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My absolute favorite moment though would have to be just about a week ago, when I was on the road back from the Kansas City convention (my first convention and one that my close friend insisted was not an attempt to rekindle my admittedly dwindling interest at the time) with two of my friends while listening to my old pony playlist I still had on my iPod.
As we pulled out of a gas station after topping up, the original Winter Wrap-up came over the speakers. Without missing a beat, or even saying anything, for that matter, all three of us started singing along. Cliche though this may seem, that was probably the most magical thing I've experienced. The entire con weekend was extremely fun, but it was that one moment in the car that tipped me over and has got me looking at the fandom (and show) in a new light.
Second, you make an interesting point that I had not yet considered. A movie probably would be the best way to breach the transition from G4 to G5 while retaining the maximum amount of interest. The only counterpoint I wish to offer in light of that is just how much interest will remain by 2017. You said you don't wish to nitpick about the talent of the current staff, and I'll respect that, but I don't think it's too far off to state that overall fandom interest in the show is waning, and, barring an absolutely fantastically done S5, I see it continuing to do so. What interest will be left in 2017 is truly anyone's guess and I've my own predictions, but time is the only thing capable of proving me right or wrong, so we'll just have to wait and see.
How long do you REALLY think G4 is going to go while still maintaining some semblance of quality? Granted, the term "quality" may differ between individuals and is shaped highly by personal bias,, but more than a few of the folks that I have spoken with have cited a gradual decline of quality over S4 and S5 is the "make or break" season for them, so this standpoint is not exclusive to myself.
For just a moment, forget that Hasbro is going to milk this for every last dollar, and ask yourself this.
At what point does G4 just need to stop?
"WAHHHHH. GIVE US TEH RELEASE DATE!"
>Time frame announced for release.
"BLUGHHHH! CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG! COME OUT SOONER! *hundreds of comments crying "i want it now!"*
Get over yourselves and learn that things take time. Suck it up and wait; it's not really that hard.
Was thought placed into this before it was posted?
It's a virtue.
My body is always Reggie.
Smash 4 comes out tonight.
I like this answer very much.