|My Little Pony G1 Cartoon Reviews
Author: WeirdRaptor PM
A strange little man reviews a cartoon from his childhood.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,550 - Updated: 02-07-13 - Published: 11-28-12 - id: 3078451
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My Little Pony G1 Cartoons Escape from Catrina Review
Hello, ladies and gentlecolts, WeirdRaptor here. This is my text review of My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina. In 1984 and 1985, Hasbro worked with Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions to create a pair of half-hour TV special based on their toy line. At this tentative stage, they were simply testing the waters to see if anyone would be willing to sit through a televised program starring the pastel-colored equines running through fields, playing, dancing, singing, and battling the force of Apocalyptic evil.
After the results of the original special, Hasbro decided that they needed to tone down the more frightening aspects of the animated adapatations. They had a different studio work on the animation and there were some other staffing changes as well to ensure the special was lighter and softer than last time. And by "lighter and softer", I mean, "The ponies now have to contend with a violent drug addict". That's so much better.
This time the celebrity guests are Broadway starlet Tammy Grimes and Paul Williams musician and singer as Catrina and Rep respectively.
Released March 23rd, 1985.
Our story begins with the ponies preparing a "Welcome Back" party for Megan: Savior of Worlds (seriously, by the first episode of the actual show, Megan's practical the Patron Saint of Ponyland).
To be honest, I have no idea why these particular ponies are welcoming her back. Not a single pony from the previous special is here. You could use the "Narnia" excuse and just say it's only been a year for Megan, but a generation for the ponies, but then messes up "continuity" for the TV series since some ponies from this special carry over into the series. It's very wibbly wobbly timey wimey. Ponyland would The Doctor a headache.
Anyway, in the field out front of Dream Castle, the ponies are preparing the celebration for She Who Is the Reason the Sun Still Shines. And just to the left, you'll notice the castle has a new neighbor: The Baby Pony Nursery. Available for $20.00 and comes with Baby Tiddly-Winks! Some other ponies play a game of volley ball against the sea ponies with a net set up at the water's edge. Spike's there, too playing on the pony's side, and apparently having been fully assimilated into their society. Intercut with the game are shots of others ponies working on the party doing things like painting a banner or setting up balloons.
Then the sea ponies serve a shot at the land dwellers' side and we're introduced to our first new character, Sundance, a clumsy earth pony. She tried to catch the ball while backing right up into the banner. Neither of the two ponies working on it bother to warn Sundance. Instead they just stupidly stand there despite seeing her coming a mile away. Then they have the nerve to get pissy about her ruining their sign. Hey, gals, YOU live with her and you saw her coming a mile away. Don't want the local klutz messing up your work? Well, then, do more than just stand there while she backs up through it! A simple, "Hey, watch it!" would have remedied this entire situation!
Sundance apologizes and dejectedly kicks the ball away. This action almost kills a foal. What? I'm serious. The ball hits Baby Moondancer as she's crossing the water on some rocks, knocking her in. Then everyone just stands there like morons, gaping, while the sea ponies have to do all the work in saving her. Then they get back to the game like nothing happened, or would have, if Spike had caught the sea pony's serve instead of dumbly letting it bounce off his head. I'm seriously missing the previous special's ponies right about now.
The ball bounces away towards the woods with Baby Moondancer in hot pursuit, but it gets away from her and rolls down a hole. Proving not to be completely brain dead, the foal opts not to go down the mysterious hole after it. Baby Moondancer leaves and the audience follows the ball as it rolls down the hole. The first thing we see is Catrina's Crack Den and her slaves, the Bushwoolies, busily making her drug of choice, witch weed potion. Witch weed has the effects of causing its users to gain powerful magic and growth at the price of their sanity. A well documented effect of narcotics in general, as a matter of fact.
As the camera continues to follow the rolling ball, we see the bushwoolies pile a huge stack of weeds into a grinder which is then mixed into a liquid that drains into a big pit of a pool in the middle of the room. Then it finally rolls over to Rep the shape-changing lizard-man, Catrina's interspecies boyfriend, and her right hand man. He tells the Bushwoolies to stop playing around (despite the fact that they're literally right next to him and he'd have heard them playing a ball game) and kicks the ball away.
On the Bushwoolies: Basically, just picture tiny little fluffball with stubby arms and legs that's a part of a collective mind which causes all the bushwoolies in the pack to act as one. Unfortunately, that collective mind is, um…very lacking.
