Title: Crunch the Rock Dog (Parts 1-2)
Summary: A vicious dog carved from rock charges through Ponyland, turning everything it encounters to stone. But not, sadly, Megan and/or Danny. Sigh.
At least bat and I only have two more stories to recap (four episodes total) until we get to the end of season 1. That’s exciting. And bat has promised me that Rainbow Brite will be more fun. [bat: At minimum, the Rainbow Brite animation is so much better our eyeballs will no longer bleed.]
We open in a desolate desert, with two unknown ponies who lack cutie marks galloping along ahead of a dust storm. We then get a voiceover.
As Valentine watched her friend gallop away into the darkening sunset, a single lonely tear rolled down her face.
Cut to Paradise reading a book to the baby ponies, who are in floods of tears, as is Megan, but Danny is sulking in the corner. I would like to point out that when Paradise says “The end”, her lips don’t move.
And I already have a lot of questions:
- Is this lesbian representation? Because the blue pony is wearing a neckerchief, and if there’s one thing G1 collectors know it’s that neckerchiefs are a boy pony accessory, so did they try to make a lesbian couple based in stereotypes?
- Is this book suitable for the baby ponies, since it clearly has a downer ending as Valentine walks into the dust cloud to meet her maker.
- Why on earth is Danny even here? This is sounds like something he would consider a “girly emotions” book, and there is no way that annoying little asshat would listen to that.
Anyway, on with the tale. A pink pony with pink hair, maybe Baby Heartthrob, but I don’t know for sure, throws herself back on her bed and wails loudly. Has anyone been so moved by a tearjerker that they actually have to sob? I’ll admit, I got a bit hot-eyed and thick-throated when the CMCs got their cutie marks together in FiM. And I get a bit wistful and teary every time the Black Rabbit of Inlé comes for Hazel at the end of Watership Down, but I’ve never sobbed, I don’t think. [bat: Well, I cried at the end of HP&tDH but that was more ‘end of an era/characters’ emotional thing and that shitty “20 years later” add-on ruined the moment.]
Wind Whistler asks why Valentine’s friend galloped away at sunset. Wait, you’ve just read the book, and not once did they name Valentine’s friend? Shoddy writing, that is. Wind Whistler expands it is illogical to begin a long journey as the sun goes down. Just die you cheap nasty Spock rip-off.
Truly steps in with her genuinely awful accent, “Hooo caay-uz whut the sun was dooooin’ whey-uhn he hay-uhd to leave his one tu-rooh lu-yav?” (Who cares what the sun was doing when he had to leave his one true love?)
Wait. Valentine’s a he now? I just rewound it. Paradise definitely said her in the opening line. Fuck. Well, since I pride myself on always doing my best to use the correct pronoun, Valentine is now they until we find out for sure. [bat: The writers were inadvertently and totally not on purpose ahead of their time in using genderfluid Ponies for the story?]
Gusty agrees that Wind Whistler was asking a very stupid question, and then the baby ponies (Ribbon, Buttons and probably Heartthrob) wail loudly and irritatingly.
Wind Whistler says she does not understand the emotional display, it’s just a story. (And a bad one at that, but she politely doesn’t mention that.) Gusty says it’s too bad the feelings fairy passed her by, Buttons giggles at this and Wind Whistler looks sad. She says she does have feelings. [bat: Oh my god, I’m Wind Whistler!] Megan gets to her feet, with her face scrunched up like the front cover of Child’s Play 2, and says that Buttons and Gusty have proved that Wind Whistler has feelings. In case anyone missed it, Danny adds, “Yeah, by hurting them.”
Gusty and Buttons are unrepentant and have a good old giggle over the fact that Wind Whistler has walked out of the room.
Now, I hate Wind Whistler. And I love Gusty. But this is just terrible behaviour. There’s being sassy, and there’s being a bitch (in a gender neutral way – we Brits don’t gender swearwords, it limits our vocabulary). Nobody is ever sassy in this show (except for the delightful Bushwoolies, which we never see any more), everyone is always a nasty bitch.
