Title: Puppy Pony
Summary: When the Ponies discover
Clifford the Big Red Dog a huge puppy has mysteriously been dumped on the doorstep of Paradise Estate, they set out to make the animal abandoner pay! No, no they don’t. They make friends with said puppy and build it a huge dog house for the winter.
Grade: Read to Find Out!
Welcome back for another installment of My Little Pony ‘n Various Characters-of-the-Week That You’ll Never Remember. I swear, Dove and I are fervently slogging through these, regret clouding our minds every single step of the way. THE EPISODES ARE NOT GETTING ANY BETTER, PEOPLE. [Dove: This episode may be the greatest example of “you can never go home” in history.]
We’ve finally reached one of those single episodes, a one-shot that doesn’t require us to split it between two recaps. A quick glance tells me there’s four more one-shots after this, but about a billion multi-part episodes on top of that. Oh mysterious creators of Dream Valley, be merciful and end my suffering quick.
(It’s kinda hard to go from a rewatch of all seasons of Vikings to pastel-coloured talking cartoon horses but here I am. If only Floki would show up and yell nonsense about the pagan gods and blood sacrifices at Shady. I would watch that.)
After that misleading GLASS PRINCESS crap, I am not holding out hopes for this episode being any good. Setting the bar low early on! Let’s watch.
(I don’t know why I’ve stopped skipping the theme/intro. It’s painful and I’m starting to have anxiety whenever I hear it. I know what’s coming and I cannot escape.)
We open on three orange-brown leaves “falling” and by “falling” I mean being animated in a weird way to drift over towards Paradise Estate, that suddenly looks like it’s been built on/in a swamp. What? WAS THERE NO SHOW “BIBLE” TO GO ON FOR THE ANIMATORS? BECAUSE THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS.
The gate opens and Heartthrob is waxing poetic about “the first day of Fall”. (Man, I loved my toy of Heartthrob but cripes, she’s an annoying moron in the cartoons. [Dove: Same. And her so-soft version was gorgeous. But she’s acting like Rarity as imagined by a really awful fanfic writer who clearly hates her.]) She gallops out into the open space, followed by Truly (who happens to be wearing the rainbow striped exercising outfit) (BUY OUR MERCH) (Oh, don’t worry, I totally still have that outfit), Lickety-Split, …is that Cupcake or Gusty?, Lofty, and Magic Star. All the Ponies are laughing and having a merry time.
Magic Star is an instant buzzkill, reminding her fellow Ponies that there’s chores to do before winter. (WINTER IS COMING) [Dove: This is really confusing. Magic Star sounds like Gusty, but Gusty’s in the scene too. And given how many times they animate the wrong mouth, my brain just can’t figure this one out.] They all groan and complain. We smash cut to what I guess are baby Ponies; size does not get accurately portrayed so I’m guessing based on the one having a bib for a cutie mark. (Was that Tiddly-Winks? Baby Cuddles? BRAIN FAIL) I think Baby Shady is there, and one other that I can’t identify due to her mark being hidden by Baby Shady. [Dove: It was Tiddly-Winks. Cuddles is blue. I think. Or green, depending on how well her plastic was mixed that day. Why is Shady maroon? Why?]
Oh, wait, no, it’s Baby Lickety-Split?
Two Ponies come to the edge of a river, which honestly just looks like a stream, but the sound effects tell me it’s RUSHING QUICKLY. They pause before crossing via stones sticking out of the water. Once across, Baby Lickety-Split and Baby Shady mock and tease Baby Tiddly-Winks (I checked and my brain DID NOT FAIL! Why must I retain the most useless knowledge ever? Is there some kind of MLP trivia night I can attend and kick everybody’s ass at? TELL ME.) that she can’t catch up to them.
[Dove: Can I just take this moment to say (again) that I really HATE the baby-talk? How is that a thing? I remember a friend and I, aged around six, went through a baby-talk phase (it lasted about twelve minutes) before our mothers overheard and gave us what-for for making it sound like they’d raised morons who couldn’t speak at their own age level. Did literally no-one involved have children? Was everyone thinking, “Gee, I really hope my little Suzie picks up this baby-talk. I’d love to listen to that all day long.” I mean, even babies don’t talk like this.]
This mean-spirited teasing seems to be a hallmark of both adult and baby Ponies. I never realized how awful they really are to each other.
