Castle Mane-ia is simple clean fun, very much like the cartoons of old, it makes judging its success hard for me as all it needs to do is be fun and everything else after that is just part of the zaniness. It also makes follow up journals, which focus on one aspect also hard to do. I don’t feel like explaining how over the top expressions and environments laden with traps were used to entertain. So let’s just look at the less dumb parts of trivial entertainment.
In shows like Scooby Doo, characters are written with their roles in mind, Shaggy & Scooby love eating and are cowardly and Fred is... erm... the ‘dude’ in a white shirt-jumper thingy. They aren’t exactly complex, but as long as they create the zane, they are all doing their role. The M6 are an interesting cast to use for popcorn, they are (traditionally) more complex and mature characters.
We’ll have to wait and see, but this casts depth could come down on two sides. This could act as a bedrock for more grounded and varied character motivations that is typical for popcorn shows, but more complexity also could strain our suspension of disbelief, our characters being reduced to whatever the writers want time and again, looking like 5 year olds on moment and like mature ponies with jobs the next.
Scooby Doo settings are often very exotic and stylized. It’s always a haunted old fishing town, house, castle or forest with it’s set pieces and history that all happens to be just for the Scooby Gang, a monster and a few colourful suspects who all will introduce themselves. I don’t ever remember Scooby Doo, returning to a place much, or having much in the way of continuity.
Mlp:fim is different though this show does have a continuity and not that many places to visit. How will they keep this tone up? Will everywhere have it’s own ‘entertaining’ gimmick? Will the Castle be remembered as the place with millions of convenient traps?
The show has always been more complex and has baggage that these popcorn shows usually try to avoid. Again, we’ll have to see, but the thing could also fall apart over time, or it could somehow build into something greater than other popcorn shows have done.
Scooby Doo has always been the same thing, they've never really tried (outside the movies really) to go outside their tone and niche, they are consistent.
Mlp:fim has been different and will probably stay different, it’s stories more complex/serious and very different in tone. I don’t see how the more grounded and serious stories in future and the past jive so well with the arbitrary and silly story of this episode.
To go back to my food analogies, Scooby Doo hands you a bucket of popcorn. You know what you’re getting when you eat at Scoobies place. Mlp:fim on the other hand, has always been a thick sandwich. Some popcorn won’t ruin it, but it also isn't what we use to fill our sandwiches. You don’t know exactly what Mlp is going to give you when you eat at his place.
In conclusion:This episode is a piece of popcorn thrown in the mix, much like Mmmystery on the Friendship Express, it might add to the variety and flavour, but it could also feel very out of place. We’ll have to see what happens in future, I have a feeling that this episode will be mostly harmless in the long term and that’s how it should be really.