The last episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic debuted May 10 of last year. The latest, fifth season of the show won’t arrive until next month, April 4, narrowly avoiding a year gap between seasons.
This will be the first season since the show’s home channel, The Hub, was rebranded as Discovery Family after Hasbro relinquished its controlling stake of the channel to Discovery Communications. The Hub just never made its presence felt against its cartoon/family channel competitors as much as they wanted; the fact that the channel was owned by a toy company meant that toy advertising was curtailed as rival toy companies spent their money elsewhere. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic could be considered the biggest hit of the original content produced for the channel, though most of Hasbro’s original content will remain on the rebranded Discovery Family channel. The restructuring of the channel and its ownership almost certainly was responsible for the longer than usual gap between seasons.
Avoid the Read More button if you consider episode synopses spoilers.
If you haven’t caught it yet, word is spreading fast that Disney TV Animation plans to bring back 90’s cartoon favorite Duck Tales in a whole new series on Disney XD, starting in 2017. We first heard about it over at Oh My Disney: “When Marc Buhaj—Senior Vice President, Programming and General Manager, Disney XD—made the announcement, he said, ‘DuckTales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history, it drew its inspiration from Disney Legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment that connects with both kids and adults. Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.’ The new series will star the same beloved characters as the old: Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Launchpad McQuack, Donald Duck, Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell, Poe, Ma Beagle, the Beagle Boys, Mrs. Beakley, and Webbigail Vanderquack.” Nothing more precise from Disney regarding a premier date yet, but Disney XD is starting to sound more and more interesting for animation.
Squarely in the “It’s about time!” department: Warner Brothers Home Video has announced the release of Road Rovers: The Complete Series on DVD later this month. “Meet ‘Cano-sapien’ the next, heroic step in the evolution of man’s best friend! After the evil General Parvo unleashes Professor Shepherd’s inventions upon the world, mutating dogs into monsters, Professor Shepherd recruits an international team of canines and transdogmafies’ them into super-heroic, humanoid crime-fighters.” That description barely scratches the surface of just how completely odd this popular anthropomorphic cartoon series from the 90’s could get. So head on over to the Warner Brothers web site and check it out. And remember: Don’t be weird boy!
Quick on the bouncing furry heels of All Hail King Julien, Dreamworks Animation presents the premier of The Adventures of Puss in Boots — coming to Netflix later this month. “The Adventures of Puss in Boots finds the world’s most famous feline fortune-hunter in the hidden city of San Lorenzo, a mythical land that is invisible to the outside world thanks to a magical spell that protects its quirky inhabitants — not to mention its wondrous treasure. When Puss in Boots accidentally breaks the spell, he must do more than fight off an endless legion of invaders and marauders — he must become a legend.” According to an article over at Animation World Network, five episodes will premier on the 16th with more to follow. Soon, the tide of original Dreamworks programming for Netflix will include new episodes of Dreamworks Dragons and the new series Dinotrux.
An Ode to Saturday Mornings Past, by JessKat
I'm not quite sure how to explain this… especially to younger viewers who grew up in the 500-channel universe of cable television and satellite services and Netflix streaming… but for those of us old enough (or geeky enough) to watch cartoons over-the-air with a rabbit-ears antenna, Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons after school were the only times when animation fans could watch their favourite shows… especially where cable channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, YTV or Toon Disney weren't available.
September 28, 2014 was the day the animation died - ending a long and painful decline on broadcast television in the United States, with The CW (the newest broadcast network) being the final holdout… the last man standing, as it were. This was the final Saturday morning with cartoons in America.
From here on out, animation fans in the United States will have to follow the path their Canadian counterparts took in 2001 to get their animation fix: a cable television or satellite subscription. If there is any consolation, it is that the ecosystem of Saturday morning cartoons seems healthier in Australia and Mexico.
To understand how we got to this point, we'll need to review the chain of events leading to the demise of animation on over-the-air television.
