Tag: dnn

MLP Review: “A Matter of Principals” and “The Hearth’s Warming Club”

Before they aired “Yakity-Sax”, there was half the season gone and half the season to go. The second half of Season Eight starts in earnest with two episodes—both a step up from that monstrosity.

“A Matter of Principals”

Discord likes testing ponies. Starlight is the target as he sends the Mane Six on a wild goose chase and makes life hard for the interim head mare since he got passed over. We also learn that smart-watches and long-distance plans are now canon. Starlight is a tougher nut to crack than most while Discord was being a bit too jerky like he was in “Make New Friends But Keep Discord”.

Some of the gags were funny, some of the cameos were great, but the episode does suffer a bit from Discord’s antics. Starlight finally tones done Discord by apologizing for flatly rejecting his “help” in the first place (though fans would have approved of her zapping Discord). Also good is that Starlight learning that magic does not solve all problems—especially miscreant draconequeses.

GRADE: B


“The Hearth’s Warming Club”

We’re going Breakfast Club for this one, but thankfully neither Twilight, nor Rainbow Dash ends up like Assistant Principal Vernon. The comparisons to the actual ‘Club’ do not really work here since there were five of them and we have six in this episode. (OK, maybe Gallus is Bender).

Remember how I said MLP usually does a good job of giving a fresh take of a oft-told storyline? This is what I am talking about. With the theme of the season, it does give everyone a chance to tell holiday stories from back home. Ocellus’s was great. Yona’s was good and everyone thought we would be in for a running gag at that point. Smolder’s was…..original. Silverstream’s was terrific. Sandbar’s story was the kind of story either Hamton from Tiny Toons or PBS’s Between the Lions would tell.

That leads us to Gallus. It’s actually sad, yet understandable that he grew up in a culture where friendship is virtually non-existent. Even their “holiday” is more of tolerance than anything. Gallus is having a better experience with the rest of the Young Six at the School and didn’t want to let go of it even for a couple weeks, so that’s why he pranked the tree.

This was actually a nice episode and give something of a backstory to some of the Young Six and how other cultures in the MLP world celebrate holidays. Though, one has to wonder why this episode is airing in August. Then again, of the four Hearth’s Warming Episodes, just one originally aired in December (“Hearth’s Warming Eve”). Then again, there is a Holiday Special on the way after the season.

GRADE: A-

StatManDan

Inside the Numbers: Hasbro’s 2018 Q2 Earnings

On Monday, Hasbro announced their earnings for the second quarter. While they beat Wall Street Estimates, they were still off from the previous year in large part due to the liquidation of Toys R Us. Hasbro is also looking at a “rapidly evolving European retail environment in Europe”.

Revenue was down 7% from Q2 last year and Franchise Brands were down 8% with growth in Baby Alive, Monopoly, and Magic: The Gathering offset by losses in the other four franchise brands (MLP, Transformers, Nerf, and Play-Doh).

When asked how the MLP brand was doing and whether they still see benefits to the franchise following the Movie, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner had this to say as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.

“The MY LITTLE PONY brand has certainly benefited from the movie home entertainment windows and now the movies move from home entertainment into a lot of the streaming services, its performing quite well and we continue to see in markets around the world where the streaming is taking place and the brand continues to hold up quite well and the POS is good. Revenues were down a little bit in the quarter, but again, POS is quite strong as we move to the disruption and the liquidation at Toys“R”Us,” said Goldner.

“Interestingly, as we’ve now gotten our TV series on the air on CCTV which is Chinese Television, we’re seeing some great growth of MY LITTLE PONY in the China market behind that and you should expect to continue to see momentum in our brand as we’ve just launched the season eight in television and that will roll out around the world. And then again in the future we would expect to do another MY LITTLE PONY animated feature film, because again it contributed quite nicely and it’s also a great way to tell story around that brand.”

Goldner also provided insight as to the economics of the Movie.

“The way the movie worked was we produced this movie with third-party studio. We had it distributed by Lionsgate. They took a distribution fee. We then created a toy and game line and we participated in the toys and games sales and earnings from the toys and games. The consumer products where we had hundreds of licensees and the royalty income that came from that, as well as from the movie after paying the distribution fee and allowing for recruitment of the marketing, so that the total economic value was positive for our company and continues to be positive as the content continues to run through home entertainment which actually performed even better than our expectation and now is what is streaming on a number of different platforms and we’ll continue to be a story asset that will run through different territories.

“And of course this really raised halo for the brand. And then of course we’re using beyond that using the television series now that’s airing around the world including with CCTV in China based on a growing relationship with them across TRANSFORMERS and MY LITTLE PONY and that’s also beneficial.”

