I’ve been a My Little Pony fan for years now. I believe the first two seasons were the show’s prime. This is not to say it has been in decline since then, because if it’s one thing the show is good at, it’s that it had always been consistent with delivering quality. That’s why when more average episodes appear a review seems noticeably harsh, because at this point the show deserves to be held to a high standard. That’s why the previous couple of episodes, while not terrible (in comparison to what’s currently airing on television) got pretty low scores. There has never been a truly bad episode of MLP, but when you compare say the the previous episode to a Season 1 installment, the quality is noticeably lower. Season 6 has been definitely the worst season in this regard. Today’s episode continues this mediocrity, though at the very least it’s far more entertaining than the last one.
When Rainbow Dash’s pranking gets out of hand, everypony decides to give her a taste of her own medicine – zom-pony style!
So, what’s wrong with this episode? The show decides to tackle the message of pranks/jokes. Most of us know how to laugh at a well done surprise joke. Sometimes however they’re in bad taste or downright mean. It’s about balance and asking, “How would I feel if someone did this to me?” It’s definitely a pretty good message that the episode drives home at the end. Like “The Cart Before the Ponies” however, the message is at the expense of characterization. In this case, the victim is Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow has been established as a prankster in the past, mainly way back in the Season 1 episode “Griffon the Brush Off” and the Season 2 episode “Luna Eclipsed.” Since then however that part of her character hasn’t been touched upon all that much. Today we see it come back full force. The story doesn’t start out unreasonably. In fact, some of the pranks she pulls in the beginning are pretty funny. Plus, the banter between her and Pinkie Pie about them is great to watch. (Because the two are pretty similar in this regard.) Toward the middle act is where the main problem lies. Rainbow starts pranking all of Ponyville. She even disrupts a school lesson for the sake of a prank. Even for Rainbow, this is unrealistic and completely immature. There’s just no way she would go around doing this to all the citizens. If the school example wasn’t bad enough, she devises a plan to “infect” the girl scout cookies of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Rainbow was written pretty much like a villain most of the time here.
The final act saves the episode from being just a mess of characterization. For pop culture fans, the title of this episode is of course a reference to the film 28 Days Later. The last 10 minutes parodies the plot of that movie in a very entertaining way. “(It’s also a tease, because the viewer now knows how awesome a real zombie apocalypse in Ponyville would be.) As started earlier, the message is delivered pretty well in the end. It’s a shame it was done with a villainous Rainbow Dash. Also, I believe it was a mistake to spoil the plan to make Dash understand the error of her ways in the description. It would have been far more entertaining to watch the events unfold without that prior knowledge.
Overall, 28 Pranks Later is a pretty fun episode, though the writing takes it way overboard with Rainbow Dash’s antics. At the very least, there’s some good dialogue between her and Pinkie. (F.M De Marco should write a team-up episode with the two.) There are other little annoying things not mentioned above, such as bringing back Fluttershy being scared of nothing for the sake of the story. While I greatly enjoy these slice of life adventures, Season 6 really needs an “important” episode to bring back its steam.