Baby Tiddly-Winks hesitates, manages two of the rocks, then deliberately steps out into thin air. Um. She flails all four legs, yelling for help, as she plunges into the fast-moving water. (Just wait for it… wait for it…)
Surfacing, Tiddly-Winks floats surprisingly slowly through the water until she is able to cling to a conveniently placed boulder in the middle of the river. Baby Shady and Lickety-Split race alongside the bank, yelling at her to hang on. Baby Lickety-Split attempts to enter the river but has to be pulled back out by her tail, by Baby Shady. She yells to Baby Tiddly-Winks (SO TIRED OF HYPHENATED NAMES UGH [Dove: I have so many auto-corrects on Word, I’d keel over if I had to actually type these names.]) that the water is too fast. TELL US SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW.
(I would make comment about LACK OF ADULT SUPERVISION but the adult Ponies are basically akin to today’s parents — either helicopter parenting their children to death or ignoring them entirely. I swear to god, if someone learned their parenting skills from this show, it would explain everything.)
Confused and clearly clueless, Baby Shady and Baby Lickety-Split have no idea what to do. (MAYBE GO FIND AN ADULT? PERHAPS MEGAN IS AROUND TO BE YOUR LILY WHITE SAVIOR YET AGAIN?) Suddenly the frame shakes (I think this is supposed to mean the ground is shaking) and the two baby Ponies look around in fear.
Over behind some nearly-bare trees is a huge… dog. For being THAT HUGE, her bark does not crumble mountains or sound like Thor hammering at his anvil. (Sorry, sorry, still stuck in Vikings-mode.) No, her bark sounds like a Shih-Tzu or a Yorkie at best, high pitched and yappy. And not even that because it’s CLEARLY A HUMAN IMPERSONATING A DOG.
Said dog barks a bunch then leans into the water just as Baby Tiddly-Winks sinks beneath to a watery grave. (WHERE TF ARE THE SEA PONIES?? I WAS EXPECTING THEM.) Dipping her apparently huge dog head under the water, as Baby Shady and Baby Lickety-Split look on in… not sure what emotion that is… before said dog catches Baby Tiddly-Winks in its mouth and lifts her up and sets her on the bank.
“MONSTER GOT BABY TIDDLY-WINKS!” Baby Shady screams before Baby Lickety-Split sharply corrects her. (Excuse me, how is Baby Tiddly-Winks SUDDENLY DRY?) “Not monster! Big puppy!”
HOW THE HELL DOES BABY LICKETY-SPLIT KNOW ABOUT PUPPIES?? DID LICKETY-SPLIT KEEP HER HOME FROM SCHOOL WHEN THE FAMILY DOG WAS GIVING BIRTH??
Yet again, for something that’s supposed to be huge, there was no firm decision made on how to portray that. Ugh. The dog barks and… wait… BABY LICKETY-SPLIT JUST TRANSLATED THAT?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
The dog wants to know if Baby Tiddly-Winks is okay. [Dove: Uh… is she Fluttershy’s ancestor?]
I should have set the bar so low it was in the dust. Sigh.
Baby Tiddly-Winks confirms she’s okay but wet. (Could have fooled me.) The dog sits down and immediately blows on Baby Tiddly-Winks, when sends her moving along the static grass pasture, until she’s dry. Sure. Whatever. Who cares at this point. Baby TW (I am so done typing out names!) giggles and is now dry. Baby Shady asks the puppy’s name, getting barks in reply. “No can talk like us!” Baby TW points out. (BUT BABY LS JUST TOTALLY TRANSLA…. I GIVE UP.)
Since apparently Baby LS no longer understands the puppy (???) Baby TW decides to call the puppy Dinah, because it’s “big, like a dinosaur!”
OH MY GOD SO MANY QUESTIONS HOW DO PONIES KNOW ABOUT DINOSAURS DO THEY HAVE FOSSILS IN DREAM VALLEY YES I KNOW THERE WAS A “DINO” FRIEND FOR THE PONIES IN THE LATER YEARS OF THE TOYS I RECEIVED HER AS A GIFT WHEN I FLEW ALONE ON AN AIRPLANE WHEN I WAS LIKE SEVEN YEARS OLD BUT THAT STILL DOES NOT EXPLAIN
How do the Baby Ponies know the dog is female?
