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Ghost Rider

The SpongeBob "Zelda Cycle"

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Interesting topic that came to my mind. (...which I should have posted months ago but I got lazy oops)

If you have no idea what I mean by the "Zelda Cycle", basically what I mean is that the general opinion of seasons seems to constantly change as time passes, with one season becoming beloved and another becoming hated in retrospect. Let me explain:

I'll actually start this off with Season 3 of all seasons. For those who aren't aware, quite a few later Season 3 episodes in the second half were actually not very liked much in the olden internet days. (see: this thread for an example) Obviously, S3 as a whole is liked to this very day, but it's interesting how back then, the old pre-movie fans felt the decline of the show began in that season.

Then we get to the post-movie era with Season 4, where this trend officially began. When S4 was initially airing from 2005-2007, many early talkback threads from toonzone, tv.com and other places showed much, much negativity towards it. However, now as the decade has gone by, Season 4 is generally liked more than it was back then, with some even considering it "part of the classic era". This change in opinion is one of the most surprising, but a lot of the early hate could have been chalked up to the older fanbase not being used to the new style for the time after the heels of Seasons 1-3 and the movie.

Then we get to Season 5, which had quite a bit of negative feedback in the 2007/2008 era as well, but there was also another split part that considered it "an improvement over S4". In the current year, while I don't know if it's necessarily "loved", I see many looking back and having nostalgia towards the season, with some even calling it "the end of an era" in some respects. Your opinion may vary here tho.

Now for Season 6. This season was never necessarily liked even in the old tv.com days, although nobody really called it the "worst season ever" from what I recall back then. A lot of S6 eps were more liked than you'd think back then. Years later and the hate for it grew tenfold, with any eps that did get praise getting quashed. As far as I know nobody has really gone back and said "wow, I actually like S6" or "S6 wasn't that bad", but feel free to correct me there if so (although I really hope not).

This pattern starts to get really interesting when we reach Season 7, which is the key part of what spawned this thread to begin with...

Back in 2009 when S7 started, as some of you are aware, many threads on tv.com and other places were praising the early episodes, calling them "a return to form". Some of the episodes that were praised included ones such as Stuck in the Wringer, Tentacle Vision (aka "pre-movie quality"), Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy (not joking). Nowadays, S7 as a whole is hated just as much as S6, with many calling it worse than it. Crazy, huh? I personally think the fact early S7 came out during the SpongeBash is what caused the initial praise: it was a new season during the 10th anniversary, and after all of S6, people desperately wanted to like something again. But that honeymoon phase eventually ended. Even as the rest of S7 went along, you'll see how things like Legends of Bikini Bottom actually had a few positive reviews (lmao), and the second half of S7 in general was seen as "okay" at best. I think the shift in views on S7 is the most interesting one of these. 

Next we get to Season 8, which is another interesting case of the cycle. As you all might be aware of, S8 was especially loved on SBC and a few other places back in 2011/2012, but a few years later, its reception drastically changed among the fandom (which I still think Enter jumpstarted but that's neither here nor there). Much like S7, that honeymoon phase ended pretty fast, with much of S8 being memed nowadays due to its blandness. Whether if the praise it deserved back then is very...questionable, since S7 at least had the excuse of the 10th anniversary. Not so much here.

I'm going to talk about 9A and 9B separately: 9A wasn't really loved or hated back in 2012/2013. The only episodes that got notable scorn were the obvious ones (Squid Baby, Little Yellow Book and SpongeBob, You're Fired), while everything else's views ranged from person to person. In general though, people still saw 9A as an extension of S8 and given the love of S8 at the time, 9A still had some fans. Nowadays, 9A isn't really liked much and just kind of exists due to it being a half season. 9B was really liked for the most part in 2015/2016, but as the years go by I see some people looking back at it a bit more critically. I don't think the opinion of it has drastically changed yet per say, but we'll see in a few years time.

I'm not going to analyze Seasons 10 and 11 yet because they are both still too new, and the opinions on them are very divisive rn. This begs some interesting questions though: Will Seasons 10 and 11 become widely hated in the future, or will they be looked back on in favorable lights? Guess we'll see how the future bodes on that front.

