"My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" (
The current crop -- Princess Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy and Spike, some of them Pegasus ponies, some of them unicorns -- live in the village of Ponyville in the magical land of Equestria, and have adventures of a more fantastic, knockabout, cartoonlike variety. Like the Powerpuff or Spice Girls, or the cast of "Sex in the City," each has her quickly recognizable distinct qualities, her weakness and her strengths. (There are a few male ponies around, but they are largely beside the point.) They get into trouble; working together often gets them out.
While remaining appropriate for small children, if you think they should be watching television in the first place, it has attitude; these ponies do go postal. At 22 minutes each, the stories have time to meander a little, to gather force, to linger on a shot -- it's a very good-looking show. The color design does sophisticated things with pinks and limes and peaches and pale blues and violets that at once say girliness, plastic toys and early '80s. That it is, on one level, a thing made to help sell toys sets it apart NOT AT ALL from most every other successful cartoon or magical adventure series; I won't even try to pry that
"Doc Martin," Season 6 (Acorn Media). Released this week on home video, the sixth season of this popular series (seen locally on KCET, though these new episodes have yet to air here) stars
We have been often to this place, under other names -- the fish out of water in a Town called Quirky, the impossible couple you pray to come together. And Martin, who seems always to be about to undo whatever good life brings him, can be frustrating to the point of despair. But it is brilliantly handled, and by now it just feels like home. The great Eileen Atkins ("Cold Comfort Farm") is still on board as Martin's psychiatrist aunt, as emotionally constricted as her nephew, but with perspective and tact.
"Six by Six by Sondheim" (HBO, Monday); "The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall" (
Directed by his sometime collaborator James Lapine ("Sunday in the Park With George," "Into the Woods,"
Although there is an occasional comment from a colleague -- and songs, of course -- the narrative is mostly Sonhdeim speaking, young and old, clean-shaven and bearded, dark and gray, made by cutting into a single person. (Lapine is more than usually sensitive to the visual music of his montages.) Sondheim is a person who knows why he does what he does, and a lot about how he does it, and also about the ways he fails to do it; it's easy to think he's gone from success to success, though such has not been the case. (Cole Porter had his bad days too.) Whether or not you know his music well -- I could certainly know it better -- if you're interested at all in creative people and the creative process, this is worth your while.
No director at all is listed for "The Improv," only producers, but the subjects -- including