It is deduced (because the plot says so) that the puppy Dinah is lost (she whines when asked) so Baby Shady says Dinah should come home with them! Yeah! Why not!
Back at Paradise Estates, the three Baby Ponies appear with Dinah, telling the adults “we keep her!” Um. Oh god they’ve started to whine. “Please? PUH-LEESE??” Apparently Gusty was out sick that day so Magic Star has gained her voice. “I don’t know, a puppy is a big responsibility!”
ALSO: LOOK AT THE (still varying) SIZE OF THAT PUPPY! [Dove: I love the leaf. I know it’s supposed to be closer to the camera… or is it? Maybe the animators are drunk again?] [bat: WHEN ARE THE ANIMATORS NOT DRUNK?]
I’m not sure the source I’m using is accurate but it says Truly is in the costume (BUY OUR MERCH) and she suddenly has a super Southern accent. Okay. Lordy, save me.
Lofty, while circling around the puppy’s head, is trying to knock reason into her sisters(?) “Where will we keep her? Where will she sleep?” (No mention of food and water, or clean up.) Dinah wrenches her neck trying to watch Lofty circle her head, until she is comically dizzy. That’s when Lofty wants to know what the puppy will eat.
CUPCAKES. YES. FEED THE PUPPY FUCKING CUPCAKES. THANKS FOR THAT VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION, CUPCAKE.
Magic Star decides that with WINTER COMING and Dinah being a puppy (?? HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT?) the Ponies cannot say no to a fellow creature in need. WHO ALSO HAPPENED TO SAVE ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN YOU WEREN’T PARENTING. The Baby Ponies leap up and down, Dinah howling in joy. Yay.
We smash cut to the Baby Ponies using their muzzles to herd leaves into piles. This is literally physically impossible. [Dove: Why are they even bothering? Those trees are far enough away from the main entrance to Paradise Estate that they won’t be slipped on, and if they do rot, you probably won’t smell it. Just leave the leaves alone.] Dinah sleeps nearby but when she hears the Baby Ponies won’t have time to play, she wakes up, bashes her head into them to make them go away, then proceeds to instantly push all the leaves into a ginormous pile with her paws and tail, before blowing them into an even bigger mound. I can’t. [Dove: What’s superb about this is that the leaves look large even for her paws. So they must’ve been like a double duvet to the baby ponies.]
Now they can play! But first, Dinah brushes the leaves out of her coat with a paw before running across some… totally unmeasured…. distance to a picnic table with a large cupcake on it. Dinah immediately licks a chunk of pink icing off… and that’s when Lickety-Split comes out of that poorly-drawn background building and yells “You ate all my ice cream!”
THAT’S ICE CREAM??
Baby TW comes up and scolds Dinah, telling her to “go sit!” and that “I clean up mess.” Ugh. Dinah whines and barks and SOMEHOW LICKETY-SPLIT CAN TRANSLATE ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Dinah wants to help and Lickety-Split isn’t having it. Dinah whines pitifuly and pads away, head down in shame. WAY TO GO, PONIES. SHAME THE POOR PUPPY.
Suddenly screams and squeals fill the air. Baby TW and Lickety-Split race over to find Dinah sitting on what looks like paper. Apparently she squashed Heartthrob’s Valentine collection with her big furry ass. Oops. [Dove: How the fuck do you squash letters? I’ll admit they could be crumpled, but with the way HT is carrying on, you’d have though the dog had destroyed something a bit more smashy or crashy.]
Heartthrob has an over-the-top diva level dramatic meltdown and runs off. Dinah covers her face with her paws, howls and cries. Wow. “I hope tomorrow better.” Baby TW says, nuzzling Dinah’s nose. Okay.
SMASH CUT to a giant dog house being built by the adult Ponies. Magic Star says it looks like it will last forever! Lickety-Split is all “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER.” [Dove: ♫ even cold November Rain ♫] [bat: *waits for Slash to show up and play an epic guitar solo*] Wow, way to get seriously existential in a children’s cartoon. “ESPECIALLY MY NERVES.” Way to bring it back around.
I am very suspicious of this dog house:
THEY TOOK THE BOW OFF, ENLARGED THE DOORWAY, AND WROTE THE DOG’S NAME ON IT. [Dove: Hey, remember when they made the Grooming Parlour in purple instead of blue and sold it again? Or the time they re-released Dream Castle in lavender? I have no idea what made me think of those two completely unrelated things.]
