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|"A Hearth's Warming Tail"|
|My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6|
|Written by||Michael Vogel|
|Original air date||May 14, 2016|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Awards||"Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series" Nominee (Leo Awards)|
"A Hearth's Warming Tail" is the eighth episode of the sixth season of the Canadian-American animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and the 125th episode of the series overall. It was directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby, written by Michael Vogel, and produced by Devon Cody. The episode first aired on May 14, 2016, on Discovery Family.
In "A Hearth's Warming Tail", as Ponyville gets ready to celebrate Hearth's Warming (the series' lore equivalent to Christmas) in Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong)'s castle, Starlight Glimmer (Kelly Sheridan) prefers not to be a part of the festivities. To convince her of the importance of Hearth's Warming, Twilight tells her and Spike (Cathy Weseluck) the tale of Snowfall Frost, a cold-hearted unicorn who despises Hearth's Warming and swears to erase it with her magic.
The episode mainly consists of a depiction of the tale itself, with its characters being represented by the main characters of the show. It is adapted from Charles Dickens' classic Christmas novel A Christmas Carol, with Snowfall Frost representing Ebenezer Scrooge and being visited by three spirits who wish to teach her the importance of the holiday. "A Hearth's Warming Tail" has been described as one of the series' few true "musical episodes", and features six songs composed by Daniel Ingram and orchestrated by Caleb Chan, with lyrics by Vogel and Ingram.
The episode received acclaim from critics and fans; its pacing and songs were widely praised, in particular "Luna's Future", which marks the first solo song for Princess Luna (from vocals by Aloma Steele).
The ponies of Ponyville prepare to celebrate Hearth's Warming together in Twilight Sparkle's castle. However, when Twilight Sparkle and Spike ask Starlight Glimmer if she is ready to celebrate, she says she "might just skip it", as she considers it "a day dedicated to presents and candy". Twilight tries to explain Hearth's Warming is mostly about spending time with friends and family, but Starlight is not interested; to convince her, Twilight decides to read "A Hearth's Warming Tale".
The tale takes place during a Hearth's Warming many years ago, where a cold-hearted unicorn named Snowfall Frost considers her fellow ponies' merrymaking to be a waste of time, and is dubious of the origins of the holiday, when ponies joined in friendship to drive back the Windigos that were causing the winter storms. After granting her assistant Snowdash a holiday leave by mistake, Snowfall decides to use her magic to erase the holiday
However, the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past interrupts her; to change her mind about the holiday, the spirit travels with her to Snowfall's own childhood. Snowfall witnesses her younger self enjoying the holiday before being told by her professor the holiday's origin is a lie, and in order to become the powerful unicorn she wants to be, she has to spend Hearth's Warming studying instead of celebrating. Feeling hurt and helpless, Snowfall snaps, disregards Hearth's Warming altogether and isolates herself from all the other ponies from this point on to focus only on her work.
The adult Snowfall wakes up in her home back in her time, only to be visited by the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents, who teaches her the importance of presents is the pleasure to give to and receive from loved ones; she shows her the other ponies enjoying their time together and making fun of Snowfall's seriousness. Snowfall suddenly finds herself in a deserted land covered in snow, where she encounters the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come, who tells her Snowfall will succeed in erasing Hearth's Warming, thus permitting the return of the Windigos and turning Equestria into a land of eternal snow.
