Hello, Spongey here.
We’ve got another edition of Spongey’s Favorite Episodes but this time it’ll be different. Let me back up a bit.
You all remember by now that in 2015, I did a look at Sofia the First and have talked about it a few times since, as well as the sort of spin off Elena of Avalor. The post is unnecessarily long but ah well.
There I went into a few of my favorite episodes up to that point, as the post was done during the last quarter of Season 2. The show has ended since then after two more seasons.
And of course that means more really good episodes that I did want to talk about. I don’t always do “next best episodes” list these days unless I really have things to talk about with those episodes or whatnot.
But for some reason in this case, I did. I backed out of doing one for Adventure Time for now but a Disney Junior show was able to get me to do one. It’s complicated but either way I did want to do this one.
Mostly because it has grown quite a bit since then and I wanted to talk about it, along with the standout episodes. The problem is that there are some from that last quarter of Season 2 I wanted to fit in, along with the Season 3 and 4 episodes.
It feels weird to lump all that together instead of being able to just put two seasons together but it just wouldn’t feel right to leave them. Consider this a hybrid of a SPF and a Next Best list.
Calling it a Next Best List would be weird given the original post was just a look at so I labeled it this way even though it’s just from certain seasons as I pointed out my favorites from the first half of the show already.
I realize how needlessly complicated I am making things but whatever, we’re going over other episodes I like.
Since my big post, the show went into a more serialized direction, because being a Disney Junior show doesn’t stop it from being a 2010’s cartoon. The show already had some lore and development to it, so this shift did make sense.
It wasn’t executed perfectly but they managed to make each episode stand alone and a lot of the charm was still there even as things got a tad more serious.
Some people can be mixed on shows during this kind of thing and while I get that it can lead to some shows trying too hard to be “adult”, this is a case where it remembered what audience this was aimed at and it was merely just growing up slightly.
I think being a preschool show prevents it from getting too dark or falling into other pitfalls. Even with story aspects working better than others, it was a treat to see the world grow.
That said, which episodes stood out the most? Which did the best job of keeping up the solid morals, humor and heart? Did the finale make it on here like you’re all expecting? Let’s find out.
These are some of my favorites from the latter half or so of Sofia the First.
Even now, it’s weird to think I’m giving this show the treatment I give more respected cartoons but whatever, here we go.
(By the way, this in the order they aired)
In A Tizzy
Writer: Erica Rothschild
The setup of this episode sounds very familiar and makes you think it’ll go in the very typical direction but actually plays out differently and becomes really refreshing.
Ruby is gearing up for a go-ka-I mean Go Carriage race when she meets a fairy godmother named Tizzy (voiced by Melisa Rauch). She hasn’t earned her wings because her attempts to help kids always fail, so Ruby so Tizzy help with her Go-Carriage but things quickly get out of control.
From that, you’d think this would be a story where a grump who doesn’t work well with others has to learn to accept help or learn the importance of teamwork or whatever.
I’ve seen that pretty often to the point where I kind of wanted some show to say that doing things on your own is okay sometimes too. So I was pretty surprised when this episode actually did that despite having the setup of that kind of story.
Tizzy is very likable and manages to be a bit goofy without being annoying about it, so that could have worked. But they also could have accidentally said that accepting help is bad or something like that and it doesn’t do that either.
The problem comes when Tizzy tries so hard to help her that she ends up doing most of the work for her which not only robs Ruby of that feeling of accomplishment but is also cheating.
In the end, they learn that a little help is fine but achieving something on your own can be rewarding and that too much help can be a bad thing. Tizzy gets to be a bit much but you get why she’s like that so even when later on, she doesn’t cross the line into being unlikable.
Nor does Ruby since she doesn’t ever blow up at her or anything like that. She feels like she has to let her help given how much Tizzy wants to do this, and of course it’s Sofia who has to remind her of the big lesson.
It’s a far more balanced story than it could have been, where everyone is likable and learns a pretty refreshing lesson. Help/teamwork is great but doing some things mostly on your on can be just as rewarding.
