Yes, we have a Search Option

18 June 2013

My Thoughts on Merriwether Williams

I find myself in a very, very, very disadvantaged position here.

For those of you who didn’t know about this, I live in Spain and thus my life as a brony is full of shipment costs, delays, low quality streams, constant translation issues (even though people praise my level of English) and worse of all, lack of all the new toys and merchandise Hasbro releases. At the time of writing this the DVD’s of Seasons 1 and 2 of Friendship is Magic are yet to arrive to our coasts, and the new toy sets (including the Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle set) is also nowhere to be seen in my stores. This is because we are still airing Season 2 here. Again, this will end up getting resolved in the future, but as of now it’s impossible for me to give a thorough review on anything new that comes out like say, for example, Equestria Girls. I don’t see any Spain release dates for the movie, and I doubt we will because the Spanish audience is not so into My Little Pony as the American audience is. Spain as a country has a bigger interest in things like Littlest Pet Shop, Phinneas and Ferb, Regular Show, and Adventure Time. If you could go to a toy aisle of any shop in my country you will find this to be true. You will also see an obscene amount of BeyBlade merchandise.

What I’m saying with this lengthy intro is that I can’t talk about Equestria Girls because I haven’t even seen it, so in the meantime let’s talk about something that I’ve been wanting to tackle on for the longest time, and that is my thoughts on a certain writer that this fandom seems to have quite a lot of animosity towards, a writer that goes by the name of Merriwether Williams.

There is a sense of hate and dread that surrounds any episode that Merriwether Williams writes. Any time that a new episode comes out people peek their heads out and they check the writer’s name like it’s the results of that exam they didn’t study for. If the name happens to be the one of the writer we are talking about here, you are very likely to hear the collective groan as people prepare to not completely enjoy the episode. It might seem like I am generalizing but this has been more than evident ever since she wrote “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well”, for many fans the absolute worst episode the series has ever gotten.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t pretend to analyze why the fandom majorly dreads her episodes, I am just here to tell you where I’m coming from, so let’s have a little back story so you can understand my reasons to have these opinions.

During the summer of 2011 there was a leak from DHX (formerly known as Studio B) that explained what writers were left of the original team. This leak said that some writers had stepped down from the production team and the only ones left were Dave Polsky, M.A. Larson, Cindy Morrow and Meghan McCarthy. This was around the time they were working on Season 3, so it makes sense since these four names were present in the credits for several episodes of Season 3, while names like Chris Savino (writer of “Boast Busters” and “The Stare Master”), Charlotte Fullerton (who wrote “Suited for Success”) or Amy Keating Rogers were completely absent. This leak also included a blurb saying that new writers had been added to the staff, but their names were non-present, so when Season 2 started I kept both eyes out and focused on the writer credit more than I have ever done for any show I've ever watched. It wasn't until episode 8, “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well”, that I saw a different name I had never seen before: Merriwether Williams. And, like everybody who was keeping an eye on the writer credit, I said out loud: “Who the hell is Merriwether Williams?”

After a trip to her IMDB page I suddenly realized that she had been the author of some of my favorite shows as a kid. Her credits as a writer include “Angry Beavers”, “Rugrats”, “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters”, “The Wild Thornberrys”, “Spongebob Squarepants”, and most recently, “Camp Lazlo” and “Adventure Time”. She actually was the story editor for the first 25 episodes of “Adventure Time”, which are some of my favorite episodes of that show. When I checked further into her IMDB page I also found out that she has won two Prime Time Emmys for “Camp Lazlo” and has been nominated another two times for “Adventure Time. So, in conclusion, Merriwether Williams is a seasoned professional, who has worked with Lauren Faust in the past, has won awards for her work, and definitely seems to know the elements that make a cartoon entertaining and fun to watch. She is, by lack of a better word, more than competent when writing a good story on the paper.

So, why do bronies get so collectively mad when she writes a new episode? What do they hate about it? What clashes with their expectations that makes them lose it so badly? I say this because more than once I have seen Williams become the punching bag of the fandom when Rarity or Applejack are not around, so what is it that rustles their jimmies so badly? I can’t answer this without giving my own personal opinion on Williams’ trajectory in the show and telling each and every one of you what I think of the episodes she has written. If you've been following me for a long time you might notice some of my opinions have changed, and that’s because I am the type of guy who likes to go back and forth on the things he likes, and my perception of an episode changes depending on the mood I’m in. Let’s say, for the sake of the article, that my opinion on all of her episodes is settled and it’s not changing. This is definitely what I think of them.