LITERAL OMG MOMENT.
We have a dissolve cut to the Bushwoolies. Well, that was timely. How are you, my sassy little bundles of fuzz? (Once upon a time, I hated the Bushwoolies, now they’re my favourite thing in this show.) [bat: You’re welcome.]
Um, they appear to be terrified. They appear swimming across a river, and then running across the land, yelling that Crunch the Rock Dog is coming, and then agreeing with each other. They come to a halt to agree with direction to go (largely, I think it’s one voice actor yelling “Right! Left! Left? Right! Yeah, left! Right left!” and probably having plenty of fun), then they ball up and take off again.
What follows are clearly the rock version of The Langoliers, and a gigantic rock dog. Oh, hey, the rock dogs are in FiM. That’s one of my favourite Rarity episodes.
The rock dog breaks into a statement song thing, where he rants about how he hates nice things.
While he walks around, everything nice (grass, water, flowers) dries up and dies at his touch.
INCLUDING MY BELOVED BUSHWOOLIES.
THIS SHIT STOPS NOW. I HAVE BEEN AWASH IN A SEA OF INDIFFERENCE FOR OVER 40 EPISODES, BUT I AM DRAWING A FUCKING LINE.
(Ok, they turned to stone, they didn’t completely die. I’ve seen Narnia, I know this can be fixed. But still, fuck you rockdog.)
Back to Wind Whistler, who is walking in a field, looking sad and saying that she does have feelings, she just doesn’t express them often, while Megan and Danny reassure her. They are cut off by a Bushwoolie calling for help. It’s a purple one, but I was pretty sure only the blue one got through the Rockening unscathed.
After Purple sputters out a very upset and confusing summary of events, he passes out. Since what he said only makes sense if you saw the preceding clip, I do wonder if Megan will suggest search parties, because it’s what she does in times of crisis.
While Gusty rallies the troops into a scragging frenzy, Wind Whistler calls for calm, which only provokes Gusty to point out – again – that Wind Whistler has no feelings at all.
It is a rare fucking occasion when I side against Gusty, and even more rare that I would side with Wind Whistler, whom I absolutely cannot stand, but Gusty, shut the fuck up. Me, I show my emotions a lot of the time, but I very much understand people who don’t. Wing, for example, is a very even tempered human being (unless you show her an open flame, then she cannot conceal her glee). The emotions are not absent, they’re just not demanding that the whole world notice them. [bat: I scream a lot in recaps, I am very fond of CAPSLOCK, and come off quite a bit emotionally-driven in written text. In person… unless you know me well and I am comfortable around you, I am quite silent and detached. I also can’t help wondering if the writers accidentally stumbled upon a copy of DSM-IV and thought, hey, Wind Whistler could have Asperger syndrome but, of course, they botched the execution completely.] [Dove: I’m kind of the opposite. I’m bubbly and personable in a crowd, but if I really like you, I feel comfortable enough to turn it off and shut up.]
Wind Whistler counters that they need a plan, and Megan realises that search parties isn’t going to cut it this time falls back on Plan B: the Moochick.
We cut to a “hilarious” scene, where the Moochick and his bunny chase a sentient stick around the house for awhile. When they corner it, Megan suggests the stick is feeling under appreciated, and the Moochick offers it a day off every time the mushrooms bloom (and I really get a feeling that happens like every thirty years or so). So, with that pointless aside out of the way, let’s move this plot along, because it’s starting to look like a spider with all of the boring offshoots.
Megan asks if he’s ever heard of a Cruch the Rock Dog from the Purple Mountains. Moochick says no, but go ask His Elevated Eminence, the King of the Mountain.
I personally guarantee the King of the Mountain won’t be as epic as this:
(bat, have you seen Heidi’s Song? If so, should we recap it? I feel that psychedelic animation from the 80s is kind of our thing.) [bat: No, I haven’t. Go for it.] [Dove: Oh you are in for a treat.]
