Season 2, Episode 15: "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000"
It's cider season at Sweet Apple Acres! After years of Pinkie Pie always getting in line before her and bogarting all the cider, Rainbow Dash is determined to get there first. And she's bringing Fluttershy, whether Fluttershy wants to go or not.
As is the case with foolproof plans, it takes a fool to defeat it: Pinkie Pie still got there first, and she's not the only one.
While cider only costs two bits per stein, Pinkie has brought many, many bits ...
... and gets more than her fair share of cider, though only Rainbow is outwardly troubled by this (or by the fact that Pinkie has gone biped).
Many steins of cider are sold as the day montages on ...
... so many, in fact, that the supply runs dry just as Rainbow gets to the front of the line.
Everypony who didn't get cider is angry, and Rainbow takes out her frustrations on Applejack -- which is not entirely fair, though an argument can be made that there should have been a "one stein per pony the first time around" policy to prevent this sort of thing from happening.
Applejack points out that their cider is so good because they take the time to do it right, but there'll be more tomorrow, honest. (As always, Big Macintosh's "sad face" is painful.)
But what's this? A strange vehicle comes putting and clonking over the horizon, kind of a souped-up Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
And from this peculiar mode of transport emerges the unicorns Flim and Flam, the self-described world famous Flim Flam Brothers, with a proposition. In song.
Every ambitious, non-superhero cartoon from the past few decades exists in the long shadow of The Simpsons. Not only are there more than 500 Simpsons episodes to date, the first couple hundred include some of the best television ever written. As a result, not only is it difficult to find a story or theme that hasn't already been done -- as South Park explored in the appropriately-titled episode "The Simpsons Already Did It," and that was a decade ago when there were "only" 291 Simpsons episodes -- and it's even trickier when doing a pop culture parody.
Which is exactly what My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic manages to pull off: A fresh take on the 1958 play and 1962 film The Music Man, which was already the inspiration for one of the very best Simpsons episodes, "Marge vs. the Monorail." If you were born after 1960 and therefore are not familiar with The Music Man, this clip from the Tonys in the 80s will get you up to speed.
River City is the prototype for Springfield, Ponyville, and just about every fictional town in American pop culture, though unlike Robert Preston's Howard Hill in The Music Man or Phil Hartman's Lyle Lanley in The Simpsons, Flim and Flam don't have to create a demand where none exists -- the residents of Ponyville want more cider now, and that makes these con-ponies all the more insidious.
Flim and Flam offer to let the Apple family supply the apples to be processed in The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, and they'll split the profits, 25% to the Apple family and 75% to Flim and Flam, who'll supply the magic to run the machine gratis. In Equestria, magic is just a tool, a labor-saving device.
Applejack does the math, and declines.
Being aggressive capitalists, Flim and Flam are fine with that -- they'll just run Sweet Apple Acres out of business. It's Adam Smith's invisible hoof at work.
The Apple family runs out of cider again the next morning, much to the frustration of Rainbow Dash, who once again ended up waaaaaaay at the back of the line.
Cue the arrival of Flim and Flam to sell their vast quantities of cider ... made from Apple family stock. Not okay.
A challenge is made, spurred on in no small part by the fact that Granny Smith hates being called chicken: Whoever makes the most cider in an hour, Flim and Flam using the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 or the Apple family using their old-fashioned method, will win the exclusive right to produce and sell cider in Ponyville. And since the Apples rely on their cider sales to stay in business over the winter, if they lose the contest, they lose their farm.
The contest begins, and before long Flim and Flam are winning by several barrels, making them are so confident they allow a loophole to be exploited -- specifically, the Apple family getting help from the Mane Six, deputized as honorary family members.
Thanks to the power of teamwork and the magic of friendship, the Apple family ... still loses.
The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 produced more barrels of cider, especially since Flim and Flam loosened up their quality control, allowing bad apples and bits of branches and leaves into the machine. And, oh, do they gloat.
One problem, though. Because their cider contains bad apples and bits of branches and leaves (and rocks!), it's horrible.
Nopony will buy their cider, not even at two bits a barrel, so Flim and Flam hightail it out of Ponyville -- meaning both Sweet Apple Acres and the local cider business still belong to the Apples! And there's plenty of the frothy beverage to go around, even for Rainbow Dash.
In the single greatest Shoehorn of the entire series, Applejack reports that she learned ... not a darn thing! She already knew that honest work pays off, and that her friends are always there for her, so what else is there to say? Sadly, we don't get to see Princess Celestia's face as she reads that one.
Next Time: Rainbow Dash discovers the joy of eggheadery in "Read It and Weep," and the Cutie Mark Crusaders tamper in love's secret domain in "Hearts and Hooves Day."