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An Antoine Double Dip
The Saturday morning Sonic series was superior to the Adventures series in many ways, as the acting, writing, animation, and plots were much better, but sometimes even good shows can have bad episodes, and friends, may I introduce you to a bad episode of Sonic the Hedgehog. Why are these bad? Well, for starters, it focuses on Antoine, everyone's favorite character. I think either the writers and producers loved this character or they loved Rob Paulsen and his performance so much they kept sticking him into the forefront. It's lucky Paulsen is so entertaining and charming to listen to, otherwise I think most people would mute the TV every time that character is on screen. Another thing about this episode is that it's a two-for-the-price-of-one deal, two mini-episodes in a half-hour time frame. Let me tell you, the writers must have had an off-day when they wrote these, because they are nonsensical and removed from the rest of the series. They're supposed to be lighthearted and funny, however they're anything but. The first mini-sode is called "The Odd Couple", and it features Sonic and Antoine forced into being roommates. So, what happened? Did Sally kick Sonic out? No, what happened is one very snow day, Sonic and Antoine were trying to guide clumsy dragon Dulcy into landing, but because Antoine's language barrier is the size of the Eiffel Tower, and not because he doesn't understand English, but he can't even talk like he has a functioning brain, Sonic couldn't properly direct her. The miscommunication sends Dulcy into a crash landing, obliterating a hut. Luckily Sally, Bunny, and Tails were able to get out in time, and then the latter asks where they're going to sleep now. We then cut to Antoine being the OCD obsessive neat-freak that he... is apparently, cleaning every speck of dirt from his not-so-humble abode. This drags out for an uncomfortably long amount of time, proving that the writers had no plot for this episode whatsoever, and then, Sonic arrives, bags in hand, saying that he's going to crash with Antoine as nobody else had room. Okay, but what about Sally, Bunny, and Tails? Weren't they living in that hut too? I mean, did they all live together? I don't seem to remember that. Instantly, Antoine throws a fit about Sonic dragging snowy footprints into his home and putting his feet up on the sofa. Later, as he tries to lay down and sleep off a headache, he hears Sonic rummaging around in the kitchen to make some homemade chili dogs, and a huge mess in the process. Okay, Sonic, you're a guest in this guy's house, why don't you practice some good manners? He ends up eating all the chili dogs himself, but the worst hasn't even happened yet. Later that night, when Antoine was trying to sleep, Sonic was sleepwalking, or rather, sleeprunning. All through the house, making a huge mess. This was all Antoine could take as he suffered a complete nervous breakdown and started destroying his own property. Sonic recovered long enough to see Antoine's meltdown and quickly decided to pack up and leave, and when the others came out to see what on earth was happening, Sonic complains about Antoine and that he lives like a pig. Alright, for starters, that was your fault, you little jerk! You barged in on the guy, made a mess of his house, ate his food, and kept him up at night. Sonic was such a creep in this episode, and as for Antoine, even if you don't like him, you'll feel sorry for him here, as he was so uptight and wound as far as a guy could go that one little thing could knock him off kilter, and this was the result. It's unfortunate that despite all his wits, his speed, his charm, and his attitude, Sonic has a total lack of self-awareness. Oh well, I hope at least the folks at the funny farm are nice to Antoine.
That first story blew chips, so let's move on to our second, called "Ro-Becca", and guess what? It's even worse. It's some kind of weird Frankenstein parody, featuring Rotor, or Dr. Rotorstein, assembling a robot woman, no doubt for himself. I mean, if you can build a robot wife, why not go for it? His assistant is Antgore, or rather that incorrigible Antoine, apparently having been declared sane and released from the mental institution after what happened in the last episode. Well, only on screen a few seconds and already Monsieur l'idiot screws up, messing with the robot while the doctor went off in search of his lost screwdriver. This isn't so much Frankenstein as it is The Absent-Minded Professor... and his Empty-Headed Assistant. Anyway, following a large flash of lightning, the robot was brought to life. As far as her appearance, think Bride of Frankenstein crossed with a cat. The moment she comes to life, she develops a crush on Antoine. Wow, desperate, much? She chases him all over Knothole Village, and he was only able to elude her until he got struck by lightning. See, even God hates you, Ant. Now that Ro-Becca has found her beloved, she can nurse him back to health because all that running around in the rain made him catch a cold. She force feeds him some disgusting gruel, then gives him a torturous massage, and who knows what else she would have done had Rotor not saved the day by simply flipping her off switch. Next, he takes her back to the lab, makes a few adjustments, and the following scene plays out like this: Rotor tells the robot "repeat after me: you are my assistant." Ro-Becca says exactly that, and Rotor says, "no, no, no, I'm not your assistant, you're my assistant." She repeated back what you told her to say, stupid! Aren't these characters usually intelligent? I mean, except for Antoine, but so far everyone has been a complete idiot. The robot breaks free and goes after Antoine again. Boy, this one has even less plot than the first story. I've ragged on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episodes for having no plot, but even those had more of a plot than what's on display here! I think I may owe some apologies. Anyway, Antoine decides to just accept that this horny robot want him, so he goes on about how great he is, and even tries to imitate Schwarzenegger, but sounds more like Fat Albert, which manages to drive Ro-Becca away. Finally came to her senses. She runs into Sonic and momentarily falls for him, but he quickly rejects her, making her literally fall for Antoine again. This isn't funny!!
Granted, I haven't seen every episode of Saturday Sonic, but I can confidently assert that this is the worst episode of the series. Both these minisodes were horribly written, unfunny, had zero plot, and made no sense. Surprisingly, the animation and voice acting were good. At least the actors were still doing their best when the writers and director failed miserably. "The Odd Couple" could have been funny if they built on it a bit more. Make it the whole episode, have Sonic and Antoine co-exist and eventually learn to get along, not just ten minutes of Sonic being the houseguest from hell and Antoine blowing a head gasket. All that running around and yelling was fodder for entertaining a 2-year-old. "Ro-Becca" was even worse. Why was Rotor trying to build himself an assistant? I'm very sure Bunny or Tails or another resident of Knothole would suffice. Maybe this episode could have been re-focused and fleshed out too, like, say Ro-Becca was one of Robotnik's robots who tries to catch the freedom fighters, but somehow develops a conscience and eventually switches affiliations, thus turning on her master? See how I re-focused and developed these short stories in the time I took to write this review? Why couldn't Pat Allee and Len Janson do the same? Did they only have 5 minutes to come up with the script? In closing, if this was your first exposure to Saturday Sonic, I urge you to give it another chance. This was a horrible episode to start out on, the rest of the series isn't like this. I do not recommend The Odd Couple/Ro-Becca, they suck the big one. And where was Dr. Robotnik in all this? I wanted to see him burst in, kidnap Antoine, and roboticize him.