We cut to Megan and co (Gusty, Truly, Buttons, Wind Whistle, Danny, and Purple Bushwoolie) up a mountain. Suddenly, there is a Jurassic Park-esque shaking, as Crunch the Rock Dog makes an entrance, preceded by a Pink Bushwoolie (I use their colours as names, since in the show they don’t have names). Pink goes bouncing past in ball-form, and Purple follows. Danny grabs Purple and tells him not to do it (and calls him “little fella” for added condescension). Purple wriggles free and follows Pink, who is being pursued by a sentient ball of rock. The ball of rock herds them towards Crunch who turns them to stone.
And I’ve gotta say: stone Bushwoolies? Fucking nightmare fuel. [bat: This cartoon single-handedly comes up with the worst visual nightmare material constantly.]
Danny, genius that he is, watches two of his friends get turned to stone and runs towards it yelling, “It’s just a dog.” Please god, let him be turned to stone. Please.
Danny starts telling the dog to sit down (it already is) and heel, because it’s a bad dog. The dog collapses in hysterical laughter. What’s that quote, “A boot has no quarrel with an ant.” That’s this right now. But why isn’t he turning him to stone?
Wind Whistler advises that they run for it, since Danny blew their cover, so they do, while Danny looks pissed off that his genius plan didn’t work.
Everyone runs for their lives – except Danny and Megan, who lazily ride Buttons and Wind Whistler respectively. Yeah, I’d love that. Some gormless wazzock shouts at the monster that can turn us to stone and gives our hiding place away, and then I have to carry him?
Gusty falls behind and says she’ll draw them off and meet up with Team Good Guy later. She comes to a halt, and uses her magic to blow dust in their eyes then gloats before the plan even works. Which is good, because it doesn’t work because they don’t have eyes, so she wouldn’t have had chance to gloat.
She turns to run and bumps right into Crunch, who turns her to stone.
Much as I love Gusty, that was oddly satisfying.
We open with Megan/Wind Whistler, Danny/Buttons and Truly still running for their lives. Well, one pony running, two others trying while two lazy humans let their toes drag along the ground because they’re too fucking big for these ponies.
For a minute, they’re surrounded, but Crunch and his sentient rocks allow them to take a time out for a quick confab about the situation. Wind Whistler says that Gusty cannot be helped, so they should save themselves, which Buttons and Truly do not want to hear. Megan backs Wind Whistler, and Danny reminds them that they stopped to bully Wind Whistler in the middle of a chase scene, so hadn’t they better get back to running?
They end up on the edge of a cliff, and Buttons draws the rocks off by winking back and forth to confuse them while the others escape. Why the rocks didn’t just chase the people and ponies that couldn’t wink from place to place, I don’t know. [bat: MAGIC HOW DOES IT WORK]
Buttons tricks the rocks to the edge of a cliff and then uses her magic to sever it off, sending the rocks plummeting down the mountain side. I suspect bat will have some questions about that brand new power. [bat: *tears hair out, screaming*]
The resulting rockslide buries Crunch (only momentarily, because he doesn’t even stay down until the fade-to-black.)
Buttons rejoins the others, and they all wonder where the Mountain King is. That’s when the mountain starts talking to them. I was right. It’s not as cool as the one in Heidi’s Song.
So, exposition time: the King created Crunch to guard the Heart Stone, the magical gem that gives him feelings. Unfortunately, he never gave Crunch any feelings, and thus created the stroppy monster we are currently dealing with. He also stuck a lava rock from the Volcano of Gloom – Hydia’s hideout is much different in this clip, for one thing, it’s constantly bubbling lava, which implies that the witches are probably dead. The lava rock gives him the power to turn things into stone. The only way to defeat him is to use the Heart Stone (again, I am wondering if these inspired Lauren Faust to make the Elements of Harmony), which is deep in the mountain.
He will let them in to retrieve it, but he’s not sure what will happen when they remove it.
Welp. I’ve never recapped something where the protagonists have to climb inside someone to collect a McGuffin. And I’m pretty sure that South Park: The Stick of Truth did it better.
