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Sonic Boom Round Table: “The Sidekick”/”Can an Evil Genius Crash on Your Couch for a Few Weeks?”

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Welcome to the first Sonic Retro Sonic Boom round table, in which Retro writers will share their thoughts on the Sonic Boom TV show premiere! This week we have the episodes “The Sidekick” and ”Can an Evil Genius Crash on Your Couch for a Few Weeks?”. What did we think of the premiere? Read on!

GeneHF

If you’ve been following on the boards or even on here, you’ll know I’m not particularly fond of Sonic Boom the games. However, the TV show caught my eye and I remained firm that it was going to be the one aspect of this sub-brand that will stand out. So after hunting around for a way to watch the show (no thanks in part to DishNetwork getting into a spat with Turner and losing Cartoon Network), I settled in with the denizens of #retro for this debut.

The first episode left a lot to be desired. Nothing very notable happened and nothing particularly funny. I can’t help but feel that this was a very safe episode since it was the pilot debuted many months ago. So, in full transparency, I’ll say I largely ignored it to watch the conclusion of Katsuyori Shibata versus Shinsuke Nakamura for the NJPW Intercontinental Championship. Excellent match.

But we aren’t here to talk PURO. The second half of Sonic Boom’s debut was a lot more enjoyable, mostly because of Dr. Eggman. If it wasn’t established before, it’s safe to say Mike Pollock is the definitive Eggman and you can tell the writers love working with him as goofy and charismatic but tyrannical villain. Sort of like the natural progression of Long John Baldry and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog’s Dr. Robotnik. In fact, he largely carried the show.

This isn’t to say the rest of the cast was awful. I liked their voice work on all fronts (Tails and Amy are probably the best they’ve ever been) but feel that the writing for the rest of the cast doesn’t quite have the same care as Eggman’s lines. Yes, it’s a Saturday Morning kids show, so I’m not expecting masterful humor and high brow jokes, but it’d be nice to see the others brought up to the same level. Maybe we’ll see this in future episodes? Amy as a therapist was pretty amusing, not so much her first episode depiction.

I doubt I can will myself to watch another episode live because 6 a.m. is a bit of a deathly hour to catch a children’s cartoon show (it’s basically a death slot for cartoons usually.) But given the huge social presence its debut has made (#sonicboom from 6 a.m. U.S. Central to 8 a.m. has been one of the top trends on Twitter in the U.S.), I can hope Cartoon Network execs and SEGA take notice and push for a much more favorable programming hour.

But if I had to give a full negative to the show, it’s that Crush 40’s Sonic Boom cover wasn’t used as the show’s theme. ONE. JOB.

TimmiT

So after the show’s announcement more than a year ago, we finally get to see if this Sonic Boom show is any good. While the games haven’t really looked that impressive, I thought that the TV show showed potential. So it’s good to see that it lives up to said potential, partially anyway.

In my opinion the pilot episode, “The Sidekick”, is the weaker of the two episodes that aired today. It does a decent job introducing Sonic, Tails and Eggman, who largely have the same personalities as in the games. On the other hand, Knuckles and Amy are only in the episode for a couple of scenes. But even in those small moments you can tell that they’re pretty different from how they usually are. Knuckles, while he still views himself as better than Sonic, seems to have lost about half of his IQ points and Amy no longer desperately tries to get Sonic to fall in love with him and instead seems to be a bit more wacky.

As for if the story was any good: there are a few moments that made me chuckle, but outside from that, it was largely forgettable. Most of the jokes didn’t really hit and everything just kinda rushes by. It feels like everything is supposed to be twice as long as it is, cause each act was just kind of over right after it began. If most of the show is going to be more like the episode that followed, then I’m probably going to have a hard time remembering this one. Well, aside from Fastidious Beaver, but only because his name is literally a description of the character.

Then there’s the better half of the half-hour: ”Can an Evil Genius Crash on Your Couch for a Few Weeks?”. The writing feels like a big step up from the pilot, and that’s mostly because of Eggman. A lot of the episode is him annoying Sonic and Tails while living in their house because his sinister island lair was supposedly destroyed in a storm, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him interact with the characters without trying to capture or destroy them. It gets rid of the two main problems I had with the first half, as the jokes are generally actually funny and it’s paced pretty well.

It also has the introduction of Sticks, who just kind of pops up. And surprisingly, I didn’t find her annoying at all. In every trailer she was in it seemed like she would be obnoxious, but in context she’s actually not bad. Amy also seemingly got a personality change from the first episode. She’s a lot more calm and tries to be the reasonable one in the group, which does cause a couple of funny moments to happen.

