Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)
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|Sonic the Hedgehog|
Opening title card for Sonic the Hedgehog
|Created by||Len Janson|
|Directed by||John Grusd
|Voices of||Jaleel White
|Opening theme||"Fastest Thing Alive"|
|Composer(s)||Michael Tavera (Season one and theme)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Andy Heyward
|Running time||20-22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||DIC Entertainment
Sega Corporation (characters)
The Children's Channel
|Original run||September 18, 1993– April 1, 1995|
|Preceded by||Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Followed by||Sonic Underground|
Sonic the Hedgehog (promotionally titled Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and also known as Sonic SatAM) is an American animated television series created by Len Janson and produced by DIC Entertainment with the partnership of Sega of America. The show is based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series and aired two seasons on ABC from September 18, 1993, until April 1, 1995, which reran until June 3, 1995. Despite negative reviews by television critics, the series received praise from fans and has since then gained a loyal cult following. An on-going spiritual comic-book continuation of the show has been published by Archie comics since 1992.
The show's first season focuses its subplots on subject matter that is unusual for, and darker than, most American children's cartoons; placing its setting in a dystopian fantasy world, and using story concepts such as losing family members to war. The first season possesses some minced oaths and various innuendos. Nevertheless, the cartoon remains family friendly, as this subject matter is depicted in a softened manner.
ABC decided that the second season would have several episodes devoted entirely to humor, while "darker" plot developments and possibilities, as well as all violence, were reduced in magnitude. Due to concerns with her more human-like appearance compared to other characters, Princess Sally wore a vest beginning in the second season, whereas in the first season she wore only a pair of boots. Further changes in design include a new color palette for Rotor, Bunny's upper arm no longer being roboticized (as opposed to her forearm and shoulder, which remained roboticized) and a flashier look for the creation of power rings in the power ring pool.
The series sharply contrasts with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, another cartoon series starring Sonic, which had premiered in the same month. While Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was very lighthearted and comical, Sonic the Hedgehog featured a more complex plot and dramatic atmosphere. This series is the primary inspiration for the Archie comic book series of the same name, which continues to use elements and characters from this series, albeit with a separate continuity to the storyline.
The series aired in Canada on the CTV Network, with a bonus summer run between June 10 and September 2, 1995, that ABC did not replicate (they instead replaced it with reruns of Free Willy until September 2, 1995). Sonic the Hedgehog has not been re-run in Canada since its cancellation on CTV.
The show takes place on a planet called Mobius sometime in its 33rd century. Mobius is largely populated with Mobians and overlanders, however, a human warlord and former scientist named Dr. Robotnik (voiced by Jim Cummings), and his assistant and nephew Snively (voiced by Charlie Adler), invaded and conquered Mobotropolis, the capital city of Mobius, with an army of robot soldiers called Swatbots.
The show's backstory explains that Robotnik had once been leader of the Mobotropolis War Ministry, and that his creation and use of Swatbots led the country's victory in "The Great War". In the war's aftermath, he was to be appointed Minister of Science by the King of Mobius, Maximillian Acorn, who had decided to close the War Ministry and dismantle the Swatbots following the War. However, Robotnik overthrew the kingdom and declared himself to be the new King. King Maximillian is never seen or heard from again.
Robotnik banishes the old King, and captures most of the citizens, including an intelligent old hedgehog named Sir Charles Hedgehog and his crowning invention, the Roboticizer. This invention, created with the intention to prolong life, changes living creatures into robots, but had the unintended effect of robbing the individual of their free will. Robotnik uses this technology to enslave the population.
Some citizens, such as Sonic and Sally (Tails was not born yet), managed to escape the coup, and fled to Knothole Village in the Great Forest to hide from Robotnik's army. Under Princess Sally, they formed a group called the Freedom Fighters to restore Mobius and end Robotnik's rule.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Jaleel White, Tahj Mowry as younger Sonic in flashback) - Sonic is the titular character and the protagonist of the series. He is a courageous and cunning hedgehog with an attitude, and is able to run at supersonic speeds. He is also a very capable fighter, and despite his bragging nature, he becomes highly selfless and direct in dangerous circumstances. He greatly misses his uncle, Sir Charles, who was roboticized. He is the only one able to use the Power Rings, usually to greatly increase his potential speed. He is the secondary leader of the Freedom Fighters. In season one, he appeared to be intelligent with a natural flair for cunning plans. In season two, his egotism and foolishness became more exaggerated. If the third season was produced, Sonic would have gone through some sort of temporary character transformation.
