Applejack is trying her hand at managing the Helping Hooves Music Festival in Ponyville, and thanks to Pinkie Pie the festival is going to feature the biggest diva in Equestria: Countess Coloratura. On arrival, it’s clear that she’s heavily into glitz, glam, and her entourage, but the biggest shock to Applejack is that she recognizes her as her down-to-earth childhood friend from Camp Friendship: “Rara”. At first she’s put off by her over-the-top dress and picky demands from Pinkie Pie, but changes her mind about her when she sees she still values making her youngest fans happy and going to special events for them. However, she also notices her manager, Svengallop, makes a lot of outrageous demands for himself on the side and has been threatening to yank Rara from the concert if she doesn’t comply. Though it takes some work, Applejack exposes Svengallop’s exploitation of Rara’s name to her, but rather than show any remorse he insists that Rara was and is nothing without him before resigning. At first, Rara’s confidence is shaken when she doesn’t have Svengallop’s lighting, costumes, and effects enhancing her concert anymore, but Applejack reassures her that if she’s true to herself she’s already all that she needs. Rara ends up taking off her elaborate dress and makeup and performing an “unplugged” concert instead, and ends up still being a hit. To say thank you to Applejack, she invites the Cutie Mark Crusaders on stage to help her sing their song from camp, and lets Applejack “hit the triangle” at the end.
A non-bland Applejack episode?! My frizz has been freaked!
“Crusaders of the Lost Mark” would have been a great note for Amy Keating Rogers to go out on. This is a “softer” one, but it’s still going out with a bang. This episode isn’t a musical but, clearly, the highlight is Lena Hall performing Coloratura AKA “Rara”. Her voice is great and the songs for the episode are again things that somehow didn’t get nominated for an Emmy… Again, like in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”, I was singing multiple songs from this episode. Even though “The Spectacle” was meant to be more a joke parodying every pop diva currently out there, even that song was catchy.
But I also like the use of Applejack in this episode. The Element of Honesty can only go so far in normal circumstances. Pretty much the only lesson you can teach in regards to honesty is…don’t lie. Therefore Applejack has had a conundrum. The other girls can have episodes in which their virtue stands out more and saves the day, but Applejack-centered episodes almost always focus on her being, as Pinkie said in “Hearthbreakers”, pushy, aggressive, and mean…as well as stubborn and pigheaded. It’s nice that, for once, Applejack’s honesty came through. Not just in telling the truth, but in being “true to yourself”.
It does have a few down points. Like most 22 minute episodes that have music, the plot seems compressed. It may not have been a musical but the music was still a big part of it. And yet, in spite of that, the episode still got stretched at parts. The whole schpiel about Coloratura not believing Applejack at first, calling her jealous, saying “my name’s not Rara; it’s Countess Coloratura”, “we’re not friends anymore”, blah-blah, children’s cartoon playbook number #5: the friend you’re honest with doesn’t believe you to pad the episode…that sort of thing.
But, that aside, the rest of the episode was really nice. A great way to cap off the regular episodes of the season on a high note.
And one last breath of fresh air before we take the plunge into “The Cutie Re-Mark”…
Amy Keating Rogers’ final episode. She collaborated with Lauren Faust on “The Ticket Master”, the first regular episode of the entire series, making her the longest-running writer on the show thus far. As with “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”, she did most of the lyrics to the songs.
“Coloratura” is a word that means elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody. “Rara” is voiced by Lena Hall, a Broadway singer. She debuted “The Magic Inside” months before this episode was released at a convention.
Ponypalooza is a takeoff of Lalapalooza, a famous concert venue.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but the audio in this season has seemed really bad and I’ve missed a lot of lines. It wasn’t until I watched this episode closed-captioned that I found out Pinkie Pie said: “My frizz has been freaked!”
Some people pointed out that filly Rara has the exact same voice as adult Rara…but hey, we got Lena Hall; let’s use her. 😛 Those who weren’t thrown off by that focused on the fact Applejack can play a guitar with hooves.
One of the campers in the audience is reading the exact same comic book Spike has been reading all season.
It pretty much goes without saying that “Countess Coloratura” is heavily inspired by artists like Lady Gaga and other pop stars, with the glamour, emerging from objects hoisted by stallions, and the heavy use of auto-tune. By comparison, when she goes as “herself” at the end, some fans compared her to artists like Adele.
Countess Coloratura and her entourage trample Pinkie Pie. 😦
Svengallop is a knockoff of the phrase “Svengali”. A Svengali is an older and experienced individual who exploits a younger protege. If you knew the root of the word, his character was pretty much spoiled in advance. They might as well have called him “Evil Pony Manager”. 😛
Only on the third viewing did I note Rara made up a nickname for Applejack as well: “AJ”.
“The Spectacle” made my TV glitch. They really need an epilepsy warning on that thing. Anyway, a ponified version of Prince (80s “Purple Rain” era) cameos in the performance.
Photo Finish cameos.
Magic does a great job taking security camera footage. 🙂
Ponies can also play pianos with hooves… 😛 Well, no one complained about Octavia way back in “The Best Night Ever”, so who cares?
I know there’s not really anything to back this up, but…I think of Daniel Ingram being the first show creator to be turned into “pony form” and inserted in an episode as the conductor of Rara’s orchestra.
3.5 Stars out of 5