Rss

  • youtube
  • google

Archives for : Saturday Morning Fever

SMF: The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

The Adventures of sonic the hedgehog

Original Run: 1993 – 1996

1 season

65 episodes

Primary  production Company: DIC

Based On: The Sonic the Hedgehog Game Franchise

 

What is it?

Clearly seeing the success of Nintendo’s super Mario bros. Super show, Sega decides to get into the world of Saturday Morning cartoons. And seeing as they already have a mascot that’s sarcastic, perfect for slapstick, and whose surreal art style lend itself to low budget low risk animation, Sega orders up a whopping 65 episodes of sonic.

 

Opening Theme 

High energy….at times, maybe a bit too high energy….This thing is out of control. It changes every 3 seconds or so and none of it ever makes any sense….but i’ll be damned if i don’t remember it. The music is definitely based on the actual sonic the hedgehog theme song, but they sample in a lot of other weird songs every now and then to fill in the time slot. A weird choice but it’s still pretty catchy and fun to watch if you don’t mind the chaos. If you waking up to this show on a saturday, it’s sure gonna wake you up quick. The theme mostly consists of multiple attempts to catch sonic or stop him from making a logo. Yeah that fiend. What better way to start a show that trying to thwart….self promotion?

 

Art design

background aesthetics are…par…i guess? I mean this style of ambiguous surreal background was often used in super mario bros super show, but all kinds of shows lucky enough to be cast in fantasy environments used these as a cost saving measure. That said still, I can’t say they don’t push that a bit much at times as often the line between Surrealism and buildings made out of scribble can get uncomfortably thin.

 

Character design

Character design fairs quite a bit better.  Sonic and his various side characters, consisting mostly of character defining colors that pop out and are easy to identify helps make the transition to animation a good one. As a sonic show should also, the show looks best when it moves fast. And that’s not just because the backgrounds blur out when sonic runs, but the slapstick, action and pace of the show are at it’s best when it’s kinetic and moving from one thing to the next. Robotnik is really the only character complicated enough to need even small changes from the games, but the changes are small at that. When close up, Robotnik’s iconic mustache is more prominent and his overweight egg shape is definitely more clear and frequently used in the slapstick itself.  The same can be said for the designs of Scratch and Grounder. While this series definitely does not hide it’s looney tunes influences, rather than the typical cartoon stretch and contort that injured tons do, these characters both being robots means they can sustain substantial physical damage, bust into a pile of bolts, or contort into ridiculous shapes as they try and put each other back together.

 

Story

 

Sonic the hedgehog is a resident and sometimes planetary defender of the alien planet mobius. The evil Scientist Dr. Robotnik has hired bounty hunters from all over the galaxy to track Sonic down so he can finally achieve world domination. Also helping in his schemes is the botched results of a ultimate killing machine experiment, a robot chicken named scratch and a talking tank like swiss army mech named grounder.  Together, we follow Sonic and Tails adventures chasing bad guys, solving problems of the people, and maybe catching some one liners and chili dogs along the way.

 

Characters

On the character side however, things start to pick up quite a bit of momentum. Sonic is voiced for the first time by Family Matters’ Jaleel White and despite how gimmicky that sounds at first, it’s become for many the definitive/favorite version of talking sonic. He’s witty, full of himself, and one step shy of annoying asshole.  It helps his character a lot that he does show a legitimate interest in helping people, even if he is a bit more begrudgingly when helping is inconvenient for him.

 

Tales is typical kid sidekick fair all the way down to the whiny attitude and cringe worthy voice. It’s not as bad as most shows by along shot, but it’s the character archetype we’re working with.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with tails, but he’s a bit one dimensional. Not that sonic characters are known for their depth, but at times, rather than being the moral compass to Sonic’s rebellious attitude, he can come off a bit like a buzz kill.