When the Invention Outsmarts the Inventor
Dr. Robotnik has always been an evil genius, and his IQ has been calculated to be a whopping 300. Though very childish, temperamental, and immature, he is definitely one smart cookie. However, there are times when his true level of intelligence may be up for debate. On the Adventures series for example, he seems incapable of building machines that can perform a task without causing some sort of disaster. Well, the time may have come for Botsy to up his IQ a few digits, for you see, he has invented a computer program that will increase his intelligence ten times over, so instead of 300, it will be... 3,000! Damn. He could harness all the power of the entire universe with that kind of smarts. By making himself more intelligent, he might actually win and defeat Sonic once and for all. However, this isn't the final episode, so we know he won't accomplish that goal, but let's see him attempt it and make a mess of things anyway. So before Robotnik's program can finish downloading, he sends Scratch and Grounder to rig up trap #875 in the Wile E. Coyote handbook. It requires one over-sized mousetrap, and a pull-string Tails doll. I'm not kidding, they actually created a stuffed Tails doll that begs for Sonic to save him in a monotone voice. This might have worked, if Sonic were profoundly stupid, but of course we all know he isn't. When he sees the trap, he bursts out laughing, as anybody would. Oh, but wait a minute, he discovers stuffed versions of Scratch and Grounder, then narrowly avoids being caught in the large bear trap hidden under the ground. Deciding that since he became just a sliver closer to capturing his adversary, he and Tails think Robotnik must have some new form of super computer to concoct such an ingenious trap. To find out, Tails suggests they go and visit a local computer hacker, simply named Hacker who, right at that moment, was trying into hack to Robotnik's network. But what's that I hear? Sound effects from the Sonic the Hedgehog games?? So, DiC did have the rights to use them after all? Then why didn't they do it until now? That's very strange. Anyway, as Robotnik was gloating about his new smarts and berating his stupid robots for failing to capture Sonic- hey, since you have a super genius program at your disposal, why not make Scratch and Grounder smarter (guess he wants it all for himself) -he failed to realize that Hacker successfully lived up to his name and stole said program via his own special virus, downloaded it onto his own microchip, and wiped it from Robotnik's computer. Looks like someone didn't update his anti-virus software. He sends the two idiots to track down the perpetrator, and they successfully locate Hacker's not-very-well-hidden lab, laying waste to it, though as usual, Sonic was able to give the robots quite a workout. In the process, Grounder literally went to pieces, and in the process of self-reassembly, he accidentally places the super-genius chip into his head and suddenly becomes brilliant, even changing facial features, donning a robe and graduation cap and speaking in a haughty accent, so you know he's a genius. So, if the program increases your IQ ten times over, then Grounder's already 0 IQ would be raised to 10... not much of a genius. When Robotnik showed up to berate them again, Grounder showed off his super smarts by telling their master of a stratagem he came up with. Botsy likes the idea and appoints Scratch to be Grounder's new lackey.
Sonic, Tails, and Hacker are dismayed to find the genius chip gone, knowing Robotnik has it and will soon be the smartest being alive. Hacker suggests they track it down and replace with a "stupid" chip he just happened to have. Why bother with that? Just destroy the genius chip, then Botsy will have nothing. True, but it will be much funnier to seem him turn stupid...er. So, Sonic goes to infiltrate Robotnik's fortress where, get ready for this: he is outsmarted by Grounder. Yeah, the hedgehog tries his usual masquerade tricks, but the little green driller saw right through it and activated a ray that turns Sonic to stone. By my count, this is the third time in the series Sonic got stoned, er, I mean, turned to stone. So impressed was Robotnik by his own robot's superior intellect that he promotes him to Vice Tyrant, however Grounder insisted on being made a partner instead. Botsy not only vehemently rejects the proposal, but he attempts to shut Grounder down, and notice the animators goofed by making him press the on button instead of off. Grounder was one step ahead of him, having boobytrapped his off switch. He then reveals that he has the genius chip, then orders Scratch to imprison Robotnik in his own dungeon, even putting the petrified Sonic in there to keep him company. Oh man, with a genius Grounder at the controls, the bad guys might actually win in this episode. I mean, Sonic is turned to stone, Grounder is the smartest being... not alive, but activated, how can a stalwart Tails and his awkward hacker friend save the day? With some electromagnetic suction cups on his computer, Hacker grabs hold of the petrification gun Scratch absent-mindedly left by the door, and reversing its effects, manage to free Sonic from his stone imprisonment. They all book it, leaving Robotnik barricaded in the dungeon and go to try and take away Grounder's smarts, however the plucky robot was one step ahead of them, saying he anticipated their escape. Really? Then why didn't you try to stop it? Guess his ego is even bigger than his brain. Therefore, he introduces them to his latest invention: a lightning rod that creates lightning, which he uses to try and zap our heroes to dust. Meanwhile, Robotnik manages to escape because his cape caught in the door. Lucky he decided to randomly wear one in this episode, and as for Scratch, his goofy, clumsy hide trips and falls on Grounder, knocking his head off just moments after he said he thought of everything. Yeah, everything but properly re-attaching his head. Oh well, even evil genius robots aren't perfect. Robotnik picks up Grounder's head and removes the genius chip, but with Sonic pulling the old switcheroo, Robotnik ends up using the stupid chip. Hacker said this would only make him half as smart, so if his IQ is 300, it should only shrink down to 150, so he'd still be a genius. However, maybe he was just exaggerating, because now Botsy has been reduced to a bumbling idiot, so really, everything was back to normal. Our Sonic Says is on how to get smart without the aid of a super genius chip: go to school, do your homework, use your brain, and educate yourself. A very good lesson.
Grounder the Genius is actually a pretty good episode. There are a few silly moments and it contains the usual nonsense that the show is known for, but I think it pulls off the concept of Grounder becoming a genius quite nicely. Him becoming highly educated and Scratch being his lackey reminded me of Laurel and Hardy's feature film, A Chump at Oxford, in which Stan reverts back to his apparent highly-intelligent former self by way of hitting his head on a falling window, and Ollie becomes his lackey. His former friend finds himself being mistreated as much as Scratch, though at least Ollie wasn't transformed into a jackhammer and forced to dig himself into the ground. Like I said, the usual nonsense. The Hacker character was pretty interesting, and unfortunately Sonic and Tails never call upon him again, because if he can hack into Robotnik's computers that easily, you'd think he could find a way to bring him down for good. Now, I know I've been saying that Robotnik has an IQ of 300, which has been officially stated by Sega, and some versions of the character are worthy of that bit of trivia, but the Adventures series really depicts him as a bumbling idiot. I guess in a world like this, the bad guys have to be dumb or the hero would be defeated permanently. So in closing, if you want to see what would happen if one of Robotnik's henchbots was actually intelligent and came very close to defeating Sonic, then I recommend Grounder the Genius.
I believe it's a requirement for every show in history to have at least one episode where a character develops amnesia. It's an interesting experiment, taking an established character, having them temporarily lose their minds, then interacting with people who they are familiar with but have no idea who they are. Well, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog needed an amnesia episode, and guess who they chose to have their mind warped? Scratch. Yep, the bird-brained chicken robot gets his own episode. Not sure why, but then Coconuts and Grounder got their own episodes (Big Daddy and Grounder the Genius, respectively) so I guess it was Scratch's turn. Watch as he thinks he's a superhero who tries to foil Dr. Robotnik's plans, but only fumbles things up in the end. So really, the only thing that changed was his loyalty, as his alter ego was just as dumb as the normal one. Our story begins with Scratch and Grounder watching their hero, Edgar Eagle, save the day on TV. I guess even evil robot henchmen have their heroes too. Deciding that he wants to be fast enough to catch Sonic and make Robotnik proud of him, Scratch sends away for an official Edgar Eagle build-it-yourself helicopter for only a thousand Mobiums, with a free official Edgar Eagle helmet and scarf included. Not sure why he needs to do this when Robotnik surely has enough armed hover crafts to accomplish this feat. Anyway, by sheer luck, he manages to assemble the copter, then after donning his scarf and helmet, takes off... right through the wall, and flies off to hunt himself a hedgehog. When Sonic recognizes the chicken in the eagle copter, he tricks him through a series of disguises, causing him to crashland. He's discovered by girl named Ellie who rides a motorcycle, and when asked his name, Scratch claims to be none other than Edgar Eagle. Oh no. Meanwhile, Sonic and Tails head to Farmer Peck's place, where he and the missus are in quite the dilemma. You see, Dr. Robotnik was planning to build Mobius' largest robot plant in this area, and he offered the turkeys 2 Mobiums for their land. He always was a cheapskate. They rightfully turned him down, but it seems as though Robotnik will go through with his plans anyway. Why did he even bother offering them money if he was going to do it regardless? Just to be a bigger jerk? He watches on the telescreen as Sonic races to stop one of Robotnik's overgrown lawn mowers, but the hedgehog receives quite a shock when he discovers these machines have security systems in place, all controlled via Robotnik's special remote control. After nearly being blown into blue dust, Sonic realizes he'll have to apply a different strategy. That's when Ellie rides up with "Edgar", and it would seem they didn't proofread the script beforehand, or maybe Kent Butterworth forgot the character's names, because the turkey daughter is at one point called Henrietta, and then Ellie. Oh well, at least none of them are named Tom. Scratch quickly jumps into action and rides Ellie's bike toward the large machine plant, intending to shut it down. Sonic stops him before he can blow up the whole place, even saving the dim-wit's life, although he really should have just let him die. While that was going on, Robotnik was trying to squeeze himself into his old military uniform to cut the ribbon at his new factory, but since he'd put on about 800 pounds since his days in the service, where I'm sure he no doubt spent all his time shining boots and peeling potatoes, buttons go flying as his tremendous gut breaks through the seams. Yes, it was vital that we saw that. Thank you, producers.