Rep goes over to a barrel of freshly brewed witch weed potion with a nozzle sticking out of the side and a silver cup waiting to be filled underneath. After pouring out a batch, he stupidly gives it to one of the bushwoolies to take to Catrina (I wouldn't trust these idiots with a pencil let alone a form of narcotic). So of course, he drops it right in front of her and she angrily sends him back to get more.
This inspires the bushwoolies to finally rebel and escape, but Catrina catches wind of this budding revolution and tries to kill the one who started it, but Rep stops her. For this, she batters him and leaves, but not before ordering the bushwoolies to get back to work. Rep assures the bushwoolies that she's not all bad, but they firmly disagree.
Back at Dream Castle, we see that banner finally getting hung up. Yay. Meanwhile, Baby Moondancer accidentally lets loose the balloons Sundance and another pony were blowing up. Oddly, despite being filled up with air from the pony's lungs, they float like they're filled with helium. …That just raised all sorts of questions concerning the pony's physiology.
Anyway, in her attempt to get the balloons back, Sundance crash-lands on the bench Spike and Sparkler are sitting on preparing some decorations, and launches them into the air. They covered in paint. While Spike whines about having to take a bath, Sparkler takes the opportunity to be a bitch again. Thankfully, Megan shows up via Pegasus before this can go any further.
She's given back the Rainbow of Light by a unicorn whose name escapes me. And really, other than Sundance and Baby Moondancer, there's no purpose in bothering to identify any of these ponies. Unlike in the previous special where there was a small number of them that were easy for the special to focus on that were given simple, but concise character development, this one just tries to squeeze as many as it can into the story without properly introducing any of them, so most of the ponies exist as non-entities in Rescue from Catrina. Not that Megan fares any better. For all the personality she's given in this one other than being the paragon of goodness, she would be played by a black void designed to be filled in by whatever child is watching the special.
Anyway, Posey, who I can only identify because I recognize her from the MLP 'n' Friends, tells the Baby Pones to go to bed for their nap. Megan offers to send them off and we cut to the interior of the nursery. Long story short, Megan tricks the baby ponies into exhaustion and gets them all to take a nap.
Back to Catrina and Rep, while Catrina catches a nap the bushwoolies finally make a break for it after shutting off the machine despite Rep's protests. So Rep gets to show the audience what he's made of…by losing a fight to a bunch of tiny fluffballs with no means of attack. Alright, I'll accept that Rep's not a fighter, but dang is this guy a sap! The bushwoolies literally just roll right over him and out of the hole the ball came through earlier, leaving one wondering why they didn't just do that a long time ago. Oh, right, the bushwoolies are idiots. That's why.
This wakes Catrina and she calls for Rep demanding to know what's going on. He fesses up that he's a terrible henchman and receives more physical abuse at Catrina's claws. So they go topside to find the missing hairballs. After failing miserably to catch any of them, they catch sight of the ponies not far off.
Oh yeah, I failed to touch on this before, but Catrain's Crack Den is literally right next door to Dream Castle. And I mean, 'Wilson living next door to Tim Taylor' next door. So if Catrina and Rep are the ponies' neighbors, then how come the ponies don't know about them until later and how come we never see them again? The writers just didn't care. That's how.
Anyway, Catrina decides that the ponies will be her new slaves. Rep is visibly repulsed by this idea and even comments Catrina's "gone so cold", which gets him a thump on the back because it gives his psycho girlfriend an idea. She's going to create a snow storm and thus roll the ponies over to her lair in giant snowballs. You just have to wonder what went on during the production meetings.
Catrina grabs hold of the witch weed potion Rep's carrying in a bottle around his neck (nearly choking him to death in the process) and commences with early Minnesota February. I'm going to spare you the details and go straight for "the Rainbow of Light makes short of work of her snow storm".
Realizing that they're no match for the power of the Rainbow, Catrina hatches a plan to bypass the whole issue by stealing it and then making off ponies in the dead of night. Rep doesn't like this idea and pulls out a picture album filled with moments of his and Catrina's love life in the past. What follows is a fairly catchy song illustrating that Catrina used to be a very kind girl before she got hooked on witch weed. It's by far the best song of the special, because Paul Williams and Tammy Grimes.