Goldner also attributed MLP’s decline in the quarter “a bit” due to the loss of Toys R Us.

StatManDan

MLP Review: Yakity-Sax

For the first time since May 6, 2011 (Best Night Ever), a new episode aired on a Friday. That’s about the only significant thing there is about this episode. In the episode, Pinkie Pie begins playing a new instrument called a yovidaphone. Much like every bagpipe gag in every Warner Brothers cartoon there is one, Pinkie is not that good at it.

Her friends tell her to stop playing and she does. Pinkie is fully deflated she loved that instrument so much in this episode. She is so deflated that she cannot be cheered up in Ponyville and moves to Yakyakistan to hear the yovidaphone fo happiness. That doesn’t work, but her friends coaxing her to play once again despite her not being good at it (so everypony thinks) does.

This episode may have been better served if the lesson were “practice makes perfect” or if Pinkie really did get better by the end of the episode instead of what we saw. It’s a gag as old as time where a character is poor at an instrument and/or singing and his or her friends try to go end around with being honest. This show usually does a good job of supplying something fresh to something cliche, but not in this case.

It needed to take a better tack knowing how Pinkie can easily get depressed if she feels rejection and also minus points for Twilight suggesting something similar to what she tried in “Horse Play”. In short, this was not a good episode.

GRADE:  D

StatManDan

SU Review: The Heart of the Crystal Gems

Sometimes you have to tear things apart before you rebuild. That happened to Garnet (Ruby and Sapphire) after the discovery that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond in disguise and that she faked her shattering with the help of Pearl. It was Pink who didn’t want to destroy the Earth and started a rebellion as Rose—partly inspired by Garnet’s first fusion.

After Amethyst tells Steven that she refuses to unload millennia of her problems onto Steven while he is already dealing with his own feelings in a rare show of maturity in “What’s Your Problem?”, they find Ruby playing cowboy and enjoying her new solitary life—or so it seemed. She can’t stop thinking about Sapphire. Ruby then proposes to Sapphire and that they can be together when apart and can be Garnet when they want to.

Before the wedding, Steven decides to invite a special guest for the 150th episode—Bismuth. Steven convinces Bismuth that the Gems will welcome her with open arms and not attack because she tried to shatter Steven. Bismuth becomes the maid of honor and it’s time for a wedding (after a nice song by Steven).

Ruby and Sapphire become Garnet once again and the party is on before it gets interrupted by Yellow and Pink Diamond. They go after the Cluster, but the Cluster is in control of itself and it fights off Yellow. Meanwhile, Blue Diamond tries to stop everyone through her grief, but Garnet holds her long enough for Lapis to return and smash her with the barn. Joy is only temporary as the Diamonds regroup and unconvinced that Steven is Pink Diamond.

Steven is disembodied temporarily, but can enter people’s, gems’ and diamond’s minds and is finally able to convinced Yellow and Blue of the fake shattering. To be continued for the next arc…

This is by far the best of the Steven Bomb arcs. It basically shattered (no pun intended) the back stories of Rose and making the most of Ruby and Sapphire as individuals and as a couple. Amethyst finally tells Steven what he perhaps needed to be told in that he shouldn’t carry more crosses than need be. And yes, “Reunited” was epic (apart from the sudden ending).

In five episodes, this show is about to put the previous 146 in the past and start off on a new course for whatever is left of Season Five and for Season Six. Sometimes, you have to tear things apart before you rebuild. What has come out of this arc looks magnificent.

GRADES:
“Now We’re Only Falling Apart” B+
“What’s Your Problem” A-
“The Question” A+
“Made of Honor” A
“Reunited” A

StatManDan

MLP Review: The Mean 6

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.”
—To A Mouse, by Robert Burns

While the Mane Six and Starlight go on a retreat near the Tree of Harmony, Chrysalis plans to clone versions of the Mane Six to steal the Elements of Harmony—and get revenge on Starlight which she swore to do in the end of “To Where and Back Again”. Things go awry straight away when the clones are more in line from the Discorded Six we saw in “The Return of Harmony.” The Fake Twilight proves to be even more devious when she plans to betray Chrysalis once she and the other clones get the elements.

We go through the standard interactions between real and fake Mane 6 and before the Fake Six go after the Elements and the real Mane Six and Starlight make-up thinking that they were giving each other a hard time. However, the Fake Twilight betrays Chrysalis, but in a twist, the Tree of Harmony grabs the fakes and turns them back into the clumps of wood they were originally. In other words, the Tree knows fakes when it sees them, and Chrysalis flies off in disgust.