The Mysterious Mare-do-Well
We will start with the very first episode she wrote, “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well”, the episode where Rainbow Dash has a fan club, she is the hero of Ponyville, and lets this fact get to her head, so her friends scheme a deception plan in which they all play a new super hero only to teach Dash a lesson in humility and that everyone has the right to be proud of their accomplishments as long as he or she doesn’t turn into a bragging dick. Like everybody else I have several gripes with this episode. For example, the Mane Six are already superheroes. They have saved Equestria, not once but twice, of certain doom and they are all regarded as competent individuals, so the idea of one getting out of the line to become some sort of vigilante is not too far fetched. Everybody complains about how everyone is out of character, and I don’t really see that. I agree however in that the negative aspects of their personalities are over exaggerated to the point of nuisance, and it gets grating when the comedy stops being funny and becomes annoying. However I still enjoy this episode because of how I perceive it. I see it as a parody of those 1960’s superhero serials, like “Batman”. Seeing it from that point of view the episode works really well, but otherwise it’s quite messy, and it gave the fans enough reasons to dread whatever Williams would produce in the future. It would've been the deception scheme, the exaggerated personalities, the unfunny humor, or maybe a combination of all these aspects, but it is a fact that this episode is loved by very few people.

Hearth's Warming Eve
Then we have “Hearth’s Warming Eve”, the Christmas episode that tells the story of how the three tribes of ponies where wrapped into a conflict that fed the spirits of storms and blizzards known as Windigoes, which took their land to the brink of extinction. This episode seems to be the one people bring up when they say that Williams has potential to write good episodes because, well, it’s a really good episode. The story is told as a theater play performed by the Mane Six, and it has a lot of world building around it. We are given both a history lesson of the land of Equestria, and it presents the character interactions very nicely, especially with which one of the Mane Six plays what character of the original legend. It also has a good moral about how working together and putting differences aside we all can get through the worst of times, which in this current day and age I’d call relevant and important. This episode made people kind of hyped for Williams’ next script, so the dread turned into hype, and the fears of her first script seemed to evaporate. It was from this point forward that the perception of her writing is more based on what the individual thinks, than what the group thinks.

Putting your Hoof Down
Her next episode came at a very delicate time. The fandom was like a boiling cauldron fueled with gasoline and full of sharks, lions and human blood. It had been a week since Derpy Hooves had been edited out of “The Last Round-Up” so people’s feelings were completely upside down, their jimmies were at maximum over-rustle, and everybody was mad. It was during this time when “Putting your Hoof Down” was released, an episode that also presented a first instance in the show where the story was written by one writer and the script was written by another. The story was originally by Charlotte Fullerton, and the writing was by Merriwether Williams’ herself. When I first watched this episode I loved it. I loved Iron Will, I loved the moral, and I loved the visual aspect of the whole thing. Nowadays my opinion can’t be more different. I don’t like it at all. I actually can’t sit through it; to me this episode is un-watchable. This is the kind of episode that can ruin a character for me, and that’s because it presents Fluttershy as a nigh sociopath with psychotic tendencies. She is either delicate and demure, or spiteful and insanely angry. This isn't new in her, she has always been like this, the whole “it’s the quiet ones you have to watch” theme that goes so well with her, but here it’s taken to the extreme, once again proving that Williams loves to exaggerate character traits. I’d have no problem with it if it wasn't because other writers do a much better job at characterizing Fluttershy. I don’t exaggerate when I say that it took me one year to get this episode out of my system so I could go back to appreciate Fluttershy as a character. I find it particularly offensive when a quiet character is revealed to be absolutely nasty on the inside, especially when I do share so many traits with her. I too am shy, and awkward, and I can get angry and pissed off, but I wouldn't insult a friend to the point of making them run away crying. I wouldn't attack someone who just wanted to ask for help. I am not a confrontational guy, I hate conflict, I hate insulting and calling names, so I can’t relate to Fluttershy in this episode, and that’s why I just can’t sit through it.

Dragon Quest
So after such a disappointment of an episode came “Dragon Quest”, a Spike focused episode that dealt with his own personal turmoil about how he should be as a dragon, so in order to find out he joins the Big Dragon Migration, where he finds out that he shouldn't try to be something he’s not, and instead of finding his identity by what the majority of the group tells him to be, he decides to just follow his own path. This episode hurts me in that it has all the potential to be brilliant and insightful, and then it turns into an episode of “Doug” but with dragons instead of teenagers. I have bad memories of high school (like everybody else I bet), and I hate the stereotype of jocks and greaser guys being bullies at the small kids. I hate characters that speak dragging the words and trying to sound tough, and I just despise the whole “asshole teenager jerk” type that’s so common in American television. Yes, I get it, stereotypes exist because they actually happen in real life. Those bullies exist, they are real, but they are also real people. Really well written bullies are interesting. They have a back story, a reason to be like that, a personality. They can be funny or dramatic. So when I looked at the dragon designs they all look so cool, and fun, and interesting, and I was hoping for their personalities to be too. But no, they all have one single note they keep hitting throughout the entire episode, and that note is “Teenagers are assholes”. I know, it’s true. Teenagers ARE assholes, but couldn't they be interesting assholes? You know, like Biff from "Back to the Future" or Nelson from "The Simpsons"? I don’t remember any particular characteristic of these dragons except that one was red, one was fat, the other was pink and white, and another one had hair over his eyes. They all sounded the same, they all acted the same, and they all were boring. For the longest time this was my least favorite episode of the show because of how much it offended me.

