Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fandom Classics Part 26: Daring DONE!

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

In my bout of angsty apathy on Monday, I failed to say anything about the newest episode, Flight to the Finish.  Honestly, I didn't care for it.  The song was underwhelming by FiM standards; it leaned far more towards the "teen pop" side of composition than usual (between this and the Babs Seed song in season two, I wonder if the CMC haven't been consciously delegated this role), and the tune outside of the chorus was so unmemorable and un-catchy that I can't actually recall how it goes, even after seeing the episode twice.  Beyond that, there were a few things I enjoyed about the episode (Carrot Top and her boyfriend at the train station remains adorable; Silver Spoon explicitly acknowledging how little the show writers have done with her and Diamond Tiara ("But how do we stop them? We already called them blank flanks!") was great; I do think that making it clear that Scoot can't fly, and that this is, at least, unusual, adds to her character).  But, between the stroke Ms. Harshwhinney was apparently having (there is a point at which goofy faces stop being cute and start being annoying, and this season has already dashed that line to smithereens), Dash's inner monologuing (that felt forced; for goodness' sake, just have her say the lines sotto voce if you need them that bad), and the fact that I've just never gotten on board with the CMC to the degree that the rest of the fandom seems to have, this one wasn't one of my favorites.  Oh well, they can't all be great.

ANYWAY, click on below the break for my review of Aragon's Daring DONE!

Impressions before reading:  First impression: it's a different fic from Daring Don't, which I accidentally read in its place.  Stupid similar-sounding story titles...

Beyond that, I see that from his bio that the author's not a native English speaker, which does make me wonder if the odd phrasing of the first line of the story's description (...Twilight's mother is the real identity of Silky Dusk, the author of the Daring Do books") is a harbinger of things to come.  Then again, that's my only issue with that description, so hopefully I'm over-reacting.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight lets slip to Rainbow Dash that her mother's nome de plume is Silky Dusk--and that she's the author of the famous Daring Doo series.  Dash sends a not-at-all-over-obsessive fanletter, and things escalate quickly from there.

Thoughts after reading:  Well, the Daring-Doo episode has now placed this story firmly into the realm of "alternate universe" (I can't help but feel like that's not the proper relationship between "realm" and "universe," but c'est la vie), so if you're the kind of person who's not interested in anything which is explicitly outside of canon, I suppose you'll want to skip over this one.  Your loss, though.

Daring DONE! consists of a series of letters between Rainbow Dash, Twilight's mom/the author of the Daring Doo series, Twilight, and a slowly expanding circle of other ponies, which leans heavily on ridiculousness.  Aragon shows a knack for identifying the foibles of fans dealing with their idols, then exaggerating them to the point of ridiculousness.  This story gets well and truly silly, but at its heart it's the sort of thing anyone who's ever gushed just a little too inchoately to a favorite author, politician, or actor can relate to.

The first letter in the story is from Dash, and I thought the author did a great job capturing her voice when I first read it.  Plus, the note at the end of the letter nicely explains why Dash is rambling stream-of-consciousness style in a written note.  However, after reading a little farther, I was less certain of that initial assessment.  Twilight and her mother both notably share a lot of the transcriptual habits of Dash, and while some of this is due to the nature of the letters in question, I didn't feel that either necessarily hued to the canon (Twi) and implied (mom) personalities of each with great vigour.  Other characters show a bit more variety, though they have their own issues; Twilight's father and "the royal guard" highlight a brief sequel chapter which is funny enough, but suffers from pacing issues not really present in the rest of the story (the result, I believe, of the chapter being basically one new joke, with a few callbacks to lines from the first chapter thrown in to keep it from dragging any more than it does).

But with that said, this is very much a "just go with it" sort of story, which peddles a flimsy premise into some comical shenanigans and histrionics.  And those shenanigans and histrionics do their job quite well; I laughed, I smiled, and I never spent long enough being bored that my brain threatened to turn back on.  Well, that's a mean way to put it, but what I mean is that there was always something funny to distract me from any of the sorts of deeper (or heck, surface-level) questions which a fic like this doesn't have any answer for.

But, on the note I ended my pre-reading impressions on, this story is eminently readable.  It's full of run-ons, incoherent half-ideas, and the like on the characters' parts, but it's at all points clear that this is a deliberate decision, not the result of any lack of skill or effort on the author's part.

Star rating:   (what does this mean?)

There aren't a lot of unplumbed depths here, and there are noticeable voicing issues at times.  But given how aggressively, successfully comical this story is, those are easy problems to put aside while reading.

Recommendation:  This will appeal to anyone looking for a short, simple, and funny story.  I doubt it's one that will stay with the average reader, but for those in search of piece of enjoyable ephemera, this would be it.

