Saturday, January 19, 2008

SONIC CHRISTMAS BLAST

In 1993 DiC Entertainment produced two Sonic the Hedgehog animated series and aired them at the same time. They were created for two different markets but both were based on the ultra popular Sega video game series that started in 1991.

One series, Sonic the Hedgehog (often refered to as SatAM), was made for Saturday morning television and was a serial based show featuring more characters and darker storylines. It had 26 episodes and ran from 1993-1994.

The other, called The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was made for weekday syndication and only featured Sonic and Tails in more humourous and slapstick situations. The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog ran from September to December 1993 and had a total of 65 episodes.

While the show was popular, the real fans favoured the Saturday morning show. But for some reason, a few years after both series had come to an end, DiC decided to produce one more episode based on the Adventures series! This is probably due to the fact that it deals with Christmas, something that just wouldn't feel right on the SatAM series.

In an issue of the Sonic comicbook, there was an ad for this special, calling it An X-Tremely Sonic Christmas. Sega wanted the special to tie in with their new Sega Saturn game, Sonic X-Treme, which ended up being cancelled. So instead, DiC changed the name of the special to promote Sonic 3D Blast, a game that was coming out that holiday season.

Enough about the history! Let's talk about the episode: Santa is making a public television appearance to announce his retirement. But instead of cancelling Christmas, he names his replacement - Robotnik Claus! It's up to Sonic and Tails to stop Robotnik Claus from taking presents instead of giving them in order to return order to Christmas in Robotropolis. SPOILER: The show ends with Sonic freeing a captive Santa and Santa teaching Sonic how to obtain Ultimate Velocity (Super Speed) in order to save Christmas. Santa is so impressed with Sonic's work that he retires for real and hand the duty over to Sonic - who accepts! What?!

The episode brings back many fond memories for fans of the show who loved this goofy side of Sonic. The look and the feel of the show are the same, but there are many differences. The animation is much more goofy. The characters are stretched and squashed and make weird expressions that you won't find in the original series. Elements from the other shows, like Robotropolis, Princess Sally (who has no lines) and SWATbots (that don't look like their counterparts in other any other series) leak into this special which make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

It is nice to get most of the returning cast, including Jaleel White (Steve Urkel) as Sonic, Long John Baldry as Dr. Robotnik, Gary Chalk as Grounder, and Phil Hayes as Scratch. The only cast member to not return is Christopher Evan Welch who was eleven when he voiced Tails but hit puberty and thus had a voice that was too low for Tails in this special.


All in all, this is a goofy special that fits very well within the context of the original show but won't become a perennial favourite. You can find it on DVD along with three other episodes from Sonic Underground.

3 comments:

Barry said...

Not sure if I agree that the "true" Sonic fans liked the SatAM version more. As cobbled together as AoStH was, it had a plot and characters much closer to the games of the time. Looking at how deep the plots of the games are now, SatAM is unnecessary whereas AoStH fits in quite well as the "early days" of Sonic before the next gen plots.

Anonymous said...

"As cobbled together as AoStH was, it had a plot"

No, it didn't. It was essentially Warner Brothers-style comedy and animation trying to be Sonic. The thing is....Sonic is supposed to be a kick butt speedy hero with an evil villain--Robotnik aka Eggman--to vanquish. The problem? AoStH took all this and throw it out the window for slapstick.

Most fans who wanted plot, gripping storylines, developed characters, and the actual hero vs villain dynamic that Sonic & Robotnik are supposed to have preferred SatAM over AoStH, not because one was better than the other--which SatAM admittedly was, anyway--but because SatAM was more based upon the games more than some people think.

In the games, Robotnik did take over and it was up to Sonic and Tails to free the other trapped animals who were inside the robots (a less complicated equivalent of robotization)...animals which were early versions of the future Freedom Fighters.

Sonic The Comic from Britain (starring Princess Acorn, Johnny Lightfoot, Joe Sushi, and an unamed canine who were the precursors to Sally, Bunnie, Rotor, and Antoine) illustrated the fact that Sega was working on a cartoon during the heyday of its Genesis games and the premise of that cartoon--which was to become SatAM--was pushed into becoming a comic franchise produced by Archie Comics...a comic franchise that--like SatAM's fanbase--exists to this day, which shows how deeply rooted SatAM is in Sonic's history and how many people associate it as the top Sonic cartoon, considering that it was made back in Sonic's heyday and isn't made by people like 4Kids and an out-of-touch Sonic Team like modern shows like Sonic X and current games like Sonic Next Gen and others that seem to lack that special something that Yuji Naka and other brought to the table in creating Sonic...heart.

Anonymous said...

The first episode of Satam entitled "Heads or Tails" featured Pink Sally from the first 20 issues of the campy Archie/Sonic comics back then would've make a fine regular character like that in Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog if her character was fitted for comic relief with her cuter softer side.