Wonderbolts Academy
But then came “Wonderbolts Academy” and oh boy, I don’t even want to start with this one. If there is one thing I hate more than teenager stereotypes is military stereotypes. I don’t mean the whole “drill sergeant is an asshole” trope, but more like “squad member is a douche bag and doesn’t get punished” trope. I have a very deeply rooted respect for authority, you know this, and I am the kind of guy who expects the military to have some level headed, somewhat competent, not douche-y people in their ranks. So my first gripe with this episode comes with how the character of Lightning Dust is presented and dealt with. Lightning Dust is a boastful, brass and careless jock who puts herself and her squad mates in peril more than once, so what do the higher ranks do? They give her the position of Leader Pony of course, while they keep the surprisingly more level headed Rainbow Dash as a Wing Pony.

I. Hate. That.

I hate that trope. I hate that thing. I hate what they did there. I know where they were going with this. I know this happens in real life too, but I have no obligation to enjoy it. However, and even after I made such a big deal out of this, this was not the deal breaker for me. I was having no problem with the episode at all up until the point where Lightning Dust makes a tornado, almost kills the Mane Six, Rainbow Dash quits, and then they kick Dust out of the academy and give Dash her position as Leader Pony. All of a sudden this potential friendship that Dash and Dust were having seems inconsequential and unimportant. Lightning Dust is not given closure or ending, her character is written off like a grammar mistake. The care package had a much better development than her! At least we know what happened to it in the end! It had a story arc! Lightning Dust is forced to leave the scene without giving her any chance of redemption or conclusion. A few days after the episode was released we were given some information regarding the ending. Originally, Lightning Dust was going to become Dash’s Wing Pony, and she wasn't going to leave the academy, but due to length issues they cut that part off and decided to end on the care package joke. So I guess I can’t blame Merriwether Williams for this one, as this seems to be more a fault of Meghan McCarthy’s story editing. Even knowing that, I still hated the cliches and the stereotypes, so this episode fell on the “mediocre with potential” sack.

Spike at your Service
Finally, the last episode written by Merriwether Williams at the date of this article is “Spike at your Service”, another episode where the story is by one writer (Dave Polsky) and the writing is done by Merriwether Williams. This episode was originally going to be a Rarity episode, with Rarity taking the place of Applejack as the one who saves Spike’s life, but as she turned out to be too mean in the original draft they re-wrote the episode and put Applejack in her place. I can appreciate that as I’d rather have a good Rarity episode instead of an out of character Rarity episode, but this brings up another question. Who wrote Rarity out of character? Was it Polsky or was it Williams? They both have a record of messing up Rarity’s characterization so it could have been either one of them. I still applaud the decision as this episode actually happens to be one of my guilty pleasures. I personally enjoy this episode a lot because of how good Applejack is in it. She’s reliable, she’s honest, she’s funny, she’s supportive, and she’s brave. Season 3 has been a very Applejack heavy season, with the country pony taking the spotlight more than once, and I think this episode showcases how good of a character she can get to be. 

I really like Applejack, in case you couldn't tell.
However, Spike sucks. This is really sad as this episode was supposed to be a Spike episode, and Spike couldn't be more out of character. I hate bringing up this term once and again, but the way they portray Spike in this episode is as the most useless twat that was ever born. This makes zero sense, especially when we have seen him cook, organize, serve and clean at Twilight’s library, and a few episodes later we see him baking a cake and knowing what he’s doing! You can argue that in this is episode he’s doing farm work, and that working at a farm is harder than working at a library, but he is just moping the floor and mixing the barter to make pies. That’s not hard work, that’s something he does on a daily basis for Twilight. So this episode is an absolute and complete mixed bag that has some of the best Applejack moments, and for that I love it, but also has some of the worst Spike moments and for that I hate it. So when people ask me what do I think of this episode I just shrug and change subjects.

"Are you done bitching? Didn't think so."
Now that you know what I think of each episode written by Merriwether Williams we can easily pin point the traits of her writing, those quirks that make the episodes hers. So in her episodes we see that:

- She exaggerates character traits in favor of comedy or drama.
- She has a fixation with characters acting like complete jerks.
- She has an interest in delivering morals with sociological value.
- She accentuates the slapstick.
- She artificially forces comedy instead of letting it organically happen.

With all this I think I know what’s wrong with the episodes she writes, and why people find them so difficult to enjoy, or at least why her episodes create so much controversy around who wrote it and what her intentions were. If you look at her resume you will see that she comes from an era where cartoons were trying to be more postmodern and edgy, a time when snark and cynicism were the rule in cartoons, as they were competing against other media like live action TV and reality shows. I doubt this works for a cartoon like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Amongst the reasons that have made this show so successful there is the complete lack of cynicism and a burst of transparency and honesty. This show doesn’t pretend to outsmart anybody and does the best to treat everyone equally, both kids and adults. Besides it delivers a very clear message at the end of every episode, and in the best cases it never feels like it’s been tacked in at the end. It feels real and organic. When you bring cynicism into a series that was born without it you are clashing with what’s already being established. Defying the norm is a good thing, but you need to know how to do it, and so far it feels like Williams is writing for a cartoon made in 1999 and not one made in 2012. It feels archaic, clunky, old, unnecessary and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

