Monday, 14 January 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog (satAM) episodes #1-5

Sonic the Hedgehog (satAM)
episodes #1-5 

When Sonic cartoons started airing on tv, viewers were treated to not one series but two, I’ve already talked at length about Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, the light-hearted looney tunes style show. The other show, simply titled sonic the hedgehog (though the fans know it as satAM due to its timeslot) was a much darker affair. While AoStH relied on gags and one shot characters and locations, satAM had a much more serious tone and attempted to tie its episodes into an overall narrative.

The series is generally the more favoured of the two among fan circles, a fact confirmed by satAM running for an extra series with AoStH only getting one.
The series is not without its critics however, some fans didn’t care too much for the darker tone or the fact that sonic at times gets a pretty low standing in the show, often playing second fiddle to Princess Sally, it also received a lot of criticism over the “green is good” message of the show at times being a little too in your face.
For the most part though, fans would agree that the superior story telling, dark tone and high quality artwork make it the better of the two and it’s hard to fault their logic.

In the USA the series was broadcast on Saturday mornings with an episode of AoStH played Monday to Friday. In the UK however, the  show was hardly broadcast at all, I think I remember seeing it on tv onceas a kid whereas AoStH seemed to be on all the time. For that reason I recall the show with less fondness that it’s cartoony counterpart.

Ep 01: Sonic Boom
Sonic Boom exists pretty much to give us a grounding in the universe the satAM has created. We’re introduced to most of the main cast, Sonic, Sally, Robotnik and Antoine (oddly, Tails is missing from the episode for some reason) as well as locations like Robotropolis, knothole is mentioned but they never go there..
Sonic and Sally break into Robotropolis hoping to glean some information on Robotnik’s plans, after receiving a message sally believes to be from her father the mission goes awry and one of the freedom fighters (Cat) is captured.

The episode sets the scene well, locations are dark and the serious tone of the serious  is embedded from the start, the only real comic relief comes from Antoine’s “hilarious” cowardice and while most series would have this  episode end with Sonic  saving Sally and busting his friend out of prison, the episode ends with sonic finding Cat’s cell empty.

All in all an ok episode to start us off, it’s a little boring but it’s just setting the scene, whetting the appetite for what’s still to come.

Ep 02: Sonic and Sally
After a botched mission in Robotropolis (a theme you’d better get used to it seems) Sally is captured. Robotnik creates a robot double and lets sonic rescue it in an attempt to learn more about Knothole village.

The episode introduces us to the remainder of the cast, characters like Bunnie, Rotor and Tails. I love Tails’ character in this show, they decided to make him more like a little kid, I suppose to introduce the notion of Sonic and Sally as parental figures. It could be cheesy but Tails is given a childlike innocence that works well for the show, it’s sad to see a little kid like him forced to hide all the time from Robotnik’s armies.

We’re also introduced to knothole village the freedom fighters secret hideaway in the woods. As well as the pond that spawns the golden rings sonic uses. I’ve never really been a fan of the rings, in the games they exist purely as a health bar system, here however they give Sonic some sort of power, exactly what this power is however, is never really gone into which much detail.

Another solid episode but like the pilot it’s lessened somewhat by the lack of any comic relief. Whenever any jokes are attempted they seem to fall flat, neverreally working.

Ep 03: Ultra Sonic
After a (you’ll never guess, a failed mission to robotropolis) Sonic finds his uncle Chuck, who has been captured by Robotnik and robotacized.
In the games, the animals that were turned into Robots could be rescued but in this continuity the transformation is permanent.

Chuck initially fights Sonic but he is eventually able to overcome his programming and return to his true personality.
They then work together to foil a mining operation by Robotnik to get his hands on a large energy crystal.

The energy crystal might well be a reference to the chaos emeralds which I don’t think show up any other time in the series.
Like AoStH the series was created by a group of people with little to no knowledge of the game series. This is the reason for the cartoon universes being so radically different to the games. AoStH seemed to fair a little better wen it came to including references to the games, there’d be mentions of locals like the casino night zone and series tropes like the halfpipe special zones and chaos emeralds made brief appearences.
SatAM seems to include little to none of these references however, there are a couple of elements that are recognisable but even these are radically different.

At the end of the episode the freedom fighters manage to stop Robotnik but Uncle Chuck reverts to his original programming and Sonic is forced to leave him behind.
It’s the first moment of real drama in the series as Sonic is forced to retreat without his uncle, vowing one day to return and save him, resotring his personality for good.

Ep 04: Sonic & the Secret Scrolls
Finally an episode to take place outside of Mobotropolis, the freedom fighters travel to a lost city in search of a set of scrolls said to contain mystical powers.
To find the scrolls the freedom fighters must pass some tests and this is the main problem with the episode.
The tests are pointless, the first is to find a chair which sonic does….by glancing around. He then acts as if this was an incredibly difficult task and takes credit for it again and again.
The second test involves two pedestals, only one of which contains the scrolls, approaching the wrong pedestal will destroy the temple.
They pass this test by exclaiming that they’re freedom fighters and that they’re brave. This apparently gives them instant insight into which is the correct pedestal and they get the scrolls.
I know this is a  show written for children but that doesn’t excuse  such sloppy writing, the tests just don’t make sense.
As for the powers of the scrolls? Well….they’re never really described. One of the scrolls gives directions to a wind tunnel and that seems about it.
When Robotnik shows up (for no apparent reason) Sonic lures him into the wind tunnel and blows him off a cliff to his supposed death.

This is a pretty shoddy episode though it’s nice to finally see a bit of variety in the series. Sadly none of the components of the episode really work and the whole thing just feels pointless.

Ep05: Super Sonic
If the title of this episode gets you excited you’ll probably be disappointed. No it’s not the debut of Sonic’s golden spiked super form, actually, I’m not sure where the title comes from. Sonic in no more super than he is in any other episode, in fact he’s weaker….

The episode starts with Sally being rescued from Robotnik’s  robots by a mysterious cloaked figure who reveals himself to be the servant of the sleeping wizard Lazar. Robotnik steals the wizards magic computer (don’t ask) and kidnaps Bunnie and Sally.
Meanwhile Lazar takes Sonic’s speed away and says he will return it only if he can return the missing computer.
This plot point happens a little too late in the episode to really matter however and slowed down Sonic doesn’t really seem to have much struggle in getting back the computer.
The new characters seem a little out of place in the series, the cloaked figure looks like an alien while Lazar himself looks more like something out of Zelda than Sonic the hedgehog.
This is by no means a bad episode but it’s too all over the place to be considered a good one.

"If you enjoyed this review, why not check out the others in the series?"
(01-05) (06-10) (11-15) (16-20) (21-26

"Or  check out these reviews of the other Sonic series'"
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
(01-05) (06-10) (11-15) (16-20) (21-25) (26-30) (31-35) (36-40) (41-45) (46-50) (55-60) (61-65) (Xmas Blast)
Sonic Underground
(01-05) (06-10) (11-15) (16-20) (21-25) (26-30) (31-35) (36-40)

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