Rather quickly after the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy feature film this summer, Marvel put out word that an animated TV series was in the works — but that was about all we heard for a while. Now, Marvel has gone so far as to release a “splash page” image and even a short animated “teaser” for the new show, which is slated to premier in 2015. The characters (including fan-favorite Rocket Raccoon) all have the appearance they did in the movie, but there’s no word yet if any of the film’s actors will be voicing their characters for the show. Nor do we know if what we see in the teaser reflects the look and animation style of the actual show. But, it’s more than we had even a month ago! Read all about it over at Slash Film.
Now that we’ve finished up with season 1 of the NickToons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it’s time to start on season 2, the first six episodes of which are collected in the “Mutagen Mayhem” DVD.
For the first time, we meet new old characters like Casey Jones (who begins appearing in the credits from the first episode of this season) and Rahzar (who is new and old in two different ways) as well as new new characters, like the Squirrelanoids (which are seriously the greatest squirrel based mutants since Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green).
Oh, and the turtles have finished with Space Heroes and have discovered anime in the form of Super Robo Mecha Force Five!, a brutal parody of old school sentai shows like Voltron and Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Gatchaman. Depending on your knowledge and nostalgia level for those old shows, these are either brilliant or just plain mean. Or both.
All in all, the second season of this incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is off to a rollicking start.
Here we come to the finale of the two disc “Ultimate Showdown” set of episodes from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It also contains the final six (or seven, depending on how you count the finale) episodes of the first season, so it’s a finale there as well.
“Enemy of my Enemy”
Karai is messing with the turtles when it turns out that “alien invasion” thing they’re always talking about is going down right now (though, seriously, she’s already met Justin; how is one Kraang UFO that much more surprising?). She decides to temporarily team up with the turtles; or does she? The turtles aren’t sure, so they decide to betray her before she can betray them. Except she was totally serious about that team-up thing. Whoops.
Also, the Kraang flying saucer pilot is the best Kraang in the series; good thing he survives the saucer’s crash. Maybe.
This is actually a two disc collection of the back half of season 1 of the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I’m breaking them up into to two reviews, one for each disc, so that it doesn’t break the around six-ish episode streak of each review.
If you’d like to check out reviews of the rest of the first season, you can read the first seven episodes reviewed here, and the second six reviewed here, plus an extended review of the first two episodes (or one long episode, the series still isn’t clear on that) here. In fact, you should probably read that last linked article first, seeing as how it’s both the first chronologically and it also has breakdown of what this series is about.
You know, just in case the series title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn’t clue you in that it’s about turtles, who are also ninjas, mutants and teenagers.
And we start off with one of the best episodes of the series, with the weird penchant for horror tropes and allusions finally given an episode where they fit like a glove. Dr. Falco (Jeffrey Combs) continues his experiments with the mutagen, but a lab accident turns him into the Rat King, with the ability to control all rats, and the turtles come to a horrifying realization; Splinter’s been taking it easy on them in training.
This large, full-color book is published both for the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book, which was first published by two comic-book fans at a comics convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1984, and for the release of the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theatrical feature opening this Friday.
This is one of those “all you want to know about” books. It is not so much about the characters themselves as it is the official history of the TMNT phenomenon, or franchise, or whatever you want to call it. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the TMNT’s creators, are collectors as much as anything else, and this book is full of original sketches, the flyer for that 1984 comics convention, comic book covers, storyboards and cels from the TV animated series, posters and stills from the theatrical features, photos of all the TMNT merchandising items and so on.
Personally, I would have preferred more profiles of the anthropomorphic supporting characters besides Splinter the rat sensei, such as Bebop the warthog, Ninjara the vixen, or Dogpound and Fishface, who are not described because, with names like that, who needs to? Or plot synopses of the stories in the comic books, the TV series (or selected episodes; I suppose that asking for a synopsis of every TV episode would be too much), and the theatrical features.
Foreword by Peter Laird, San Rafael CA, Insight Editions, June 2014, hardcover $50.00 (192 pages).
Unlike some other animated television series that will remain unnamed in this review, the newest animated incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is releasing DVDs that feature the episodes in order at regular intervals, approximately six at a time.
The upshot is that I can review each episode in order by nominally reviewing the DVDs; at this point, I can review all the way through the approximate first quarter of the second season from Nickelodeon. So I’m going to do that. Starting right now.