But this is not the only issue I see with her writing. Take notice that the two most successful shows she’s worked on, “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “Adventure Time”, have the same format, that is two ten minutes long episodes in a twenty minutes long program, while Friendship is Magic is a twenty two minute long show with an ongoing storyline. Perhaps changing to a longer format also affected the way she writes, as sometimes it feels like she’s filling the spaces between plot points with pointless action or humorless comedy. That’s probably why her episodes have that feel of artificial conflict so often. You can feel it’s fabricated and you can even see it being built before your eyes. “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well” presented us a Rainbow Dash with a fan club and a task as a superhero, and this is never brought up ever again. This show has proved to love its continuity, as it constantly self-references itself and shows character development. The only time we have seen an episode written by Merriwether Williams being referenced in other episodes was when we learn what happens to Pee-Wee, Spike’s Pet Phoenix that he saves in “Dragon Quest”, in the episode “Just for sidekicks”. And guess what? This was something that wasn’t even in the actual script! It has come to a point where we can eliminate the episodes written by Merriwether Williams and the show doesn’t suffer from its loss!

Wow, this is so cool! I can't to see what they do with Pee-Wee in Season 3!
Never mind.
I didn’t want to go into this next point, I really didn’t, because I am personally against the use of the phrase “out of character”, especially when people misuse it. Going against character is often mistaken for character development and vice-versa. For example, Spike being a useless twat and messing Applejack’s kitchen because he doesn’t know how to cook, is writing him out of character, because we have established in the past how good of a cook he is. However, Spike ditching his responsibilities as a pet caretaker because he wants to eat a gemstone cake is character development, because it shows Spike trying to deal with something he has never dealt with before at the same time he tries to keep doing his usual dragon boy things. A character is developed when his established character traits clash with something they had never clashed before, like Rainbow Dash getting an interest in reading, or Applejack accepting her friends’ help, or Twilight facing Trixie, or Zecora being accepted into town, or Scootaloo facing her fears, or Rarity appreciating her sister, or Pinkie Pie taking care of the baby Cakes. That is character development. Character development is not putting a character in a situation he or she is familiar with and then making it like he or she doesn’t know what to do or how to do it, or exaggerating the traits that make the character so good at what it does. It’s interesting because the only episode written by Williams where the characters are not out of character is “Hearths Warming Eve”, and that’s because in this episode the characters are not playing themselves! They are playing other characters in that play so, of course, the writing actually works in favor of the episode! Come to think of it, Merriwether Williams’ writing would be improved if at the end of every episode it’s revealed that it was all a theater play, or a movie.

Like in "Paper Mario". Don't tell me this wouldn't kick all sorts of ass.
But, like I said, I can deal with these problems enough for me to enjoy some of her episodes, but when I think about it I don’t enjoy them for the reasons I should enjoy them. I like them for certain aspects of them instead of liking them as a whole. I love “The Mysterious Mare-do-Well” because it reminds me of the old timey superhero serials, which I bet was not the original intention whatsoever. I really like “Hearths Warming Eve” as one really good Christmas-y episode that expands on the mythos of Equestria and its history. I think “Wonderbolts Academy” can be fun, if you ignore the last five minutes during which the whole narrative takes a torpedo to the flotation line and sinks with extreme prejudice. And I will defend “Spike at your Service” as a much better Applejack episode than Apple Family Reunion” or “The Last Round-Up”.

I would've called that episode "Applejack to the Rescue" instead.
It might come across like I am hating on her writing, and maybe I am, but I am not hating it because it’s bad. It’s not bad. Merriwether Williams is not a bad writer. She is as far away as you can imagine from a bad writer. Her impressive resume is not the resume of a bad writer. Bad writers don’t win awards for Best Story and Best Script. What I’m saying here is that her writing doesn’t seem to have a place in this show, at least not now. I know she has potential to write a good episode, I know she does. If she keeps going on the same line as “Spike at your Service” and then starts writing the character the episode focuses on in character, then I see no reason why she wouldn't be writing great episode after great episode.

This hurts me, it really does, and it offends me because I think the morals she talks about in her episodes are some of the best, most insightful and important morals the show has ever had.

- Mysterious Mare-do-Well: Don’t brag too much about what you’re good at
- Hearth’s Warming Eve: Leave your differences behind to achieve a greater goal
- Putting your Hoof Down: Don’t let society dictate how you should act.
- Dragon Quest: Don’t follow the group mentality just because you don’t fit it.
- Wonderbolts Academy: Don’t let your dreams get in the way of your friends and family.
- Spike at your Service: Don’t go too far when thanking somebody for what they did for you.

These morals are fantastic, and both kids and adults can take benefit from them. They are real and you can easily apply them in real life. The problem is that they are presented with poorly written characters, awkward dialogues, odd pacing, and clunky resolutions.