There may be hope for the hedgehog and the turkeys yet, as Sonic and Tails manage to get Scratch to remember Robotnik, his fortress, how to get in, and even about the remote control that can activate and deactivate the machines. He can remember all that, just not his name and that he's evil. I've been wondering, can robots get amnesia? I think sometimes they forget Scratch is a robot. That flirtatious Ellie sure doesn't seem to notice that this so-called Edgar Eagle is a robot chicken. Now that they've got their information, it was time to head to Robotnik's fortress and procure that remote control. Ellie insists on tagging along and asks Tails if he'd mind staying behind to protect her folks. No, please, one annoying bird character is enough. Tails has to stay behind again? Lame! Why are they taking the dumb turkey girl along? To be a hostage, of course, why else? Sonic and Scratch should have gone alone. Anyway, Robotnik knows they're coming, so he sets up a trap in the form of a chili dog vending machine. The dumb girl falls for it instantly, and before they knew it, all three were launched into the air via a rocket hidden underneath the machine. That thing takes them off-world into space, how will they ever get down? Sonic just grabs Ellie and Scratch and jumps, of course, when all three of them would be dead in real life. Too bad this isn't real life. As for the machine, it falls back to earth and crushes Grounder. Nice trap, Robotnik. Now back on terra firma, how are our heroes going to infiltrate the fortress? Scratch recalled Robotnik keeping the key under the "unwelcome" mat, but forget that, Sonic just rings the doorbell, disguised as a doctor, and of course, Robotnik doesn't recognize him because he's an idiot. He bounds the doctor up like a mummy and asks Scratch where to find the remote, and the chicken recalls it being in the pocket of Robotnik's lab coat. You know, the one he never wears. Just when it seems like our heroes have saved the day, Grounder captures Ellie-told ya! Robotnik demands they hand over the remote lest the turkey be roasted, but Scratch leaps at his former master, causing him to be thrown into a wall. Seems to me that Edgar Eagle helmet is bogus, as Scratch has now suffered two head injuries that warped his tiny brain. Luckily it was free or else he should demand a refund. Anyway, the chicken is back to being evil, but it makes no difference, Sonic reverses the machines' controls and then smashes the remote. They book it before the fortress is leveled to the ground. So now, all was well, the turkeys can keep their farm, but poor Ellie is heartbroken about her crush turning out to be an inept, evil robot chicken. But never fear, ol' Sonic has connections, and managed to get the real Edgar Eagle, or rather the actor who plays him on TV, to pay her a visit. Sonic remarks that maybe someday he'll get his own TV show, and call it Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Eh, just call it Sonic the Hedgehog and air it on Saturday mornings. Our Sonic Says is about wearing your seatbelt. Not just a good idea, it's also the law.
So that was Blank-Headed Eagle, and it isn't bad, nor is it very good. It's what you'd come to expect from this series. Some jokes are pretty funny, but the story and plot make little to no sense. They didn't do much with Scratch thinking he's a superhero and being on Sonic's side. They could have put any character in there and it would have the same impact. I guess orders came down: give one character amnesia, and this was the result. There must have been some rewrites going on behind the scenes... ha, as if the scripts for this show ever moved past a first draft, which would account for the girl's name change, and the story and plot feel more disjointed than usual. I know it's silly to criticize this particular show for it's story and plot, but come on, we need more substance than just characters who run and yell. Do I recommend Blank-Headed Eagle? Sure, check it out. You'll enjoy it, so long as you don't find Scratch's voice annoying, as the main plot is focused on him, but at least he doesn't do that grating laugh as much.
The Young and the Speedless
I think a lot of us wish we could go back to our childhoods and do life all over again, maybe go back to our twenties, or teens, or maybe even pre-teens, or heck, if we really wanted a complete do-over, we'd go right back to being infants. For us in the real world, such things can only be dreamed about, but in the wacky world of Sonic the Hedgehog, it could be possible to either reverse or advance the aging process at the press of a button. Hey, what if Dr. Robotnik invented such a gizmo to finally stop Sonic? He might just do that in this week's episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, which happens to be among my favorite episodes of the series. It all started when Robotnik viewed a videotape of yet another of Scratch and Grounder's screw-ups in trying to capture Sonic. The evil scientist laments that with these robots always mucking up, it will take him years and years, him being a feeble old man by the time he finally captures his enemy. Hey, here's an idea, Robotnik: recycle those two idiots and build smart robots. But instead of doing something logical like that, he invents a horn-shaped decripitizer ray. It will rapidly advance the age of any living thing that crosses its path. With this new weapon at his disposal, Robotnik will age Sonic to a geriatric old slow-mo and do him in. Kind of reminds me of that Ninja Turtles episode where Shredder travels to a point in the future where the turtles were old and elderly and were pretty easy to defeat, that is until their younger counterparts came to lend them a hand. Well, I can't see how Robotnik could fail, but I'm sure he'll find a way. Meanwhile, Sonic introduces Tails to the latest in food preparation: freeze dried meals, just add water. A pile of dust can turn into a chili dog instantly. They go to the factory where it's prepared, and if you're like me, you spotted the large Robotnik billboard near the factory, which is never a good sign. Deciding to speed up the automated assembly line of freeze dried meals, Sonic cranks up the conveyor belt so he and Tails can reenact a famous episode of I Love Lucy, but much showier. Because Tails is such a little glutton, he loads up on dehydrated chili dogs so much that when he gets a drink of water, he blows up into a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon. As if that weren't bad enough, the Goon Squad show up to try and skyrocket Sonic to old age, but when dummy Grounder presses the wrong button, he zaps both Tails and Sonic into babies! Baby Tails only knows one line: "Goo goo poo poo", but Sonic can speak full sentences, and he's even potty trained. Guess his development skills are as fast as his running. Before the robots can get another shot, babies Sonic and Tails end up destroying the decripitizer ray and cause it, along with Scratch and Grounder to be put through the freeze-dry cycle, and I love how they already had labels with their pictures on them to go on the vials. Robotnik comes in to chide his robots for screwing up, though wouldn't Sonic be just as easy to catch as a baby than as an old man? This never occurs to him, as he orders his henchmen to fire the decripitizer, even though it's been completely destroyed and improperly reassembled. I think you can all guess what's going to happen: Dr. Robotnik himself gets turned into a baby. D'oh!
With their pint-sized adversary on their heels, baby Sonic and Tails race from the factory, and then all three stop outside an ice cream shop and start bawling. That's when kindly old Miss. Saccharine shows up and takes the three of them to her day care center, where Robotnik tries to prove he can be just as diabolical in diapers as he was in his older years. First, he plants an explosive under the seesaw, but falls victim to the explosion when he's forcibly placed upon it. Next, he rigs up a trap on the merry-go-round, using jellybeans to lure Sonic and Tails, but they're taken away by Miss. Saccharine, and Robotnik's short-term baby memory and large stomach makes him get caught in his own trap again. His third attempt involved tying one end of a very long rope to a car bumper, running it through the entire house and using the other end to trick Sonic into playing cat's cradle. The baby blue hedgehog outsmarts him yet again, and yet again, Robotnik suffers at his own hands. Jeez, if he was this inept as a toddler, I'm surprised he even made it to adulthood. Fortunately, Scratch and Grounder find their junior boss and successfully manage to bring him back to his normal age, courtesy of the somehow fixed decripitizer. Quickly, they go back to the day care center where Robotnik poses as Sonic and Tails' guardian, and once he has them in his grasp, orders the robots to age them up. The attempt is foiled by Miss Saccharine, causing not only Sonic and Tails to return to their rightful ages, but also blasts Robotnik into an old man, complete with a patch in his beard. Our Sonic Says is about playing in a clothes dryer, and I know that when the Nostalgia Critic reviewed this series, he balked at that concept, but the truth is, little kids playing in dryers is a very serious problem. That's why when movies showing kids playing in dryers air on TV, they always edit those parts out. It's a good lesson.