Outside of that, there’s some decent comedy with the other racers like how Amber cares way more about making her carriage look good. Another thing I like is that most of this is told from Ruby’s perspective.
Yes, Sofia is there and does her thing of having to tell someone the lesson but right from the start, we follow Ruby through this while Sofia is more of a side character which I think is a nice change of pace.
She’s still pretty important, it just shifts things a bit so we can a slight variation of the usual formula. Another thing that is nicely balanced. Also, seeing more of her village friends at all is nice but I’ll talk more about that later.
Overall, this episode gives us a solid message in a well written story with likable characters and is a nice change of pace. I’m glad Tizzy got to return way later, she made for a pretty enjoyable episode.
It’s one I appreciate on a few different levels, and it’s pretty charming as a whole. It makes my dreams come true. …It’s a reference to the song, shut up.
Elena and the Secret of Avalor
Writer: Craig Gerber
Yep, I talked about this one in regards to the backstory and how it fed into the show it set it up but it’s time to discuss how it is on its own merits.
Despite basically being a Poorly Disguised Pilot (without the disguised part, thanks Disney), this does fit very well in the show and it feels like something they’ve been building up to this whole time.
It helps that it’s all tied into that amulet she’s had from the beginning. It wasn’t that important to know what the deal with it is but this was a pretty epic way to reveal.
Turns out it was keeping a princesses after it protected her from being murdered like her parents were. Who knew?
The whole reason Sofia is doing this is that it’s a mission from the Secret Library, as she has to finish Elena’s story and all that. That was a whole thing and it all ties together pretty well.
Honestly,I could repeat a lot of what I said in the Elena post as it applies here. The Sofia stuff is pretty good but the highlights come from Elena. Her backstory is a sad one and we get to know her fairly well even though she takes a bit to appear.
We see how much she wants to take down Shurki, and she has a really nice moment regarding her sister Isabel. This is the largest conflict the show has dealt with and it’s really well, especially in the climax.
The special is a full hour long even without commercials, and that allows the story to feel more complete with good build up and a very satisfying climax and ending.
There can be some padding in places but not enough to where making this a full hour was pointless. I like how in the end everyone has to stand together, so basically everyone from Sofia to Elena to almost every citizen of Avalor takes part in the climax.
It makes for an epic climax and it feels equal so it’s not just either Sofia or Elena taking Shurki down. Elena does pretty much give the final blow though, which is fitting.
Esteban really stands out here as we see him not being happy with serving Shurki and we see hints of his complex nature that the show would later explore. As I think I said before, this special helped me understand more of his deal, since he was a bit undefined in the early episodes.
Shurki herself (voiced by Jane Fonda) is pretty good as a villain, you certainly wanted to see her get taken down. I feel like some of the other villains stand out more in terms of enjoyment but she still works and she would do more in the show anyway.
Speaking of, I like how they put in a wraparound thing with Elena and Naomi to act like they planned for it to air at this point all along, but then took it out of the Netflix version. Nice.
One last thing to mention is the animation. The animation was already quite good by this point but they take it up a notch here with especially good expressions and shading.
Also, the backgrounds. I don’t think I mentioned them before but the backgrounds in this show are so damn good, really bringing the world to life. They can almost look like out of place, they’re so good.
Overall, it works as a set up with Elena of Avalor but it also works on its own as an epic adventure with a good character in Elena and a grand scale conflict. It’s basically Elena’s show for the most part, and it does that exceptionally.
Although saying that her story “isn’t over yet” and is for “another book” is not exactly subtle.
But yeah, it’s really good and gets better once you see what it leads into, while still working on its own.
I don’t have a catchy note to end this on, so I’ll just again say it’s really good and was a good lead to a good spin off series.
Day of the Sorcerers/In Cedric we Trust
Writer: Laurie Israel
That’s right, we have a tie. The latter is a follow up to the former and they’re too tied together for me to separate. And oh boy, is he former especially interesting to talk about.
We’ll mostly be focusing on Day of the Sorcerers, which is pretty big for only being a normal episode. I will be spoiling it since it carries over into the other one but in this case I don’t think you’ll mind too much.
