I think people are honestly just trying to get back into things... it's been a LOT time since there's been episodes...
You do great stuff, Richie.
Thanks, I think i get what you mean. But also i think people are older now and their expectations have changed. This episode was actually produced, filmed, written, acted, and presented better than any previous episode (In my opinion). We had multiple locations, we've all improved as actors, the blocking has greatly improved (Movement while acting). The story isn't as one dimensional or obtusely complex. I spent much more time developing the physics of the fireballs, (Notice how in previous episode they just fly off screen, noe they more realistically hit something behind the target or simply fly off in the distance).
My point is, It's been a long time since the normal episodes, and i think people were younger and have over glorified them in their minds, it's called nostalgia. So no matter what, people will never like the new as much as the old. The best example of this is star wars, Everyone who saw the old ones first likes them better, but generally people who watch all 6 for he first time like all of them equally, i've tested this many times.
If i showed someone who had never seen an episode of SMB Episode 46, and then showed them 1 (Or pretty much any episode) they would probably say that 46 was a huge improvement.
That very insightful of you Richie and very well articulated! But don't despair over it. Some of us can see and really enjoy the improvements! I love your work and I'm continually impressed by your desire to do even better. I respect you as a filmmaker and I find your works very entertaining. (And if this wasn't typed it would be followed up by a hug.)