She wears Fin's hat like nobody else though.
I can see potential shining right there in her scripts, and I want to see more episodes written by her. I don’t want to think that the loath and hatred coming from the fandom will discourage her from writing for the show and that she will eventually quit. To this day she is the only writer who hasn’t joined Twitter and who hasn’t showed any interest in coming to Brony Conventions. Can she be as mad at us as we seem to be mad at her? I don’t think she is, but I know one thing for sure: Either we start calming down and stop getting mad when her new scripted episodes come out, or she starts improving her writing and giving that full potential that I know she’s capable of. Until then I am filing all the episodes I like of her on the “Guilty pleasure” category while I kindly ignore the rest.


  1. Interestingly, Williams actually had help with Hearth Warming Eve. From a Q&A:


    Q: Yo Lauren Faust, "Luna Eclipsed" and the midsection of "Hearth's Warming Eve" in Season 2 really feel like your work (and more like Season 1) than the other eps in that season. Am I right? Also, which episodes of Season 2 did you work on the most (stories, mostly)?

    A: Wow. I can't believe you noticed.

    I worked on all the stories, structurally, and only did script work on the first half. Luna Eclipsed, HWE are two I had a heavier hand in-- also Lesson Zero. Can't remember which others.


    I'm kind of in a similar boat as you. I really want to like Merriwether's episodes, and I have a gut feeling that she could become one of the best writers the show has, but... I just don't like anything she puts out.

    For example, Wonderbolt Academy is a perfect conclusion to Dash's current main character arc. Go way back to Dragonshy: Rainbow Dash is brash and arrogant and keeps on telling the others she should leave Fluttershy behind because she's just dead weight.

    Then continue on through Seasons 1 & 2, where in many episodes (including Mare-Do-Well), Dash learns lessons about humility and open-mindedness.

    This comes to a sort of climax in Hurricane Fluttershy, where we see that she's finally learned to be a better person. Notice that at one point she falls back to her earlier ways ("SUCK IT UP, FLUTTERSHY"), but then she realizes what she's doing and cuts herself off mid-rant. She then essentially restarts the conversation, now being helpful and comforting.

    Continue onward to Wonderbolt Academy. That episode has Rainbow Dash in a conflict with Lightning Dust. Except, Lightning Dust is pretty much indistinguishable from Dragonshy!Dash. So, in a way, that episode is about Rainbow Dash vs. herself from three seasons ago, before she learned to be a better person. And, in this way, the episode is a huge success: Rainbow does show how much she's grown, she "beats" Lighting without being any more talented at flying, and she's the one who gains the respect of their flightmates (I really liked the final scene where all the other Academy members salute Rainbow and she salutes back). Your complaint about Lightning Dust being written off like a grammar mistake doesn't seem nearly as important if you see Lightning as a metaphor for Rainbow Dash pre-character development. Of course she's being written off; Rainbow has developed beyond her.

    So, on one hand, I really like Wonderbolt Academy, and believe that it's an extremely important and necessary part of Dash's character arc and development. I give major kudos to Williams for writing it.

    The problem is that the episode itself is just so dull, and the jokes are so forced, and the pacing between RD's and the M6's storylines is so off, and Spitfire is so annoying, and I just don't like watching the episode. And that aggravates me, because I really want to like it.


    Anyway, thanks for the great article. I really needed to read it.

    1. Rainbow vs herself from the past.

      That is a rather interesting look at the episode. I like that.

  2. I actually think that "Putting Your Hoof Down" is perhaps the occassion in which Willliams' style worked best, although I'm mostly saying this because it's an episode that resonates with me very personally. I know what it's like to feel like everyone is stepping on you only to turn into a scumbag when you realize that you can even the odds and go beyond that.

    As for Wonderbolt Academy, I think the biggest problem with this episode is that it feels like it should be bigger than it is. We're finally witnessing RD stepping closer to realizing her lifelong dream, but the idea is treated like it's no big deal. The episode feels more concerned with moving from one setpiece of flight training to the next, with very little room in between for RD to reflect on what's going on with LD and whether or not she should do like her, given how that seems to get better results despite going against what she believes. The episode also seems to think that the subplot with Pinkie Pie getting paranoid because RD may forget about her friends (despite RD saying she's only leaving for a week), which feels very forced.
    Also, LD just plain sucks. I get what she's supposed to be, basically RD's worst instincts personified, but there's very little else to make her stand out. Her design is basically a palette-swapped RD and her voice sounds very generic. I agree that it sucks how she basically gets rewarded for being a reckless, self-centered hotshot. Also, it really rubs me the wrong way how they're supposed to be cadets but, for the most part, no one seems to be around to supervise them. That way, there would've been someone to call out Lightning Dust on her BS.
    Finally, the inclusion of the other flight cadets feels very pointless. They're basically there for filler and nothing else. I think we probably could've gotten a more interestingepisode if they had been actual characters and we'd see RD bond with them or discuss the whole LD situation with someone other than Spitfire. I would've probably enjoyed that more than the B-story we got. And, yes it does feel like the episode didn't have an actual ending. We don't get to see what's next for RD in her path to become a Wonderbolt.
    Basically, I felt that this episode could've been for RD what "Sweet and Elite" was for Rarity, as we get to see her finally step closer to realizing one of her great ambitions, only to realize she must put her principles first and then live the dream.

