Episode Review: Star vs The Forces of Evil (Season 1, Episode 1 ) – Star Comes To Earth / Party With A Pony
In the last few years, one of the most surprising names to be seen associated with television animation, is Walt Disney Studios. In the 80’s and 90’s, their television division hit it big with The Disney Afternoon lineup of after-school animated shows. Since then, there’s been almost nothing like it…until now.
The company launched an additional cable channel in 2009, called DisneyXD. Along with some live-action series, the channel is home to some popular animated series, embraced by many different age groups. These include shows such as Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels, and in the last month, Star vs The Forces of Evil.
The story of a Princess who comes to Earth from another dimension, officially premiered in late March, and garnered the highest ratings for a DisneyXD program debut, since the release of Star Wars Rebels. I didn’t discover it until around episode 3…and it quickly hooked me. In fact, so much so, that I decided to review each and every episode of Season 1.
On her 14th Birthday, Star Butterfly, Princess of the Kingdom of Mewni, obtains her family’s ancestral wand…and within a matter of seconds, plunges the kingdom into chaos. Her parents then send her to Earth to “train,” enrolling her at Echo Creek Academy, and setting her up to live with the Diaz family. The Diaz’s also have a son at the school named Marco, who serves as Star’s “guide.”
Right off the bat, the show quickly reveals how Star is a little quirky (though a Princess, she likes to fight monsters, and even tame wild unicorns). While she does seem easily distracted and rather excitable, she isn’t completely crazy. When she accidentally opens a black hole in Marco’s room, she shows remorse for her spell-casting ability to not be perfect. That ability for her to not just be a brainless magical girl, helped make me want to see more of where her character would go.
Of course, it’s not like Star doesn’t have some fears regarding what her actions can entail. One of the most fun gags is Star’s fear of being sent to St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses. The sequence is brief, but it cracks me up every time I see it.
Marco Diaz serves as a great friend to Star as well. Though considered “the safe kid” by several in school, it is quickly established that Marco knows karate, and seeing him in action, made me excited for the fact that both he and Star can fight their own battles. The dynamic reminds me of Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable, and I mean that in the best way.
The episode also helps establish who Star’s main adversary is: a little bird-creature named Ludo, and his army of thuggish minions. His main goal is to obtain Star’s magic wand, though just what he intends to do with it, is left to our imagination.
Unlike some series that spend an entire (full) first episode laying out all the rules, this first segment only clocks in at 11 minutes, and serves moreso to give us a taste of what we can possibly expect to come down the pike. The segment is a little more talk-than-show at times, but as long as the talking leads to us understanding a little more, I’m all for it.
In conclusion, Star Comes To Earth is definitely an intriguing way to start off a new series.
Final Segment Grade: B+
What Marco thinks is going to be a simple night of eating nachos with Star, turns into a royal pain, when Star’s best friend from Mewni, Princess Pony Head, stops by wanting to party with Star…and, she doesn’t seem at all happy to have met Marco. Star proposes that Marco come along on the proposed dimensional romp, certain that her two “besties” will become “besties” with each other.
Pony Head re-introduces us to the concept of ‘dimensional scissors’ from the first episode, which allows one to cut open dimensional portals. Here we get our first glimpse of other dimensions besides Mewni, though moreso the kind of hangouts for young, inter-dimensional beings.
Continuing on from the fast friendship in the first episode, it is nice to see Marco and Star communicating on a person-to-person basis, with Star seeming to find almost no problems with wanting to have a larger circle of friends within friends.
Sadly, for those who watch cartoons, one can easily start gleaning where the story is going as soon as Pony Head narrows her eyes at Marco. We’ve all seen that episode where the best friends of the main friend, don’t quite see eye-to-eye.
Jenny Slate voices the unrefined Pony Head, with a sassy whine that seemed familiar. Looking on IMDB, I soon realized she was also the annoying mother of Ted in the animated Lorax film. I will give this to Jenny: she can annoy like the dickens with that voice of hers!
There is an attempt to end the episode on a resolved angle, but it feels like it just becomes a little too by-the-book regarding problem and resolution.
One bright spot is Brian H Kim’s music throughout the segments, with Princess Pony Head’s theme seeming similar to the electronic sounds of Giorgio Moroder. He also works to give each dimension its own unique musical sound.
Personally, this segment might have seemed more proper to being included in the second episode. Maybe this second segment of the first episode, could have been better used to show Star interacting more on Earth, and establishing more of the supporting characters she and Marco encounter at school, and on a daily basis.
Final Segment Grade: B-
The first episode of Star vs The Forces of Evil, gives a pretty decent introduction with its first segment, Star Comes to Earth. Unfortunately, Party with a Pony takes a familiar story trope, and wraps it up in a story that plays a little too close to the chest. Even so, the episode does provide key story elements for future episodes.
*Coming up in my review of Episode 2, Star decides to play match maker, and gives her all to help Echo Creek Academy against their rivals in an upcoming football game.*