Truly busts out that suspicious Southern accent once more (while wearing what I believe to be this outfit) before the Ponies kick into song. Sadly, the only version I can find on YT is pretty terrible in quality (nothing like filming a computer screen with your phone then uploading that video to YT, wtf) and it’s kind of cut off at the beginning. Let’s just summarize that it’s a song about how Dinah is destructive but she’s a puppy so what the fuck do the Ponies expect??
[Dove: Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered (below). But I’ll leave the link on your comment below, because it was a weird thing to do. If you’ve got it on your computer and you know enough to upload to YouTube, why not simply convert it? It took me three minutes, max. Uh, that query was for the YouTuber, not bat. bat’s thing is gifs. I love her gifs.]
(This is the most Inception-esque video ever but it’s the only one I can find that has part the stupid song. Apologies.)
SO. The Ponies are just going to LOVE HER and everything will work itself out. Sure. Okay.
Magic Star reminds everypony they agreed she could stay (no, I think you decreed it and no one else had a choice) before calling Dinah over to see her new dog house. There’s much barking and howling before Dinah rushes in, suddenly MUCH SMALLER, and inspects her new (temporary) home. She licks Truly and Cupcake, who joke about the puppy growing on them. Truly is also wearing another pony outfit, which gets significant screen time. (BUY OUR FUCKING MERCH.)
SMASH CUT TO SUDDENLY THREE FEET OF SNOW COVERING PARADISE ESTATE. Cupcake is dumping tray after tray of… well, are those muffins or chocolate cupcakes? I can’t tell. They’re fucking blobs. She’s dumping them into a huge cart while Truly announces everyone was right, Dinah is just a puppy who needs the Ponies’ help. Huh? What?
This fake Southern accent is distracting.
Truly wheels the cart to the window, where Dinah just SOMEHOW manages to shove her head through and starts barking. She downs all the cupcakes/muffins, which turn into a wet disgusting paste before disappearing. Who though that was appealing to watch?? Yuck.
Dinah barks, clearly asking for more. Truly sighs and is all, “but that was dinner!” Lickety-Split, who’s got her ANGRY EYES going, walks over and adds, “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner!” The Ponies are obviously irresponsible mothers, why would I be surprised they don’t know how to feed a growing giant dog, let alone to not feed it chocolate?
Whining, Dinah looks chastised (good god, what’s with the constant shaming) so Truly (still weirded out by the weird Southern accent) acquiesces and says she’ll help Cupcake bake more cupcakes. Dinah gives her whole face a lick but not a hair on Truly is messed. After she leaves the room, Lickety-Split drops the angry eyes and hands over a whole bag of unused ice cream cones. WHERE DID THE BAG COME FROM?? ALSO: ICE CREAM CONES ARE NOT NUTRITIOUS. THE DOG NEEDS MEAT.
WITH ZERO EXPLANATION WHAT SO EVER, WE SMASH CUT TO SPRING. (??) (Again, WHAT IS TIME?) The flowers are all blooming, the grass is green, and butterflies are flying. Baby TW is running towards the dog house, where Dinah stretches her neck and pops her head out of the door. Sounds more disturbing then it visually is.
Barely able to squeeze out of the dog house, and now with a bark more befitting a MASSIVE CANINE (still totes human-voice, ugh) Baby TW sums it up for us: “DINAH BIGGER!” And then Dinah starts yapping like a fucking Yorkie once more. CONTINUITY IS DEAD IN THIS SHOW. [Dove: … so, did the ponies hibernate? Or did Dinah? Because how on earth did it skip to spring without them noticing she’d grown?]
Only it’s not just Dinah barking. She sits down and howls, while a couple of Ponies gallop up, just in time for a trio of smaller (yet still supposed to be large, but you’d never be able to tell) dogs run up. Dinah seemingly towers over them as if they’re her puppies (??) but that can’t be. More Ponies wander up and Truly bitches about the racket, which causes Dinah to immediately bow her head in shame. Way to go, Ponies.
Magic Star surmises that the others are her pack she was separated from during last Fall. BUT HOW IS SHE LIKE TWICE THEIR SIZE? ALL THOSE FATTENING CUPCAKES?? Dinah and Baby TW both start crying, Baby Shady asking if Dinah has to leave now. Cupcake explains “they’re like her family”. I DUNNO, THEY’RE THE SAME DAMN SPECIES I’M PRETTY SURE SHE BELONGS WITH THEM AND NOT PONIES WHO CAN’T FEED HER REAL FOOD.
