Friday, 24 November 2017

The second G4 PMV ever made!

And no, this one isn't "Trouble is a Friend" either. Back in September, I posted about what is to the best of my knowledge the first G4 PMV, "Your Love Is My Drug". That was made from trailer footage before Friendship is Magic even started its run, but "Good Company" was not. It came out on 28th October 2010 and used the less fandom-specific term "AMV" in its title. (Though I suppose as it's Fluttershy-themed, that could be said to stand for "Adorable Music Video"!)

"My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic | Fluttershy - Good Company G4 AMV", to give the video its rather wordy full title, is set to the tune of the song from the 1988 Disney animated feature Oliver & Company. At 2'28" it's more than twice as long as "Your Love Is My Drug", but it's still very simple compared to what we see today, using exclusively footage from the S1 premiere as that was all there was at the time.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 180: On the Oche

Read it Later story count: 390 (-5)

I'll be glad when (if?) I return to the point when I'm able to return to reading five or more stories just about every week. I'm not there yet, as another three-fic week demonstrates. Here's the little collection I've been able to consider:

Loss by Kaylee
Head-first to Equestria! by Simon_oSullivan
It's Just a Game by HashMark111

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The importance of having fun

    "Uh, one teensy thing to remember – have fun!"—Cherry Jubilee, "The Last Roundup"

From time to time, I get (usually at least semi-unwillingly) caught up in a discussion/argument about whether the standards of writing for Friendship is Magic have fallen since the early days. The more I think about this, the more I think that my answer would be that they probably have – but that this isn't actually the be-all and end-all, and that it hasn't made me like the show less.

There's certainly less attention paid now to keeping continuity perfect, and sometimes we get stuff that just doesn't seem to have been thought out at all and bears no real connection with the rest of Equestria: the Bunyip in "P. P. O. V." is a particularly egregious example. In that episode's case, I felt that part was actively harmful to the entertainment factor, but it certainly isn't always so.

Compare the works of Tolkien with Doctor Who. There's no doubt at all that Tolkien's writing is better – but for the most part, I would rather sit down with Doctor Who. It may play fast and loose with its continuity to an almost ridiculous degree, but to me it's generally a good deal more entertaining. The only Tolkien book I've truly loved is The Hobbit, and I don't think that's entirely an accident.

I watch My Little Pony for 22 minutes of entertainment, and I am more interested in the question "Did I have fun?" than in the question "Was it beautifully constructed?" My guess would be that there's a significant negative correlation between those who share my feelings and those who feel the show is a shadow of its former self. (I think S7 has been great, on the whole.)

Now, I am, to a very minor extent, a writer. And there have been times when I've felt that even I could do better than the show staff. (This isn't new, though: "Somepony to Watch Over Me", anyone?) The thing is, this doesn't ruin my enthusiasm for the show as a whole. As long as they keep churning out stuff that makes me happy to watch, that is good enough for me.

Maybe I should be more demanding. I would be with fanfic. But you know what? I don't care. I like Starlight, in spite of the obvious problems with her characterisation, notably the non-explanation of her extraordinary power level. I like the movie, in spite of its undoubted flaws. And why? Because in both cases, they contribute to my being entertained. And to me, that matters most of all.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

UK of Equestria's overall S7 ranking list

As we've done for the last couple of years (for S5 and for S6), we've been asking people to rank all this season's Friendship is Magic episodes. Because of having no double-episode premiere this year, members were asked to rank the episodes from 1 to 25, with the finale counting as one. We had 15 respondents, a little down on S6's 18 but still enough to get a good idea. S7 has been pretty well received overall, but what you see here is based on the overall means.

The tier boundaries were decided very simply: any episode with a mean position of five or below got a five star rating. Then any ep with an average of worse than 5th but equal to or better than 10th got four. And so on down the line, with episodes with a mean score below 20 getting a one-star rating. This year, we have eps in all five tiers, which makes my job a bit easier! It's also the first time we've had more than six episodes in the top two categories. Here's the list:

1. A Royal Problem
2. Shadow Play

3. The Perfect Pear
4. Once Upon a Zeppelin
5. Parental Glideance
6. Rock Solid Friendship
7. It Isn't the Mane Thing About You
8. All Bottled Up

9. Fame and Misfortune
10. Discordant Harmony
11. A Health of Information
12. Celestial Harmony
13. Campfire Tales
14. Uncommon Bond
15. Secrets and Pies

16. Hard to Say Anything
17. To Change a Changeling
18. A Flurry of Emotions
19. Marks and Recreation
20. Daring Done?
21. Triple Threat
22. Honest Apple
23. Forever Filly