  3. Regarding Equestria Girls, the best bet is to wait until it finds its way online, which will probably be around the time it comes out on Blu-Ray

  4. Whoa, there. Any problems with "Doug"?

  5. Is it actually true what I've read about Meghan McCarthy receiving death treaths over Equestria Girls? Because if that is true, what should Merriwether Williams expect from this fan base if she was more open like other writters?

    Apparently she always kept her life to herself, nothing wrong with that, but I do wonder what it must be for hardcore fans of Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo, seeing it less likely for her to speak with fans now that there are so much prejudice against her in the brony fan base.

  6. My only comment is you mention Fluttershy being shown to be basically psychopathic in Putting Your Hoof Down but really this was revealed back in Season 1 during the Grand Galloping Gala when she finally goes nuts from the animals being scared of her. It seems to me like the show enjoys having characters really reach an extreme of either insanity or depression once in awhile (Party of One, Lesson Zero, Applebuck Season and Sonic Rainboom to a degree) and Putting Your Hoof Down was just another of those episodes. I loved that episode and yeah it was shocking seeing Fluttershy make Rarity and Pinkie run away but in the same way you like Spike at Your Service for its Applejack I like Putting Your Hoof Down for the rest of the stuff in it. Pinkie was hilarious in Putting Your Hoof Down. Her references to Bugs Bunny were perfect for her. I loved Iron Will for the most part from his voice to his little shopping basket I got a great laugh out of him. I'm actually waiting for

    1. Whoops, published early by accident. Just ignore that last bit of sentence fragment I forgot to delete it

  7. Great article as always. I´ll post my thoguhts in list form but first Equestria Girls IS coming to Spain. The movie has already been dubbed and most likely will get a DVD release. You can see behind the scenes pictures on the tweeter of Anna Canno, singing voice of Sweetie Belle.

    1- Spike was established as a good coook? Cause I remember him gladly eating the "baked bads" in episode 4 and not caring at all. And he was only helping at the kitchen on the phoenix episode. Besides, the cake he was making was all for him since it was made with gemstones so it´snever established that it will be any good for anyone other than him. Just sayin this cause I disagree a lot with your interpretation that he was out of characther in Spike at your Service. I think he was out of element and that´s where the comedy comes from but that´s a debate for another time.

    2- Actually I´m your opposite. I wasn´t fond of the Hoof Down episode because of the time it came out (the Derpgate) but nowdays it´s one of my favourites. The reason is that I interpret FLuttershy as beinge extremly naive and not even realizing what she is doing. The fact that she leaves with a big goof smily on her face after basically punching Pinkie Pie gave me the impression she is acting on what she believes others may like and not realizing the consequences of her actions. That´s why I have so many problems with the "supervillian Fluttershy" interpretation of Keep Calmn since I can´t concieve FLuttershy planning so far ahead in the episode and being so cruel to Discord as to ahve been lying the entire episode as Dave Polsky declared. Bottom line, I think Hoof Down gives a much better portray of Fluttershy that any other episode in my opinion.

    Always interesting to read yout thoughts and if I´m not mistaken your charity stream went well so congratulations!

    1. He bakes Vanilla cream cookies, eats hay fries, has a knowledge about pony customs and food, and in order to make good barter for a cake you need knowledge of cooking and proportion measures.






      Being a good cook and a good eater are two completely different things.

      I think she's pretty aware of what she's doing, she just doesn't realize until the writer forces her to reflect herself on the poodle of water. I completely disagree with you on Putting your Hoof Down, but then that episode fucking offends me, and you don't seem to mind that much at all. When did Shy lied in Keep Calm?

      Thank you for your support though, I really treasure it. The stream went really well. We managed to raise $200 in a couple of hours, which is a lot considering I am a nobody.

    2. According to Dave Polsky the entire episode, especially in the scene when she yells at Discord and turns around. That he said that was the intention on that scene offedend me because I thought it was honestly good.

      Can´t remember when Spike made cookies and I disagree that he ordering food at a restaurant means he knows how to cook it but then again it´s not such a big deal. I just don´t see Spike as that competent as anybody else. In episode 9 he gets into the kitchen while they are talking about Zecora and makes a whole mess, presumably because he can´t see in the darkness so I´m used to him being used as comedy relief.

      I guess I just see Spike in a different light that´s all. ^_^

    3. Where did Polsky said this? Proof or it didn't happened.

      Spike made cookies in "Owl's Well that ends Well", him eating hay fries and preparing daisy sandwiches proves that he knows what ponies like to eat. He helped bake cakes in "A Bird in the Hoof", and like I said in the article he is cooking a cake in "Just for Sidekicks". This cake looks like any other except that it has jewels in it, so the knowledge of mixing eggs, flour, sugar, etc. has to still be there!

      Spike is a competent guy, with potential for comedic relief. When an incompetent writer takes the character and amps the comedy by making him extra incompetent, then it's not a fault of the character but the writer.