- Sally Alicia Acorn (voiced by Kath Soucie, Dana Hill as younger Sally in flashbacks) - Sally is the princess of Planet Mobius and Sonic's love interest in this series. She is the strategist and primary leader of the Knothole Freedom Fighters, though she often refers to Sonic as the leader. Extremely intelligent, Sally usually hacks into Robotnik's computers to find important targets in Robotropolis. Though she is very cautious, she can also be as bullheaded as Sonic, and is surprisingly spontaneous when there is no danger. She utterly refuses to believe that her father is dead, and is constantly searching for him.
- Bunnie Rabbot (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) - Bunnie is a friendly cyborg with a southern accent, Bunnie was briefly captured, and had half of her body roboticized before she was saved, mid-transformation. Now her left arm and both her legs are mechanical. These robotic features, in addition to skill in martial arts, make her the brawn of the Freedom Fighters. Despite these advantages, she greatly desires to be normal again.
- Antoine Depardieu (voiced by Rob Paulsen) - Antoine is clumsy, cowardly, pompous, French-oriented coyote and a member of the Freedom Fighters. He often has trouble speaking English. He also has a crush on Sally. His rival was Sonic, who would make fun of Antoine for his shortcomings. His clumsiness often gets himself or other Freedom Fighters into trouble. In the first season, he was often portrayed as being intelligent, but too fearful to offer much help to anyone. In the second season, his clumsiness and cowardice became more exaggerated.
- Tails (voiced by Bradley Pierce) - Tails is a younger-brother figure to Sonic, whom he idolizes, Tails is the youngest freedom fighter (since the season two episode "Drood Hedge"). Often left behind in Knothole Village during missions, he is incredibly bright. He is 10 years old. (also mentioned in "Drood Hedge") If season three was produced, he would have matured and played a much larger role as an official member of the Freedom Fighter team, even showing a bit of a rebellious side.
- Rotor (voiced by Mark Ballou (Season 1) and Cam Brainard (Season 2)) - Rotor is a walrus who is the mechanic of Freedom Fighters. He invents reliable gadgets for the Freedom Fighters in Knothole and on their missions. In season one, he accompanies the other Freedom Fighters on many missions. In the second season, he was completely redesigned, had a replacement voice actor, and stays behind to work instead of going on missions.
- Nicole (voiced by Kath Soucie) - Nicole is a highly-advanced, artificially intelligent portable personal computer that Sally uses to analyze and hack into Robotnik's machines. While generally a formal computer, in the episode "Super Sonic", it copies Sonic's lingo so he can understand what it says, much to the bemusement of Sally.
- Sir Dr Charles Hedgehog (voiced by William Windom) - Known as "Uncle Chuck," he is an elderly inventor, as well as Sonic's warmhearted uncle. Chuck invented the roboticizer to allow people to live longer, but it had the unintended effect of robbing an individual of their free will. Robotnik later stole it and used it on him, turning him into one of many mindless drones and destroyed his "restaurant", Uncle Chuck's Chilli Dogs. With great difficulty, he regains control of his body and acts as a spy for the Freedom Fighters.
- King Acorn (voiced by Tim Curry) - King Acorn is the rightful King of Mobius, and father to Princess Sally. He was dethroned during a coup immediately following the Great War, and banished to the Void, a crystalline universe from which none can escape.
- Dulcy (voiced by Cree Summer) - Dulcy is a clumsy, loud-mouthed, young dragon who joined the Freedom Fighters in the second season. She often flies the Freedom Fighters to their destinations or rescues them. She also has powerful lungs, which can be used to blow enemies away, or freeze them solid with ice breath. She is terrible at landing, and often crashes into things mid-flight. She would have come into her full powers, if the show had a third season.
- Cat: Cat is an elderly, brown-furred cat. He is taller than the other Freedom Fighters, who are all teenagers. He is very loyal, sacrificing himself in the one episode he appeared in so as to allow his friends to escape. He also comes across as being calm when faced with a difficult situation. He was implied to have been either killed or roboticized.
