Well, thank you to everyone who made The Purloined Pony's FiMFiction debut such a rousing success, launching it to the top of the feature box for the better part of a day. I was surprised but gratified by how many people still have fond memories of that story; thank you to everyone who read and enjoyed it. And heck, thanks to the one guy who downvoted it, too; sorry it wasn't your thing, and no hard feelings.
For now though, let's talk about the newest episode of the show. My half-collected, weekend-old thoughts, below the break.
-To be fair, my impression of this episode was more than a little colored by the revelation that Pinkie would be rapping in it; to me, that's definitely not a selling point, and I was surprised to see how many people seem to have really liked that. The defenses I've seen mostly label it a "brilliant parody of 90s edutainment raps" or an "awesome nostalga [sic] bomb."
For me, though, that scene failed spectacularly. Perhaps it's just that I have little personal connection to the shows it was parodying (the "Pokemon rap" seems to have been brought up more than once as a point of comparison, and that anime series missed me by a few years), but it struck me as a dramatic departure from the world's musical conventions--on top of being something I found musically unappealing. It was unpleasant enough that I had to fast-forward past it when I re-watched the episode while writing this post, and I rarely even do that with the opening song (if only out of laziness--why fiddle with the remote when it'll be over in a minute anyway?).
-As for the larger show premise: I didn't much care for the first third or so (Twi's attempts to help Rainbow study). It was too transparent an attempt to make some school-style jokes to me, and really: isn't that what the CMC are for? It felt to me like the writers came up with some bad student visual gags, then haphazardly shoehorned them into a pre-existing episode concept. I'm not saying that's what happened, but that was my first impression when watching.
-I did like that we got some actual history out of this episode, though! Granted, the history of the Wonderbolts turns out to have been rather more recent than I'd hoped--rather than tying into anything from A Hearth's Warming Carol, they apparently cropped up as a military organization with no connection to the pegasai's pseudo-greek pre-integration culture. Still, points for expanding the backstory a bit!
-I also really liked the "historical" Wonderbolts costumes, truth be told. I thought they added a nice hint of the larger world, as well as making for several nice visuals.
-While I appreciate that the moral was intended as "different people learn in different ways," I thought the presentation was... troubling. At the end, Dash is finds that an unrelated kinesthetic distraction can help her remember things, as it can indeed help some people remember, but the idea that the knowledge gain was instant and effortless (to the point that she didn't even notice that she had learned anything) is pretty unrealistically extreme. I expect a fair bit of exaggeration for this kind of moral, but I'd have felt more comfortable if she at least realized as she was flying what was going on, then was amazed to remember afterwords. Convincing nontraditional learners that they are, in fact, perfectly smart can be a major challenge, and when the resolution is unrealistically, magically extreme, it takes away from any (much-needed) reinforcement that people who have trouble focusing or remembering in a traditional setting can still be intelligent, and can still do well academically.
-And those faces I hate were back with a vengeance. Even Spike's making them now, for goodness sake.
-Speaking of Spike: what was with that musical interlude... thing... during Twi's lecture? I thought it was kind of funny when Dash started squeaking her chair instead of paying attention, but then it just went on, and on, and ON. It reminded me of what was wrong with so many scenes from Double Rainboom: the joke was made, then elaborated on, and then... another ten seconds or so of just awkwardly waiting for it to end so the show could move on to the next scenelette.
-The impression that I came away with after watching this episode was that it had the largest disconnect of any to date between quality and my enjoyment. This wasn't a seriously flawed episode, like some have been... but for a variety of reasons, some extremely idiosyncratic, I got almost no enjoyment out of this one. Oh well; hopefully next week is more to my taste.