Good Old Reviews
The Fastest Show Alive

Stew Shearer | 23 May 2015 08:00
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I can trace my childhood love of Sonic the Hedgehog back to a single moment.

I was sitting on the living room floor of my family's home near the Quebec/New York border watching Saturday morning cartoons eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. The previous show (I can't remember what it was) had just wrapped up and I was zoning out while I waited for the next one to begin. My idle thoughts were interrupted by the sudden echo of a sonic boom. My eyes shot back to the television where a blue figure emerged from a forest and sprinted across green plains to warn an idyllic city of a massive airship moving in to attack.

While all this was happening, the catchiest theme song I've ever heard was blasting from our television's speakers. "Blue streak speeds by," it began. "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!" The song went on, describing at length how awesome Sonic was, how much attitude he had, and proclaiming loud and proud that he was "the fastest thing alive!" Before the show started I'd been slouching back, lazily looking for more marshmallows in my nearly empty bowl of Lucky Charms. By the time the opening had ended, however, the bowl was on the floor and I was leaning in toward the TV as though it had just revealed the secrets of life. In the space of barely 60 seconds, I was hooked.

In the months following, I became a complete Sonic addict. I watched the show every week. I collected the comics. My parents bought me clothes and toys. I'm pretty sure there was even a Sonic-themed birthday party at one point. I wanted everything Sonic I could get my hands on, including, of course, the video games. I was a hardcore Nintendo fanboy up until the time I got a PlayStation 2. That said, I probably would have traded every Nintendo game I owned back then for a Sega Genesis and a copy of Sonic 2.

In other words, I responded to the show exactly as Sega had, undoubtedly, been hoping kids like myself would when they invested in it. After all, Sonic the Hedgehog was, for the most part, a twenty minute (sans commercials) advertisement for the games. Just like Transformers and countless other cartoons before it, the show existed to introduce kids to the characters and world of the game and make them look like something you'd want to play in.

What made Sonic the Hedeghog unique was how deeply it expanded on the bare bones story from the games. While the early Sonic games did have narrative, they weren't anything all that fleshed out. Robotnik creates an army of evil robots powered by imprisoned woodland creatures that Sonic has to free, and that was pretty much it. The TV show, however, took this limited foundation and crafted something far more complex and, at times, even epic. When the show began, Robotnik wasn't trying to take over the world, he already had. Sonic was cast as a member of an outnumbered and outmatched resistance movement fighting to remove the tyrant and halt his destruction of the world's environment.

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