One of the most interesting things about shows of an episodic nature is how gears can vastly shift between installments. A rather non-popular example, but in the show Ultraman MAX there was a very serious emotional episode. The very next one was a full on comedy, and fully aware of that fact. My Little Pony in its last couple of seasons have been a little more diverse like that. The last episode was a rather touching one as we saw Starlight Glimmer start to become part of the Christmas spirit. Today’s installment seems standard enough, until one gets to the first cutaway. “The Saddle Row” is one of the show’s most intriguing episodes, mainly because it experiments with an entertaining new format.
Here’s the official episode description from Discovery Family:
When Rarity opens her flagship store in Manehattan, a tell-all article threatens to expose how badly her friends almost ruined the Grand Opening.
For the first time, the show utilizes what I call the “interview format.” Basically, the story is told back and fourth between interviews and what happened in real-time. The story begins with the ponies hoping to stop Rarity from reading a review in the newspaper about the opening of her new boutique. (They believe because of how they answered the questions they gave it a negative review.) Then instead of a simple flashback, the story is told through interview cutaways alongside the former. Writer Nick Confalone expertly uses this concept to his advantage and delivers plenty of fun. Of course, the big question is that if this format wasn’t used, would the episode still be good?
The answer to the above question is yes: the story is strong enough on its own. Rarity opening a boutique in Manehattan and all the stresses accompanying it makes for an entertaining story, but the format greatly amps up the enjoyment. The dialogue is funny and there’s plenty of key highlights throughout. (Such as Twilight sweeping to the beats of DJ Pon-3.) While massively fun, it isn’t as incredibly written as say “Flight to the Finish” or “Winter Wrap-Up.” The episode mainly relies on comedy, which is fine, but some of it is quite unrealistic. For example, Rarity’s landlord threatens to raise the rent if she doesn’t let his daughter help out in setting up the boutique. Sure, it might be funny to some but this is almost complete blackmail. Another thing is when Twilight volunteers herself to arrange the clothes. Everyone looks at her as if she’s crazy, yet they know she is the best organizer. This scene didn’t make any sense.
Overall, “A Saddle Row” is an epically fun adventure. The usage of the cutaway interview was expertly used. There’s a lot of fun dialogue, and throughout the viewer is reminded how the ponies put in everything to help their friend succeed at her venture. The comedy is well done, but there’s a few unrealistic aspects to it. With a fantastical show like this, disbelief can be suspended, but some of the stuff here was too unbelievable. Despite that, this episode was one of the season’s best.