 

Speaking of Cringe Worthy Voices….Oh my god….Scratch and Grounder…by far the two most divisive character in this show, this duo is nails on a chalkboard, loud in your face, and absurdly annoying….And I love them.  Despite the annoying voices being a step too far for some people, and i don’t blame you one bit, the chemistry they share is actually really good and  the writers have a lot more fun with them than most generic henchmen. They may be abrasive, but they are memorable, unique, and often get the best jokes and plotlines in the series.

 

Robotnik himself steers more towards typical sneering evil, but the comedic differences between his evil controlled mannerisms and his flabbergasted by sonic slapstick ones keep him entertaining. He carries himself almost exclusively on how badass he thinks he is. Every sentence out of his mouth is congratulating himself on being himself. It’s almost endearing how much toxic self confidence he has in himself. And it’s that same overabundance of self pride that makes it that much funnier when it all comes crashing down in a blaze of blue spiny glory.

 

The remainder of the characters talk in your typical wacky cartoony  borderline annoying fashion. Not to scratch and grounder levels, but traditional talent is not the words i’d use. To be honest though, if this style of over the top cartoon acting was a deal breaker for you, you might be in the wrong book.

 

Music and sound design

Music for the show is definitely a major positive, in particular, Character themes. Sonic already had one from the games, but the theme they gave Robotnik is a great earworm. Just serious enough to be intimidating, but goofy enough to fit the tone of the show. The show itself has good music overall, but like many of these shows, a lot of tracks are reused several times. It’s not something you’re going to notice unless you watch a lot, but if you’re already watching that many episodes, you likely don’t care.

 

anything else of note?:

Sonic the hedgehog is far from a groundbreaking show. In fact, when you look carefully, it borrows heavily from quite a few cartoons. Lucky for it, it borrows from some really good ones. Right off the bat, sonic being a super fast character, they realize that working of a coyote and Roadrunner aesthetic works really well for them, especially because Robotic is already an inventor.  on top of that, Sonic’s frequent use of Funny voice and random costume gags, although used in all sorts of shows, feels closest to that of Bugs Bunny. Even Sonics obsession with chilli dogs, while to their credit, ended up becoming a staple in the later game series, seemed like it was in direct response to the abundant pasta puns in the above mentioned mario Sat AM cartoon.

 

I’d also be remiss if i didn’t at least discuss the Sonic Says segments. While this was far from the only show to have these kind of closers, Sonic’s were famous/infamous for just how bizarre some of them got. Most of them were standard stuff like washing your hands, what to do in a fire, listen to your parents, but some got plain goofy like moss grows north, which isn’t true, you can always trust a sloth…..OK…..but also sometimes they were misleading. Thier don’t call 911 episode was incredibly misleading as it almost accidentally says not to call the police if you get mugged. On top of that, as i’m sure their heart was in the right place, their meme inducing  episode on sexual Stranger danger may not have been the right venue to discuss that topic.

 

The Good:

Great character design

Clever interpretation of source material

Interesting week to week plotlines

Great slapstick and character interactions

music and sound design

 

The Bad:

Set design and non character animation quality

Reused audio tracks

No consistent supporting cast

Scratch and Grounder will be too much for some viewers

Possibly lays on the Loony tunes homage a little thick

 

Final Verdict

The adventures of Sonic is a very mixed bag, but a show that I happen to enjoy. I’m not denying your result may very, but it’s a show that good and bad balances about 50/50. In many ways, it’s one of the very best in a format of cheap cartoons that are often very bad.  The lucky part for you is that although most people are content only watching one episode, most episodes are of the same approximate quality, so while the pilot is actually really good, feel free to jump around to whatever episode premise strikes your fancy. The best thing i can tell you is i’ve tried my best to point out any of the deal breakers to the best of my ability. If nothing bothers you from that, i’d recommend try at least one episode.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

worth a watch.

Guilty pleasure seal of approval*

 

*The Guilty pleasure seal of approval is an acknowledgement that the show in question borders on or is clearly in Guilty pleasure status. This differentiation is made not to dismiss the merits of a show, but rather to allow the rating system to work better with such a wide variety of genres.


