Whyfore Pony?

Ponies, Neil? Really?

Yeah, I know. It makes little to no sense, but I’ve found myself drawn into the fandom surrounding the latest incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise, Friendship is Magic.

Let me explain a bit. There is a certain subset of the internet that has gone batshit crazy for this cartoon. If you frequent any forums, there’s a fair chance there’s a pony thread on there. PA, Minecraft, 4chan, random games and countless more have all been infected by the pony meme, so much so that a bunch of 4channers started their own site over at ponychan.net to cater for the pony fans (henceforth: bronies.)

The show revolves around six ponies learning about friendship, complete with a ‘Mork calling Orson’ moment at the end to wrap up the moral in a neat package. Doesn’t sound great so far, right? What if I tell you the show is animated in Flash? You’ll probably roll your eyes at another set of ¾ cut-out models. What if I tell you they have musical numbers? You’ll laugh that they’ll be twee and rubbish.

Pretty much everything you think the show is about is wrong. Except that there are ponies in it.
And your ideas are probably not that wrong. Sorry.

Trying to nail down what makes the show appealing is hard. The most effective way to show you is to get you to watch an episode. Go watch Dragonshy. It’ll take you about 20 minutes and if you don’t like it you’ve lost nothing. It’s from part way through the series, but you’ll be fine. There ARE cute bits, but cute can be fun. There IS pink, but we’ve got past pink being a girl’s colour, haven’t we? You will feel a bit silly; this is a natural part of the process. It may help to have had a beer or two. Watch it in secret if it helps. You wouldn’t be the first person to skip the theme tune, but I suggest you watch at least one episode all the way through…

Go on, do it for me.
Seriously, you can say it’s the new Rickroll if anyone catches you.

Did you watch it? Enjoy it? Fluttershy, amirite?

I can’t explain it at all, but I goddamn love these ponies. I love them so much I have a shelf full of My Little Pony toys (I had to import them, there is no pony in the UK!) I love them so much I’ve joined in with an event over on Equestria Daily where we draw a pony to spec every day this month. You see? I’m drawing again after a 5 year hiatus! Friendship IS Magic!

YES I did turn 30 last month, shut up!

PONIES!

Ahem.

There’s so much to enjoy about the pony fandom, and so much to be terrified of humanity for. For example NEVER read ‘Cupcakes’. You SHOULD check out the history of Derpy Hooves and DJ P0N-3 though.

Now go watch Winter Wrap Up and try to get the song out of your head (all the eps are on YouTube in HD). Read the fun little fanfic Twilight October (even if you don’t read fanfic). Listen to Not a Clever Pony’s original fan music. Read Madmax’s excellent comics. Pick a favourite pony. Catch up on season 1 and get excited for Luna’s return in season 2, or just never look at anything pony again.

It’s OK to like My Little Pony. It’s OK not to like it. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you. Give it 20 minutes and tell me what you think.

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1914 to 1917.

Lending my support to Ado’s “Can it” campaign, behold as a laugh track very nearly ruins the greatest scene in British comedy history.

The thing about truley great British  situation comedy is that the situation around which the comedy is developed is so painfully tragic.  The example here is one of the best, though comedy from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is full of it.

Blackadder goes forth was based in a trench during the great war, a situation which should not be funny, clever writing can make the situation funny, but great writing also never shies away from the true horror of the situation.  I think that the greatest line in comedy history is “We lived through it.  The great war, from 1914 to 1917.”  It’s the type of line which takes a moment’s pause to truly comprehend, I hope that if it was filmed infront of a live audience then they didn’t pause to realise the tragedy within this line, if the laugh track was added at a later date, then it was a huge production error which nearly robs the scene of its plausability as a valid comment on the futility and horror of war.

Can It!!!

It really makes sense, ‘cause that’s the name of my new campaign to try and get rid of canned laughter. [Laughter] You get it?? [Ado stares cheekily at the camera and pauses] [Laughter].

You see how annoying that was?? You do, don’t you?? Well if not, stop reading now and put one of your Everyone Loves Raymond DVDs on, cause this certainly isn’t the place you ought to be.