Horrified by the consequences her spell would have, Snowfall awakens once again in the present, realizing the future can still be avoided. She joins Snowdash and the other ponies in their celebration of Hearth's Warming, understanding the importance of the holiday. Finishing the story, Twilight encourages Starlight to join them in the celebration; she does, and all of Ponyville celebrates Hearth's Warming together.
|#||Title||Music||Lyrics||Performer (character)1||Backing vocals|
|1||"Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again"||Daniel Ingram||Michael Vogel||Andrea Libman (Fluttershy), Ashleigh Ball (Rainbow Dash, Applejack), Shannon Chan-Kent (Pinkie), Kazumi Evans (Rarity)||Ponyville|
|2||"Say Goodbye to the Holiday"||Kelly Sheridan (Starlight Glimmer/Snowfall Frost)||-|
|3||"The Seeds of the Past"||Ashleigh Ball (Applejack/Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past), Kelly Sheridan (Starlight Glimmer/Snowfall Frost)|
|4||"Pinkie's Present"||Shannon Chan-Kent (Pinkie Pie/Spirit of Hearth's Warming Presents)|
|5||"Luna's Future"||Daniel Ingram,
|Aloma Steele (Princess Luna/Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come)|
|6||"Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again (Reprise)"||Kelly Sheridan (Starlight Glimmer)||Rebecca Shoichet (Twilight Sparkle), Ashleigh Ball (Rainbow Dash, Applejack), Shannon Chan-Kent (Pinkie), Kasumi Evans (Rarity), Andrea Libman (Fluttershy), Cathy Weseluck (Spike), Ponyville|
1In case of several characters providing lead vocals, the performers are listed in the order in which their characters (or the first of their character in case they voice several) start singing.
According to writer Michael Vogel, in the original version of the script, the character of Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol was planned to appear, and would have been represented by Discord; this was cut to save time for rest of the plot. Also in the episode's original draft, Princess Luna's Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come did not have a song due to a lack of space in the episode's running time, but the "directors and creative team all realized she needed one".
The animation sequences for the songs "Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again", "Say Goodbye to the Holiday", and "Luna's Future" were storyboarded by Sabrina Alberghetti.
The episode received acclaim. Daniel Avarez of Unleash the Fanboy highly praised the episode, giving it a perfect rating of 10 out of 10. He praised the "fantastic songs", the episode itself as "A solid Christmas tale", as it "takes the overused Christmas Carol plot but manages to be great anyway." He was also receptive of the use of songs to enhance the story rather than distract, as well as the story arc of Starlight's redemption. Don't Hate the Geek called the episode "amazing", describing Luna's appearance as the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Yet to Come and her song as show stealers.
Daniel Ingram was nominated for a 2017 Leo Award for his work on this episode for "Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series".
All songs in the episode (excluding "Hearth's Warming Eve is Here Once Again (Reprise)") were released as a part of the 2016 physical and digital re-release of the 2015 compilation album It's a Pony Kind of Christmas.
- @dannyimusic (2016-05-14). "Daniel Ingram speaks about "A Hearth's Warming Tail"" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-05-14 – via Twitter.
- "2017 Nominees & Winners by Name". Leo Awards. 2017-06-03. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
- Sethisto (2016-02-13). "New Hearthswarming Eve Season 6 Song Revealed at Toy Fair 2016". Equestria Daily. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Michael Vogel [@mktoon] (2016-05-15). "Writer Michael Vogel talks about the deleted appearance of Discord" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-05-15 – via Twitter.
- Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (2016-05-14). "@VanceVance256 Not enough time to cover everything" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-05-14 – via Twitter.
- Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (2016-05-16). "@VanceVance256 It never made it far enough in script that I ever saw dialogue for him" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-05-16 – via Twitter.
- Mike Vogel [@mktoon] (2016-12-25). "In 1st draft Luna didn't have a song because time was so tight, but directors and creative team all realized she needed one (thankfully!)" (Tweet). Retrieved 2016-12-25 – via Twitter.
- Sabrina Alberghetti (2016-05-14). "A Hearth's Warming Tail by Sibsy". DeviantArt. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
- Alvarez, Daniel (2016-02-13). "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "A Hearth's Warming Tail" Review". Unleash the Fanboy. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "My Little Pony, Hearth's Warming Tail". Don't hate the geek. 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
- "My Little Pony - It's a Pony Kind of Christmas". iTunes Music Store. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
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