Production-wise, while it’s certainly not a bad looking show and the animation is for the decent for the most part, it does falter here and there. There are even a couple of times where speedlines are used for the background, which just looks lazy. The voice acting however is the best the Sonic series has ever had. The voice actors are mostly the same as in the past few games, but it sounds like they just did a better job here.

Overall, if the show continues to be as good as the second episode, I think that it will be a lot of fun to watch.

David The Lurker

I’ve been hot and cold ever since the Sonic Boom franchise as a whole was revealed. The character designs, the games, the fact Sticks isn’t Marine…at times I’m excited to see what is coming, other times fearing the worst. But one aspect that I’ve been feeling pretty good about this whole time? The television series. My brief obsession with fan films from earlier this decade has made me wonder how a fully licensed, post-Sonic X project would look on the small screen. As a child, I was obsessed with both of the 1993 animated series, so the idea of getting up super early again and seeing brand new Sonic grace across the television was super appealing.

Granted, I DVR’d it, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.

Now, the show wasn’t perfect. Like the fellows above me said, the first 11-minute episode wasn’t the best way to kick things off, with the “oh man Tails I’m sorry I put you in harms way” episode relying on the fact you know these two characters care about each other. Then again, I don’t know who would be watching Sonic at seven in the morning if you weren’t familiar with the basics of the franchise. Not that I’d want a proper origin – one thing I’ve always been a proponent of is that we never see how Sonic and Eggman become enemies – but the episode felt less like a pilot and more filler. The second episode? Much better, and showcased some amusing interactions between Eggman and the heroes of our tale.

I sound like a broken record here, but there’s no denying that Eggman steals the show. And why wouldn’t he? He’s an evil genius with the heart of a child, both parts menacing and flamboyant. The writers know they can do just about anything with the doctor, and it’ll work. Spending the night in Tails’ house while wearing a pink onesie? Engaging in dangerous pillow fights? Forcing our two-tailed friend to make him eggs benedict?! How can you not love that! And saying Orbot and Cubot don’t have souls because they’re robots? Dark humor that doesn’t feel out of place in this world.

I haven’t said much about Knuckles and Amy if only because they didn’t shine in these episodes. Knuckles did have the “Knuckles Jr.” bit, and Amy was shown to have more of a personality than “Sonic let’s get married!!,” but I’m looking forward to seeing them in the spotlight. Sticks…not so much. While not as annoying as I feared, I get the feeling a future episode focused on her won’t be my cup of tea. I’ll be happy if I’m wrong on that front, though.

Oh, one more thing. The opening. Even if you only get 15 seconds to present the show’s title, you still need to draw in viewers. Everything about it made me cringe, which is not the best way to open up a show. You need a catchy theme (if only there was a song named…) and visuals that make you want to stick around. Which is a shame, because clearly effort has been put into every other aspect of the show.

I’ll give this episode a BOOM out of ten. What does that mean? Stop looking at scores and just watch the darned thing.

Bartman3010

For whatever reason, when I heard Sonic Boom’s TV series would be animated by OuiDO! I initially thought of that old video-game-based-French-animated Donkey Kong Country cartoon with it’s awkward animation, wonky character models and songs that seem out of place.

Sonic Boom doesn’t do any of that. Thank god.

In fact compared to most video game based cartoons I did find myself legitimately entertained, but in terms of establishing myself to the series, I don’t really know why Sonic and his friends fight Eggman, considering hes able to get so close to them that they’re willing to let him stay while his base is being repaired or let him qualify as Sonic’s sidekick. Its best to keep in mind that its a comedy show, there’s no need to take it seriously. I’ll chime in myself saying that Eggman really stole the show, especially in the second episode with Mike Pollock fantastic delivery. I do feel the other players also put out a notable performance despite being overshadowed by who appears to be the antagonist of the series. Especially Roger Craig Smith as Sonic who struggled in the roommate episode to express his annoyances with Eggman while trying to fight his pessimism towards him. I do hope we get to see more of Knuckles and Amy, and hope that Sticks doesn’t appear to be annoying in future episodes.

