On Poetry, Prose, and Videogames

JLawrence Kenny

Friday Night Retro: Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

on August 27, 2011

I am possibly one of the youngest people that can still recall looking forward to Saturday Morning Cartoons, before the advent of the DVR. Getting up early on the weekend seems blasphemous to me now, but back then, nothing beat the feeling of getting out of bed just to lay down on the couch for a few uninterrupted hours of cartoon watching. Those Saturday time slots were gold for kids and TV shows alike, the foundation of a lot of quality nostalgia. However, not all nostalgia is perfect, and one show that stands out today as less than great is the infamous show, “The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog.”

Clearly, this rotund man is a serious threat to the world.

As a child, I absolutely adored this show, laughing my head off at every inane joke and ridiculous costume or gag. Looking back, however, I wonder if I had been on drugs for ever having watched and enjoyed this show. It has little, if anything, to do with the hit game series that inspired it. It has no overall plot of which to speak, the artistic style is completely different… in fact, it would be quicker to list what the two have in common: the characters Dr. Robotnik, Sonic, and Tails. That’s it, and even that is stretching the truth, as they are portrayed as caricatures of themselves rather than what the video games would have led you to believe. Sonic, voiced by the annoying Jaleel White, is now a spastic whiner with an inexplicable infatuation with chili dogs, and Tails becomes the adorably naïve child who points out the obvious traps moments before they are sprung. Gone is the evil genius Robotnik, replaced by a moronic egghead with a barely passable skill for robotics. Also introduced to the cast are two of the Doctor’s robotic inventions, Scratch and Grounder, who are dumber than rocks.

Well, when your friend looks like that, I can see how he might get lonely...

The show mainly consisted of the evil Dr. Robotnik attempting to take over the world (as all villains are wont to do) or capture and destroy Sonic and Tails, who have to stop him at every turn. For the most part, Robotnik sits in his lair, scheming, leaving his bumbling robotic servants Scratch and Grounder to attempt to thwart or capture the heroes. The majority of the episode is slapstick humor, with arguing and explosions aplenty, as well as idiotic traps and disguises that wouldn’t fool a two-year old. Scratch and Grounder would set some pathetic excuse for a trap for Sonic that ranged from a pitfall to – and I’m not kidding here – Scratch blowing his hand up into a woman.

I keep expecting a lawsuit for idea theft. Jinkies!

These traps would either completely fail or succeed until the bickering between Scratch and Grounder gave the two heroes a chance to escape, at which point they would often don a disguise of sorts in order to put the two villains out of commission. As if the disguises were not lame enough, Sonic would regularly take off his disguise while backs were turned and wink at the audience, as they apparently aren’t smart enough to see past the false mustache. At this point, Sonic and Tails will thwart Dr. Robotnik’s plan at the very last second, saving the world yet again. Too bad the same can’t be said for my melting brain.

Poor Sonic... What did they do to you?

But then, in a way, this seemingly endless disaster of irritation is exactly what the designers were aiming for. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was never meant to make any sense; it was supposed to be a lighthearted, comedic show for kids. Sure, in hindsight the show is at best annoying and at worst mind-numbingly idiotic, but when you consider the targeted demographic of young children, it knew exactly what it needed to be. A show that was perfect for keeping the attention of the viewer by catering to their miniscule attention span and allowing their parents another blessed half hour where their children weren’t incessantly bothering them. Personally, I preferred plot-driven shows, such as the infinitely more successful show “Sonic SatAM,” even at an early age, but this was a guilty pleasure for me. So though my reflection upon this show is less than favorable when looked upon with a more mature eye, I can still admit that for all its flaws, it accomplished its purpose. I certainly find it less annoying and more entertaining than a lot of the cartoons that count as shows in this new decade, but I’m sure that my younger sister will wind up saying the same thing in ten years about the shows with which she grew up.

Next Week: Bomberman 64

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