So that was "Musta Been a Beautiful Baby", one of my favorite episodes. I remember hearing about it through a friend of mine, and the concept of Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik being turned into babies was something I really wanted to see. It eventually did air on TV, and it did not disappoint. There isn't much story or plot, but the jokes are pretty funny and it's a cute concept. If you can stand to hear Sonic and Robotnik babbling in baby talk for fifteen minutes, then it's for you. I wonder why Baby Tails had such a limited vocabulary, because when he previously saw him as a baby in the flashback scene of "Tails' New Home", he spoke normally. Also, those familiar with the series will note that Baby Robotnik in this episode looked nothing like he did in the flashback scene in "Momma Robotnik's Birthday", and for good reason, as in that one, he looked like a deformed humanoid blob... but then, doesn't he already? Man, I really watch this show too much. "Musta Been a Beautiful Baby" was written by Gordon Bressack, who also wrote "Sonically Ever After", one of the series' worst episodes, and I guess he liked the character of Miss Saccharine so much, he brought her back in that one. Not much else I can say, except I definitely recommend this episode. It's very funny, very entertaining, and if you're like me, you like seeing what your favorite characters look like as babies. A lot of shows played with this concept back in the day, like Super Mario Bros when Princess fell into the fountain of youth, Real Ghostbusters when Egon got transported back to his formative years, Super Mario 3 where Mario, Luigi, Toad, Bowser and Ludwig were turned into babies, then there's Dexter's Laboratory, Ninja Turtles, Men in Black, Futurama, The Mask, I am Weasel, Biker Mice from Mars, and The Smurfs to name a few. It's an age-old plot trope, but it always works.
Race to the Finish
Now you might be thinking to yourself, what does Sonic the Hedgehog need with a car? He's faster than anything on wheels. Well, there was one time when he had to enter the Mobius 5000 in order to raise money for a local orphanage. It's an older-than-dirt plotline, but as usual, we're very thin on story and they needed 65 of these to fill a season, so we have to make do with what we got. Those of you who love NASCAR will probably like this episode, as it's about car racing, and fans of Sonic 2 will recognize some familiar level names, but more on that later. Our story, if you want to call it that, opens on Tails hustling pool for chili dogs, instead of money. I'll cut to the chase and say Sonic somehow managed to shrink himself down to a blue billiard ball and helps Tails win the shot. That is cheating, however the hippo being hustled was going to use a magnetic ball, so I guess that makes it... okay? By the way, watch for Mike Wazowski in the crowd. As Sonic and Tails enjoy their dogs, Mama Porcupine approached him and says that Dr. Robotnik threatened to close down the orphanage unless he's paid 10,000 Mobiums. So, wait, does Robotnik own the orphanage? They never really established that, and if he does, I have two questions: Number 1: why? What could he possibly use with an orphanage? Unless he was planning to make the kids his robot slaves. Evil. Number 2, even if Botsy gets the dough, what makes them think he won't shut it down anyway? He is Robotnik after all. I know it's yet another "save the orphanage" plot, and there can't be any other villains on this show besides Dr. R, so there we go. Oh, but where oh where will Sonic get 10,000 big ones to pay the big guy? The Mobius 5000, of course, and the grand prize is... wait for it... ten thousand Mobiums. Sonic then seeks out Professor Canine Stein to help assemble them a very fast race car. In Sonic's case, they'd just need a Flintstones car, he could peddle it with his feet to the finish line before they say "go." The professor has all the parts, and we get to watch Sonic assemble it, because it's show, after all, he has to do everything. Now you might be wondering just what does Robotnik have up his extra large sleeves this week. Turns out, this was all part of his diabolical plan to finally destroy Sonic, for you see, he wanted the hedgehog to enter the race, so his evil racebots could destroy him. That's right: Robotnik orchestrated the entire thing: threaten to close the orphanage to ensure Sonic would enter for the prize money, then send his robots to destroy him. Sounds like a lot of effort for nothing, Botsy. How about just plant a bomb in Sonic's car so it blows up when he starts it? I just watched "Mass Transit Trouble" and in that one, he was more competent. Can we get that Robotnik back? So, Robotnik's racebots sabotage the others cars at the starting line and for some reason are not disqualified. Jeez, save it for the race, you impatient buckets of bolts, and if they're going to destroy other cars at the finish line, why not just move on Sonic now? This episode is pretty stupid.
After a failed attempt to stop Sonic by way of destroying his tires, our heroes manage to patch it up, using Scratch and Grounder as a jack (Lol), and finally begin the race. The first racebot to pass is Scorpion, who suddenly becomes clueless when Sonic is on his tail, so Robotnik orders him to initiate "Plan A", by way of dumping tacks onto the road, but luckily Sonic's car is also the Gadgetmobile and he manages to pick them up via a giant magnet and sends them back, causing Scorpion to get stung. With a "get over here!" he lashes his tail at them, only it gets caught in power lines, shorting him out. Next bot was Scraper, ordered to execute Order 66... er, I mean, Plan B. As the racers proceed through Ice Cap Zone, I'll call it, he creates an avalanche trapping Sonic, Tails, and the Professor. Uh oh, it looks like they're stuck. I mean, really? That car had more anti-trap gadgets than the Gadgetmobile and the Batmobile combined, and yet blocks of ice are its weakness? Well, as luck would have it, Scratch and Grounder were nearby, despite being robots they were shivering in the cold, and were upset to hear that the racebots succeeded in stopping Sonic and would be rewarded. Fearing being replaced, the dumb-bots decide it would be in their best interest to free Sonic, and then stop him later. Really? This was the best deus ex machina you could come up with? I love how in a lot of instances on this show, the writer can't think of a way to get Sonic out of his death trap, so he has to make the evil robots profoundly stupid to help him. Imagine if they did that on the 1960s Batman series, where instead of Batman and Robin freeing themselves from a death trap, Penguin, Joker, or Riddler's henchmen do something stupid and free them that way. Back in the race, they make short work of Scraper by tricking him into driving off a cliff. Next, the race proceeds into Chemical Plant Zone, based off the second level from Sonic 2. Scratch and Grounder resurface to try and sabotage the hedgehog at a pit stop, but of course, fail as always. After that, robot racer Speedo challenges Sonic to a drag race... but you're already racing! Through sheer contrivance, they cut Speedo down to size, so it's all on Ex-Moto now. The racers leave Chemical Plant Zone and now enter Casino Night Zone. What about Aquatic Ruin? But uh oh, there's traffic. Guess nobody told them there was a race going on. Luckily Sonic takes a shortcut via a Special Zone. Nice to see the makers of this episode were fans of Sonic 2, though it's a shame they couldn't use the familiar sound effects. They emerge near the finish line, and after they finish Ex-Moto, Robotnik goes to enact Plan C, whereby he creates a giant wall that blocks the finish line. Er, they could just drive around it. As Robotnik stood there gloating, he failed to notice the porcupine orphans on the other side of the wall, as they successfully push it down crushing him to death, allowing Sonic to race to victory. I guess this is a happy ending, I'm not sure. Our Sonic Says is about car safety, wearing your seat belt and not distracting the driver. Good lessons.
In closing, Mobius 5000 is an acquired taste. The plot is dull, the story is nonexistent, and the characters are not interesting, but fans of the video games will like the references. Very rarely do locations from the Sonic games actually make it into the cartoons. So was the moral of our story that cheaters never prosper? If so, it's hard to take that seriously when Sonic and Tails were clearly cheating at pool early on. I also don't feel like the shallow plot was resolved, because even though Sonic won the race and has the 10,000 Mobiums, what's to stop Robotnik from shutting down the orphanage anyway? This episode was written by Jeffrey Scott, whom I've praised in the past for his work on many Saturday morning cartoons of the '80s and '90s, and while most episodes he writes are pretty good, this one was something of a dud. But when your quota is 65 episodes, and despite this being a nonsensical, anything-goes type of series, it must still be taxing to come up with so many shows for it, and they can't all be good. But anyway, do I recommend Mobius 5000? Sure, it's not terrible. It's not as bad as "Tails New Home", "Sonically Ever After", or "Trail of Missing Tails."