It does a good job showing the contrast between Past Catrina and Present Catrina and what Rep's feelings on the whole situation are. While as subtle about the anti-drug message as getting hit in the face with a Sonic Rainboom, it does its job well, and shows you why Rep puts up with Catrina, and what he puts up with as a whole.
The nature of Catrina and Rep's relationship is nothing short of abusive. She constantly berates, belittles, and beats him. Now, it's NOT enjoyable to watch by any stretch of the imagination and it clearly illustrates how the witch weed potion is destroying her. I also like that the "abuse is okay when it's female on male" is not at play here. The abuse she heaps on Rep is not treated like it's funny, enduring, or even remotely acceptable at any point. And it's just as unhealthy on Rep's end, too. He's actively going along with her and letting her bowl right over him at every turn when he should be drawing the line. Heck, this sounds kinda like some adults I know. They're the only characters to receive any kind of development in this special and are thus the only interesting aspects about it to watch.
Back with Megan and ponies, they're down to hanging balloons, which Sundance offers to help with only to get rudely shot down by Sparkler again. Sundance dejectedly leaves, making Megan ask what she's done wrong, and the others are quick to heap blame on the poor girl. So Megan goes her after her and gives her a good pep talk which cheers her up. End of subplot, sort of. Sundance still doesn't look before she leaps, but whatever. Onto the Baby Ponies trying on their costumes!
They all have one ready, except for Baby Moondancer, who, despite the tons and tons of clothes lying, can't think of a single thing to put together. So again, Megan has to play den mother and dresses her like a princess and then stupidly gives her the Rainbow of Light as a necklace to complete the ensemble. And wouldn't you know it, Rep just so happens to be watching from the window and gets an idea. He turns himself into a dark green pony with a nurse's cap and disappears into the dark to wait for his chance to spring.
Surely enough, as Baby Moondancer walks from the nursery to the castle (somehow ended up the woods despite the two being right next door to each. Writer's have no sense of geography!), Rep appears before her in his pony form. He introduces himself as a nurse, but Baby Moondancer is a tad skeptical, due to, you know, knowing every other pony in the area. So when Rep asks to see the Rainbow of Light, she says no and tries to walk away. After this refusal, Rep reverts to his true form and tries to take it, but Baby Moondancer with a few well-aimed kicks totally owns him.
At this point, Catrina also appears and after a struggle, manages to get Baby Moondancer under control. The tyke calls for help, bringing Megan and the ponies to her aid, but Rep turns into a small dragon and sloooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo wly airlifts Catrina away. Oh, no! It's not like they have pegasi that can easily out-fly that and catch up to them or unicorns with various powers that can stop them! So somehow, Rep manages to make a miraculous getaway and our heroes are forced to look for Baby Moondancer a whole ten feet into the woods before they stumble across the bushwoolies, who made camp literally right next to the place they escaped from. Does anyone have a brain in this special?
So the bushwoolies help Megan and ponies find the tunnels leading to Catrina's Crack Den. Everyone ends up in the witch weed machine room, where Catrina is prepared. She's holding Baby Moondancer over the pit in one hand and the Rainbow of Light in the other. She demands that Megan, the ponies, and the bushwoolies gives themselves up be her slaves. They refuse.
Catrina then threatens Baby Moondancer, but is again rebuked. As she prepares to drop the filly and the Rainbow into the pit, Rep interjects saying that's going too far. Furious, Catrina smacks him away. Finally having had enough, Rep transforms into a bull and rams her into the pit, sending Baby Moondancer and the Rainbow flying. Sundance leaps across the pit and catches Baby Moondancer and safely lands on the other side. SUBPLOT PAYOFF! Megan manages to catch the Rainbow. Catrina is dangling over the edge of the pit.
She begs for help, but Rep and the ponies respond that they will only help her up if she changes her ways and demand that the witch weed machine be destroyed. After some further prodding under duress, she reluctantly agrees. With one last of bit of witch weed coaxed out of the machine by Rep, she destroys the machines. Then he helps her out and the ponies cheer. Thus this ends Catrina's highly dubious reign of terror.
Later, at the costume ball the ponies spent all special getting ready for they're heralded in by Spike, because yeah, he's in this special still, apparently. Megan is seated at a throne in the ballroom and is the judge for the costume ball. The sea ponies have been placed in little pools spaced around the room and sing the final song of the special.