Ever since I started to develop my own taste in all things comedic, I’ve had this ever increasing pain in my head whenever I hear laughter over a TV show. Honestly, by this point it’s so raw I almost cringe when I hear it, especially over a lame line or something that’s just not a joke at all. Honestly, it’s like someone plunging a fork into my happy sack (not an innuendo), it drains all the joy out of me and I just want to turn off the TV.

I feel both insulted and enraged that the producer doesn’t assume I have the intelligence to laugh at the correct point in their show. Even shows that employ the “Live Studio Audience” device get on my nerves too… I mean has no-one heard of the Fourth Wall?? Is comedy somehow exempt?? Ok, in stand-up or panel shows I can accept this are forums that involve an audience’s presence, but not in a sitcom as it destorys the situation that I am led to believe the comedy is taking place in. Argh!!!

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule and this rule is no exception…

Don't do it just cause they tell you to...
I said good day sir!!!

I still watch the likes of Alan Partridge, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and How I Met Your Mother (that’s in descending order :o) and love them to bits. I think this is because these are so exceptionally good that they completely overshadow the pain, like having a headache and then being shot in the knees, your attention is drawn away. However, I can’t help thinking how much better these shows would be without said humour response prompt. Much, much, much better I’d wager.

Realistically speaking (damn it) laughter tracks are needed, as some shows/actors are not funny and some people are idiotic enough that they need to be told when to laugh, therefore my proposal is thus:

I would like to be given the option to turn off the laughter track on, at the very least, any DVDs but, ideally, the actual broadcasts too.

DVD-wise, I feel this is perfectly possible with today’s technology and would be of minimal extra cost to any producer. The laugher track is added onto the soundtrack of a show in post production, so it could easily be treated like a commentary on a DVD.

Broadcast-wise, this may be a little more complicated, but would still entail very little cost at all. I have watched sports events where I was invited to press a button and change the commentary from regular TV, to Radio, to the ambient stadium sound, so why not this??

Is anyone with me on this, or am I out there on my own?? I really would like to know and, if this is something we’re interested in, I’ll start the angry mob process presently.

Hello Dolly…

As a TV addicted Geek, Joss Whedon is something of a hero to me (and by “hero” I mean, yes I would). This being the case, I was most excited to hear about his latest project and, in accordance with my apparent Mormanesque look, I thought I would relay the good news to you all…

Dollhouse is to feature Whedon veterans Eliza Dushku (oh my, she’s a feisty one) and Amy Acker (I think I’d cry afterwards). The basic premise of the show is that a company has a number of agents on it’s books who they hire out to perform any task the customer requires. These “Actives”, are mindless shell people who spend most of their time in a childlike state in the agency’s over sized dolls house. Before each mission they have personalities and skills implanted as required, once the mission is complete they return home to be blanked and put back into their gilded cage. Mission range from business to pleasure and anything in-between (I’m expecting assassination to high-class hooker patrol).

The hook is that one of the Actives (Echo, Eliza Dushku) starts to remember the time between missions. Thus she begins to workout what’s happening and, one assumes, the intrigue begins.

I heard about this project in early 2008 and have been picking up details ever since. What prompted me into this most evangelic of posts, however, was reading a report that production had been halted. I feared the worst, FOX cutting another promising Sci-Fi show off before it’s even got going would not exactly be a surprise. They’ve even done it to Whedon twice, with his best two shows to date Angel and Firefly, at which point he declared he would never work for FOX again… Obviously the “big truck of cash” came to town and changed all that, but I’ve learned to accept it’s influence in life…

Thankfully it turned out to be Mr Whedon himself delaying production, the reason he gave was that he didn’t feel that the scripts he’d left others to complete were of sufficient quality, so is running his eye over them and bring them up to par. I found this strangely reassuring, as you don’t usually hear improvement in quality as a reason for many things these days (least of all television production) and it has raised my hopes still further that a classic may be on the cards…

The obligatory wikipedia and IMDB pages, plus the TV.com page:

Wiki link; IMDB link; TV.com link

Until next week dear fellows and fellowesses…