Since I've talked so much about the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episodes that considered pretty bad, I think the time has come to talk about another one that's pretty good. In fact, I think Mass Transit Trouble is among the best of the series. It has a good story, good plot, and it has some genuine suspense. Sonic and his super speed are put to the ultimate test when Dr. Robotnik unveils his most diabolical plan to date. This was the big one. He's not messing around this time. Ordinarily Robotnik's schemes are pretty hackneyed and far-fetched, but this time, he pulls out the big guns, or in this case, bombs. That's right, Botsy threatens to destroy some major transportation companies around Mobius, bringing everything to a standstill. Very fiendish idea, he must be having an off day. Will Sonic be able to save the day like he always does? Let's find out, shall we? Our story begins on a dark and stormy night out at sea, where a ship is about to run smack bang into icebergs, but luckily, the captain brought along a secret weapon: Sonic and Tails. The icebergs won't be a problem for them, but what does become a problem is that Lighthouse One suddenly goes dark, and without that lighthouse, all the ships at sea would be doomed. Our heroes go to investigate and find that Coconuts has taken over the controls, bounding up the lighthouse keeper, Angus McKilt-Bagpipe-Scottish-Stereotype. As expected, Sonic bounds up the robot monkey and frees the hostage just as an SOS comes over the shortwave, calling for help all the way from Mobius Intercontinental Airport located a convenient 100 miles away. Our heroes book it, just as Coconuts frees himself and knocks out Angus, preparing to plant a bomb as per Robotnik's instructions. Over at the airport, Sonic is informed that the control tower was sabotaged preventing planes from landing, including a jumbo jet that was falling apart at the seams, but an instant hedgehog whirlwind helped that puppy to land. Inside the control tower, Sonic found Scratch tampering with the machines, but before he can stop him, he gets yet another call, begging for help at Infinite Points Railroad Junction, allowing Scratch to make a clean getaway, but not before secretly planting a bomb. Now, I find it strange that Sonic is out of breath and exhausted when going about this task, when in previous episodes, he dashes to and fro without breaking a sweat. To him, running a thousand miles is a brisk jog, yet for some reason, all this running around at sea and at the airport is taxing. No matter, they have to go to see who's been working on the railroad. Bet you can guess who, right? They meet Cecil Turtle, who informs them of an impending train collision caused by a robot sabotaging the switching house. "Sounds familiar," said Tails, who sounds more bored and annoyed than he does concerned. Sorry if this impending tragedy is boring to you, kid. Anyway, Sonic sets to work physically rebuilding sets of tracks to allow all the trains to narrowly avoid crashing into each other. I also like how the turtle pays him no mind while performing this heroic act, but then in this guy's case, if someone stole his wallet, it would take him two weeks to notice. Anyway, Grounder managed to sneak away from the switching house after surreptitiously planting a bomb. With everything in place, Dr. Robotnik broadcasts his scheme to all of Mobius, stating that within five minutes, the time bombs he planted at the lighthouse, airport, and train junction would detonate.
After Robotnik spells out his entire plan, the first order of business was to locate the bomb at the train station. When they find it glued to a board, dummy Tails thinks it's a good idea to hit it with a mallet. Luckily he missed and smashed Sonic's foot instead, but really, how stupid does one have to be to hit an explosive with a blunt object? Sonic manages to pry it loose due to the heat caused by the friction of his shoes when he runs and skids to a hard stop. With one bomb in his possession, Sonic makes a beeline for the airport. Now you might be thinking to yourselves, wow, Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts are more competent in this episode than the rest of the series. They did as instructed with no screw-ups. Well, let's rectify that and have them try and place a trap for Sonic that involves a trip wire and a hidden bomb. You should've quit while you were ahead, dunce-bots, or in this case, three disembodied heads. The trap blew chips. Back at the airport, Sonic borrows a metal detector from the flirtatious flight attendant to help locate the explosive. The clock was ticking, and so were the bombs. With time being of the essence, Sonic bore through the planet all the way back to Lighthouse One, just as the ship from earlier broke away from the anchor and was sailing right toward the icebergs! Uh oh, looks like this is it. The ship is going to hit the fan now. With only a few seconds to spare, Sonic finds the bomb in the lighthouse and tosses the bag with all three explosives at the icebergs, destroying them. Robotnik had been foiled and the day was saved. Our Sonic Says is about bicycle safety, though I'm surprised Sonic neglected to tell us to wear a helmet, as such laws were put into practice around this time, and we all know what a stickler that hedgehog is in following the law.
So that was Mass Transit Trouble, and it's really good. Like I said, among the series' best. The animation is more decent this time around, there's plenty of suspense, and it has some pretty funny jokes, like the "movie bomb" thing. It's also interesting to note that Robotnik only appears on TV screens in this one, he's never seen in full body. Makes him all the more threatening and mysterious, and he certainly was much more competent and sinister this time around. Now, the subject matter of bombs being planted in transportation companies is why this episode was pulled from syndication following the 9/11 attacks, which is understandable, but I hope it has since returned as it deserves to be seen. Despite Mobius being a planet, I assume it isn't a very big one as it manages to have only one of each transportation outlet, such as airport, train junction, and lighthouse, which I guess made the whole thing easier on Sonic. If Mobius were as big as Jupiter, he would've failed after the first bomb. And again, I find it odd he gets so winded and tired out after running a few miles, but I guess they did that here so he wouldn't seem quite so invincible, which allows for suspense. Too bad they didn't do that more often. In closing, I recommend Mass Transit Trouble, unless you're planning to travel.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Warp Sonic (1993)
I remember when this series used to air on Saturday mornings, but back then, I gravitated more towards Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog because, I guess I preferred the light-hearted hijinks of that series, but I would occasionally catch this one too. While I always liked the animation and voice acting, I wasn't completely into it and looking back, I wish I had given it a better chance. So I think I'll look back at one episode I remember and see it again with new eyes. In "Warp Sonic", Sonic, Sally, and Antoine are transported to Lower Mobius where they meet a whole underground legion of freedom fighters, which sounds like an interesting concept though this is the only time we see them in the series. Maybe their return was on the long list of things Season 3 would have given us, had the series not been unfairly canceled. The episode opens with Sonic and Sally, along with Antoine- I don't know why they keep bringing him along on these missions as he's nothing but a coward and a bumbler, maybe they allow him to tag along to liven things up- on a top secret mission to Robotropolis to disable one of Dr. Robotnik's computer banks controlling his high robot traffic. Despite the tight, hi-tech security the doc has installed, Sonic easily maneuvers through the grid and inserts the disc to fry the circuits. Huh, that was easy. A little too easy, don't you think? As our heroes try to make their escape, they suddenly become surrounded by a dozen Swat Bots. Fortunately, they have a secret rescuer who just happened to be on the other side of the wall, who pulls them to safety. This good-natured yellow goat is named Griff, and he looks as though he got lost on the way to an Animaniacs cartoon. Anyway, he says he's taking our heroes to Lower Mobius, so called because he and a dozen other freedom fighters captured by Robotnik escaped and built an underground city, and all the while I'm wondering what Griff was doing at that particular spot. Was he just waiting for Sonic and company to show up? Wasting no time, they hop into his transport hover car and descend toward Lower Mobius. En route, Griff tells the gang about ratbots who patrol the sewers, and he says it in such a way that looks like he's teasing frightened coward Antoine. Heck, ol' Antoine would be scared of actual ants I bet. Lower Mobius is a beautiful underground city, populated by those brave enough to escape Robotnik's clutches, and the whole place is powered by some sort of energy crystal, and something tells me this place is experiencing an energy crisis, but for now, Sonic is all ready to plop down at the nearest chili dog stand, and this becomes a recurring gag in this episode: every time Sonic is ready to eat his chili dogs, he gets pulled away. It's always so frustrating when that happens, for both the character and the audience. I do remember that after the third time, I yelled at the TV, "just let him eat his chili dogs already!" Ha ha. But anyhoo, just as he's about to enjoy his meal, there's an intruder alert. Ratbots spotted in the pipes, so Griff takes along Sonic, Sally, and Antoine to deal with the problem. Um, why can't the other citizens of Lower Mobius be bothered? And why take Antoine and Sally too? I dunno. They get cornered by the ratbots when the hovercraft's faulty gear box prevents them from escaping. But Sonic can't resist the urge to show off, so he plays around with the ratbots, equipped with electrified tails, and shorts them out with help from a steam pipe. But those were just a warm-up: here comes the big ratbot, which Griff says is a mutant, but no, it's a robot like the others. Taking out his power ring, Sonic manages to push his friends in their faulty hovercraft to safety. Griff takes quite an interest in the power ring, with Sally telling him they get new ones every 12 hours, though in other episodes it's 24, but here it's 12 for a reason, which we'll discover later.
