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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season Two DVD

Friendship is one of the most important things in life, and it’s great that there is an animated series dedicated to showing just that, and how important it is to be a true friend. This isn’t just a good lesson for children; certain adults could use the occasional reminder too. And while, yes, the moral of an episode is often spelled out at the end in the form of a letter to Princess Celestia, this show generally manages to avoid being preachy. And it’s actually quite fun. I have to admit, after watching more than thirty episodes of this program, I’m beginning to have favorite characters (mainly Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, who are both voiced by the same actor).

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season Two is a four-disc set that includes all twenty-six episodes of the show’s second season. However, several of these episodes have already been released on five-episode discs. “Sweet Elite,” “Hearts And Hooves Day,” “A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1” and “A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2” were included on the Royal Pony Wedding disc, which was released on August 7, 2012. “Baby Cakes” and “A Friend In Deed” were included on Pinkie Pie Party, released on January 29, 2013. And “Lesson Zero” and “Mmmystery On The Friendship Express” were included on the Princess Twilight Sparkle disc, which was released on April 30, 2013.

Two of the episodes in this collection provide some backstory. “Family Appreciation Day” has the history of Ponyville’s early days, and “Hearth’s Warming Fire” features the re-enactment of the founding of Equestria. Here are a few other episodes of note…

“The Return Of Harmony” - In this two-part season opener, things have gotten weird. There is crazy weather (including chocolate rain) that has Rainbow Dash flabbergasted. Animals are acting strangely as well, and Fluttershy has no control over them. Twilight’s magic doesn’t help. Princess Celestia tells them that Discord, an old adversary of hers, has returned. The ponies must use the elements of harmony to defeat Discord, but the elements are missing. Discord has the best line: “What fun is there in making sense?” He sets up a game for them, but takes away their powers, and sets them against each other. In the second part, Spike keeps vomiting scrolls, and the animals are still behaving oddly (providing some of the funniest moments). At the end, Twilight tells Discord what they’ve learned: “We learned that friendship isn’t always easy, but there’s no doubt it’s worth fighting for.” The end of the episode has a nod to the original Star Wars film. By the way, for Star Trek fans, John de Lancie provides the voice of Discord.

“Luna Eclipsed” – Ponyville’s version of Halloween is called Nightmare Night. Twilight has spent a lot of time on her costume, but no one seems able to identify who she is. That is, except Princess Luna, who arrives and terrifies everyone. Twilight helps her change her approach so that ponies won’t be as scared of her. The bit where she seeks help from Fluttershy is hilarious, including the joke on “charmed.” This is a totally enjoyable episode. When Luna abolishes Nightmare Night, Twilight says, “I’m going to do what I do best – lecture her.”

“May The Best Pet Win!” – Rainbow Dash doesn’t have a pet and feels left out. Fluttershy sings a song with Rainbow Dash about various choices of pets. Rainbow Dash can’t decide, so he holds a contest, and the winner will become his pet. Maybe I’m demented, but I was feeling truly sad for the tortoise.

“Secret Of My Excess” – Spike gives Rarity his birthday gem, and then is surprised when ponies start giving him things for his birthday. He begins to get greedy, demanding gifts from everyone. After all, he is a dragon, and so he begins amassing his hoard. As he does, he begins to grow.

“The Last Roundup” – Applejack leaves town for a rodeo, which everyone expects she’ll win. She promises to use her winnings to repair the town hall. However, she doesn’t return. The ponies, fearing something bad has happened, catch the next train out. They find her in Dodge Junction. Pinkie Pie cracks me up in this episode, particularly when she gets rolling: “I like funny words. One of my favorite funny words is cumquat. I didn’t make that one up. I would work in a cumquat orchard just so I could say cumquat all day.” She is so joyful. Then we see her in a rare moment of anger. And Applejack, trying to escape, says “I’ve gotta get the heck out of Dodge.”

“The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000” – It’s opening day of cider season, and there is a long line. They run out of cider before Rainbow Dash can get any. Pinkie Pie, of course, got quite a lot for herself. A strange contraption arrives, with two cider barkers aboard. They perform a song, and soon the ponies are under their spell, joining their song. It’s pretty great.

“Read It And Weep” – Rainbow Dash ends up in the hospital after dazzling her friends with some aerial feats and then crashing. Rainbow Dash thinks reading is not cool, which makes the others laugh, as they all love to read. Twilight leaves a book with her, which of course Rainbow Dash eventually turns to and ends up loving. I am in favor of anything that has a pro-reading message. This episode has a Raiders Of The Lost Ark thing happening. The ponies also play the pony version of Battleship. And the barking mad pony is hilarious.

“It’s About Time” – Twilight has her whole month scheduled, but forgets to leave time to create next month’s schedule, and so is freaking out. Suddenly a future Twilight appears to tell her something important, but disappears before she can get out the message. So Twilight gathers everyone together to work to prevent any and all possible disasters – while Pinkie Pie panics. Pinkie Pie is particularly funny in this episode. I am a sucker for time travel shows, and this one does not disappoint.

“Ponyville Confidential” – Three young ponies still in search of their cutie marks decide to try writing for the school paper. Diamond Tiara is the paper editor, and she demands juicy stories, gossip about ponies’ private lives. The ponies’ first column is a success, and they expand their scope to cover all of Ponyville rather than just the school. They choose the name Gabby Gums because all three of their names won’t fit. And Gabby Gums becomes a sensation, but it isn’t long before the columns are hurting the feelings of ponies. (By the way, I’m a huge Shakespeare fan, and this episode has a reference to Julius Caesar. Rarity discovers that her private diary has been published and that her own sister is at fault, so she confronts her, saying, “Et tu, Gabby Gums?”)

Special Features

This set has a few special features, all of which are on the second and fourth discs. The first is “Hearth’s Warming Fire” A Live Stage Reading. This was staged at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles before an excited audience. Doing the reading are Meghan McCarthy (the story editor, reading the stage directions), Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle), Ashleigh Bell (Rainbow Dash/Applejack), Andrea Libman (Pinkie Pie/Fluttershy) and Cathy Weseluck (Spike/Mayor Mare). The woman who plays Rarity couldn’t make it, so a woman comes up from the audience – Susan Luque, the only brunette on stage. And just as you might expect, the woman who plays Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie is adorable. The audience, clearly huge fans, applauds and laughs often. This is approximately 43 minutes.

The second major bonus feature is San Diego Comic-con My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Panel. On the panel are Tabitha St. Germain (Rarity), Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle), Andrea Libman (Pinkie Pie/Fluttershy), Cathy Weseluck (Spike) and Meghan McCarthy (story editor). Michael Vogel moderates the Q&A. Meghan talks about the process of creating an episode. The actors talks about how the characters they play are similar or different from themselves. And they each talk about their favorite episodes. This feature is approximately 34 minutes.

The bonus features also contain four sing-alongs – musical numbers with the lyrics at the bottom of the screen.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season Two is scheduled to be released on May 14, 2013 by Shout! Factory.

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