I think the question could be, "What was special about G4 that can be duplicated or bettered in G5?" Some answers:
1. Mythic sensibility
. Horse-goddesses of Light and Darkness that control the heavens and the kingdom of dreams. The Lord of Chaos. Three horse races corresponding to the threefold divisions of Indo-European society: magic-wielders, warriors, farmers. The mythologies of the world raided for imaginary races and monsters.
2. Horse sensibility.
On all fours, all the time. All things handled with hooves, mouths, or magic. Some traces of horse behavior, like RD bucking and snorting in the ropes, or AJ's reliance on kicking.
3. Strong character resolution.
Thanks to Lauren Faust, the main pony characters were archetypally distinct: the Nerd, the Tomboy, the Goofus, the Hard-working Homebody, the Diva, the Shrinking Violet. The characters and their qualities were masterfully voiced by the VA's.
At the beginning of the show, care was taken to keep the technology pre-electrical, driving the writers to come up with ingenious substitutes for phonographs, electric lights, and so on. There was a (fairly) consistent map with gradually expanding boundaries. A lot of fans followed the show partly to learn more about the world.
. Unlike previous generations of MLP, the G4 ponies had biology and life histories. They fell in love, got married, and gave birth. They caught diseases, broke bones, and bled when cut. They sweated, urinated, and pooped. They were born, grew old, and died.
6. Earnestness and sincerity.
. Contrast, say, Spongebob or Animaniacs. Enough said.
As the show wore on, a lot of these virtues faded. New characters with no particular personality [for example, the Student Six] were introduced in flocks and herds. Both gods (Celestia) and demons (Discord) tended to migrate towards the mean and lose their mythic force. The world and the culture lost their focus and consistency. Ponies started walking on three legs while gesturing with a fourth. Slapstick and fighting increasingly displaced more thoughtful and interesting sorts of plot-driving conflicts.
For G5, Hasbro ought to get and try to hold an imaginative director who can pick up all these dropped threads and impose a new vision of equal or greater clarity and force on the show.
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