With the ratbots dealt with, maybe Sonic can finally eat his chili dogs, he's earned them at this point. Remember earlier when I alluded to there being an energy crisis? I was right, as the power crystal is weakening and if they don't find a stronger source soon, all of Lower Mobius will be royally screwed. Griff gets an idea, one that is very sneaky and actually two-faced and underhanded, but like his boar companion said, it was a desperate situation. First, he starts turning on the charm with Sally, which instantly gets Sonic and Antoine jealous as they start competing for her affections, only for her to shoot them down by saying she was not a prize to be won. Yeah, you go, girl. Griff offers to drive everyone back to Knothole Village, and when they arrive, he sabotages his own hovercraft, saying it broke down. Sally kindly allows him to stay with them, or maybe it was just to make Sonic more jealous? She shows Griff the pond where they get their power rings, so now he has all the information he needs to carry out his underhanded plan. That night, dummy Antoine is put in charge of guarding the pond... might as well have just stuck a sign that says No Trespassing in front of it, as it would have the same effect, which allows Griff to go in the water and steal the power stone that creates the rings. Did Sally tell him that part later or something, because all we saw was her getting a ring out of the pond and showing it to him. How did he know about the stone? Anyway, he pilfers the rock and high-tails it out of there just as Monsieur L'idiot wakes up to realize something isn't right about the pond. He tells Sonic and Sally, who are still bickering, and the hedgehog goes to investigate. They quickly realize Griff was behind the theft and he races down to Lower Mobius to confront him, man to man, or hedgehog to goat. Meanwhile in LM, the town was being overrun by ratbots. Sonic arrives in time to save Griff and tie the mechanical rodents' tails together, giving them quite a shock. Griff apologizes for the theft, saying he had no choice. As a result, Sonic breaks the stone in two and gives him half, saying that they're all in this fight against Robotnik together, and aptly shake hands. The moral of our story is that it doesn't matter where you come from, what your background is, or what your circumstance, you never take another civilization's power supply without asking permission first.
I have to wonder, why didn't Griff just ask Sonic and Sally for help in providing Lower Mobius with power? He saved them from the Swat Bots, and they in turn saved him from the ratbots, they were all allies, so why didn't he just be straightforward? Maybe the writers wanted us to be suspicious of him? Making us think that Griff has ulterior motives? I don't know. But overall, I think Warp Sonic was pretty good. Great animation, and great voice acting. It's a shame Dr. Robotnik wasn't in this episode, because Jim Cummings' voice for the character is fantastic. In fact, he should be the permanent voice for Robotnik. Nothing against Mike Pollock, but come on, nobody voices a sadistic baddie like Jim. As I said before, Griff and the citizens of Lower Mobius are never seen again, so we're left to assume that Robotnik and his rats captured them and killed them or something. Not much else I can say except I do recommend Warp Sonic, and the rest of the Saturday morning Sonic series, as it was a well-made show with good writing, good acting, good animation, the theme song is awesome, and all the characters are very likable... except for Antoine, the cowardly French stereotype that seemed to be a staple of virtually every show and movie since the 1940s. Yeah, they surrendered, get over it.
This is a very weird episode, and considering the content of this series, that isn't saying too much. I know they say love knows no bounds, but in this case, I wouldn't be too sure. Our story opens with Sonic and Tails initiating a rescue mission, as they heard Dr. Robotnik had a prisoner in his fortress that had been there for 30 years. Yeesh, that's awful. When they find the guy, he looks like Cousin Itt, but can talk perfect English and is remarkably peppy for someone locked up for three decades. And so begins a very long, tedious jailbreak with Sonic the showoff laying waste to two robots and even foiling Robotnik's egg bomb, making him literally stew in his own juices. While that's going on, I'm trying to understand why this guy was locked up for 30 years and what sort of vendetta Robotnik had with him. Well, just five minutes in, our plot finally gets started. You see, Cousin Itt here is really named Lucas, and he and Robotnik competed heavily for the affections of a girl named Lucinda. They all went to high school together, and when Robotnik couldn't have his way, he built his fortress and made Lucas his first prisoner. Well, why would he do that? Why not just kill him? After relaying this sad story to Sonic and Tails, the former suggests that maybe Lucinda is still out there and still available. LOL, I know you're just trying to make him feel better, Sonic, but even he wouldn't fall for that. Meanwhile, Robotnik is adamant that Lucas be returned to him. Again, I'm wondering why, as this question was never officially answered. He tells his own version of their days in school, painting himself to be the object of Lucinda's affections, and Lucas out to be reviled by both of them. He sends Scratch and Grounder to a schoolhouse where Lucinda teaches and orders them to bring them all back to him. Okay, this doesn't add up. Robotnik knew where Lucinda was all this time, and if he was so in love with her, why wait so long? Do the writers just not know how long 30 years is? Do they assume nothing changes in that time, particularly people? This story makes no sense! Any further explanations will have to wait, because now we're forced to watch Scratch and Grounder try to trap Sonic, and fail, of course. I thought Robotnik was sending them to the schoolhouse where Lucinda is a teacher. Why don't they wait there for our heroes to arrive, then capture all of them? Because this script was clearly scribbled out on a legal pad in one draft and they went with it. It's not horrible, at least so far, but if you try to think about it, it hurts your brain, so maybe I should stop. Anyway, they make it to the school and we see that Lucinda still thinks about Lucas, and Robotnik too as she uses his picture for a dart board. Not sure what to say about that, I mean it's kinda cute these two have thought about each other for thirty years, but it's as if time stopped for both of them. Sonic urges Lucas to go and talk to her, but he feels awkward. I mean, he is a walking pile of hair after all and I'm guessing he's got nothing on underneath. Why not get the guy freshened up and tailored before making him confront his sweetheart of yesteryear, Sonic? I know you have the patience of a guy with ADD on amphetamines, but it's not always about you, is it? Our hairy Romeo doesn't get far before the robots capture him, and that's entirely on you, Sonic, pushing him the way you did, but at the same time, how could we have known Scratch and Grounder would finally do something right.