24. Not Asking for Trouble
25. Fluttershy Leans In

Number of times each episode placed first
5: A Royal Problem
3: The Perfect Pear
3: Shadow Play
1: All Bottled Up
1: Fame and Misfortune
1: Once Upon a Zeppelin
1: Parental Glideance

Number of times each episode placed last
6: Fluttershy Leans In
4: Not Asking for Trouble
1: Fame and Misfortune
1: A Flurry of Emotions
1: Forever Filly
1: Honest Apple
1: Secrets and Pies

Most controversial (highest standard deviation)
1. Fame and Misfortune
2. Secrets and Pies
3. Hard to Say Anything

Least controversial
1. A Royal Problem
2. Fluttershy Leans In
3. To Change a Changeling

"A Royal Problem" was universally liked and widely adored: everyone placed the episode in their top nine, and 12 voters had it in the top four. In fact, it (just) displaces "Amending Fences" as the most popular episode of the past three seasons. At the other end of the table, the bottom two were widely unpopular, being more than three points adrift of the rest, and "Fluttershy Leans In" had a highest position from anyone of 17th. That wasn't even from me!

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the most controversial episode was "Fame and Misfortune", and I suspect that argument will run and run. We all know that M. A. Larson doesn't like the fact that his name is attached to it, but that doesn't stop many people (including me) from enjoying what we ended up with. "To Change a Changeling" was an unusual episode where there was near-unanimity on its middling status: out of 15 people, 13 placed it between 10th and 17th in their lists.

The general feeling among those people discussing the most recent season has been that S7 was for the most part a very good run, and certainly a step up from S6. This means that a three-star ep this time around might in fact be more popular in absolute terms than a three-star ep last year. But the rules of the poll don't allow you to make your rankings on that basis, instead requiring only relative positions to be taken into account, so bear that factor in mind.

Friday, 17 November 2017

The movie's performance in the UK

Yesterday, I went to the Showcase cinema in Dudley to see My Little Pony: The Movie for the third time. I'm not a big film-goer, and in fact this is the first one I have ever seen three times on the big screen. It's almost at the end of its run now, and on a midweek afternoon there were only five people in the auditorium – including someone with a UK PonyCon T-shirt! (Actually, two, as I was wearing mine as well.) But I still enjoyed it a lot and even noticed some things I hadn't picked up on before. (No spoilers here!)

Back at the start of October, I wondered whether the film might actually do better (relatively speaking) over here than in North America. At that point, we weren't even sure how widely it would be carried in UK cinemas. The answer: very. While it didn't generally sprawl across multiple screens per cinema in the way Blade Runner 2049 was, the movie was shown in the vast majority of cinemas. According to Box Office Mojo, the total for the UK, Ireland and Malta (which are lumped together) peaked at 555 cinemas in its third week.

BOM tells me that its UK (etc) weekend rankings for the first four weeks of general release were 6th, 7th, 7th and 11th. Compare that with North America, where it started higher (4th) but then fell more quickly (9th, 15th, 19th). The NA box office after four weeks was a smidgen over $20 million. Over here, the same figure is roughly $4.5m, so 22.5% of the NA total. That seems to me to be a respectable performance: The Lego Ninjago Movie made 20.9% as much here as in NA, for example.

What I don't know is how well (comparably) movie-branded toys have done on each side of the Atlantic, or whether the availability of Pony on free-to-air TV in the UK has helped. I do know that few cinemas here are now showing the film in midweek, and that Paddington 2, which went straight in at no. 1 last week, will eat up a great deal of the family-film market from now until Christmas. So... I might have been overly optimistic to hope MLP:TM would do better over here, but it does seem at least to have held its own.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 179: Starlight Glimmer Edition

Read it Later story count: 395 (-1)

For the first time in I don't know how long (because I'm too lazy to look it up), I'm doing a character-focused PR today, and it's the turn of a certain overpowered unicorn. Five stories, and there's certainly some interesting stuff within them. Here's the list:

I Have Many Forms, but This One is Mine by Raugos
Waiting by Silver Moon
Solving for Death by Majin Syeekoh
Same Apples, New Tricks by Bookish Delight
The Alicorn Curse by chillbook1

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 13 November 2017

CD review: My Little Pony: The Movie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Front cover of the MLP Movie soundtrack CD
"The Mane 6", apparently...
Whew, that title is a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? Luckily, that subject line will be the only place I write it out in full. In line with my policy of avoiding movie spoilers until the New Year, I will be placing most of the review of this CD (for which I paid £10 in Tesco) under a cut. Spoilers ahoy! However, I will say up here that there is a manufacturing flaw in one track of the disc that should not have got to retail copies. Anyway...