Rarity's aura is still light blue (like her diamond marks), while Princess Celestia's horn glows light yellow (like her sun mark) and her
magic is dazzling white, as befits a monarchic demigoddess of her station.
Fig. 8: "We are not amused."
Celestia's dramatic, stentorian role in this episode is a remarkable shift from her usual indulgent "nice mom" image throughout the first season. She
can be downright scary at times, and when she first appears in this episode, it's quite easy to believe that whole "banish to the moon" thing isn't
just idle chatter, and understand why Twilight wouldn't want to incur her wrath (which she does anyway).
Fig. 9: Twilight prepares to be busted back to Magic Kindergarten.
I like "Stern Celestia" and think it is an important aspect of her personality, both as a leader and a mother figure. They round things out by having
her soften up considerably once the reason for Twilight's improper use of magic is explained, and her sympathetic modification of the "rules" for her
faithful student's friendship study assignment is typical of the Celestia we all know and love.
Fig. 10: Big Trouble In Little Ponyville.
The "background music" by William Anderson is much more in the foreground in this episode, and I'm quite happy about that. While the understated
quality of his first season work was excellent and blended well with the action, I always found myself wanting more. Now that this episode has
delivered more, I think the show is better for it. His musical sense is superb and always apt for the scene. Turning up the volume on his tracks
livens up the the feel of the show and helps it "go to eleven".
Fig. 11: Rainbow Dash exercises the "nuclear option".
As I said, I think it's a mixed bag, with some changes more welcome than others, but overall, I think it's a big win, and I am only that much more
enthusiastic about seeing what future episodes have to show us. Despite understandable concerns over Lauren Faust's reduced role with the series, I
wholeheartedly agree with her when she asserts the show is in good hooves... er, hands.
edit on 10/16/2011 by Majic because: (no reason given)