TL DR: it’s a reminder that i rate shows on both quality and enjoyability. Interpret that as you may.

 

Top 12 IP that should be Saturday Morning Cartoons

Welcome to Saturday Morning Fever Everyone! For our first episode, I wanted to go over something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Properties that should have Saturday Morning cartoons, but don’t.   These properties span from movies, video games, and even comic books.  I narrowed it down to top 12 because there were just so many good ones to pick. Just a reminder, these are just my opinions and this is also a dream list. I’m perfectly aware that there is little no no chance of any of these actually happening. That being said, Let’s Count Down!

12.

The Matrix

a cartoon certain to make you say "Whoa!"

a cartoon certain to make you say “Whoa!”

This one should be a no brainier shouldn’t it? I mean, considering how big this movie was, I’m surprised it didn’t get one. Not only does the plot of a supernatural world and a real world fit like a glove, but we have a ragtag group of characters to follow as they take down Multiple Mr. smiths and beyond. Part of the implication of the Matrix is that the Matrix can literally be anything it wants to be, but we rarely see that potential. With an animated series, we can explore the ways the Matrix can change and show off multiple kinds of episodes. We could be superheroes in trench coats one week,  Swashbuckling Pirates the next week, and medieval Jousting Knights the next week.  On top of that, considering so many people were…umm…”Dissatisfied” with the ending of the Matrix Trilogy, Perhaps Matrix: the animated series could give us a an ending that would feel a lot more conclusive and less…well, stupid

11.

Jonah Hex

Showdown-main Jonah-hex-038

At the time of this writing, I’m currently writing my Man Who Watched Batman chapter for an episode called “Showdown”, which gives you a sneak peek of what a Jonah Hex animated show could actually  could look like.  After seeing that, I have to say i’m so disappointed this show never got a chance to exist. While there are some wild west saturday morning cartoons, not many take the traditional approach. I mean I love weird western fantasy as much as the next guy, but i’d like to have our representations of the wild west  go farther than Bravestarr and Cow-boys of Moo-Mesa.  Jonah HEx is a darker character than Batman and would definitely appeal to slightly older kids, similar to BTAS. that being said, it’d be interesting to see how Jonah Hex as a show would stand up as a slightly more adult version of the wild west compared to humanoid cows with magical sheriff badges.

 

10.

Birds of Prey

1953488-rio_birds_of_prey_final1 BirdsPrey1

Now while Birds of Prey was originally an extremely popular comic series made famous by (although not exclusively by) Gail Simone, it’s also the name of one of the most infamously hated superhero shows ever made…..a show which I own on DVD. while I don’t think the show is as bad as people say it is, the premise is fantastic. Following Barbara Gordon’s Oracle as she leads a team of all female super heroines including Black Canary, Huntress (the daughter of Batman and Catwoman), and a rotating cast of DC’s best Female heroes. Taking that format to it’s logical conclusion, it’d be an amazing way to show of fall of the amazing Female heroes and Villains at DC’s disposal. Sort  DC animated all female expendables.

9.

Rush Hour

MV5BMjAyMzAyNzY5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjU3MTc0MQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_

It Kills me that so many people forget how good this movie is.

A surprising number of saturday morning cartoons are already somewhat based on the buddy cop concept. On top of that, several shows will take properties and either add or expand upon supernatural elements. One of the more famous of these examples is the popular show: The Jackie Chan Adventures.

jackie_chan_adventures

Best Celebritoon ever made

Imagine that show…but with Chris Tucker. Not only do Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker have amazing chemistry that could make a great celebration, but take Chris’ Fish out of water element to the next level by adding some Big trouble in little china, Supernatural Chinese Folklore stuff. I’d totally watch that.

8.