Cedric is invited to a gathering of sorcerers who plan to use their magic to take over all of the kingdoms, and he has to decide if he ants to betray Sofia.
Yeah, this was quite the big one. It basically feels like the conclusion to Cedric’s entire arc, although it would be formally capped in a couple of later episodes.
This episode mirrors Cedric’s Apprentice quite a bit, as that one introduced his motivation and him being unsure of wanting to do all this since he had been starting to befriend Sofia. This is the very start of Season 4, where they’ve now been through a lot and Cedric was hardly a villain by this point.
Here, his loyalties are put to the test and he gets to really think about why’s doing all this. It feels like a natrual extension of what had been established before. The song really shows this, with him having 2nd thoughts, while Wormwood reminds him that even if Sofia is nice, most other people were not.
Honestly, Wormwood comes off as the real villain here, since he convinces Cedric to do this and has been like this in the past. There was a whole episode about him appreciating Cedric more but I feel like that was a fluke.
Anyway, this is the episode where Sofia finds out Cedric had been plotting against here a lot. Yep. I was not expecting this bombshell to go off in a normal episode but here we are.
It’s really heartbreaking to see her find this out, especially with how close they had been. There’s some good dialogue here between the characters, as Cedric tells Roland off and other people weigh in.
Despite just being a normal episode, they pack in quite a lot and it’s done as well as it really could be. Some parts feel rushed as a result of the length, but the impact is mostly felt and a lot of is done really well.
Cedric being fully forgiven is the only thing I think suffers a tad, should have been saved for another episode. They’re just lucky his actions were somewhat understandable and not too horrible.
There’s some great emotion here and Cedric gets some really good moments, especially in the scene where he’s defeated. They explore the reasons he did all this and it fleshes all this out further.
As weird as it is to cap this off in a normal episode,it ended up being done splendidly in the end. And if you feel like more could have been explore,we have In Cedric We Trust.
It came a tad too much later (like 15 plus episodes later) but at least we got it. Here, Roland still can’t fully trust Cedric after what he did, so Cedric has to spend 22 minutes trying to get his trust back despite still being bumbling.
Also, Prisma (who we’ll talk more about later) is still going after some evil McGuffins and she might get some help from Wormwood. What did I just say about him, eh?
I won’t talk too much about him here but we do see that he’s unhappy with Cedric turning good and he gets a pretty interesting moment at the end. I also like that there’s a cliffhanger here despite the happy ending to the Cedric story.
We go more into his and Roland’s relationship, as we find out more about what they were like as kids. Roland can feel a bit too dick-ish at times and it can get a bit tiring but the overall story works well enough for me to forgive that.
This one completes the other one nicely, as it makes him being forgiven feel a bit more earned. There’s of course a whole musical number one dedicate to getting Roland on Cedric’s side, which is great.
The Prisma stuff works okay, it mostly exists for the sake of the arc but they work together to create a more fleshed out story. Especially since Cedric saves Sofia in a pretty perilous moment.
I don’t have as much to say about In Cedric We Trust, I just lumped in to show how they continued the development from Day of the Sorcerers. Both episodes do a great job of capping off Cedric’s arc, and developing Roland further.
Day of the Sorcerers is especially great with this as we see how Cedric just wanted to be seen as a great man despite everyone dunking on him, and how that lead him to becoming all grumpy and making some mistakes.
In the end, these episodes show off great of a character he is, by showing how far he’s come and then going into how things are with Roland. Day of the Sorcerers is way better but they both work quite well together.
I trusted them to pull this all off well, and at this point they pretty much earned it. I might be stretching with these.
Writer: Matt Hoverman
Hey, did you know Sofia has two friends named Ruby and Jade? …Likely yes since I talked about an episode with them earlier but you know what I mean. After Season 2, the show seemed to forget they existed.
I don’t think they appeared at all in Season 3. I get the shifted focus means less visits to the village and whatever, but it’s still weird that they seemed to drop off the face of the Everrealm.
So I was pretty happy to see this episode where Jade finally got more focus. They’re having a School Swap Day where a kid from Dunwiddie (Jade) swaps places from someone from Royal Prep (Amber).