So yeah, as you can tell, what I wanted to get out of this thread is to show how the general opinions on the seasons change every few years. Are there any particular reasons you think the season opinions shift so drastically over the years? Is it caused by one spark, or is it just people ending their honeymoon phases with the season and looking back at them objectively? Figured this could make an interesting discussion especially for 20 years of the show.

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So if we're comparing spongebob to the zelda timeline, that would mean A Pal for Gary is the only canon episode, while every other episode is just a dream. Just like how I believe the Zelda CDI games are the only canon games, and every other game were just dreams by the King after eating too much dinner.

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The opinion of SpongeBob as a whole differs from person to person, seasons included. To put it all bluntly, people's definition to how they watch or enjoy SpongeBob is like our fingerprints. There are some that go as far as to defend some of the series' most controversial episodes. There are some that will bite tooth and nail to defend the most recent seasons. There are some that will condemn just about everything after S3 to spite the series' current state. Heck, there are probably also some that treat S6 and S7 with kindness. The list goes on. As I've already made my point across, there are many different shades of a SB fan.

Since we are talking about general and more widespread opinions, anything that I could add about how the consensus of each season except pre-movie has changed within time, my thoughts and experiences go all the way back to before I was even a member of tv.com, back when the Best Day Ever marathon was a big deal and I was perplexed to see that most others were absolutely outraged when most of the fresher S4 episodes overwhelmed the earlier and much more beloved ones. There was also the special itself that the marathon was leading up to be panned, but I understood why most folks thought it was disappointing back then.

At the time I joined tv.com, S5 was still fresh to us. Skimming through the critical responses for almost every episode of the season, I instantly realized that the general response towards S5 was that it took away almost everything that made the first three seasons so good and it was part of the norm to rag on S5, like S4 was before. Of course, In that same timeframe, its forum was flooded with discussions centered on SpongeBob going downhill and how much its characters have changed in comparison to the earlier seasons. That general behavior of the SpongeBob discussions in tv.com pretty much persisted until 2009, I believe, when S7 was nearing its start and while S6 was still airing some of its remaining episodes (and S5 to a much smaller extent once you consider that Goo Goo Gas aired that year). That was probably because SB was entering its 10th year on the air at the time and it meant most of us needed to show a little more positivity towards the show that we would regularly talk about.

Therefore, I think the reason for the contrast between the reviews and scores for most S4-S6 episodes and most S7 episodes on tv.com back then had to do with our stances as SB fans and our continuously developing minds both changing. For the former reason I suggested, I think it was because the SB discussion forums on tv.com had dealt with so much negativity/pessimism towards the show that most of us then aimed to redefine and reassure ourselves as SB fans by showing how dedicated we are to the tv.com community for the series and give its future a lot more fair chances than we could give. Nowadays, it seems like it to me that most people, including those who dislike a good chunk of SB episodes, can reassure themselves as SB fans a lot easier, further elaborating on what I mean by how peoples' stances as SB fans have changed.

As for the latter reason I gave, I feel like that the older that we've gotten and the longer that we've stayed as members of the fan community, the more that we've broadened our perspectives on the seasons. That reasoning also applies to after tv.com lost its relevancy. It wasn't until around late 2011/early 2012, back in the MoBros days and back when I was obsessed with TV Tropes when I realized that the general opinion of S7 was merely the same as S6. It wasn't until Mr. Enter and Pieguyrulz's rise to prominence in 2014 that I've realized that all the scrutiny that S5 received ages ago had seriously fizzled out. It wasn't until after the whole "era wars" that took place on TV.com and on here back in 2011 that I've realized that S4 has become more beloved. In addition to that, it's funny to think nowadays that in my first couple of years on tv.com, when I was still very young, I was one of the very few people standing up to S4 even while admitting to have hated a select few episodes like All That Glitters and SquidBob TentaclePants. S4 even actually stuck with me as my absolute favorite season until a few years later once I felt that I've overwhelmed my feelings towards it. Heck, that particular age reasoning must be even why the general opinion on I Was a Teenage Gary, for example, has soured somehow as of recent.

I can't guarantee that my explanations are completely coherent, but still I've wanted to throw in my two cents and I'm certain that this cycle is generally not very easy to explain.

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