Next time: The Golden Armor, by Comet Burst


  1. Chris, it's spelled "Daring Do". She's no relative of Scooby's, and there's no hyphen. You made this error thrice, one in the summary and one in each of the first two paragraphs of your post-reading thoughts

    My first thought on seeing Carrot at the train station was actually wondering what you'd think. Guess I associate you two together pretty strongly

    I enjoyed the episode, but it was definitely the weakest of the season so far. I have mixed feelings about the song. I agree with you on the teen pop feel, a problem I had with I've Got to Find a Way and pretty much every song in Equestria Girls, though I really enjoyed the mandolin. I didn't mind the number of faces Ms. Harshwhinny made (actually, I kinda liked it), but some of them felt very out of place in the show, though they were great in their own right. The scene where Dash talked to Scoots about why she didn't board the train reminded me of bad fanfiction. It probably bothers me more in retrospect than did during my initial viewing

    1. But... but, I've always written "derring-doo" with the hyphen and the extra o, and her name's a play on that, so why should I have to stop now? Just because it's quote-unquote "wrong?"

    2. Saying "quote-unquote" seems superfluous in writing, don't you think? Also, that question mark should be outside the quotation marks

      So fun to correct a superior writer! :D

  2. Oh, hey! This was pretty nice!

    I'm thankful you found it readable, because I honestly say that I was kind of afraid of what you would say. The fact that this story somewhat fits into the "fandom classics" category still baffles me a little, but in the good way.

    About the character voice... yeah, I have to admit it slipped out of me at some point. I opted for trying to make the reader laugh at all costs, but I had to sacrifice a little for that. Also, lack of skill. I'm glad that the first letter looked Rainbow-esque at first sight, though (although in retrospective it doesn't work that well, as you said, but meh, mistakes happen). I'll try to work on character voices a little more from now on.

    Also, the second chapter is either loved or hated. I guess you at least found it funny. I tried to change the humor a little (more sarcasm, less silly) and ended up with something with horrible pacing. Oh well.

    (And by the way, I just won a bet against Lucky Roll because of this review. Now he has to give me a present. Yay!)

    There was a subtle reference to a 6-star fic you reviewed long ago, but nobody ever got it except for its author (Lucky Roll) so I guess it's not so surprising. I'm bad at referencing things.

    Anyway, thanks for the review! This totally made my day.

    1. You're very welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed! And that I won you a bet. One Man's Pony Ramblings does not condone gambling, but it does condone winning.

      The reference to (un)Lucky Roll's story slipped right past me when I was reading, it's true. But hey; better an over-subtle reference than one so blatant it takes the reader right out of the story. In any event, thanks for writing a good fanfic!

    2. Yes, well, by winning him a bet, you lost me one. You broke a man's life into half. How do you look into the mirror after this? Not even mentioning the gratuitous use of caps lock? Couldn't you just give him one lousy star less? Chris, I've expected better from a literary connoisseur like you. No, no, I'm not mad at you. I'm just... disappointed. So very disappointed.

      And now if you excuse me, I have a bucket of ice cream to eat on my couch.

  3. check dat "the the"

    I look forward to reading this one now.

  4. I didn't like the most recent episode either. I found the song just as unimpressive and the pacing really felt off to me, especially right at the end. If I were to give a detailed review, I'd have more to complain about too. Like Oats said, definitely the weakest of the season so far.

    I felt really weird thinking that as I watched it, because I'm really not the sort of guy to critique something as I watch it. And I almost never get hung up on minor aspects of an episode like that. You guys have probably all seen my comments on here before. Anyone who knows me should know that I can forgive a LOT of flaws.

    In fact, the last and only time I watched an episode and decided I just outright didn't like it was Mysterious Mare Do Well. And objectively I know that this one was nowhere near as bad as MMDW, but damn it, I decided mid-viewing that I didn't like it, and that just doesn't happen to me.

    I came away from that episode thinking, "Holy shit, I bet Chris did this to me."

    1. And here I promised Mystic I'd use my expectation- and opionion-warping powers only for good and never for evil...

    2. People like you is why the Superhuman Registration Act happened.

    3. Danny, I love you for that reference :D

      To be fair, "weakest of the season" isn't all that damning when you consider how good the season's been so far. These episodes haven't been the best of the series, and some things have consistently bothered me, but overall I've been having alot of fun. I mean, look at all horse snorts and clopping of hooves - oh, and the name Yearling! I don't know about you, but that stuff leaves me positively giddy

  5. The latest episode was solid in my personal opinion. While the song didn't come close to the best the show has done, it was catchy and had a decent tune. The episode also succeeded in making me chuckle, which is generally an important checkpoint for my enjoyment, and was mostly plothole free unlike the horrid Daring Don't episode's swiss-cheese texture (it being written by Polsky was no surprise). Seriously, I'd like to slap him upside the head for that one, right after a swift nad kick for Spike at Your Service.

    1. Bro, seriously, don't go there. I know you probably don't mean it literally, but when you cross from disliking a writer's works to wishing to harm the writer, you've officially start taking things way too seriously.