Sofia is excited, and they discover a painting of someone they think is a princess, that looks exactly like Jade. Now they believe Jade is actually a princess and likely has to come on Royal Prep full time. Sofia is super excited but Jade starts having second thoughts.
This episode is pretty simple, with Jade realizing she loves Dunwiddie and doesn’t really belong at Royal Prep but unsure if she has the guts to tell Sofia. You get the point but still has to wait for the obvious conclusion.
It feels like an earlier episode in that way, but I’d say that’s a good thing as it’s a nice counter to the more ambitious episodes, especially the ones on this list.
It’s Sofia and Jade’s friendship that carries this one. Right from the start, Sofia getting all excited over Jade’s arrival is really cute, as if they’re bond in general.
Their interactions are really enjoyable and super adorable. Their strong friendship is able to carry this one, along with Jade’s dilema. It’s interesting to see Sofia accidentally put pressure on someone like this, as it would usually be the other way around.
Thankfully, it doesn’t feel too out of character since her being excited makes sense and she isn’t a jerk or anything like that. Plus, it is nice to see her being more flawed with more of a focus on someone else.
It’s not quite as good as In a Tizzy in this regard, but it’s still refreshing and makes for a nice story. You can tell where this is going on but it’s still enjoyable in spite of that.
Also, there’s a subplot with Amber where she learns more about the Dunwiddie ways. It’s been done before with her, but it works okay. At least it breaks up the plot somewhat.
It’s a simple story but a shift in focus and a cute friendship makes it a pretty enjoyable one. The weakest on this list but I just felt like throwing another slice of life-ish one to counteract the bigger ones I tend to favor.
I wish they had a few more of these in the later seasons but it’s nice to see any at all, especially since this one was pretty cute. Nothing too grand or deep, but still works as a good story for Jade.
Not much to add, just a nice change of pace with plenty of adorable moments. I like it.
Sidekick Clio (Season 2, Erica Rothschild): A pretty good spotlight story for Clio, showing her trying to stand out from Hildegard.
The Secret Library (Season 3, Craig Gerber): The Merida appearance is cool, as is the story of this arc but honestly this one is here for the scene where Sofia enters the library. It’s drawn out and done entirely with visuals and music and it’s honestly magical. Look it up, it’s honestly amazing.
New Genie on the Block (Season 3, Krista Tucker): I like that Sofia makes a mistake that leads to all this, but this makes it here just for the concept of the Genie Police. Yes.
Princess Ballet (Season 3,Laurie Israel & Rachel Ruderman): Pretty nice story for Kari that I was into more than I expected. Also, she’s voiced by Doc McStuffins.
A Very Mystic Wassalia Season 4, (Matt Hoverman): https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/a-look-at-disney-nick-cartoon-network-christmas-episodes-2017/
And the final favorite we’ll be talking about is…
Writers: Craig Gerber & Micheal G Stern
Yep, it’s the big epic finale. Even if we were going in the usual quality order, this would be number one. Sometimes I like being obvious, especially when it’s this damn great.
Not spoiling certain things will be a bit hard, not to mention all the buildup through other episodes that is hard to explain. But compared to other shows, I think I can get through this alright.
Despite how big it is, it’s fairly simple to explain. After Prisma has gathered a bunch of evil objects, they unleashes the evil Vor who quickly takes Prisma aside and goes on to try to take over the Everrealm.
The story itself isn’t super complicated, it’s more about how the heroes try to stop her and all that, rather than a ton of plot points or subplots. It feels more focused as a result, while still having side things and completing the show’s story.
As far as complaints go, I honestly don’t have many, especially compared to most finales. There are some characters I wish got more of a send off, most notably James. They get used well enough but perhaps there could have more.
Some bits can feel forced but work towards the overall story. My biggest issue is that something that h append in In Cedric We Trust is not addressed. I don’t mind that it happens, it’s just not explored despite how major it was in a way.
Everything else is great though. As far as Vor goes, she blends in with every other sassy baddie this show has, but I like how far she goes and the climax really makes her work.
