Friday, January 27, 2012

Sorry guys...

...but there's no new post today.  Well, unless you count this, I guess.  I've been sick the last few days--nothing serious or life-threatening or any such, but it feels like somebody keeps tapping my temples with balpin hammers 24/7, and looking at a computer screen just makes it worse.  Obviously, not a situation conducive to reading/reviewing fanfiction.  I'll be back to my normal schedule on Monday.

To help you pass the weekend, here's a conversation topic: what character or characters did you hate when you first saw them in an episode, but came to appreciate (or at least, hate less) later on?  For full credit, explain what caused the shift: was it further in-show development, a fanfic, a comic, fan art, or just the passage of time that made him or her more palatable to you?

Now I'm going back to bed.


  1. Aww, hope you feel better soon!

    But to answer your question: Trixie. I seriously did not see why there was such massive appeal to her when I first moved from only watching the episodes into checking out other aspects of the fandom.

    I think it was mostly when I started reading fics that did it. Most notably, Out in the Cold by EsperDerek.

    I began to understand the appeal of redeeming "bad" characters as a result of that fic and others like it. I like the idea of colorful ponies getting along with each other, with even the mean ones eventually turning over a new leaf. Like how Silver Spoon was the first foal to start applauding Granny Smith's story in Family Appreciation Day.

    Gives you hope that folks are intrinsically good and will act as such if they're provided the right opportunities.

  2. Ugh, it's definitely not Trixie.

    I suppose it's Rarity. Up until Suited For Success, she seemed like... well, Diamond Tiara, though considerably nicer. Since that episode, I, along with everyone else online, decided she was cool.

    1. Yeah, I always found the Rarity thing odd. I get the impression that the greater majority of fans kinda felt somewhat similar to you, whereas I took to her right off the bat.

      When I discovered that even the small number of pro-Rarity voices had taken some time to come around to her charms, that made me feel a bit odd. I can only assume it's because I have come in from a psychologically analytical background and chose to see a strong, confident character instead of a selfish one. Selfishness isn't bad, it's what you do with it that counts, so being made the element of generosity seemed perfectly natural to me.

      I guess this harkens back to what I posted about the fans response to 'The Last Roundup.' These characters have flaws, and some people seem put off by that. Rarity has the most potentially obvious flaws, so I can only assume that's why she got such a mute reception. It took time for people to look past them.

  3. I'm going to see if I can get very much against the grain here...I nominate for this discussion:


    I can hear the neighsayers objecting already, but stay with me for this.

    The first double-episode story is about Twilight making friends, thus setting up the whole 'Friendship is Magic' shtick. I assumes, as the pilot for a show teaching moral lessons for little girls, that this is equally about teaching said little girls to do likewise. Yet, the character they have chosen to play this drama out with, is presented as the personal student to the highest authority in the land and magically potent to boot.

    She starts off as having no interest in social activity, shuns attempts to make friends with her, and generally is obnoxious from the viewers perspective. Her new friends rally around her in *spite* of her actions and demeanour, not because of it. What lesson is this exactly? To me is looks a lot like "when you're already special the world revolves around you". So that's pretty much how I took Twilight at first pass.

    Now, it's not that her station actually got her anything specific, all the ponies reacted positively regardless. Even Rarity, who some will claim only took to her because she was from Canterlot, was already being friendly and helpful before that revelation. So it's not saying you need a reason to have friends like that, it's certainly not teaching any good lessons about actually putting the effort in to HAVE friends like that.

    Twilight Sparkle, was, and still is, little miss plot device (or plot whore if I was being less charitable). They even compound that by making her quantifiably powerful as season 1 progresses (Trixie, I'm looking at your episode here, bless your evil little socks). Yeah, fine, so they did do a good job of making her shy and fearful of it, but I don't think that redeems her.

    So how did I grow to like her? Well, I guess more than anything, I started to like the character as opposed to how the writers used her. That took a little time, and I guess I couldn't really say I *hated* her at the start, but then there's no character I really hate and that would make this rally short...

    So. Twilight Sparkle = Mary Sue in my book. Just too good, too connected and too lucky from the very start.

    And yes, I have come love my Twilight Sparkle as much as most, but it wasn't so easy.

    Now, if you want to ask about characters I've come to hate more as I watch them...was can talk about Rainbow Dash...

    1. I agree with you on Rainbow Dash. <.<

      Twilight struck me in the first episodes as a very bland, "I'm the leader" everyman sort of character. I can't say there was a real moment when I started actually liking her. Like with Pinkie, who came off as very annoying at first, it was a very organic process over the first half of the season.

    2. Gotta disagree with you on Twilight. The entire point of that episode was for her to be obnoxious and not want to make friends, and the other ponies were just nice to her because they're nice ponies. And they only banded together in the end because she obviously knew something about Nightmare Moon.