    2. It's pretty clear his comment wasn't serious. Were I Polsky and I'd read it, I certainly wouldn't take offense

      I will, however, disagree with luc's criticism of Polsky. Dave's one of my favorite writers just for his Season 1 episodes, followed by even more Pinkie Pies than even I can handle, plus he's a great guy in person. Oh, and he wrote two of my favorite South Park episodes! Man's earned the right to leave a few (dozen) plot holes lying around

    3. I don't wish Polsky harm, I just wish he'd go away. That doesn't mean I don't have the URGE to bitch-slap him.

      I can't decide if he's just stupid, or he doesn't give enough of a damn to try to write his scripts in keeping with the world he's playing in.

    4. Almost entirely ^this^.

      There's only so much that can be dismissed with the idea that it's a show for little girls. The producers themselves label it a family show and anyone with a fully functional brain (and I'm passingly aware of how many people I'm discounting, here) could be tripped up by such glaring holes and inconsistent behaviour. I'm sorry, but when you do things for giggles that are explicitly outside the realm of reasonable character responses, you're probably a hack. As i've said before, it can be deeply aggravating that part-timefanfic writers consistently seem to put more thought and effort into plot that is contained in some of these episodes (or, I don't know, the entirety of season three).

    5. I'm being facetious. I hoped the usage of "nads" would convey that, but relying on inflection-less text was my mistake. Perhaps "bollocks" would work better next time.

      I honestly do wish Merriweather and Polsky would just up and leave, though. Their episodes are mediocre at best (although I did enjoy Too Many Pinkie Pies *despite* him writing all of her friends as being oblivious dunces to make the plot work) and utter garbage at worst. It wasn't so bad in the first few seasons, but now they're tripping over established canon (and, in Merriweather's case, her own writing when you compare Spike's cookies in Dragon Quest and his ineptitude in Spike at Your Service). It's honestly pathetic to see a professional put so little thought into the show. I'm glad the new writers are so keen on it; hopefully they'll redeem it from season three.

      If there's some sort of Quality Assurance for ensuring continuity, they should be fired as well for letting those two get away with the dreck they make.

    6. Lightsideluc: The QA for the scripts is the Story Editor, which in this case would be Amy Keating Rogers.

      InquisitorM: Yeah, Polsky does tend to make everyone carry the Idiot Ball except for the character he's focusing on. I guess it's easier to write that way. Another thing about Too Many Pinkie Pies is that, if the Pinkie clones were indistinguishable from the original except for a slightly shorter attention span, doesn't that make Twilight a mass-murderer? They might not have been the original Pinkie Pie, but they were still living, sentient beings!

  6. You would notice Carrot Top in the background there. You and this other Carrot Top fan that I know of. And while that stallion being her boyfriend is the easiest conclusion to draw, I like to think of him as a family member. A brother maybe?

    Regardless, I am SHOCKED (Disclaimer: not really that shocked) at the number (3!) of dissenting opinions of Flight to the Finish around here. While I wouldn't call it the "TEH BEST EPESOAD EVAR!!" I definitely wouldn't call it the worst or even "meh". It was quite good! I say they handled that Scootaloo not being able to fly thing expertly, and I got to see more of my favorite antagonist!

    In other news, I read Daring DONE! some time ago. Got a chuckle or two, but that's about it. Sorry Aragon.

    1. I'm sure it will surprise no-one around here that I thought it was absolutely, undoubtedly, right about fair-to-middling.

      Song was kinda meh, Rainbow Dash still makes me want to smack her, but the story hit home and that's always the most important bit for me. Not that I don't have some severe issues with the 'lessons' in the episode, but that's nothing new either.

    2. Oh god, it's happened. I now read all of your responses in your voice. c.c

      The only criticism I can really agree with is the song being meh, because it was extremely meh. While I'm not 100% against Ingram's slow slide into pop malaise, HaSaH is one of the least inspiring songs I've ever heard in the show. It's covering ground that's more or less been covered by the CMC's theme song, and melodically, it sounds far too much like that one song from EQG. And that's a criticism I find myself giving out more and more: the songs are all starting to sound alike.

      Looking forward to whatever song shows up in this week's episode, though. (I think it's a pretty safe guess now that the string of numbers McCarthy tweeted a week or two ago was episodes with songs in them.)

    3. Well, PP, I'm having a great time orating my next work, so maybe soon you can read my posts in my voice? Can you handle that much Britishness?

    4. If you're talking about me, Present Perfect, then you should read my posts in my voice. After all, I read my posts in my voice too.
      And sometimes in Phillip J. Fry's voice.

      Also, I do agree that the music is starting to sound alike. But I figure when it's the same man composing it all, on a tight schedule no less, it's bound to happen.

    5. Yeah, Deft, I meant you. :V That is pretty much exactly what I heard, too. Also, you are going to have to prove that you can do Fry's voice, I cannot imagine this.

      M, I donno mate, seems a roight sticky wicket, eh wot, guvnah? Pip pip cheerio!

    6. LOL. Try more Patrick Stewart than Jimmy the chimney sweep. (Hell, I can't even do that accent—it's like an MIT graduate refusing to sound like a redneck with his teef missing)

    7. Well, I meant that Fry's voice plays in my head. Among others, really. I can't physically pull that off. Billy West is out of my league.

    8. No shame in that, Billy West is out of everyone's league.