- Dr. Julian Robotnik (voiced by Jim Cummings) - Dr. Robotnik is the madman who conquered Mobotropolis ten years earlier. He is a brilliant, yet heartless warlord seeking nothing less than to encompass the whole world in his machinery and robotic minions. His goals are constantly thwarted by Sonic the Hedgehog, his sworn nemesis. His hatred for the hedgehog has turned into a desperate obsession to capture and roboticize Sonic himself, which is often his own undoing. He was later defeated in the episode Doomsday Project. In season one, Robotnik was portrayed as a fearsome dictator and his voice was digitally altered.As season two was more lighthearted than season one, Robotnik was later depicted as an evil but incompetent villain rather than the fierce and intimidating foe he was originally shown to be, and his voice was no longer digitally altered.
- Snively (voiced by Charlie Adler) - Snively is Dr. Robotnik's miserable underling and assistant, as well as his nephew. Snively is constantly abused, teased and intimidated by his uncle. In season one, Snively appeared to be loyal to Robotnik. In season two, Snively was shown to despise Robotnik and talk about him behind his back. Snively's intelligence easily rivals his uncle's, but this trait is ignored. After Robotnik is defeated in "Doomsday Project", Snively himself plans to take over and run all of Robotropolis.
- Naugus (voiced by Michael Bell) - Ixis is a powerful sorcerer, formerly Dr. Robotnik's mentor. He hates Robotnik for betraying and imprisoning him within the Void during The Great War. He wants nothing more than to see Robotnik suffer, but he cannot exist outside the Void for any extended amount of time. He was scheduled to reappear as one of the main villains in Season 3 alongside Snively before it was cancelled.
- Swatbots (voiced by Jim Cummings, Maurice LaMarche, Kath Soucie and Frank Welker in pilot episode) - The Swatbots are Robotnik's primary police and military unit. Designed as super-soldiers, these machines won the Great War prior to Robotnik's takeover. Now, they are his special defense force, making up a substantial part of Robotropolis' "population".
In other media
The Sonic the Hedgehog comic done by Archie Comics was based on the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. Themes and storylines in early issues of the comic paralleled the cartoon, while characters and locales are still currently used. Overtime, while all the original main characters are retained in the newer issues, the comic series had since completely broke away most ties from the show's original continuity and attained greater focus on base material provided by Sega's official games.
Numerous different video games were intended to use the Sonic the Hedgehog TV series license, although only one was ever completed and released. This was Sonic Spinball, released in 1993 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, which contained references to the show, such as the inclusion of Princess Sally. The franchise was also planned to be used in a game that had tentatively been titled Sonic-16. A prototyped was being worked on by the U.S.-based Sega Technical Institute, however, Yuji Naka disliked the project and it was cancelled before it could be developed any further. The team worked on another prototype, Sonic Mars, directly afterwards, which also would have used characters from the show, including Princess Sally and Bunnie Rabbot as playable characters, but was also cancelled. The team would then go on to work on the infamous Sonic Xtreme project, which was also cancelled, but by that point, the game had dropped any connections to the television series.
The program initially ranked #9 in its time slot with a rating of 5.2, an estimated 4.8 million viewers. Mark Bozon of IGN criticized the show for not aging well, and being "so bad, it's good", comparing it to "...The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Legend of Zelda, franchises that seemed cool when you watched them decades ago, but in all reality ...Looking back, those shows are so bad they're awesome. That's the kind of awesome Sonic The Hedgehog is."
Todd Douglass Jr. of DVDTalk found the show to be dated, though he said "Out of the 26 episodes that make up the complete series there were quite a few that were actually enjoyable. For instance, I got a kick out of "Ultra Sonic" where Sonic finds his now robotic Uncle Chuck. "Blast to the Past Parts 1 & 2" and "Doomsday Project" stood out alongside "Ultra Sonic" as the crème of the crop though there were a few episodes here and there that entertained on some level (even if it was low)."
GamesRadar called the show the worst thing to happen to Sonic, criticizing its plot and original characters, which it called "unwanted".
- DVD releases
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release dates||Additional Features|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete Series||26||March 27, 2007||September 10, 2007||N/A||This four disc boxset includes the entire 26 episodes from the series. Bonus features include: storyboards, concept art, storyboard-to-screen comparisons, deleted/extended scenes, a printable prototype script of the series pilot (Heads or Tails), and interviews with Jaleel White and head writer Ben Hurst. The individual cases and the DVDs themselves also feature fan art submitted to Shout! Factory during the box set's development phase. Cover art by Ken Penders and released by Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment. The Region 2 version was distributred by Delta Music Group PLC in the UK.|
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