Pilot episodes are tricky. Many potentially great shows have failed to get off the ground because of their pilot getting rejected, such as the legendary Harmon / Schrab / Stiller joint Heat Vision and Jack. But shows that do get picked up will ideally evolve and improve, and often the pilot can become clunky (or clunkier) in retrospect, particularly in this long-tail era when everything is available all the time and there is no such thing as “retrospect”. Star Trek: The Next Generation's cringe-worthy pilot “Encounter at Farpoint,” newly remastered and released on Blu-ray for the ages, is a classic example of that phenomenon.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's two-part pilot “Friendship Is Magic” is by no means as tacky as “Encounter at Farpoint” — and like The Next Generation, I suspect that the first season had already been purchased by the time the episode went into production, 'cuz those toys ain't gonna sell themselves — but it still suffers from the problems that most pilots face: the need to tell a plot-driven story that makes the viewer want to come back for more, at the expense of establishing the characters beyond rudimentary sketches.