Final Fantasy/kingdom hearts

final-fantasy-vii-ps1-logo-73910 kingdom-hearts-game-hd-wallpaper-1920x1200-10731-kingdom-hearts-3-was-voice-acting-finished-for-leonard-nimoy-as-xehanort-jpeg-284842

I put these two together because my reasoning for them is the same. Both of these are action packed, extremely popular series…..who sadly have let themselves become extremely convoluted and tangled. That’s not to say they’re not amazing, but in both cases, animation would allow them to show off their high action story-lines in a controlled environment for better execution. On top of that, A chapter like steady format could help organize their plot into pieces that are easier to digest and tell these stories in the best way possible.

7.

Uncharted/Tomb Raider

tomb-raider-wallpaper-collection-p092g0p24y Uncharted-2-wallpaper

Once again, different properties, same reasoning. While I would imagine a tomb raider show would be a bit more on the serious side, but Saturday Morning Cartoons are no strangers to the adventure genre. In both of these series, the main plots usually revolve around examining ancient myths of supernatural origin, only to find that the supernatural elements are less than mythical and are actually real. From a show standpoint, it works well for serialization. A new episode, a new ancient tomb  or temple, and a new monster of the week for them to explore.  On top of that, both of these series contain memorable and interesting protagonists, and in the case of Uncharted, they have an amazing ensemble cast they can draw from.

6.

Dr. Who

Dr_Who_(316350537)

I’ll admit up front, I’m  not the biggest Whovian in the world, but if i know one thing, it’s that this show has an amazing potential. Known for its insanely creative characters, travel all across time and  space, and a tone so uniquely it’s own, Dr. Who the series would give them an almost else-worlds approach to the show where they may get the chance to explore even more wacky and crazy plot lines that they would not be able to accomplish with the traditional story-line.

5.

Rainbow in the Dark

download

OK. so this one is going to take a bit of explanation. For those who’ve not heard of it, Rainbow in the dark is a Graphic Novel written by the ever increasingly popular artist/writer team, Comfort and Adam. the series explores an urban fairy tale which  looks at a world plagued with normalcy as an unsuspecting protagonist joins a rock and roll powered resistance as they fight for their freedom. It’s got monsters, fast cars, rainbow explosions, rock and Roll, and some of the best art and characters I’ve ever seen out of an independent comic. It’s like if someone put scott pilgrim, Madoka Magika, and pleasantville in a blender. While Rainbow in the dark starts by following the formula of traditional dystopian “creativity vs. control” narratives, but as the comic goes on, continues to critique, contradict, and even completely transcend the tropes of it’s genre. On top of its incredible characters and writing, Adam and Comfort bring a unique art style to the project that makes it really easy to imagine translation into animation. On top of that, the story told in the novel would not only work for a show arc in it of itself, but is framed in a way where stories could easily be seen taking place before, during, or after the comic’s events. Beyond that, considering that shows like Legend of Korra and Steven universe have definitely shown that the prominent and well handled LGBT themes of the source material  could be clearly represented without compromise.

photo-4

4.

Smash Bros.

download (2)

The fact that Captain N the Game master is the closest we’ve ever gotten to the Nintendo Crossover show we’ve always wanted haunts me to my being. The format could function as individual backdoor pilots of several different Nintendo characters in their element, but occasionally allowing for unexpected cameos and guest appearances of characters from other shows. Sometimes to help, but obviously they will need to fight each other for one reason or another. Seeming as how Nintendo has literally created several animated interpretations of Smash Bros. during the promotion for their newest entry, we have an almost one to one representation of what a smash bros. Show could look like. The only thing stopping them is Nintendo’s fear of licensing, but one can still dream can’t they?

3.

Overwatch

download (3)

  1.  While By far the newest property on this list, there is no doubt that the strength of Over Watch’s popularity is in their characters. While little to nothing is located in game, There is spin off materials telling their stories and backstories ranging from comics, biographical info, and yes, Animated short films. While we know their are far more to these characters than their literal origins, watching an ongoing show that travels between our hero’s multiple perspective through any one of the many war stories and conflicts that are referenced about these characters. These are characters defined not only by their actions themselves, but by their interactions with one another. While the relationship are complicated, there is a clear good side and evil side for a show to grab onto and follow an arc as they fight over whatever mcguffin or conflict is placed in front of them. Also keep in mind several of these characters change significantly from their original forms to who or how they appear in the show so we’d get a chance to see those transformations as well.