      And for the record, I don't really like Spike, but I like where they were going with him with "The Crystal Empire", and the writing staff had to go and fucked it up. Thankfully Polsky and Corey Powell were there to right Williams' wrong.

    4. Spike is competent in "Spike At Your Service", he gets the job done, he just makes a mess in the process. We never saw Spike actually cooking or cleaning, but about to or after cooking and cleaning. He actually made the pie, he knew how to make one, it just tasted terrible, he also cleaned up the pig, built the stone tower, saved Applejack by using a stick as a lever and throwing a stone perfectly, and technically fixed Rarity's sewer problem (Not to mention he knows how to help Twilight at the end). The little guy was just trying too hard.

      The way I see PYHD, and one of the reasons I liked it, is that Fluttershy is not being her true self when attacking others, Iron Will never actually tought her to be assertive, he forced her to get to the stage and forced her to "attack" the goat, and all the ponies celebrated it, she didn't stop being a doormat, she was doing what Iron Will and the cheering ponies "told" her to do, just like with all the ponies who took advantage of her and Pinkie Pie and Rarity. It's in the end she is being assertive. Like it has been said in this blog many times, Iron Will is not a villain, just like Rarity and Pinkie Pie aren't, their ways to deal with others weren't the right ones for Fluttershy. I liked that Iron Will didn't need to be a bad guy.

      But of course, because many people liked PYHD, it wasn't uncommon to find comments with abstract arguments about the episode being good because of "Charlotte Fullerton's involvement". Come "Spike At Your Service", also with the story by someone else, and everybody is blaming Merriwether Williams entirely, insisting on her making Spike useless or making Rarity too mean, when there is no evidence for that, when it could have been Dave Polsky who wrote the original Rarity episode, or Meghan McCarthy who took the decicions, never mind the known fact that the episode had problems during production, like if by insisting on it it will become true. It also wouldn't surprise me if people start finding good things in "Heart Warming's Eve" now that they can claim they are only because of "Lauren Faust's involvement" as mentioned in that image board Q&A.

      Yes, I'm not very positive about the fandom when it comes to her, but people keep treating her like a punch bag, it needs to be acknowledged.

    5. Spike was portrayed as a useless twat when helping Applejack. The only competent thing he did was throwing a pebble at the Timberwolf's throat.

      Iron Will is definitely not a villain. The real villain of the episode is Fluttershy. Think about it. We see how she starts being all meek and a pushover, she turns into a monster, and after locking herself up she comes out transformed into a middle ground between the two. That's similar to how some villains work in this series, having a start, a boiling point, and a resolution. Hell, it's exactly what happened with Luna! I would appreciate this kind of development, if it wasn't because we have seen Fluttershy being assertive before. Unless you take this episode and put it at the very beginning of the show, before Twilight arrived to Ponyville, then it will work. But without that, the episode feels unneeded.

      My point on Williams still stands. She's a good writer for the wrong cartoon. She can't write MLP the same way she wrote Rugrats, Adventure Time or Camp Lazlo. She should be able to keep things grounded in the realism she does bring to the table while also forgetting about how she wrote for those other shows. She should take lessons from M.A. Larson, is what I'm saying.

    6. Spike saved Applejack's life when she was in danger, he cleaned up the pig and built the stone tower when asked, he knew how to help Twilight at the beggining and the end when piling up the books and bringing a lantern for her. He wasn't out of character, he is only useful when he is actually needed. When you try to force your help, so much that you become unaware of what's happening arround you, you become the opposite of helpful.

      I don't recall Fluttershy being assertive towards other ponies before, only towards creatures. Though it is my headcanon that the true reason she is afraid of dragons is because they can talk just like ponies, the time she tamed the red dragon was to save her friends; in PYHD, she is dealing with ponies she barely or doesn't even know (plus Angel) in her own routine, she is standing for herself, not for others, so she finds it more difficult, and in my opinion such an episode was needed.

  8. Wow, never thought that Williams worked on so many historical cartoons 0__0.

    Personally, I never hated the Mare Do Well episode and I enjoyed what was good in it, though I still understand the reasons why people despise it. In my opinion, the thing that truly ruins the episode is the scene at sugar cube corner, when the mane five congratulates themselves and laughs at RD; without that scene, the moral would've been much more effective instead of broken like it pretty much is now :P.

    For Wonderbolts Academy, I actually liked Lighting Dust; or better, I liked the way she was gradually presented to us: at first she's pretty much an up to eleven Rainbow Dash, and in fact we see the two going along well despite the fact that she took away the leader position from her, but than we gradually see her real self, that is a complete jerk. Is a different take from other jerks like, say, Trixie or Gilda, who are shown to be jerks since the beginning while here it becomes only gradually clear the more we're near her. Overall she was a character with great potentials, and the thing that made me mad in the episode was how, in the end, they first throw a giant idiot ball at her (by making her ask what was the problem of making five ponies falling to a sure death: that's not being a jerk, that's being a moron :PP), and than they throw her away like a trash can; that was really heartbreaking to see, though that's probably how they do it in the actual army.

