Monday, March 12, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 45: Sweet Apple Capers

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I love mythological references as much as anyone (and more than most, probably), but I know I'm not alone in feeling a little unnerved by the casualness with which Tartarus was introduced into MLP canon.  Do the "monsters" imprisoned therein include Cronus?  Maybe that's why Celestia and Luna are princesses and not queens: Cronus and Rhea ruled together, and Cronus ate each of his children (the alicorns) as they were born, until Luna was able to escape and overthrow him, freeing her siblings from his belly and imprisoning him for all time.  So they still hold the titles themselves, but are banished and powerless so long as Cerebus guards the gates of... wait, uh-oh.

Then again, maybe that isn't the direction the show's writers are going with this.  Call it a hunch.

The RPGenius's Sweet Apple Capers: a review, after the break.

Impressions before reading:  I read this story sometime after it was posted, but most of the details have slipped my mind in the interim.  I remember it had a definite Loony Tunes vibe to it which, considering that Pinkie's the protagonist, makes sense.

I can also see that I 5-starred it after reading.  Five stars from me on Equestria Daily doesn't mean the same thing as five stars here, but off hand I'd say that I'll probably like this.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Pinkie Pie needs apples in order to make apple strudel, but the Cakes are fresh out.  And with Applejack out of town and Winona guarding the crop from any would-be apple thieves, the stage is set for a high-stakes battle of wills.

Thoughts after reading:  Like many, one of the things which first attracted me to FiM was that it reminded me of the cartoons I watched as a child.  Simple but vibrant characters, straightforward conflicts which nevertheless (usually) avoid dullness, and a near-total lack of pandering despite the number of jokes which will go over the heads of the show's target demographic--these were once the hallmarks of Warner Bro.'s Saturday morning cartoons, and they describe My Little Pony just as well.  Of course, I also grew up watching things like David the Gnome and He-Man, but that's neither here nor there.

Sweet Apple Capers reads, for the most part, like a stretched-out Tweety bird cartoon, with Pinkie and Winona playing Sylvester Cat and Hector Hound, respectively.  The setup is as cliche and predictable as anything: Pinkie tries to get apples, Winona stops her, repeat ad infinum.  But as with the cartoon, what makes the story interesting isn't the plot itself, but seeing what increasingly ridiculous method Pinkie will come up with to try and get the apples, and seeing how she gets thwarted.  And these encounters are without exception funny and original.  Moreover, each builds successfully on the last, with each failed attempt spurring an even more absurd stratagem.

That said, the hijinks take a while to get going.  For a cartoon in this style, about ten to fifteen seconds of "setup" is typical; just enough to establish who's trying to stop who from eating whom.  The RPGenius spends five pages working up to the first encounter between Pinkie and Winona, and I can't help but feel like most of it was superfluous at best.  All the reader really needs to know for a story like this is that Pinkie needs apples, and Winona won't let her get any.  While the opening is by no means awful, it doesn't really match the tone and style of the rest of the story.

The author's sentences show a tendency to ramble throughout the story.  Most of the time this is deliberate, occurring when showcasing Pinkie's lines of reasoning.  On occasion, however, the outside narration began to follow similar patterns.  In terms of spelling, technical proficiency, and grammar, however, the editing on this piece is excellent.

The piece is full of alliterative humor.  I thought about writing out a paragraph full of alliteration noting this, but that seemed like a cheap way to get a laugh (or a groan, more likely).  In any case, I love alliteration, and I thought it was great.  In fact, the humor throughout was excellent, relying heavily on a combination of physical comedy and narrative understatement.  A few jokes didn't work for me (a brief section where the narrator directly addresses the reader being the example that springs most readily to mind), but by in large the comedy in the story was very well done.

Star rating:   (what does this mean?)

Despite a setup that doesn't really do justice to the body of the fic, this story captures the goofy irreverence of the best Warner Bro.'s shorts, combining single minded focus with unfettered freethinking to create an escalating series of events that one can't help but smile at.

Recommendation:  Anyone with fond memories of Roadrunner and Coyote, Bugs and Elmer, or any of the myriad other Saturday morning stars will get a kick out of this.  But it's more than just a nostalgia trip: this story stands on its own, and anyone looking for an over-the-top but show-accurate portrayal of Pinkie in all her zany glory should give this a look.

Next time:  Nocturne, by Cupcakesnom


  1. I don't think the show would let this guy in:

    much to my dismay. But considering that Luna and Celestia the the controllers of the moon and sun, I think Artemis and Apollo would make better analogies than Zeus and Hera. Plus by making Luna Zeus, that implies she was busy spreading the family genes and being unfaithful to Celestia. Hmmm.... actually maybe that's why Celestia sealed Luna in the moon. It all makes sense now.

    Joking aside, this story sounds like something I might enjoy. I'll check out, after I get some sleep.

    *Warner Bro.'s Saturday morning cartoons"

    Seeing this just makes me frown, though. They were originally made for adults to see as an added attraction at movie theaters, not for kids to watch parked in front their TVs while they ate cereal on Saturday. Sorry, but as a guy who not only enjoys the Looney "Tunes" (not toons, that comes from Roger Rabbit) but also their history as well, I find such misconceptions to be annoying, to say the least.

    1. Ugh, I can't believe I let "Loony Toons" slip through. I've gone back and fixed that--thanks for the catch.

      To the larger point, I appreciate your perspective (and I suppose I should expect nothing less from someone with Bugs as his profile pic), though by the time I was born cartoons were already something that had come to be viewed as "kids stuff." Thanks for the insight, and I promise not to be so blase with my allusions next time.

  2. I thought this week's episode was okay. Though... am I the only one who wished they would've just done an episode about the adventures getting Cerberus back to Tartarus? I feel like Milhouse in the Poochie episode of the Simpsons.


  3. Man, this episode had it all:

    Mediocre slapstick used to gloss over lack of character progression
    Nonchalantly redefining a bug chunk of Equestrian lore for a gag
    Well defined characters over-simplified for easy (and cheap) plot

    If I wanted to pick out a positive point, it would be that this episode might train a new generation of potential geeks as to why TIME TRAVEL EPISODES ARE BAD.

    All my MEH. After the previous few episodes I was relatively happy they wouldn't screw up the royal wedding finale, but after this and Iron's a dice roll. Let's hope they were smart enough to put one of their better (or at least good) writers on it. I'm starting to think the Apple family stands out because it's the only family that bothers to keep in touch!

    1. I'd say there are no bad ideas, just bad execution.

      For instance, I think the episode would have been much better if the emergency Twilight had gone back in time to prevent... was Spike eating too much ice cream and making himself sick.

      You'd have an amusing Grandfather paradox and a suitable molehill to mountain construction project to be amusing.

  4. I can't remember the last time you set down a summary of a fic that made me instantly go "OH I REMEMBER THAT ONE :D" And here I thought I hadn't read this, but apparently I loved it.

    ALSO IT IS TARTAUROS D: Everyone's missing the very careful enunciation that turns a horrible mythical hell place into an ungulate pun!

  5. Phew! Glad I did better this time around. Thank you for the review, sir!

    1. My pleasure. Thanks for writing it!

  6. This fiction is what made me believe that Fanfiction can be good!