      Things revolved around her because she was organising the Summer Sun Celebration, and kinda had to deal with everypony. As I said above, they were nice to her because they're all nice and friendly ponies. Some folk are just like that, at least where I come from.

      Being Celestia's personal student doesn't make her a Mary Sue. It makes her Celestia's personal student. I hate this attitude people have that making a character well-off in any way automatically makes her a Mary Sue.

    3. I didn't say that being Celestia's student made her a Mary sue, and I didn't say that being well off (or in fact, anything) 'automatically' makes anyone a Mary Sue.

      Your saying otherwise doesn't make her not. You're welcome to disagree of course, but you can't claim my opinion is wrong, it's *IS* my opinion.

      Besides which, if you hate anyone for that kind of reason, it might do you good to chill out. It's nothing worth hating over, it's just a cartoon.

  4. Trixie is the first character that comes to mind. I didn't hate her as much as Gilda (who I still hate!), but I sure didn't like her. Then I read a fanfic. It wasn't the one linked above -- it was about Trixie living in squalor, barely able to support herself by performing and giving minor care for two sick foals in a charity children's hospital. That was the turning point for me, and nowadays I joke about needing to fight Sethisto for her. <.<;;

    For a case of canon turnaround, I'll also mention Rarity. I hated her for a LONG time, even after Suited for Success. It wasn't until A Dog and Pony show that I realized just what potential she had as a character. She still hasn't surpassed Pinkie in my little best-pony chart, but she's definitely the mane cast member for whom I have the most respect, and her season 2 episodes -- Sweet and Elite and Sisterhooves Social -- are some of my favorites. She gets all the best character growth UNLIKE YOU, APPLEJACK.

    1. Applejack cries herself to sleep next to my D12s.

    2. Yeah, it seems like every Applejack episode is about other characters reacting to her, rather than her getting screentime. She isn't that hard to write!

    3. If you ask me, her best moment was in one of my least favorite episodes, the train scene at the start of Over a Barrel. Then again, I think the ponies are at their best when at their craziest (Twilight in Swarm of the Century, Pinkie in Party of One, Fluttershy in Best Night Ever), Lesson Zero aside. Beyond that, all we get of AJ is "she's a hard worker who cares about her family, is honest, and does down-home country girl stuff" and unfortunately, that's not terribly interesting. Talking baby talk to a tree is.

    4. Someone else who didn't like Lesson Zero? There's another one?

      ... sniff.... now I know what it's like... when eagles cry.

      Well, I think they made a mistake in the episode making it about the mystery of where Applejack went. Her DEALING with the shame would have been much better. Possibly even getting solo attention as she realized that nopony cared.

    5. Bobbo, you and I are cut from the same cloth. :3

      Last Roundup was really more about the rest of the cast than Applejack. She's just the impetus for things to happen, driving the action forward without contributing much.

    6. Ooh, is this a "Lesson Zero wasn't really all that great" party? Can I join?

      And here I thought I was the only one who found it sub-par compared to what the staff has shown their capable of.

    7. ... I... is this episode something where the majority don't like it, but are convinced that everyone else does?

    8. Given the fact that it got first place on a poll at Eqdaily, I would say no, Bob. Still, is there room for one more in the "I thought Lesson Zero was a mediocre episode" club. I always find myself annoyed that none of Twilight's friends took her disheveled state as a sign of a serious problem, amongst other things.

      Anyway, I just found your blog yesterday Chris and I highly enjoyed what I have read. Probably because I've wanted to do the same idea myself but I lack your technical and analytical skills when comes to reviewing literature.

    9. A lot of folks like Lesson Zero a lot, and I think it may be for the same reason that Party of One is popular (character completely loses their shit). But where the latter -- which, btw, is still my favorite episode of the series -- succeeded was in making said breakdown believable and hilarious.

      What I disliked about LZ was Twilight's lack of faith in Celestia. Now, admittedly, there's precedent for this: the "banish you and put you in jail in the place you've been banished to" bit in Bird in the Hoof. But that was at least entertaining, and there was a REASON behind it (stealing the Princess's pet is higher up the chain of felonies than forgetting a friendship report, or at least I think so), and I didn't like that episode much, either.

      When Pinkie goes nuts, she GOES NUTS. She locks herself in her room and makes new friends out of household objects. When Twilight goes nuts, she decides to just make everything worse and then proceeds to do so. There was very little in the last half of LZ that wasn't cringeworthy.

      So I think a lot of people saw the episode and went, "Twilight is going nuts like Pinkie, this is awesome!" But it's the WAY in which she loses her mind that I object to. She's supposed to be a rational individual, and a little rational thinking would have gone a long way to saving her some stress. This is why I commit the sin of accusing the writers of mischaracterizing her in this episode, something that should be entirely impossible since they're the ones giving us the characterizations in the first place.

      And for the record: Twilight's best crazy moment was the "We need to make an exact replica of Ponyville over there in the next two minutes" moment from Swarm of the Century. THAT was golden.

