A Chance for Success: “The Expo Factor” review

A season finale is a chance to do something big, something epic, something amazing! Just like season premieres, or holiday specials, or mid-season two-parters.

This is opposed to the filler episodes that are produced because you’ve been commissioned for 26 episodes, and have to put something out.

Most shows operate in this vein. You have a few big event-based episodes, where most of the effort and budget goes, and other episodes are produced on smaller budgets so one has enough money to pay for the bigger episodes. Star Trek did this all the time. They were called ‘bottle shows,’ where old sets and props were reused, no major visual effects were added, and no major guest-stars were hired. The prime example might be Twisted, where the main cast was trapped on the holodeck and surrounding corridors, as a spacial distortion ran through the ship. Not much happened, and not much had to be built. I think the hardest part of production was the Photoshop filters they had to include.

It’s just the nature of the beast in live-action television. A low-budget episode has to use already-existing sets, and can’t do anything spectacular. Animation, on the other hand, can already be done on-the-cheap quite easily, even with new backgrounds, effects, and animation assets. Let’s be honest, I doubt it takes the animators more than an hour or two to knock out a brand new location. Especially with modern animation software. Draw a few dozen vectors and you’re done! Alright, I’m probably over simplifying. The point is, animation is cheap. You don’t need to hire an army of contractors to build a set, when you can hire three guys to draw stuff on computers.

Because of this, every episode can be big and epic. But you don’t want to devalue awesomeness. And one of the reasons I like My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, is that the episodes rarely adhere to any kind of formula. It runs the gamut from charming slice-of-life, to balls-to-the-wall adventure. Because I remember watching Power Rangers when I was a kid, and after a while, it all gets kinda samey.

But when all is said and done, you want to end with a bang. Which is why I think a season finale should feature something big. The first season of My Little Pony, for instance, ended with the Grand Galloping Gala, which certainly fit the bill. Sure, there were no epic fight sequences, but it was a big event where a lot happened, and the anticipation was built up over several preceding episodes.

Much like the recent season finale of Littlest Pet Shop, where Blythe finally participates in the International Pet Fashion Expo!

This is something that we’ve been waiting on for months, since Blythe sold her scooter so she could enter the thing. References have been dropped since then, and one could assume it would be a large-scale adventure, much like the Grand Galloping Gala was.

Unfortunately, that really didn’t happen. Continue reading