Monday, June 6, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 138

For the third week in a row, we have an episode about which the strongest sentiment I can muster up is, "Yup, that was an episode of FiM, alright."  I liked Fluttershy's portrayal, and they did a good enough job of making her brother a shiftless layabout without turning him into some self-assured scriptwriter's idea of what one of them "millennials" looks like, but it felt like the episode couldn't decide what it wanted to preach on the "jobs" front.  On one hand, it's putting out the "go get a job, any job, just start working" shtick, but on the other, Fluttershy (and, to a lesser extent, Dash) keep emphasizing how, if Zephyr works hard and commits himself, he'll find something he loves.  Call it a hunch, but I don't think washing Twilight's windows is going to get him any closer to the job he loves.  Anyway, it's not like the two ideas are antithetical--you can work hard at a job in the short term while, separately, pursuing your passion/education--but the whole thing felt muddled to me.

This scene is really weird, if you re-watch it while focusing on Carrot Top.  Moments after this still, Carrot Top opens her mouth in a wide smile, and stares ahead, blinking occasionally but otherwise motionless, for several seconds.  The camera cuts away for less than two seconds, and when it comes back to the wide shot, Carrot Top has vanished without a trace.  Guys, I'm not saying that some eldrich abomination just offscreen melted Carrot's brain before seizing the rigid, mindlessly smiling husk of her body with one of its appendages and slithering back to the Everfree with its latest victim in tow...  

I'm just saying that, if we never see Carrot again, I hope that Dinky's new mother takes good care of the newly-orphaned foal.

Okay, enough horror!  Have some short reviews of happy stories, below the break.

101 Heinous Crimes Perpetrated by King Sombra, by KingMoriarty

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  King Sombra is brought before Celestia's court to answer for his many crimes... which, before the matter can proceed, must be enumerated.

A few thoughts:  I found this pretty entertaining, most of the way through.  Although the better part of the story is "just" the list (punctuated by frequent interludes, to allow the characters to react and quip), the format is put to good use painting some amusing pictures of the villainous antics Sombra got up to in the past.  Things fall apart at the end, at least on the comedy front, with the story going in a more vicious, "take that" direction at the end, but to be fair to the author, it does have the dark tag; thinking of this as "a dark story with comedy," rather than "a comedy with some dark humor" probably would make a significant difference in interpretation.

Recommendation:  If you're not going to get bent out of shape over unusually murderous ponies (and not just Sombra, at that!), then this is a pleasantly breezy bit of occasionally grim but not overserious humor.

Mare of Many Hats, by Skywriter

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Applejack reflects on the loss of the very special hat her father gave her--one of only 67,986.

A few thoughts:  The best of Skywriter's comedies are laugh-out-loud funny, piling ridiculousness upon ridiculousness in ever-higher piles, all the while quietly pointing to something fundamental about the human nature.  This is not one of those stories.  Don't get me wrong, it's funny all right!  It keeps hitting that "67,986" joke, and it never gets old.  It's got other funny bits, and callbacks, and random lesbian-ing, and all the other things you want out of a goofy story.  But, unlike some of the author's other works, there's really nothing left when you strip away all the humor.  That's not a bad thing, necessarily--but the result is a silly, shallow bit off character-destroying fluff.

Recommendation:  Does "a silly, shallow bit of a character-destroying fluff" sound good to you?  If so, definitely check this story out, as it delivers in spades.  If you're looking for that second level, never mind "depth," then this probably isn't the fic for you, though.

Monarchy of Carrots, by Seventh Heaven

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The tyrannical Queen Golden Harvest rules over Equestria with an iron hoof.

A few thoughts:  This is more a scene than a story, showing an event without really constructing any sort of narrative out of it.  The "comedy" here is entirely in the form of playing-against-type, and though I admit I found it entertaining... well, there's basically one note here (until the predictable, but not bad, end).  That said, the story at least has the self-awareness not to try to overstretch it's one note: clocking in at barely 1k words, this story does what it aims do, and doesn't give its premise time to get stale.  The writing is a bit repetitive in its structure, especially how it deals with names, but not to a deal-breaking extent.

Recommendation:  If you're a Carrot-Top enthusiast, then obviously this is going to end up on your list (and, may I compliment your excellent taste in background ponies?).  Beyond that, it might be worth a look if you find the premise intrinsically intriguing, but is unlikely to wow otherwise.


  1. Carrot Top confirmed for season 6 finale villain.

  2. Season Eight confirmed to be retitled "Carrot Top And Her Six Minions."