Monday, October 24, 2011

Episode Talk: S2E4, Luna Eclipsed

Well, it's been a couple of days, and we've all had a chance to digest the latest episode.  Now that things have calmed down, there are a few things I want to voice my opinion on.  I don't know if I'll make a habit of commenting on episodes after they air or not; it depends on whether I have much to say in the aftermath, I suppose.  But as a rule, I've never been short on opinions.  Below the page break, some observations about Luna Eclipsed:

--I admit that the first two minutes or so were rough for me.  Most of the jokes fell flat (Granny Smith's cameo in particular made me cringe), and the Twilight and Pinkie seemed at the start like they were going to be relegated to caricatures ("I'm Twilight, and I'm smart!"  "I'm Pinkie, and I'm random!").  Thankfully, the show hit its stride after the first few scenes.  Overall, I felt the pacing was good, the humor was above-average, and the episode as a whole was a success for me.

--Reaction to the canon Luna on the various forums I checked seems to be pretty much universally positive.  Good.  We (the fans, that is) have basically been speculating nonstop about what Luna is like for the last year, and the fact that I've barely seen anyone whining that the 'new' Luna didn't conform to their expectations pleases me to no end.  Personally, I'm a big fan of the way she's portrayed: regal and aloof, more than slightly out-of-touch, but behind that essentially pleasant and well-meaning.  You know, kind of like Celestia would be, if she'd gone crazy and then conked out for a millennium.  I thought the VA did a great job with Luna's voice, and in fact my only issue with her (though it's really the scriptwriters' fault) is that they couldn't be arsed to to put together a more authentic version of Early Modern English.  I mean, sure I've heard worse, but it wasn't great.

Oh, and a pet peeve of mine: anyone who call that speech style 'Old English' need to knock it off.  Please.  Look it up: Old English is something else entirely, essentially a totally different language from Modern English.  And, while it would have been unimaginably cool if Luna actually did speak Old English upon her return, it would have made it hard for us fans to follow the dialogue.  Maybe Twilight could have translated for us; she seems like the type to study dead languages.

Anyway, the phrase you're looking for is 'Early Modern English.'  If that's too many words to type, 'Shakespearean English' or 'Archaic English' are often used colloquially to mean the same thing.  Or you could just call it 'The Royal Canterlot Speaking Voice' like they do in the show.  Thank you.

--Reaction to Pipsqueak has also been mostly positive.  Personally, I'm not a fan.  Some folks seem to have a problem with the accent, but I couldn't care less about that.  I mean, Applejack and her family have a Southern accent, and the spa ponies have...something that I can't quite place, despite nearly every other pony in the region speaking General American.  So clearly accents in Equestria can crop up wherever they damn well please.

No, what I didn't like about Pip was twofold.  First, I wasn't thrilled with the VA.  I know that the show has been mostly using children to voice the foals, and while I don't agree with that choice for several reasons, I'll admit that it's worked pretty well for most of the young ponies so far.  'Pip' sounds too much like he's reading off a script, which is a common problem with youth VAs.  Second, I don't like that he was dropped in with no explanation.  Yes, I know: it's a 22-minute show, and they don't have a lot of time to devote to character-building.  But let's compare Pip's introduction with Scootaloo's and Sweetie Belle's, both of whom had far less screen time in their introductory episode.  After watching Call of the Cutie, I could already tell you that Scootaloo was aggressive and brash, and that Sweetie Belle was more sedate, and less inclined to action.  Other aspects of their characters (Sweetie's singing, Scoot's idolization of Dash, etc.) came later, but even after their first appearance I already had a general idea what those two were like as individuals.  With Pip?  I can tell you he's from Trottingham...and that's about it.  His role was entirely generic.

And as an aside, I really hope they're not introducing Pip so that they can phase out Snips and Snails as the token male foals.  I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I think Snips and Snails are hilarious.

--The background ponies were great.  I could spend several hundred words on nothing but "And did you see [insert character here]?  Wasn't his/her [insert costume here] awesome?"  Let's just take all that as said.

--Dash may have only been onscreen three times, but she was far and away the best part in the episode.  I could not stop laughing whenever she had a scene (especially her middle appearance).

--All in all, this was a very good show.  It's not quite in the top echelon of episodes for me, but it was funny, didn't drag, and even added a bit of world-building along the way.  If this is representative of season 2's quality going forward, then I doubt I'll have much to complain about going forward.

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