Everypony’s crying now and Magic Star starts yelling at Baby TW to “tell” Dinah she can go and that she will always be in the Ponies’ hearts (ugh) because Baby TW will always be in Dinah’s heart and I’m like WHEN DID WE CONCLUDE THAT BABY TW COULD TRANSLATE TO DOG AND WHEN DID WE LEARN WHO COULD AND WHO COULDN’T?? Because the fucking plot says so, bat. That’s why. [Dove: I know it’s unlikely, but when you saw that Dinah was that huge, did you start remembering the end of Watership Down? You know, where that big dog eats a bunch of small herbivores…?]
It’s a huge sob fest for a few seconds, Baby TW says nothing but apparently telepathically talks to Dinah, who whines and whimpers and they’re all still crying. Baby TW tells her it’s okay to go, so Dinah gives her one huge lick that seems to cover more than just Baby TW before she runs off to join the other dogs. They greet her, the human voice actors clearly imitating dog barks and yaps (oh my lord) while the Ponies all yell “goodbye!”
And, because BUY OUR FUCKING MERCH is a thing, Truly is wearing another outfit. Literally she is the ONLY PONY wearing clothes. What the actual fuck.
The group breaks up and Truly (wearing what I can only surmise to be the “Neon Lights” outfit, based on the belt and shoes) wanders into the now-empty-and-useless dog house to find Lickety-Split bawling her eyes out. She’s so upset about Dinah being gone, even though she was the most vocal complainer about the dog, but she’s sad she can’t sneak the dog any more ice cream cones.
Walking out of the dog house and disappearing around the star, Truly gives the first piece of true reality based wisdom ever to come from this show: “friends may have to leave ya, but they will always be with ya in your heart!” Lickety-Split thanks Truly for the advice before she calls Dinah a “big old mutt”, the camera pans away from Paradise Estate at a diagonal angle to show a massive snow-covered peak, and we hear Dinah barking in the distance.
I’ve wanted to give this episode a big fat F since I started watching but let me discuss why I cannot.
Out of ANY of the prior episodes (and barring any to come) this is the only one I can say that has a real solid reality-based life lesson at its heart. This is depressing. But true. Children don’t always understand that just because a friend has to go away means they will forget them. Some people are “out of sight out of mind” — which is fine — but others never forget. Like me. Maybe it’s because I attended a school with very small classes and because I attended the same school for many years in some cases, my classmates were almost always the same people for years. I still remember them. Some of them switched schools with me and we grew up together. Do I talk to them now? Nope. Not even on Facebook. (And most of them I’m like, why did you friend me on fucking FB, you haven’t talked to me in 20 years?)
THAT ASIDE. In context of the 1980s, with parents divorcing and blended families on the rise, plus throw in children being raised by grandparents or other older adult relatives that might pass away, dealing with such a heavy concept of loss like that (or am I totally reading way too much into this epiosde’s message?) was usually reserved for, um, Sesame Street episodes. To see it, albeit wrapped in a stupid episode about a dog showing up at Paradise Estate, feels odd since the MLP series wasn’t a show that tackled heavy topics. (Unless we’re talking about slavery and drug addiction. Re: every damn episode before this one.)
Basing my decision on all that (and factoring in all the massive continuity errors and shit) I’m going to give the episode a C-. Yeah, it’s super generous of me but there you go.
Sadly, I cannot tell Dove to take it away, because I am next on deck with the first two parts of Bright Lights. So, take it away, me! Until next time!
[Dove: Well… fuck. I was so ready to give this an F too. But then you convinced me. Though I’m not sure if it was because of the life lesson in this story, or because you’re so similar to me (I remember everything, but fuck you if you want to be friends with me on FB, you should’ve been friends with me 20 years ago!). I’m going to give this a solid D- because, all flippant comments aside, bat’s right. This is the first time we’ve seen a moral to the story. Mostly it’s just an adventure with no life-lesson in there. On the other hand, the baby-talk and Dinah-shaming pissed me right off. The only character I didn’t want to slap by the end of it was Dinah. (I de-bolded so my marks were easier to read.)]