The show does look quite good. I’m not expecting animation quality along the lines of Night of the Werehog, and there were a few times where character animation appeared stiff when switching between actions. The show still looks vibrant with nice looking environments and expressive characters. Though for characters who are designed with the idea of a lot of movement and large scale environments, there certainly was a lot of standing, sitting and talking. For a show with the idea of these characters going on adventures, it seems a little odd to me that the most notable episode is the one with the least amount of action. In fact, there’s so little action that Tails will even go to sleep with his goggles on.

I wish they didn’t choose to premiere with these episodes in terms of plot, when we start off with “The Sidekick,” this is the first time we get to see Tails, and Sonic is already looking to replace him and put him out of harms way as if they’ve never done anything like this before. Oh yeah, Tails has the Enerbeam thing too. Wait, you didn’t know that’s the name of that thing? Sonic and his other friends have one too? Who or what is Sticks? Two minutes in you’ll be confused as to how why and huh of whats going on, whether or not you’re invested in Sonic.

I’m not terribly invested in the series, but I don’t have much of a reason to continue watching except for the characters and their personalities. The writing does seem well fit for a comedy series, but in terms of action and adventure, we don’t quite get to see that yet. It does show promise of being a decent show for kids and I’m certainly not offended by the show, but it doesn’t seem to be as remarkable as it could be.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into a children’s TV show. There’s always that.

Scarred Sun
200

I’ll admit that as someone who remembers watching the first runs of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Saturday morning Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, I didn’t know if Sonic Boom would really appeal to me. However, the first two episodes thus far have stuck pretty closely to the writing style we’ve seen in games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World, albeit in the new Boomiverse. This time around, Sonic and pals feel like a more action-oriented AoStH—as Gene mentioned, Mike Pollock’s Dr. Eggman is a wonderful spiritual successor to Long John Baldry. Without giving too much of the plot of both episodes away, the slapstick comedy of having an Eggman pillow fight or shoving a would-be sidekick down a steep slope works well with the Sonic formula rather than relying on dialogue—the more “adult-oriented” jokes with Sticks’ paranoia and Amy’s “counseling” fell a little flat.

There are a few shortcuts taken in terms of CG animation, particularly in high-speed scenes, but as someone who’s not particularly into animation quality it’s not jarring. The indoor/outdoor shots of Sonic and Tails’ house and Eggman’s Floating Island, however, show promise (though I’m still wondering why that one couch is suspended from the ceiling.)

However, I’m not sure at this point if I’d continue watching. Although the show will likely resonate with the 5-12 demographic it’s aimed at, there’s not a lot to keep older fans watching. And that’s fine—grab a kid in your life who may not otherwise be into Sonic the Hedgehog and show them this. They’re likely to be up at 6 AM when the rest of us aren’t, anyway. Hopefully we’ll get a little more Eggman the Manchild for the rest of us.

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8 Comments

  • Reply

    I mean, we could’ve had this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ToBYIPDW04

    • Reply

      You know that this song you lead me to is stuck in my head now, right? 😮

  • Reply

    Oh my good gravy jesus, I can’t wait until you review the actual games.

  • Reply

    Saw the episodes alongside my 11-year old sister, we really enjoyed it, me because it’s originality that I thought it would lack. Seeing my sister laughing so hard at some jokes gave me a good feeling about this show. Seeing foward to be aired in Spanish… someday… (We both know English, but it would be cool to see it in Spanish to share with the others)

  • Reply

    Great reviews guys… also thumbs up to Gene for the New Japan match referral. I’ll be sure to check it out.

    As for the games… having seen the demo (as I’m sure you all have) Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to that part of this series.

  • Reply

    I thought the animation was really good, but I didn’t laugh once. I know they’re aiming for kids but there’s no excuse for the lazy writing.

  • Reply

    I found the first episode somewhat flat if only because it was lacking a little in writing, and the best parts had already been spoiled by the advertisements, so there really wasn’t much else left to see. The second one is much better and as has been stated repeatedly, Eggman basically steals the whole show, but that being said, all the characters are great. The show lets them to just settle in, relax, and be themselves, something the games rarely get to do. I daresay the show has largely captured the characters better than anything previous, games included.

    So in short, the show’s met expectations sufficiently, and promises to continue to do so. My biggest complaint is that the show needs to ditch the eleven-minute episode formula and just go all out and give the writing a chance to expand.

    • Reply

      My thoughts exactly! I’ve waited so long for something like this. I don’t have much of a problem with 11 minute episodes though. I practically grew up on them with shows like SpongeBob, the fairly oddparents, and insert cartoon network masterpiece here. But yeah, I agree with what you said.

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