Lucas attempts an escape, but it's thwarted by Dr. Robotnik in his Egg-o-Matic, threatening to put this "ruiner of romance" back in his cage. Again, if he hates him so much, why doesn't he just kill him? He could just leave right now, but there's that pesky hedgehog to deal with. He places Lucas deep inside a cave, and once Sonic and Tails go in, he detonates the bombs he'd planted inside, causing the volcano to erupt and surrounding our heroes with liquid hot magma. They can't go left and can't go right, so Sonic bores straight to the South Pole, I guess, and steals a block of ice on which he, Tails, and Lucas surf along the lava to safety. I'm calling B. S. and saying that block would have melted in two seconds and our heroes would be dead. Once they escape their doom, it was time to enact Operation: Lovebirds Reunited. Sonic entrusts the task of giving Lucas a haircut to Tails, while he goes to pull a fast one on Botsy, who was presently rehearsing his marriage proposal, which sounds more like pleading. Again, after all this time, why is he only now making a move? And maybe he can't take a hint that she's just not that into him? Now anybody familiar with Bugs Bunny cartoons knows what happens next: Sonic disguises himself as Lucinda, and Robotnik doesn't recognize him! He delivers his threatening proposal, and "she" accepts, then we cut right to the wedding, and finally NOW does Robotnik realize that he almost married his nemesis. After Sonic wastes 50 pounds of rice and a perfectly good wedding cake, he rolls up Robotnik and his robots in the red carpet, he goes to get Lucas, who surprisingly aged very little in 30 years, same for Lucinda. Like I said earlier, it's as if time stood still for both of them. In fact, Lucas looks a lot like Waldo. You know, from the Where's Waldo books? Guess they finally found him. Sonic tosses loverboy over to Lucinda and urges him to make with the proposals. Well, we've only got less than 3 minutes of the episode left, so you wanna bet it's very short and awkward? A simple, "will you marry me?" and the two are engaged. They're married almost instantly, with Sonic naming himself the best hedgehog. Oh yes you are, you little blue Mary Sue you. Our Sonic Says is about reading, and it's a very good PSA that I have nothing bad to say about.
Best Hedgehog... more like best attempt to confound and irritate your audience. Did they read this script out loud? I think such a plot would have worked better in the Saturday morning Sonic show, as it's something that requires depth and character development, something that series excelled at, while this one is nothing but running, yelling, and ripping off old Roadrunner cartoons. The story made no sense, Robotnik and Lucas' rivalry made no sense, nothing was focused, it was all one giant mess. On a side note, this was the very first Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode I ever watched. It came on TV while I was staying in Las Vegas in 1994, and ever since I've watched the show, loving many episodes and hating others. I don't really hate Best Hedgehog, as its heart was in the right place, but its brain was in outer space. I guess if you don't try to think or overanalyze it, then it will be a more agreeable watch. So if you... I dunno, have nothing better to do and you like Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, then check out Best Hedgehog. If anything, it will show how strong dedication can be between two people, especially if they have absolutely no character or personality whatsoever.
Mame That Tune.
The planet Mobius simply could not survive without the heroism displayed by one Sonic the Hedgehog. That must be quite a burden, protecting an entire planet, and like the selfless soul that he is, Sonic asks for nothing in return, save for some free chili dogs. However, some folks have decided to find an even better way to pay him back: country music sensation Catty Carlisle has written a song singing the praises of our favorite blue hedgehog, which she sings on the radio and we get to hear at least two verses before we cut to Scratch and Grounder engineering another trap from the Wile E. Coyote handbook. Okay, I guess we don't need to hear the whole song anyway, as this isn't a musical episode... not in the traditional sense. Anyway, while the dunce bots wait for their prey, they turn on the radio as Catty's song happens to be playing, and they hilariously dance to it. Sonic speeds by, displaying his own praises for the song, and of course the robots' giant bear-trap-in-the-middle-of-the-road trick doesn't work, because the safety switch located in the middle was turned on. The idiots switch it off and become clap-trapped, while Sonic uses Grounder's phone to request the station to replay that song, and I guess this radio station has no other songs lined up, because as the DJ says, they've been playing it 144 times in a row. Well, what's Dr. Robotnik going to say when he discovers his sworn enemy has a hit song on the airwaves? He voices his extreme dislike for Catty Carlisle over writing the song, and so he invented a radiowave locator just to find her. Guess looking up REBL Radio in the phonebook is too primitive for him. He prints out the address and sends Scratch and Grounder to abduct her and lay waste to the radio station. You know, Botsy, you could just not listen to the radio, or better yet, write your own song, which he does, but more on that later... unfortunately. So just as Catty is being interviewed by what inspired her to write her song, in come Dumb and Dumber to try and apprehend her, and luckily Catty's cries for help were played over the air for Sonic and Tails to hear, so they race to the station. See? They know where it is, why doesn't a genius like Robotnik? Sonic disguises himself as a television personality and convinces Grounder and Scratch that Mobius heard them over the radio and they're instantly famous. With those giant stars in their eyes, they fail to see our heroes escape with Catty, and Robotnik calls up the station to berate his lackeys. Well, what did you expect? If you really wanted Carlisle and the station dealt with, you could've just dropped a bomb on it. Once Catty is brought to safety, Sonic requests she play her song again, but alas, she is without her guitar. It can't be just any guitar, it has to be her special one custom made in some town 10,000 miles away. I'm guessing she left it behind at the station, so why can't Sonic just go back there and get it? Why race 10,000 miles away to grab a new one? Maybe he's in the mood for a brisk jog. While that's going on, Dr. Robotnik resorts to Plan B, as in Build a Better Bot. He has come up with a diabolical plan to rid Mobius of music once and for all, and to do so, he unveils the Music Destroyer, a giant robot that can sense a single note of music and destroy its source. Why is it all music that Robotnik hates, doesn't he just despise Sonic's song? He is definitely one sack that's short a few marbles.
As the M. D. steals musical instruments, Catty runs out of hiding to try and stop him and gets herself captured, and Tails does very little to stop it. Once at Robotnik's fortress, he imposes upon her the task of both finishing and singing a song he wrote. That's right, Robotnik hates all music, except for his own. Why am I getting flashbacks to the Ninja Turtles' Coming Out of Their Shells tour where Shredder pretty much does the same thing? Kent Butterworth must have been a fan of that concert and lifted the idea. So once Sonic returns from getting Catty's guitar, he and Tails hurry to Robotnik's fortress, where they're almost immediately captured by the M. D. But while that was going on, Robotnik was seated at his organ, playing his own terrible and song and forcing Scratch and Grounder to sing backup, and if you're a music lover, you may want to watch this scene with the sound off because they all sound horrible. When M. D. reports his success, the doc promotes him to head of the S. S. S. S. S. Squad and makes his two duncebots permanent backup singers, and I like how the sound editor goofed and added their laughs before they break down in despair. Gotta say, it's looks like Robotnik has won. Sonic and Tails are his prisoners, he has a much more competent robot doing his dirty work, and if God is willing, he'll have his own terrible song hitting the airwaves. But, like always, the hedgehog has a plan. Seeing Scratch and Grounder upset about their new gig, he makes a deal with them to recapture he and Tails if they pretend to escape, and using an elaborate trap. Well, because these robots are profoundly stupid, they agree to the bargain, and they render the M. D. nonfunctional by pulling his fuse. Botsy never was one for eliminating weak spots in his machines. Speaking of weak spots, Grounder and Scratch become predictably caught in their own trap, as Sonic and Tails escape. Again, how could a genius like Dr. Robotnik build such utterly useless and stupid robots? Anyway, our heroes come upon a warehouse stocked with musical equipment the M. D. had stolen. I thought he destroyed them. We saw earlier he tossed the instruments into a garbage truck driven by Scratch and Grounder, and why would Robotnik save this stuff? So the doc and M. D., now back on his feet, chase the hedgehog into the warehouse, just as Sonic plugs in an electric guitar to a tower of amplifiers and jams out a tune that causes M. D. to overload and explode, sending Robotnik flying through the air. He lands on Scratch and Grounder, who had just gotten themselves out of the trap and... reset it for some reason, causing all three of them to be stuck. After rescuing Catty, the boys get treated to a live rendition of her song. Our Sonic Says is about wearing headphones and playing music too loud, which is a good lesson, especially if you're a dummy walking down the middle of the road and fail to notice a steamroller driven by two evil, yet stupid, robots coming toward you.
So that was Sonic's Song, and it's a pretty enjoyable episode. I don't know who was voicing Catty, but she did a good job and is a pretty talented singer. An interesting bit of trivia here: Long John Baldry, the voice of Dr. Robotnik, was a very talented and accomplished blues singer, and yet in the episodes where Robotnik sings, he has to sound terrible. Maybe if they actually did a full musical episode, we could have heard him sing at his best. That would have been interesting. As you may have noticed, the song in Sonic's Song is adapted from the theme of the first two Sonic games, and it's too bad we never hear the full song or all the lyrics in this episode, as it's primarily the main focus: this song written about Sonic, which incurs Robotnik's wrath. Just like always, when Sonic has something dedicated to him, Robotnik wants it too. They're not so much adversaries as they seem to be siblings engaged in a childish rivalry. Not much else to say, except that if you're a music lover or a music hater or whatever, I recommend Sonic's Song, and if you're a musical lover, like I said, mute the TV when Robotnik, Scratch, and Grounder are singing. Your ears will thank you.