Note that the Mane Six and Starlight and Chrysalis do not meet each other (or at least realized it was Chrysalis in disguise at the beginning taking photos and hair samples). So the Mane Six have literally no idea that Chrysalis was around. Chrysalis simply did not think this plan through from not realizing that her clones would embody the opposite of the personalities of the ponies she is cloning. I do give the episode credit for giving the clone Twilight some depth as well. There’s already a meme that she is/was the most competent villain the show has had.

The only bad spot is that the interactions/mix-ups with the real and fake Mane Six get to be a bit tedious throughout the second act. I do like that Twilight stops her group’s bickering by admitting she got carried away with her schedule. It’s not the best of Season Eight, but it is in line with the more recent episodes of the season making that in the higher end of Season Eight.

GRADE: A-

So that is the first half of the season. If I were to rank this episode among the other Episode 13’s of previous seasons, here’s how it would go (I exclude Season Three since that was only 13 episodes):

1. The Perfect Pear (S7)
2. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep (S5)
3. Stranger Than Fan Fiction (S6)
4. The Mean 6 (S8)
5. Simple Ways (S4)
6. Fall-Weather Friends (S1)
7. Baby Cakes (S2)

StatManDan

MLP Review: Marks for Effort

The Cutie Mark Crusaders, bored of the Ponyville School, wants to enroll in Twilight’s School of Friendship. They can’t though because they are overqualified and they are bad actors in trying to convince the Mane Six that they need more lessons in friendship.

The CMC come across a pegasus pony named Cozy Glow (who has a rook for a cutie mark) who needs help with her friendship lessons. The CMC help her to good effect and in preparation for an exam. Everything seems OK, but Cozy Glow failed the test and Twilight blames the CMC for deliberately giving her bad lessons.

Enter guidance counselor Starlight Glimmer. Cozy Glow tells Starlight that she intentionally failed the test because, in her words, she wanted to help the CMC get in the school. Starlight straightens everything out, now that she has something to do, and the CMC become on-staff tudors with honorary degrees.

Well, we were wondering how the Ponyville school we’ve know since the start of the show was going to factor in all of this. Of course, it’s similar to Arthur when there’s Mr. Ratburn’s class and Ms. Sweetwater’s class. This episode is much better for the CMC to be in and you have them doing what they have been doing since Season Six only now they have a role in Twilight’s school.

But it is Starlight who really completes the episode as she apparently had nothing to do for a while (and she hasn’t been seen since “The Parent Map”). She quickly became the funniest and best part of this episode.

The last few episodes have been much better from the show and make the school look more functionable for Season Eight.

Of course on a side, if you have read ahead on the synopses for the next 14 episodes of the season and/or saw the leaked episodes, do a favor for those who have kept away from any and all spoilers of that nature and not ruin it for them.

GRADE: A

StatManDan

MLP Review: Molt Down

The episode begins with Spike and Rarity looking for phoenix feathers for a new dress design (and to see PeeWee who has grown up). However, Spike is acting odd because he has developed a stone scale which is like a pimple. The stone scales spread all over his face and he also has sporadic indigestion and extreme shifts in volume when speaking.

Smolder explains that Spike is going through a natural process called during adolescence “molt”. However, one of the after effects of molt is that the molting dragon, much like when members of Menudo reach the age of 16, will be kicked out of the nest by the family (and also becoming prey for rocs). Not wanting to go through that, Spike sees Zecora to see if there is a cure, for which there is none. Rarity sees Zecora because working with phoenix feathers has affected her hearing, so Zecora gives her a potion while Spike leaves the hut.

However, Zecora finds spike hiding not from Rarity, but from a roc. The roc captures both Zecora and Rarity while Twilight tries to fight it. Meanwhile, Spike goes through a final stage of molting which including being encompassed in a stone cocoon, breaking out of wing, and growing wings. (Congratulations, Josh Haber. You’re the new M.A. Larson.)

Spike fies to help Twilight defeat the roc and save Zecora and Rarity. Also, “molt effect” does not automatically mean Spike has to leave Twilight as this is Equestria and typical dragon customs don’t always apply. Now Spike’s wings make him a better model for Rarity’s dresses!

This Spike episode, is closer to “Equestria Games” and “The Times They Are A Changeling” than most Spike episodes. There was a wonder when and if Spike would get wings and/or grow up. Here’s your answer. Now, there will be more speculation on whether Scootaloo will ever fly. Well, the next episode is a CMC episode….but I digress.

Handling Spike going through a form of natural puberty was handled quite well. Spike is doing desperate things during the episode, but they are not over the top as in other Spike episodes. It just let’s Spike go through the process while things are happening around him and he gets to save Rarity for once! So overall, this is one of the better Spike episodes and does invoke a major change in the show and now there is another flyer in the cast.

GRADE: A

StatManDan