It probably says something that, despite introducing a new mutant in this episode, said mutant didn’t manage to even gain his own action figure. And this is TMNT we’re talking about; in the original animated series, the action figure came first half the time, then the episode (if at all). He doesn’t even have a mutant name; he’s just his old human name, Dr. Rockwell, or “the monkey” (despite technically being an ape). Monkeys and apes just aren’t very charismatic as anthros, especially when they can’t even talk.
However, it does introduce a recurring villain, Dr. Falco (who will eventually get an action figure under a different name, and is voiced by Jeffrey The Reanimator Combs) and the idea that April will begin training as a kunoichi under Splinter. And the main “lesson” of the episode, in which overthinking Donatello must learn to fight more instinctively against a villain who can read his thoughts, is a good character-based plot engine; his flowchart for hanging out with April is an amusing subplot.
Review: 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' Keys of Friendship DVD (with bonus 'Rainbow Rocks' trailer)Posted by crossaffliction on Tue 5 Aug 2014 - 01:48
The good folks behind My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic decided that what this show needs is season long story arcs. All the cool shows are doing it now. This DVD tries to collect the first real season long story arc, from season 4 of the show, and pretty much fails spectacularly to do that.
Technically, this story arc contains the two part opener for the fourth season, “Princess Twilight Sparkle” parts one and two, in which the ponies realize they need to be looking for six keys to unlock a magic box that a tree just grew. Wow, that sentence doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but I swear, it’s what happened. Those two episodes are not featured here.
Then, five of the ponies have individual adventures, where they help someone out in a way that relates to their special Element of Harmony, beginning with Rarity and ending with Applejack, because Applejack always goes last. Two of those episodes are collected here, featuring Rarity and Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash’s episode is featured on another DVD I haven’t reviewed yet, and Applejack and Pinkie Pie are waiting for future DVD releases, despite the fact that Pinkie has the best by a long shot.
Finally, we have the season four finale, where the box is opened when Twilight Sparkle finally figures out how to get her key, amongst other things, and, I guess, “Castle-Mania” technically features Twilight trying and failing to research the box, so 10 out of 26 episodes. I don’t think we can call the other 16 episodes filler when they so outnumber the “arc” episodes, and they’re usually better anyway.
This is the fourth My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic five-episode DVD put out by Shout! Factory, and instead of attempting to create a theme for this one, the episodes collected all feature the character Pinkie Pie.
Pinkamena “Pinkie” Diane Pie is a hot pink Earth pony who lives in Sugarcube Corner, a sweets shop and bakery where she works; occasionally, with supervision, as a baker, but mostly as a party planner, which is her magical talent. That description makes her sound boring. She isn’t. As she represents the Element of Laughter, a distinction she won by making fun of some trees one time, she’s the show’s designated comedy relief, despite it already being a comedy cartoon. Basically, she’s the one who’s allowed to get away with jokes deemed too silly even for the average brightly colored cartoon pony.
Pinkie Pie’s episodes tend to be the funny ones.
Here it is, straight from Variety this morning: “Disney is looking to get new mileage out of its Lion King franchise with a new animated series and TV movie planned for its Disney Channel and Disney Junior cablers. Disney Television Animation is producing The Lion Guard, a series that continues the storyline of the Mouse’s boffo 1994 hit feature. Lion Guard will bow next fall with a TV movie and transition to a regular series in early 2016. ‘We look forward to introducing a whole new generation of kids to both the Disney legacy characters and to new friends and heroes,’ said Nancy Kanter, exec VP of original programming and G.M. of Disney Junior Worldwide. The series incorporates strong environmental and conservation messages as it revolves around lion cub Kion’s role as a member of the Lion Guard group tasked with preserving his family’s natural habitat. Series will revive Lion King characters including Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. Ford Riley developed Lion Guard and is exec producer.” Keep watching this space for news of the premier!
Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop has a first look at SEGA’s and OuiDO! Productions’ Sonic Boom CGI TV series, coming to the Cartoon Network (also French TV) later this year.
Sonic the Hedgehog is best-known as a SEGA computer game series, but this announcement – with a 2’50” trailer – shows what Sonic, Tails, and Dr. Eggman look like as fully animated CG characters.