My Little Pony (TV series)
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My Little Pony is a 1986-1987 American television series produced by Sunbow Entertainment and Marvel Productions, with animation by Toei Animation. Sold into syndication, it was the first television show based off the My Little Pony toyline and branched out from the animated special, "Rescue at Midnight Castle".
The series lasted for two seasons, though two later episodes were re-edited versions of films, the aforementioned "Rescue at Midnight Castle" and "Escape From Katrina". Ostensibly, the show followed the adventures of the Ponies of Paradise Valley and the Williams family, though the show was also somewhat of an anthology, following a large ensemble cast in unconnected adventures.
Sometimes the later show My Little Pony Tales is listed as the shows' "season 3" on websites such as IMDb, this is not the case and the two series' have little in common aside from being apart of the same franchise.
Although the show did not follow any sort of overarching storyline, continuity was still considered and rigidly followed. Each episode was 11 minutes in length, though were often serialized to form stories longer than found in other cartoons of the time. Every episode featured a song, usually performed by the regular cast of the show and sometimes by the story's villain. Likewise, nearly every episode featured an unique villain for the ponies to face off against, but some episodes featured no such thing, letting a dire circumstance serve as the antagonistic force instead.
Many storylines featured the ponies or Williams' venturing off to strange new lands and countries, only rarely were these populated by other ponies and were instead inhabited by a number of strange fantastical creatures, such as mouse people, bird peoples, monkey people, etc.
A number of episodes often dealt with themes and motifs of romance, tyranny, magic and love/friendship. Often times, the story's villain would be defeated with one of the these concepts. For example, King Charlatan decided to not freeze the world when he realized he loved his son too much to see him suffer and Tirac was just straight up murdered with the magic of rainbow magic.
Episodes would sometimes touch on darker and more 'complex' themes. "Bright Lights" and "The Prince and the Ponies" for example both touched on child psychology, the former being about how easy it is to manipulate children who don't know better and the latter being about the development of morality and compassion.
My Little Pony 'n Friends
My Little Pony employed a large and talented pool of staff members, with several of its directors being golden-age alumni, with many of its writers having worked with companies such as Disney or Marvel Comics. Like many children's shows of the era, My Little Pony was intended to have educational messages and thus two "educational consultants" were hired, Robert L. Selman, PH.D. and Anne P. Selman.
My Little Pony Main Title, the shows theme song, was 'created' by Michael Joens, with the music composed by Ford Klinder and Anne Bryant. Tommy Goodman, Roy Eaton and Rich Meitin served as the shows song composers and Bunny Andrews, Don McGinnis and William Ashford were credited as "Additional Music and Orchestrations". Lyrics for at least some of the songs were written by Barry Harman.
Music distribution was handled by WildStar Music, though another company known as StarWild Music was also credited. StarWild handled the soundtracks of at least some Transformers films, though oddly seemingly only the Bayformers franchise.
Season 1 (1986)
My Little Pony employed a large rotating cast of ensemble characters, though the most recurring of these was probably Megan Williams. Other recuring characters included Megan's siblings, Danny Williams and Molly Williams, and various ponies such as Wind Whister, Lofty, Twilight, and many more. Most episodes tended to include unique characters who only appeared in their respective stories, these usually took the forms of villains like King Charlatan, Grogar, and Somnambula (it should be noted that Tirac and Catrina technically didn't appear in the show, but in specials), but original heroic characters also appeared quite often, such as Scheherazade, Alonzo, and Garth.
- Bettina Bush as Megan
- Charlie Adler as Spike
- Susan Blu as Buttons, Paradise
- Nancy Cartwright as Gusty, Baby Heart Throb, Baby Cuddles, Posey, Truly, Honeysuckle, Surf Rider
- Jeannie Elias as Whizzer, Masquerade, Baby Lickety-Split, Magic Star, Sweet Stuff, Sun Shower
- Ellen Gerstell as Lofty, Locket, Mimic, Scoops
- Skip Hinnant as narrator
- Keri Houlihan as Molly
- Katie Leigh as Fizzy, Heart Throb, Lickety-Split, Ribbon, Baby Shady, Baby Gusty, Baby Tiddley-Winks, Water Lily
- Sherry Lynn as Galaxy, Gingerbread, Cherries Jubilee, Baby Half-Note, Baby Ribbon, Baby Sundance
- Scott Menville as Danny Williams
- Rob Paulson as Tex
- Sarah Partridge as Wind Whistler
- Russi Taylor as Cupcake, Rosedust, Morning Glory
- B.J. Ward as Surprise, North Star, Peach Blossom, Forget-Me-Not
- Jill Wayne as Baby Lofty, Shady
My Little Pony was sold as syndication, and so it wasn't locked to a single network. Season 1 ran from September to November 1986 in almost continuous broadcast, seemingly only not airing on weekends. Season 2 only ran in September of the following year and reused material from the My Little Pony film series. Known networks it aired on was the Disney Channel and CBS, the former was used as the sources of DVD and VHS releases of the show.
International airings and dubs
As 80s television shows were often promoting pre-existing merchandise, surprisingly little products were developed for the show itself. Throughout mid-to-late 1980s, Western Publishing would produce a number of My Little Pony VHS tapes under their Little Golden Video line. By the 2000s, home media rights were attained by Rhino Entertainment, who produced a number of VHS releases.
Reception and legacy
The show received mostly negative reviews during its first broadcast run.
In more modern times, the show has received somewhat more positive. Joyce Slaton at Common Sense Media praised the show for its values of teamwork and empathy, but criticized the show for its product placement, poor educational value and bland characters.
Many of the shows' characters would be repurposed for later generations, most notable Applejack becoming one of the main characters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A number of its other characters would also serve as inspirations, such as Firefly for Rainow Dash and Twilight for Twilight Sparkle. A girl who resembled Megan appeared in the later half of Equestria Girls media in background shots, and the entire Williams' family was once mentioned to be staff members at Canterlot High School.
The web series My Little Pony: The Retro Show had a segment known as "Behind the Magic" that 'retconned' the entire show as being an in-universe production, with the characters being played by 'real' actors. In one such segment, it was apparently revealed that the actress that 'played' Megan (not to be confused with Bettina Bush, her actual actress) was apparently a rude, controlling and mean-spirited jerk who had an affair with Spike and was later killed on set after her head was eaten by a crocodile. This series was not well received.
The series' continuity was briefly revived for the comic book My Little Pony: Generations, which served as a crossover between Generation 1 and 4.
- Although many sources claim AKOM animated the show, this is not mentioned in the shows' credits, nor on AKOM's website in any known archived version. AKOM did animate the film and My Little Pony Tales.
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