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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “Princess Twilight Sparkle” DVD Review

Good news for children and Bronies alike: At the end of the month Shout! Factory is releasing a new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic DVD. Titled Princess Twilight Sparkle, this DVD contains five episodes of the program, each episode focusing on the character Twilight Sparkle. Join her, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and the rest of the ponies as they learn what it means to be friends.

Here is a brief rundown of the episodes (and yes, there might be a few spoilers):

“Games Ponies Play” – Princess Cadence has chosen the ponies to be the welcoming committee for the games inspector, hoping they’ll convince her to choose Crystal Empire to host the Equestria Games, the biggest sporting event in the land. But the gang mistakes another pony for the games inspector. Meanwhile Rarity is having great troubles helping with Cadence’s preparations. Rainbow Dash says, in a slight twist on the traditional lesson learned at the end of the episode, “You know, it feels good to help others get something you always wanted but never had. Almost as good as getting it yourself. Almost.”

“Magical Mystery Cure” – The title is obviously a play on The Beatles album and film, and like that film this episode has plenty of music. This episode opens with a musical number about morning in Ponyville, and about how everything is great. But the song is interrupted by rain falling on Twilight. Now she’s not sure if everything is great after all. Celestia had sent Twilight a spell to work on, and somehow the spell changed the ponies’ marks. Each has the mark of another, and is struggling with the new identity.  And we get a second song, about the ponies having trouble doing what their new marks indicate they should do. Twilight laments, “They’re not who they’re meant to be anymore. Their destinies are now changed. And it’s all my fault.” So she sings a song about having to fix things. Yes, that’s the third song. In the montage, we see that the ponies are all unhappy. The episode has a strong message about friends doing whatever they can to help each other, and they all sing about it in the episode’s fourth musical number. So then Twilight figures out how to finish the spell, and she’s transported to some other realm where the Princess sings a song to her (the fifth song). When Twilight returns, she has wings and is now a princess. And that leads to the sixth song. And to the seventh. Yes, seven musical numbers, which is a lot for a twenty-two-minute show.

(By the way, Twilight doesn’t have the wings in any of the other episodes on this disc.)

“Mmmystery On The Friendship Express” – This is my favorite episode of the collection. A special cake is made, and Pinkie is in charge of getting it to the National Dessert Competition. She of course needs help from her friends. They get the cake onto the train, where other bakers are on board with their creations. There’s some animosity among the contestants. Pinkie, expecting foul play, stands guard at night. When the shades go down over the windows, she says, “Who turned out the moon?” A noise in the dark leads her to call out, “Stop, thief!” Another noise causes her to ask, “Oh, are you okay, thief?” In the morning she sees that someone has eaten part of the cake. And the ponies investigate the crime. Obviously the episode’s title is a play on Murder On The Orient Express, but there are other nice film references in this episode. When Pinkie accuses each baker in turn, the episode plays on various film genres, such as those early silent serials like The Perils Of Pauline and spy films, particularly the famous James Bond intro.

“Magic Duel” –Twilight’s magic has improved, but it will be tested when Trixie shows up, now in possession of a powerful magical amulet. Trixie challenges Twilight to a duel, saying the loser will have to leave Ponyville forever. Twilight refuses to enter into such a contest, but Trixie forces her by casting mean spells on her friends. Trixie wins the duel, and then takes over Ponyville. Twilight trains elsewhere from someone who says, “Unlearn what you have learned.” Yes, like Yoda. It’s totally a scene out of The Empire Strikes Back. And it leads to another duel.

“Lesson Zero” – Is the title of this episode a reference to the Bret Easton Ellis novel? It seems like it if you say it out loud, but of course this show is for children (mainly) so the similarities end there. Anyway, I love lists. I tend to make lots of them. And this episode begins with Twilight checking things off of her list of things she needs to make another list. Twilight is more than a bit anal – freaking out because she hasn’t written a letter to Princess Celestia this week. So she needs to find a friend who has a problem she can solve so she can learn a lesson and write a letter saying what lesson she’s learned. Makes sense to me. And the line, “Very efficient, and a little bit gross” made me laugh.

Bonus Features

This DVD has a couple of bonus features. The first, “Sing-Along,” is one of the songs about friendship from “Magical Mystery Cure,” with the lyrics on screen so you can all sing along.  The second is a coloring sheet than can be accessed on a computer.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Princess Twilight Sparkle is scheduled to be released on April 30, 2013 through Shout! Factory. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie Party was released in January, and Royal Pony Wedding was released in August last year.

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