The King guides them through himself to get to the heart, but when Megan takes it from the plinth, he becomes rather testy. In fact, it looks like he’s trying to bury them with an internal rock slide. They comment that the Heart Stone gave him feelings and without it he’s very angry. That doesn’t sound right to me. The absence of feelings isn’t anger. Anger is an emotion. It would be searing indifference and icy (ignorant) cruelty.
I’d say Wind Whistler was closer to displaying no feelings than this raging strop-fest of a mountain. [bat: I said these writers BOTCHED THIS big time. Sigh.]
In mere seconds, Team Good Guy get free of the mountain but Crunch is outside waiting for them. Megan hides the stone behind her back. Truly says Crunch has gone too far, and she’s going to give him what-for. Everyone tells her to stop, but Wind Whistler encourages her – which again invites snippy comments from the rest of the ponies.
Wind Whistler says that she’d happy to let him turn them to stone. She’s been stuck with these emotionally wobbly morons for too long, and it’s refreshing to meet someone unlike them. Welp. Gotta say, Wind Whistler has just got a fuck of a lot more interesting.
Crunch turns Truly to stone, and despite what she said, Wind Whistler sheds a tear for her. (I wouldn’t, Truly’s got a terrible accent and her toy is in the Cherries Jubilee pose – the one pose I can’t find a single nice thing to say about it).
Wind Whistler says she’ll prove that she’s on Crunch’s side by giving him his next victim. She scoops up Megan, and flies towards Crunch. Danny makes a protest, but smug-as-fuck Megan doesn’t even pretend to feel betrayed to sell it, and instead says, “Yeah, bring me right to him.” [bat: For once, Megan understood the plot and went along with someone else’s plan. This is a huge moment. How will she botch it later on?]
Then Crunch spots the Heart Stone – not surprising, since Megan’s holding it out in front of her – and tries to run away. Wind Whistler sets Megan down on the ground so she can run after him, which I’m sure is faster than being flown. The stone glows and then turns the rock dog into a real puppy.
Truly turns back from stone to real (sigh), and so does Gusty. We get some scenes of everything going back to normal. Crunch bitches that they need to stop being happy, so they break a piece off from the Heart Stone and put it in his collar, and with that he turns back into a giant rock dog, but he’s happy now.
What the actual fuck? Why did he turn into a real puppy beforehand if he was only going to turn back into a rock dog? Why didn’t he get feelings immediately? Why am I even bothering with questions when the writers just don’t care? [bat: AND THERE IT IS, BOTCHING EVERYTHING THEY WORKED FOR. A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR SOME OF THE SHITTIEST WRITERS EVER!] [Dove: This ending was so bad. So bad.]
Megan says they’d better get the heart back to the King.
And with two minutes left, I bet we’re going to have to endure a song, aren’t we?
The King is delighted with this turn of events, and Team Good make their way home, where the ponies apologise to Wind Whistler for not respecting her muted feelings. She tries to make a joke and it dies. Just like my soul.
And that’s it! Boom! Done. Over. This is bat’s problem now.
I’m going to grade this a C, because I liked parts of it. I liked the Bushwoolies, and I liked that it tried to deal with how logical Wind Whistler is, and how this is perceived as being unfeeling. But I think I will always be bitter that Megan and Danny didn’t get turned to stone.
The main story was largely ignored, and was wrapped up in about three minutes at the end of the second episode – though perhaps that’s right, it was the least interesting thing that was happening.
Oh, and bonus points for the lesbian book plot at the start of the first episode. Though it loses points for changing Valentine’s gender. And also for making the Baby Ponies cry. That is a horrible noise.
[bat: I’m going to be more harsh and give this a D-. Sure, there was some interesting plot elements — possibly the seeds sown for G4’s cartoon FiM with the hearts of rock — but, as always, poorly executed. You constantly make the Ponies mean girls who pick on their own friends and then make them “apologize” but they never learn and the consequences are always undone or short-lived. What kid learns anything from that? Ugh, now I’ve got to recap a whole episode about talking furniture.] [Dove: I remember the talking furniture episode quite fondly. Time will tell whether I was right to do so.]