I love callbacks! They’re great! They combine comedy with continuity, tickling both the funny and nerdy parts of my brain. But they’re very rare on shows like Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony. This is mainly because these shows are structured so episodes can be watched in any order, and even skipped over, so as to not penalize those who are either casual viewers, or just decided to miss an episode or two.
There was a time when making a continuity-heavy show like 24 would’ve been, if not impossible, a fast way to lose viewers. Since missing a single episode would mean missing a large chunk of the overarching story, making the program unwatchable. And missing single episodes is something that’s going to happen on occasion to all but the most dedicated of viewer.
But now, these kinds of programs have become a mainstay of modern television. And it’s all thanks to on-demand services such as TiVo, NetFlix, and whatever online solution the broadcaster wishes to provide. This kind of flexibility allows the viewer to watch a show at whatever time they want. Which wasn’t possible before without a blank VHS tape, a VCR, a computer science degree so you could program the damn thing, and the ability to predict the future so you know when you’re gonna be late.
And that was all assuming the show didn’t get rescheduled that week, or wasn’t delayed by some cheesy sporting event.
So, why are they not more common? Like I said, Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony don’t do continuity that often. Generally if a new character appears on a given episode, there’s a good chance we’ll never see them again. And references to earlier episodes are almost non-existent, even when you’d expect a character to do just that.
Rainbow: Come on, Fluttershy! You have to get angry!
Fluttershy: But I’m not angry.
Rarity: Oh, I know, pretend the Mane-iac took your taxi, or stood in front of you in line, or asked for directions…
Rarity: You weren’t there, just trust me on this.
That was cut from the superhero episode.
Then there are episodes where a character learns the same thing they learned in a previous episode. As if they were lobotomized or something in the interim.
On the bright side, this practice seems to be falling to the wayside. On My Little Pony, we had Twilight becoming a princess which closed off the last season and is running throughout this one, the renovation of the castle in the Everfree forest was covered in two different episodes which built off each other, and then there’s the ongoing Equestria Games saga.
But on Littlest Pet Shop, it’s been much more pervasive, as we see characters mention events from earlier episodes on a regular basis. Like the Pet Jet, the Pet Fashion Expo, and Russell’s phasmophobia. And I think it finally reached its peak, on the day the pets take a trip to Rio De Janeiro for the big Brazilian Carnival (car-nih-VAHL) celebrations! Primarily because it feels like a sequel to an earlier episode, and because it just won’t stop it with the callbacks! Continue reading