I think you mean this is G5 in a broader sense than I did. I mean specifically this isn’t the series that has been rumored to be in the works, which apparently the info that was leaked about it was jumbled like how people are understanding these two series. From the leaks we heard about G5, it was supposed to be 2D and building off of the movie, however, as long as this article is correct with the new information, there are two new series coming out. The first is the 2D horror show that can really only be called G5.5, and awkwardly at that because of the air order.
But for a more broad sense, yes. This is the legacy of G5 before it has even gotten properly started. It is also cause for concern that G4.5 was either so well received by children or so cheap to produce that they approved nearly immediately more to be done in the G5 cast. The image G5 will leave is that of low quality and profit motivations that can’t even be hidden behind lore excuses.
As for messaging, I doubt they will have the time in the CalArts show to say much of anything other than very simply messages about not making others cry or be kind to everyone.
Make your mark implies some sort of Disney tier stand up to bullying and save the planet by planting a shrub. They have 45 minutes to work with, so it is possible. However, I think it is more likely going to try and satisfy basic questions the movie didn’t bother to answer and how earth ponies fit in with magic like they left as a sort of cliff hanger on the end of the movie. They will probably ask what magic earth ponies had that was lost since it isn’t apparent to the new view that didn’t collect that info from G4. They will spend the first act questioning what it means to have magic, probably explore the unicorn magic more since it was only just used in the minimum at the end of the movie, another look at Pegasi learning to fly, and wondering how Sunny ties into this as an artificial alicorn. Second act probably has some kind of struggle like the movie where they don’t know how to make use of the magic and the other Magic’s seem much more useful and powerful, so tensions build up again. Third act will probably be rushed to rebuild friendships, Sunny unleashes the alicorn power again and unlocks something connected to G4, realizes that earth ponies have a secret power that wasn’t ever established, and now everyone is friends again. Bonus scene possible where we learn that someone is trying to reach the new cast and claim Twilight or some relic of hers is still alive or available. It will probably turn out to be the new Spike that is in the toys and not actually Twilight.
The holiday special is a wild card because it is in November of all times, and to keep both global appeal and reduce the corporate wait time from Candy/costume eve to purchase month, they will skip any values about being thankful for what has been given to you. They will instead jump into a generic, Christmas free, Hearths Warming, except no Hearths and no Warming. They will reveal there was no more need for the tradition because the windigo were defeated without mentioning any specifics on how or why. They will simply recall from the history class that also talked about a pony race war that will also not be clarified. They will learn about giving items to others in a way that makes them feel special while also learning about new spike’s traditions and opening up horizons to the other races they will either bring back or make new ones to introduce. In the end, a new tradition is made where no actual tradition is made, simply coexisting in silence with others and respecting their own cultures will be the celebration.
Just my guesses at those two. I am probably way off, but I just don’t see any connections they could make to what has been given so far. I am likely overthinking connections though and they will act from special to special like the previous content never occurred save any additions to cast. That will mean it can be just an adventure special each time where they journey into a new land and meet x race and solve what it means to be friends with them or something. Maybe they keep the budget low though and don’t go anywhere at all. They just stay in the bay and only really talk and explore a couple of buildings they want to reuse later like how the library or sugarcane corner was a staple for episodic setting in G4.