It’s weird how they built up Prisma so much only for her to get pushed aside by the bigger villain she teamed up with (getting a little sick of that cliche), so I can see that being a problem for some people. Vor works well enough for this to be fine though.
I also like how Prisma is handled at the end, it’s a nice mix of her showing some remorse while sill being punished unlike basically every other snapshot redemption, even the ones in the show.
My only real issue with Vor is…her name. Pronounce it like “Voor” and you will you see the huge problem with calling her this. Needless to say, I had to suppress a giggle every time they went on about the evil of Vor.
Anyway, this finale does an excellent job of bringing the series full circle. It starts with Sofia and Miranda visiting the village they came from, and they really remind of you of where she came from.
We see how she much she has grown despite starting as just as a commoner, and it really reminds of us how far she has come. It would be easy to let the epic scale of the story take over but we are reminded of her humble beginnings.
We also see that with how she gets help from her friends, old and new. Considering my previous comment about the lack of Ruby and Jade, it’s nice to see them play a notable role, along with people Sofia befriended along the way like Lucinda.
They are defined by how they help Sofia which I think works for the kind of story this is. This is pretty much her story and her friends and family play a major part here.
It can be bothersome for this to be all about her but there are episodes going deeper into the other characters on their own and how things play out make it all pretty satisfying, at least for me.
The climax is especially great, with Sofia being put in a position where she has no help but still gets to take down Vor in a really awesome way. And it’s through song, of course.
Speaking of songs, they know how to use them to power the story here. There’s a reprise of the Royal Prep song in the graduation scene that is just amazing.
Also, the opening song features a shot out to a longtime fan from Tumblr. I’m not making that up.
Naturally, there is plenty of emotional moments here, especially at the end. The final scene makes the show on a nice note, including a “The End” card that reminds you how this was all one big story being told on top of the usual little stories.
It’s already crazy to see a preschool show like this have more story/lore to it, but to have it feel like a big story with a complete ending is especially strange but very satisfying.
This finale really reminded me of why I even got into this show in the first. It has some of what you’d expect to see in this kind of show, but they went the extra mile with the storytelling and really respected their audience.
It may not have been the smoothest road but Forever Royal makes for an exceptional finale that brings things full circles and not only shows how far Sofia has grown, but how her the relationships she’s built over the course of 4 seasons have helped her out.
Plus, it’s another hour long special that makes good use of the time. It only gets a bit bloated near the end but the execution makes up for it. Otherwise, this really flies by while still using the time to flesh out the story, mostly.
And on top of that, we find out what Roland’s first wish from the wall that he mentioned like two seasons ago! It’s…an interesting reveal, to say the least.
Overall, Forever Royal is a grand finale that caps off this story extremely well with plenty of emotional highs. There’s the usual missed chances and things some fans may not agree with but as a whole, it wraps things up in a way I was quite happy with.
It’s a good way to end the show, and this list.
And those were some more of my favorite Sofia the First episodes. I’m pretty happy with the list and how I explained things, at least for the most part. It is interesting how much I got into a show like this, but I don’t regre itt.
It just shows how good it really is, that it got a bigger audience outside of just kids. This show managed to have more story and lore, along with memorable/likable characters and excellent music.
The use of Disney Princesses (and Olaf) was nice too, as I bet they put more pressure on them to have this respect the Disney legacy. As I’ve said, plenty of “pre-school-isms” slip in, but it doesn’t hinder the overall show too much.
At the end of the day, this was nice while also having some emotional moments and some grand scale conflicts. Sometimes that’s really all you want, regardless of age.
It was a fun journey with a nice ending. I’m very glad that Elena of Avalor will be continuing this show’s legacy in a way, despite the different feel it can have.
I love how that Elena keeps the spirit of one of their big hits alive, even including some nods, while still feeling like its own thing. It would off putting of they kept reminding us of the original show to the point where it seems like they’re banking too much off it.
Anyway, that’s all I got. Weird post for a nice show that I very much enjoyed. Huge thanks to Craig Gerber and the crew for a lovely little show. These episodes helped close it out nicely.
Not sure what the next SPF will be on, but my main ideas are ones I should have done a long time ago, so it’ll be fun either way.