Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 148

One thing I'll say for Dungeons and Discord: the way Spike and Mac giggle over the "Squizard" name as Discord looks on in frustrated bemusement was a perfect encapsulation of walking in on the kind of long-running in-jokes that D&D invariably fosters.  You show up at one of my games, the first thing that's going to happen when you try to introduce your character is that someone will ask if you're from Meeuhmee, and everyone will laugh, and you'll have no idea why that's supposed to be funny.  The rest of the episode was pretty blah for me, but I related to that moment hard.

You know what else I relate to?  Carrot Top!  So I decided to review a few Carrot-Top tagged stories for today--turns out there aren't a lot on FiMFiction, and I've already reviewed most of the one's that are written reasonably competently and aren't porn.  But here's a few more!  And all comedy, it turns out.  Anyway, get them below the break!

Cauldron Club, by Biplane

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight decides that the best way to share her love of alchemy is to start the titular club.  Surely, nopony will brew up anything which will destroy Ponyville and/or create a pack of bear-sharks, right?

Carrot Top is...  a perfectly ordinary pony with some self-esteem issues and a whole boatload of unicorn/pegasus envy.

A few thoughts:  This is a flawed story in a number of ways.  It tries for an overarching theme with Trixie, but is too unfocused to feel like more than a piece of random comedy.  At over 50,000 words, "random comedy" just isn't enough to carry a piece this length.  Zecora's... not well written.  And a lot of the narrator's more direct appeals to the reader and/or characters fall flat.

But for all that, I still read this entire story, and on the whole I enjoyed it.  This is an aggressively silly story, and while that sometimes leads it down avenues like the overly-informal narrator shtick I just complained about, that instinct generally serves the story well.  There's also an undeniable pleasure in watching Biplane set up his dominoes, before knocking them down, all while developing several new and minor characters in ways that are sympathetic and surprising, but mostly amusing.  Couple that with a knack for subverting expectations just often enough to keep one on one's toes, and the result is a piece that's easy to like despite its flaws.

Recommendation:  This is a good choice for readers looking for something with a strong bent toward the absurd and a laconic, laid-back style and structure.  Those who find that kind of writing wearisome should stay far away, however: it is both omnipresent and unrelenting.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight is battling some great villain... again.  And it's woken up Carrot Top!  Nothing for it but to sit back and watch the fireworks.

Carrot Top is...  An innocent bystander who is, perhaps, just a bit jaded after seeing one too many epic battles.

A few thoughts:  This story has a couple of nice moments to it--Carrot Top discussing her necessarily extensive insurance coverage comes to mind--surrounded by a lot of references and call-outs--as when, while talking about her insurance coverage, Carrot Top describes herself as "a simple mare with simple dreams."  Between that, the on-the-nose Slice of Life references, and dropping a few fan-song titles, this is a piece largely buoyed by the reader's enjoyment of going "hey, I know that thing!" over and over.  That's not something I, as a reader, enjoy... so despite having some funny and cute individual bits, this isn't a story I was particularly enamored with, myself.

Recommendation:  Your enjoyment of this is largely going to come down to whether or not you find things like Carrot Top asking Vinyl Scratch to play "Beyond Her Garden" with her bass canon.  If that sounds funny to you, dive right in!  If not, this is definitely not your kind of story.

Line Up!, by Maddiepink5

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Big Mac deals with his daily line of suitors, and tries to let them all down as gently as possible.

Carrot Top is...  Oblivious, filled with inexplicable rage, and in possession of a whine "far too loud and obnoxious to be appreciated for its cute factor."

A few thoughts:  Poor Carrot Top :(

Okay, seriously: In the author's note, Maddie says "Please, don't bother leaving constructive criticism, this was just stupidity solidified."  That's a little harsher than I was going to be; there are a few amusing lines here, which is all to the good.  But too often, the joke is underdeveloped, or is entirely situational without any sort of punchline or payoff.  Couple that with the piece's general unevenness, and the result is a lurching, uncertain fic which never quite delivers on the ridiculousness of having dozens of mares all waiting in line for a chance to ask somepony out.

Recommendation:  If you find the concept of "Mac rejects ponies in turn" inherently amusing, this might be worth a look, but I wouldn't recommend it more broadly than that.

The "Well hello there Carrot Top" tag is only for pages which actually have one or more pictures of Carrot Top, but I would have felt silly not using it to tag a collection of Carrot Top fics.  So, have a picture of Carrot Top riding a bear-shark!  Sadly, this is not a thing that happens in Cauldron Club, but maybe that would've just been too much concentrated awesome for a single fic to handle.

1 comment:

  1. A shame about that second one, because the title is perfectly hilarious and evocative.