After hearing from Starswirl the Bearded and his travels, Twilight learns about a place in Las Pegasus called Friendship University that promises that you can learn friendship in half the time as Twilight’s school. Twilight and Rarity investigate and find that it’s being run by the Flim-Flam brothers and they get EEA accreditation from Neighsayer because Season Finale setup.

Rarity and Twilight go undercover to find evidence of the scam and the latter (with a poor disguise) gets caught breaking in while the former blends in because she had a better disguise. They discover that the while tuition is free, the worksheets are not and they are funding the Flim Flam’s resort expansion. Not necessarily illegal, but it is certainly unethical and certainly a shot at for-profit education. Something the Flim-Flams did that is illegal was plagiarize Twilight’s school guide. Starswirl, who was a student at the school, tells them to return the money to the students and shut down the university.

So yes, this is quite a preview of the season finale with Neighsayer challenging Twilight and the hinting of Cozy Glow as subtle a a brick through a window.

The episode itself is good, though points off because Twilight’s disguise leaves a lot to be desired while Rarity again steals the show. Surely she could have done better for Twilight’s disguise. Outside of that, we do get a good lesson in standing up for one’s beliefs even though it means risking your reputation. Overall, what this episode does is to provide some setup for the Season Finale.

GRADE: B+

StatManDan

[source]

816 – “Friendship University”

Written by: Chris “Doc” Wyatt, Kevin Burke
When Twilight discovers there’s another school of friendship, she and Rarity go to investigate and are shocked to discover that Twilight’s idol and Pillar of Old Equestria, Starswirl the Bearded, is enrolled at Friendship U!

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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

[source]

815 – “The Hearth’s Warming Club”

Written by: Brian Hohlfeld
A prank gone wrong ruins Hearth’s Warming Eve preparations; while Twilight tries to figure out which of her students is behind it, the students bond over shared memories of home.

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[source]

814 – “A Matter of Principals”

Written by: Nicole Dubuc
When Twilight Sparkle leaves Starlight in charge of the School of Friendship, Discord is frustrated he wasn’t picked for the job, and he does his best to make Starlight’s new role impossible.

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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

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