    As for Putting Your Hoof Down, I'll say that I didn't find Fluttershy being so OOC when being a jerk, and believe it or not, people like her tends to act that way some times. I know because I too have many things in common with her, I'm a guy that hates violence and struggles and tends to act peacefully most of the time; but I also have particular times when I feel like hurting the people near me, verbally speaking, because it makes me fell better. And yeah, it's an awful thing to do, but sometimes you're so much angry or stressed out you just don't care about the others, you only want yourself to feel better. That's why I can totally understand Fluttershy here, despite still not excusing her action: she took too much stress inside of her and she was feeling too much better by releasing it, even at the cost of being awful toward her friends. In the end, I want to forgive her because, right after passing the line, she realized how awful and wrong she was (which is pretty much what I also do). At the end though, she pretty much needed to pour out all that stress, which I believe is also the reason why Rarity and pinkie forgave her pretty easily. Now that she's free from all that stress she will find the way to not commit the same mistake ever again.

    To conlude this very long comment, I disagree with you saying that the series lacks completely of cynicism; that's still present. Sure, when you talk about the levels of cynicism presented in more adult TV series or even cartoons like The Simpsons or South Park, I agree, it's not that level of cynicism. But it's there, in a self-contained portion, even outside Williams' scripts. granted it's almost always treated as a bad thing, and that's why the series is populr among adults: ponies can be as cynical and bad with themselves as people in real life, but at the end they understand how wrong it is abd they make up for it. And at the end, they're forgived. We want so much of that in real life, and seeing a culture were forgivness is so much present it's heartwarming.

    As a final note, I wish luck for Williams for becoming a better writer for the show; after all Dave Polsky, another writer that comes from the same period as her, did improved a lot since S1, so I think that Williams too can improve herself. An bronies, STOP THE HATE PLEASE, BE PATIENT AND GIVE THIS WRITER ANOTHER CHANGE!

    -Matt Ferrari

  9. I guess I'm one of the few bronies that don't despise Merriwether's episodes at all. The only episode I hate from her (that is one of the three only episodes I hate) (and I'm sorry to say that) is Mare do Well, while I really like her others episodes expecially (again I'm sorry to say that) Wonderbolts Academy, because it gives so much character development to Rainbow Dash, and I consider one of the better Rainbow Dash episodes ever. I respect your opinion James, but this time, I've to partially disagree with you.

    PS: I guess it's not the case to worry about her anymore anyway. She and Cindy Morrow left the show after the S3.
    Meghan McCarthy, M.A. Larson, Dave Polsky, Corey Powell, Amy Keating Rogers, Charlotte Fullerton (only one episode) and the new entry Natasha Levigner are the writers for the S4.

    1. Where did you hear these news about the writers for Season 4?


      Here. This thread contains all the informations about the next seasons production.

    3. Thank you!

      This post is relevant to my interests, thanks a lot for sharing it in this space.

    4. Wait, isn't Equestria Girls getting its own series? I'm sure it is at least getting it's own comic. What if Merriwether Williams "moved" to Equestria Girls?

      Would make me look forward to it, considering she was responsible for the 'Free for All' tv series:

    5. False alarm, she is one of the 10 confirmed writters. One of the new ones worked in "Fairly Odd Parents":

  10. Checked the link: I didn't read that Williams left the show, but she wasn't with the writers of S4 as well. Maybe she'll be back for S5?

    It's a pity anyway, though: despite the problems they had I still liked her episodes. Hope she's not going away because of the hate of the fans :(....

    -Matt Ferrari

  11. I've never seen Merriwether Williams before, so I'm curious where you found that image of her?

  12. One of the themes that I noticed to be consistent throughout Williams' episodes is the derision of anti-social/individualistic behavior, and their adulation for social/collectivist behavior. For example, Rainbow Dash was ostracized in Mare Do Well for acting in the interest of personal accomplishment and glory, whereas the rest of the mane cast were portrayed positively for working as a team. One could argue that Dragon Quest or Wonderbolts Academy defy this trend by going against the authority of the dominant culture at hand, but they criticize each of those cultures based on the degree to which they will sacrifice general welfare for the sake of personal accomplishment. This may not seem like an issue, given that the show is about friendship and harmony, but I find this trend worrisome. One of the best qualities of MLP:FiM for me is the sense of balance, particularly in the concern of the individual vs. the collective. Take the first episode, for example. While most of the time is spent with Twilight discovering the power of friendship, and mutuality, there would be no solution had Twilight not been so devoted to her personal studies in the first place. Or alternatively, take suited for success, in which concern for the collective welfare of her friends drove Rarity to ruin her show. These examples present that social connections, while important, do not need to rule one's life. This sense of balance is sorely lacking in any Williams episode.

  13. I don't see anything wrong with her. Mind you, this is coming from someone who liked her Spongebob work.

    1. And she was the executive story editor for the show's golden age (Seasons 1-3)

  14. Wow, I had forgotten I was still subscribed to comments on this. Thanks, TParker. :|