And finally the ponies all come parading out in the costumes, one by one. Catrina and Rep also show up, because, sure, why not. Oh, and Catrina's as she used to be. Baby Moondancer is the last one to march down, dressed again in her princess outfit. Megan gives her the Rainbow of Light again (because that worked out so well last time. You sure there isn't an evil bulldog and his crocodile minion on the lookout for new slaves just waiting in the bushes? They could have a condo just on the other side of Catrina's lair, you know?). Thus ends the special altogether, and during the credits, Megan is flown home by Skydancer. The End. So, some thoughts…
Animation: Again, the animation is pretty solid, and is actually a lot lighter and brighter, but the downside is that the ponies don't move quite as realistically as they did before. Like the one before it, the animation was nothing groundbreaking. Aside from a few hiccups in the continuity like Baby Surprise momentarily being an alicorn, you can tell that care went into it.
The designs are not as striking as they were before, and really the only things that stuck out were Catrina and the witch weed room.
Music and Songs: Again, they were nothing special, but not terrible. The songs weren't as memorably as the previous special's were, but there were some good tunes here and there. My one pick for a standout song would have to be "The Good Old Days", sang by Paul Williams and Tammy Grimes. The other songs were competently done, too, but like Duncan and Randall from last time, Williams and Grimes stole the show as far as vocals go.
Voice Acting: The cast of characters was well-cast, overall. Too bad most of the characters weren't as memorable.
The two best performances by afar came from the celebrity guests, Grimes and Williams. Grimes was perfect as Catrina. She managed to give Catrina a very feline sounding voice and was able to make that work for song, an impressive feat for anyone. Williams was just as good playing dopey, weak-willed, but well-meaning Rep. Now neither of these characters are their best performances, not by a long shot, but they were still very enjoyable to watch.
Tammy Amerson is back as Megan. Well… She can be very enjoyable as Megan. We've seen that in the last special. It just didn't come across in this one, because Amerson given nothing. All the emotional range of the character is gone and she's been reduced to being the perfect den mother who always knows exactly what to do to fix everyone's situation. And when the stakes are down, Megan does nothing, so she is pointless in this special.
Laura Dean is okay as Sundance for what she's given, and that's about all I can say about her.
Alice Playten is okay Baby Moondancer, and really, that's the case for everyone.
The voices range from good-to-decent, but everyone not a crazy catgirl or shapeshifting lizardman have no nuances, so there is very little for me to comment on about any of them.
Final Conclusion: It was okay, but nowhere near as good as Rescue from Midnight Castle. I don't hate it, and I'll willingly watch it, but… I guess I can say that disappointing is the best way to describe Escape from Catrina. The My Little Pony franchise had laid down the foundations for potential greatness with its first foray into the world of animation, and instead of following that to what could have been a really awesome show, the creators show chickened out and toned down the villains and the danger element. While the first, Midnight Castle, enjoys a healthy cult following, I rarely see such adoration for Catrina. And it's easy to see why.
The entire "hero" cast is just there. What made Megan an interesting character the first time around has been waxed away and none of the ponies has anywhere near the distinct personalities of Firefly and company. And Catrina and Rep, while interesting, are not great villains. Catrina might have a little more depth than Tirac, but she fails to be a credible threat at every turn.
As for Rep, while he plays the same role of reluctant henchman as Scorpan, his whole problem is that he's too weak-willed to put his foot down against Catrina despite not approving of anything she does. While he's neither as sympathetic nor as interesting as Scorpan, I will give the creators credit for making him a very different character with a different obstacle standing in his way. His similarities to Scorpan are very superficial, which helps differentiate the two specials.
Scorpan's problem with standing with standing up to Tirac was that the latter was an egotistical sociopathic demigod that the former was frankly petrified of. Now while Scorpan is definitely the stronger character, that's not say Rep is a bad character. He's just not as likable and his design is much less striking.
On a final note, theINSTANT drug recovery from that Catrina goes through after kicking the habit does leave a bad taste in my mouth, because it does not work that way in real life. I'd also like to know why we never see Catrina and Rep again despite them living right next door to the ponies. My theory is that Catrina had some kind of Charlie Sheenian relapse and she's in Rehab for the remainder of the G1 adventures. As for Rep, my guess is he went into a deep depression over the ordeal and turned to booze.
So give it try. You might like it more than I do.
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