    10. Holy crap, what a wall of text. Can you tell I think about this show a lot? D:

    11. I agree with that. My issue is that I HATE Twilight in that mode. It's the mode she was in in the Trixie episode (not my favorite at all) where she doesn't understand how others will respond to minor problems in their lives.

    12. Followup: it just shows the importance of context to a joke. Pinkie's freakout was part of a STORY. Not just there for the sake of a freakout. I swear, some pony fans are WAY too easy to pander too.

  5. Well, I really hope you'll get better soon. :) I really like your ma... *ahem* your reviews.

    As for your question: I will have to go with Gilda. Yep, the indeed Gilda. One reason for that might be, that she was the only character of the show that I honestly disliked at some point. Even considering Snails.
    I guess it's kind of obvious why I disliked her in the first place. What changed my mind however, was the story "Junior Speedsters Forever!"
    Since I'm not a man of many words (at least not if writing in English) I just want to say that the story completely blew me away. It changed the way I see Gilda by at least 160°. Not 180, I still don't like how she treated some specific pegasi (or pegasuses or whatever).
    Even now, every time I think about the story, it makes my heart melt again.

  6. Never commented on here before, but I love reading your reviews. I'm generally not a fan of fanfics, so I almost exclusively read the ones you've awarded four or five stars. Some of the others I've liked have later gotten these scores.

    To answer your question: Pinkie Pie. Twilight was my favorite, as she was the most developed early on and seemed like a typical Tara Strong type of character. She seemed almost like a reflection of older viewers like myself. Pinkie, on the other hand, was annoying, girly and, well, pink. Worst of all, she sang. I hated that I found Giggle at the Ghostly catchy, 'cause it seemed like the kind of song I should hate, which is odd considering I loved the PPG song Love Makes the World Go Round. Then, Griffon the Brush-Off happened. I had already learned to laugh at Pinkie's craziness in Applebuck Season, but this episode allowed me to get to know and empathize with her. Later episodes would continue this development. Seeing her put her heart into that sharing song only to be told her performance was horrible, and going "loco in the cocoa" in Party of One really sealed the deal for me. Pinkie went from being most annoying to best pony!

    1. Oops, forgot to say that I hope you feel better soon. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and watch lots of ponies!

  7. Sweetie Belle. Unlike Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle was introduced entirely through the tedious episode-destroying Cutie Mark Crusaders, and so I couldn't stand her. But unlike Scootaloo, who also was introduced through the CMC, Sweetie Belle is actually a halfway decent character when you get her away from the crusading nonsense and into her own personal element, as Sisterhooves Social shows. That episode had me go from barely tolerating her to actually liking her a little (a very little). She does have some character depth that can be explored, she does have some likeable personality traits that can be shown, and she does have the ability to add to the episode's story rather than's just that this was all hidden by the overbearing Cutie Mark Crusader theme.

    1. I'd say Scoots has one thing that could give her a non-crusader episode of some depth: the fact that she's the only pegasus we've seen who can't fly. I mean, the Cakes' baby could fly, and he was a month old! Something's wrong with her.

  8. I'll add to the Rarity love, but I liked her all along. I think she's the most complex character yet. Aside from her and AJ, the rest are comparatively one-trick ponies *ahem*. Rarity is Miss Priss, but usually not to the point of being a snob, and genuinely wants to apply it to help her friends. Though her behavior during Twilight's birthday was pretty bad...

    Can't say I've really had a big positive turnaround for any character. Maybe Trixie a bit due to the whole sympathetic inferiority complex treatment she gets in fanfics.

  9. Thank you all for the well wishes and commentary! I'm feeling quite a bit better now, and am working on a post to go up for Monday. Back on track!

    And since it's only fair that I answer my own question, I'm going to have to agree with Anonymous above that Pinkie Pie has come a long way for me since the first episode. But my reasons, and my turning point, are both a little different.

    What bothered me about her from the start was that she seemed to be the go-to deus ex machina. Right every time and always ready to pull some stunt that let the writers skip over any inconvenient plot holes or exposition, she seemed more like a particularly ill-used tool than a character to me. My dislike of her actually grew as season one progressed, with Feeling Pinkie Keen being perhaps the most egregious example of her infuriating infallibility and annoying antics.

    But that started to change in Over a Barrel. In that episode, she just makes everything worse! Not only doesn't she magically know how to fix everything and show insufferable obliviousness about the whole affair, her obliviousness is actually shown to be a character flaw. Not an endearing quirk that makes her even more perfect (or something), but an actual, honest-to-goodness character flaw!

    Anyway, by the time Party of One came along, she had been fully redeemed in my eyes. She's still goofy and able to do all sorts or ridiculous stuff, but now she's a CHARACTER who's goofy and able to do all sorts of ridiculous stuff.

    My two cents.