Monday, May 21, 2012

Lesson 3: My Little Pony G1 Animated Features, part 1: The TV Specials

Previous Lesson: MLP Gen 1, Toy Line.

Hello, again, pegasisters and bronies alike, and welcome to another addition of MLP-History, this time brought to you by Professor WeirdRaptor. In 1984 and 1985, Hasbro worked with Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions to create a pair of half-hour TV specials, titled My Little Pony and My Little Pon: Escape from Catrina. At this point, they were largely testing the waters to see if anyone would be willing to sit through a televised program of pastel-colored running through fields and battling the forces of evil. Well, no sense in wasting time, let's get right into it.

Originally untitled, the first special (released April 14th,1984, airing in Prime Time) was known as Rescue from Midnight Castle in repeats and Firefly's Adventure on VHS. However, the VHS copies were only available for rent at Blockbuster video stores.
The second aired

Midnight Castle Summery:

Evil Over Lord Tirac requires four ponies to use as demons to pull his chariot to bring in The Night That Never Ends in order to Take Over the World. He sends his henchman Scorpan to carry out the task. The special actually begins with the ponies enjoying themselves in Dream Valley until Scorpan and his subordinates attack. Two ponies are captured in the attack. In light of the first aassault by Scorpan and his army of stratodon riders, the rest of the ponies panic and hide in Dream Castle, pulling up the drawbridge. They fear that anyone can be next. Firefly goes off for help and decides to ask it of the very first human she happens to come across: Megan, a cowgirl who lives at a ranch at the other end of the rainbow (heads on, rainbows basically act as a TARDIS in the 80s MLP cartoons). From there, Firefly basically kidnaps Megan to go back to Ponyland with her despite the girl being about ten years old and without a single means of helping them. ...Yeah, Firefly's plan needed a little more thought.

Just as Firefly and Megan arrive at Dream Castle, Scorpan returns for another assault, having only attained two on the first run, and proceeds to grab the other two while at it. Thus, Megan and a party of ponies set out to stop Tirac, but first they stop by the Mushrump to meet with the Moochic, a strange gnome wizard with a terrible memory and a mushroom motif, to ask how to defeat Tirac. He gives Megan a locket called "The Rainbow of Light" and they are on their way.Once at Midnight Castle, they break in and confront the evil overlord, himself, and the Rainbows of Light and Dark clash in a surprisingly epic finale in which Tirac is torn ripped in shreds by former.

Escape from Catrina Summery:

The Little Ponies prepare for a "Welcome Back" party for their human friend, Megan. Strangely, absolutely none of the original ponies from the first special appear in this follow-up, so it's to anyone's guess why they're welcoming her back. Meanwhile, little furballs called Bushwoolies are the slaves of a drug-addicted catgirl named Catrina and are watched over by a shape-shifting lizard-man named Rep. When they escape, she tries to make the Little Ponies her new slaves to keep her drug brewing machine working nonstop.

She and her companion manage only to grab one, Baby Moondancer, and they are pursued back into their lair by the other ponies and Megan. There, she gives them the choice: serve her or Baby Moondancer takes a dip in the witch weed potion, which would be presumably fatal. It's around this point that Rep has had enough of Catrina's increasingly violent tendencies and strongarms her into breaking the habit.

Setting the Stage:

The two specials set the tone for the entire 80s MLP continuity (lax as it might be sometimes), by introducing fairly dark concepts to the premise. The ponies in these specials and the follow-up movie and TV series were always going on adventures or quests, battling all manner of villain, such as Tirac, Catrina, Grogar, Aribus, and The Smooze. The first special is even considered by many to the be the darkest MLP cartoon of all time, though milage will vary (hey, I'm just here to educate, not to tell you what to think).

In contrast to a later generation, FIM, which has an insanely popular cartoon and a fairly popular toy line, the original had an insanely popular toy line and a decently popular show.

Reoccurring Characters and Themes:

Midnight Castle featured Applejack, Spike, Twilight (later Twilight Sparkler, and Firefly (later Rainbow Dash), all of which are characters that would get preferred into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Catrina had Sparkler (Rarity) and Posey (Fluttershy).

In the Two-Part Pilot of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the plotline concerning a villain trying to usher in Nocturnal Eternal would make a reappearance through Nightmare Moon (aka, Princess Luna) and the ponies have to embark on a quest through the Everfree Forest in order to gather up the Elements of Harmony to forge the Rainbow of Light to stop her.
The entire pilot can be seen as Faust's love letter to the original special.
Next Lesson: MLP G1, Animated Feature, part 2: The Movie

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