Hasbro practically ruled the boys' market during the 1980's through the cross-promotional success of "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers." They were raking it in thanks to a torrent of cartoons, comic books, toys, and other merchandise. However, Hasbro needed a strong property to compete with Mattel's Barbie, which had a stranglehold on the girls' market for decades. Though they'd eventually create their own fashion dolls with "Jem and the Holograms," Hasbro would take their first steps into the uncharted territory with "My Little Pony." The line of little plastic ponies was launched in 1983 before making the jump to animation with a feature-length film followed by a series that ran for two seasons. Unfortunately, "My Little Pony: The Movie" flopped along with "Transformers: The Movie" and caused Hasbro to shelve "G.I. Joe: The Movie." It would later air as a five-part series on television.
Recently, My Little Pony went through a major revamp by animator Lauren Faust, who also worked on "The Powerpuff Girls" and "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," both of which were created by her husband Craig McCracken. Faust took inspiration from the original series as well as the ones her brothers watched, plus a dash of her own childhood imagination, in crafting a new show that didn't just perpetuate the same girly tropes of previous incarnations.
"My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" debuted on The Hub in 2010 and placed an emphasis on wholesome themes while adhering to Hasbro's strict educational and informational standards. "Friendship Is Magic" takes place in the colorful land of Equestria where Princess Celestia ruled in the daytime as her younger sister, Princess Luna, watched over the night. Luna grew jealous that every pony slept during her time and frolicked when her sister shined. She refused to concede the sky and transformed into Nightmare Moon, forcing Celestia to banish her sibling from Equestria. A thousand years later, a young pony named Twilight Sparkle studies magic under the guidance of Princess Celestia in the kingdom of Canterlot. She discovers a prophecy foretelling of Nightmare Moon's return and embarks on a quest to gather the Elements of Harmony, the only artifacts that will prevent Equestria from falling into everlasting night. Along the way, Twilight forges new friendships with Applejack, a rough-and-tumble pony with an expansive apple orchard; Rainbow Dash, a tomboy specializing in aerial daredevilry; the hyperactive Pinkie Pie who specializes in party planning and sugary confections; Fluttershy, a bashful pony who has a way with animals; and refined fashion designer Rarity. Together, the characters get into adventures and learn valuable life lessons.
"Princess Twilight Sparkle" is a selection of episodes from seasons 2 and 3 that focus on the series' main protagonist. The episodes included are:
- "Games Ponies Play" – Twilight and friends form a welcoming committee to help the Crystal Empire become the host city of the Equestria Games.
- "Magical Mystery Cure" – An errant spell mixes up the Cutie Marks on all of Twilight's pony pals.
- "MMMystery of the Friendship Express" – On their way to a baking competition in Canterlot, Pinkie Pie and Twilight must solve the mystery of who ate all the delicious desserts.
- "Magic Duel" – Twilight's old rival, Trixie, returns to Ponyville more powerful than ever with the help of a mystical amulet. This is the most fun episode on the disc with references to "Gremlins" and "The Empire Strikes Back."
- "Lesson Zero" – Worried that she doesn't have a friendship report to send to Princess Celestia, Twilight attempts to cause some problems for her to fix.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. "My Little Pony" is animated using Adobe Flash. It's not richly textured, but the transfer is bright and cheerful to match the series tone.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Sound is crisp, clear, and evenly distributed.
The bonus features include a Sing-A-Long for a song from "Magical Mystery Cure" and printable coloring sheets.
Despite being primarily marketed towards young girls, "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" has surprised many by reaching out to a wide demographic that includes teenagers and adults. In particular, the show has gathered a devoted following of males who proudly call themselves, "Bronies." This isn't a series I'd watch on a regular basis, yet I clearly understand the appeal. "My Little Pony" presents a cute and sweet-natured world with a little bit of a bite to it. With only five selected episodes, this DVD is more of a sampler, serious fans will want to pick up the full season sets instead.