2.

Mad Max

mad_max_fury_road_wallpaper_1920x1080_by_sachso74-d8r49ti

Ok. so i know what your thinking. Your last 2 pics are from R rated franchises. In my defense, Robocop, the Toxic avenger, and mortal Kombat all got Saturday Morning cartoons. So there is a market for making kids version of these kinds of properties. While I would argue that Mad Max does have amazing story potential and its apocalyptic environment gives us great opportunities for new villains, new factions and any number of mad Max Like Drifters he finds along the way, but the show would also be awesome for fulfilling a cartoons other key role: selling toys to children….and adults who collect toys for kids. High action,  great characters to pull from, and lots of creative potential with the creation of vehicles and counterculture of the wasteland, I could easily see following Mad Max, Furiosa, and her crew of liberated ladies as they explore the Wasteland defending further survivors from other tyrannical rulers. What a cartoon. What a lovely Cartoons.

1.

Terminator

fullwidth.728bfded

If Robocop got a series, Why can’t  Terminator? The elements are all there. We have a recognizable cast of characters, John Connor is the designated kid character that keeps young ones interested, the Terminator himself is the cool design character that sells all the toys, and on top of that, the format is already built. John Connor, being the same age as Terminator 2, we play an alternate version of that movie’s plot, we follow Sarah, John, and the Terminator as Skynet continues to send terminator’s back to kill John Connor. As we saw hinted in Terminator 4, there was a large group of robots and cyborgs creatures in the future and considering that time travel is always on the table, there are all sorts of possibilities of how Skynet and our heroes can square off. Whether it be new kinds of Terminators being sent back, or Time travel becoming a standard element of the fight between John Connor and Skynet, this could expand the terminator universe in the way that we’ve been begging for since….well, Terminator 2. T2 is one of my favorite movies of all time and rather than go down the future creep ultra pretentious direction that Terminator headed down, rather than over-complicating the timeline, we can take the property into a realm where you can have all the fun with time travel you want without locking yourself down. You can have a weird terminator or a time travel adventure one week, and then use the power of time travel to reset for the next episode.  Nothing would make me happier than sitting down on a couch saturday morning, eating some cereal, and watching what could be my new favorite show….Terminator: the John Connor Chronicles.

Well, That’s my list Ladies and Gentlemen. What Properties do YOU think should have saturday morning cartoons? Let me know in the comments below and you could win a free digital copy of my book The Man who watched Batman Vol. 1

Until next time I hope you tune in next week for more Saturday Morning Fever.

 

New Weekly blog “Saturday Morning Fever” launches on Digital Nerdage

a few years ago, I started a youtube series called “Saturday Morning Fever” where we did Riff tracks of wierd Saturday Morning Cartoons shows. I’d invite on fellow friends, colleagues, and occasionally fellow podcasters to relish in these hilariously bad Shows.

 

 

however, It always bothered me slightly that i gave off the idea that all saturday Morning cartoons are bad and that’s far from the case.  because of that, I’ve spent a lot of thought figuring out how to portray and show off some of the best, worst, and wierdest shows that Saturday Morning Cartoons have to offer. for that reason, I’d like to announce our new editorial, Saturday Morning Fever.

 

Every Saturday at 10:00AM, Tune in to Digitalnerdage.com to check out a new review of a Saturday Morning Cartoon from the nostalgic Vault. I can’t promise all these shows will be good, But I can promise they’ll all be interesting. I am very excited to share some of these shows with you and I hope that You’ll Tune in this saturday.

 

Best,
Ken Johnson

Writer of The Man Who Watched Batman & Saturday Morning Fever