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Synopsis:

After getting his help for the fund raiser for Camp Everfree, the Rainbooms are invited by film director Canter Zoom to the set of the upcoming Daring Do movie for a behind-the-scenes experience. In between scenes being filmed, the girls check out the film studio and make separate discoveries. Sci-Twi and Rainbow Dash meet up with Juniper Montage, Zoom’s niece and honorary gofer; while Fluttershy and Rarity try to get an autograph of Chestnut Magnifico, the actor playing Daring Do, only to discover her enraged at a commitment she seems determined to get out of. A major disaster occurs when the props for the three relics key to the movie’s plot and approved by A.K. Yearling herself go missing, threatening to delay production until Chestnut’s contract expires and possibly cancelling the film. The girls suspect someone is sabotaging the movie on purpose, and soon seem to get their fears confirmed when a shadowy cloaked figure is spotted skulking around the set. All of the girls go in pursuit, but all of them save Rainbow end up being trapped temporarily, and on going after her alone Rainbow ends up locked in a prop room. The girls manage to track Rainbow Dash down, and after freeing her using her telekinesis Sci-Twi devises a scheme to get the culprit to reveal herself. With Canter Zoom’s help, the girls pretend to temporarily leave the film set unwatched; assuming that the figure has the props stashed somewhere on there as she was unable to relocate them to a more hidden spot earlier due to being spotted. Sure enough, the thief returns to the scene of the crime and is caught and revealed to be Juniper; who Sci-Twi suspected by piecing together clues she inadvertently left behind in her behavior. Juniper confesses that she wanted to play Daring Do in spite of being too young with no experience, and tried to sabotage production enough to get Chestnut to quit so she’d have a shot at the part. In spite of apologizing, her violation of trust gets her kicked off of the set; leaving her furious at the Rainbooms for exposing her. Chestnut’s contract conflict gets resolved and production resumes, and, as a way of saying thank you, Zoom lets the girls cameo as extras on the Tricorner Village set.

Review:

In keeping with what I said in the review for “Dance Magic”, this again has the feel of a short that was too big for a short, but this time it seems to connect to the overall plot for a movie that was too small for a movie. You honestly don’t even need to watch “Dance Magic” to get into this one. As for how it is?

This one definitely requires the most shifting into a “child show mindset” if you’re a nitpicker like I am, such as how all of the scenes for a Daring Do movie are being shot on film sets while a lot of the Indiana Jones movies were shot on location. But even ignoring that, I didn’t care for this one too much from a plot standpoint.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Daring Do lore on the show, but I’m even less of a fan of what this episode ended up being: Scooby-Doo. It wasn’t quite “on the nose”, but it had more than its share of nods to it. It had the obligatory red-herring suspect in the form of Chestnut Magnifico and the actual culprit who was introduced only briefly for Juniper Montage. It had the culprit capable of at least one unexplained feat, like how she was able to outrun Rainbow Dash long enough to start making use of knowing her way around the studio, especially since in many scenes she was being chased in a straight line. Pinkie Pie and Spike may have not had Shaggy and Scooby’s signature cowardice, but they definitely had their continuous stuffing of their faces downpat. Even Sci-Twi channeled Velma for the big villain reveal. (At least Juniper didn’t say she would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.)

Aside from that, this special has some bits that seem to be building to something and never go anywhere. The seemingly unlimited supply of fresh candy, pudding, and cupcakes the film studio provides almost seems to make it look like a variation on Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but no…all that stuff is just there to give Pinkie odd lines. The girls inexplicably end up dressed as the Power Ponies because…reasons, I guess. It seems it’s all there just for a random joke that wasn’t that funny.

But the biggest, and smallest, thing in this episode is Juniper Montage. It’s hard to talk about her in this special without making reference to “Mirror Magic”, but I’ll try. The fact is she’s really not all that sympathetic of a character. She might not have been over-the-top or dark as some villains are, but all of her misdeeds boil down to nothing but petty jealousy. She already got a rather lucky break being able to assist with a film production and had a considerable amount of privilege given to her, and she tried to sabotage all that simply for a childish fit. Simply “really wanting to do something” isn’t always sufficient reason for actions, especially when it comes to a professional role. An old professor of mine once said that acting is the only profession that people think they can just “start doing” one day. It actually does take quite a bit of work and commitment to get good enough for even small roles. And the fact that at the end she clearly blames the Rainbooms for ruining her plan indicated she really wasn’t that sorry…or else she would have realized she got what her actions deserved. (The fact that it turns out her uncle helped get her another job means she got less than she deserved, and while working vending for a movie theater is pretty low on the totem pole she should be happy she ended up with anything.) While she became worse in “Mirror Magic”, she wasn’t that great here either.

This episode had the feeling that it could have been something more fun and entertaining if it was in Equestria, but “grounded in the human world” it just didn’t appeal to me all that much. Did I like it more than “Dance Magic”? Mmm…well, I like that it seemed to shift back to the dynamic of featuring all the Humane Seven and not highlighting one, but overall it seems like so little of the movie set experience was utilized. It has the feel more of what an Equestria Girls regular series would be like, but…still not a very good episode. There’s nothing overtly “bad” about it, so again this is going to have to be stuck in the middle for me.

Fun Facts:

The movie in this special is a film (and humanized) version of “Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore”, which was never released in the series but was released as a junior novel written by series writer G. M. Berrow.  Locations and characters from this book would also appear in Season Seven’s “Daring Done?”, also written by Berrow. The odd thing about it is that it uses the names from the pony version of the book…when it doesn’t seem to make sense that a human would call himself “Stalwart Stallion”.

Canter Zoom first appeared at the end of “Legend of Everfree” briefly as one of the fund raiser attendees. Apparently, the fact he resembles a humanized Stephen Spielberg (who directed the Indiana Jones films) is no coincidence.

Although the human version of A.K. Yearling exists in this universe, an original character, Chestnut Magnifico, is the actor playing Daring Do. The funny part is that Zoom mentions that A.K. Yearling is “a very difficult woman to track down”, indicating that Daring Do is also real in the human universe and she’s normally being her. I’d be interested to see if humanized A.K. Yearling looks more like Chestnut or more like human Rainbow Dash. 😛

The gold clasp that Juniper Montage wears, along with the black cloak, oddly resembles Tirek’s getup from Season Four’s “Twilight’s Kingdom”.

Am I the only one who felt it a bit odd that Rainbow Dash still couldn’t catch up to Juniper Montage? Knowing your way around may be good but considering how fast she can move…

I have no idea how a cupcake fountain is logically possible…but I want one.

Keeping with the odd name transitions, the “Power Ponies” have the same name in both the human world as well as Equestria. Interestingly enough, Sunset Shimmer ends up dressed as the Mane-Iac. Not sure if she was supposed to be fighting them in that scene or if, in the comics, the Mane-Iac eventually does a Heel Turn Face. 😛

“Stormy with a Side of Pudding” is a knockoff of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, although this version isn’t a cartoon and apparently used real pudding instead of CGI…and then left the set abandoned with all the pudding still on it…and it hasn’t gotten moldy…for some reason. :/

The human version of Pad Lock escorts Juniper off the set.

In the last filmed scene shown, it opens with two men carrying the Ark of the Covenant from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” across the shot. As another nod, Rainbow Dash tosses “Daring Do” a whip.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

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