Babies and Life
Here's an interesting Afterschool Special I came across, and after watching it all the way through I thought it was something I would like to talk about. It has a very interesting premise: a private, all-boys school offers a course in infant care, and they're not referring to dolls, but actual live babies. I'm not sure if any school ever did that before, but it sounds like an interesting concept. How does this come about? Well, it all began when the boys at... I don't know, Prestigious Academy Junior High, or whatever it's called, have to return to the confines of their school after a short summer break, and right away, their teacher tells them about all the electives. Computers, photography and backgammon, but there's a new one this year: infant care. Naturally, the boys in the class are somewhat skeptical, but their teacher assures them that it will be a very valuable experience for those who will one day be fathers, brothers, or even babysitters, and it will even increase their hourly rate on sitting jobs by a dollar. One boy who is definitely not interested is named Matt, and when I first saw this, I could have sworn he was played by Corey Haim. He could pass as his long, lost brother. Speaking of brothers, Matt has one, or rather a half-brother since his mother married another man and they had a baby together. I guess Matt still hasn't come to accept this change. When the baby starts crying, Matt refuses his mother's invitation to help, citing it's not even his brother, and goes into his room and plays his music too loud, making the infant cry louder. Gee, this kid's a jerk. Despite his feelings, he agrees to take the infant care class anyway because, as he puts it: "it might not be that boring." Huh, if you say so. The next day at school, all of six students agreed to take this new class, and they get excited when they see the mothers bringing their babies into the school. I like how the one boys says, "oh boy, babies!" Nice title drop, and I'm very sure he got a wedgie after class. This must be a pretty nice break for these mothers, an hour of free babysitting. The boys are divided into pairs and each are handed an infant, so they're also setting up scenarios of two male parents. This school is very progressive. Unfortunately, little stick-in-the-mud Matt refuses to participate and he really hates getting a crying baby dumped into his arms. As he stormed out of class in a huff, it made me wonder what was really bothering him and why the teacher didn't make any effort to talk to him. Ah, well, it was only the first day, and this was the easy part. Day 1 was all about holding; Day 2 is going to bring a whole mess of surprises. They learn how to change diapers, yeah, you knew this was coming, and of course, we need to check the "someone gets peed on" cliche off the list, and in this case, the lucky recipient of a wet shirt is Matt. As if he weren't already miserable enough in this class. His classmate Claude laughs at him like a hyena, and I admit, I would too. After that, both the baby teacher and his home room teacher suggest that maybe Matt not go back to the class, citing his bad attitude. But on that note, I'd like to know why neither adult is asking him why he feels the way he does. You don't have to be Mr. Rogers to know that this boy has feelings about dealing with babies and families and whatnot. Maybe instead of telling him he has a stinky attitude, ask him why he feels that way and get him to open up. Or are they saving that topic for another Afterschool Special?
Matt shows he knows a thing or two about babies, as he helps out Claude when it's feeding time. Good, glad he's feeling more cooperative, as I guess his teachers' subtle threat of shape up or ship out helped adjust his attitude. But today, the class is getting a very special visitor: a mother who breastfeeds her baby... right in front of the whole class. Well, sure, why not? What's the big deal? The boys deal with it in a mature fashion, which goes to show that kids are more grown up than some adults. The mother goes on to explain the benefits of breast milk, and she is right, it's more healthy for the baby than those chemical-laced formulas you get at the store. Following that interesting bit of "show and tell", Claude and Matt get into a serious discussion about how some guys can just up and leave their children. It seems both boys have experience in this field, and I think one of them never fully got over it. They begin to bond as friends, both being members of the Dad Ran Out Club. Seeing how Claude dealt with his problem allows Matt to start dealing with his own, and finally accepts his stepfather and half-brother. I'm glad that worked out for him and that he came to terms with what was really bothering him. Well, by graduation day, I'd say every one of those boys had grown significantly than when they started, having a better understanding of not just babies, but of themselves too. But just don't be in too much of a hurry to have your own, boys, be sure to have time to go to college and choose your careers, because there's one thing this class didn't teach you about babies: they're expensive.
So that was "Oh Boy! Babies!" It's a cute, fun special, and as stated it is an Afterschool Special, so some scenes are cheesy, overly-sentimental, and there's plenty of fluff, but at the same time it does address some pretty serious issues, such as divorce, parents getting remarried, and abandonment. Like I said earlier, I do wish Matt's teachers had talked with him about his feelings, but I guess the special avoided that so that those feelings could be expressed more organically and he could come to terms with these issues on his own. Now then, let's address the idea of having a class that teaches middle school-aged boys about taking care of babies. I personally think it's a good idea, though it's one many people will want to laugh at. Maybe something like this was more feasible in the late '70s to early '80s, as attitudes have changed since then, as I couldn't see any young teens from the '90s and 2000s wanting to take up this responsibility, not to mention there's a negative stigma attached to males caring for children, something I won't elaborate on here, but in many cases, it's an unfair assumption. Men can be just as capable as women, but on the other hand, I guess I can understand someone preferring that a female perform certain duties instead of a male. Having a class like this one teaching young boys how to care for infants seems like a good idea, and will teach men responsibility and to be there for their children. You have to wonder, if Claude and Matt's fathers had a class like this when they were kids, would they still have run off? All are very important thing to talk about. In closing, I do recommend Oh Boy! Babies. As said, some parts are cheesy, but we do get plenty of funny moments, like the boys holding the babies, feeding them, and changing their diapers. This is something that's good for not just the kids, but also the adults. Both will get a very good lesson about life.
The Odds Are Against You
Dr. Robotnik is a man of science, and he relies on his many, many different kinds of robots to accomplish any task he needs done. But as we've seen before, his robots are not very reliable, or intelligent. We know he doesn't usually rely on help from living organisms, but what if there some kind of project so important and so precious that he required living beings to create it? Well, it seems like such a task has come to fruition, as Robotnik is recruiting a bunch of sheep to help him build something. How does he manage that, you ask? Well, sir, Botsy has sunk to a new low, as if that were possible. He's recruiting these sheep by way of breaking them in fixed games, allowing them to gamble in exchange for years of slavery. Sounds pretty despicable if you ask me. He's accomplishing this by way of his pal, Smiley, an anthropomorphic shark with feet, who drives a shark-shaped bus with a tongue from town to town to gyp dozens of innocent sheep. That's a sentence I just said. Fortunately, Sonic shows up and beats the robot dealer at his own game. Good, so that flock of dumb sheep narrowly avoided becoming indebted to Dr. Robotnik. What's he building, you may wonder? A monument in the desert, essentially the Sphinx with his face on it. How original. Oh, and I hope you can stomach the image of a morbidly obese man practically naked, because Botsy is really flaunting his stuff in this one. Well, Sonic may have foiled Smiley and his crooked street corner games this time, but they're not going to give up so easily. For you see, Dr. Robotnik is preparing to open his brand new Casino Night Zone, named after the iconic level in Sonic 2, but nowhere near as creative. To ensure guests, Smiley drives by and cordially invites all the sheep to partake of the new casino, and this is coming just moments after they said they would never let themselves get suckered again, and those wooly morons take off like a moth to a flame. I say let them get suckered, Sonic. If they're this stupid, they deserve to be building pyramids for Robotnik. Venturing to the new Zone, Sonic and Tails are just in time to witness those sheep lose their coats. Good, maybe Robotnik can finally make himself some new clothes. I don't know, it seems like he's going to an awful lot of trouble. Why can't Robotnik just build himself some robots to build the monument? Why is he wasting so much time and money robbing a bunch of poor sheep and then tricking them into becoming his slaves? I guess he hasn't filled his evilness quota for the week, and this is pretty evil. Sonic discovers that all the games in Casino Night Zone are rigged, so the first thing to do is even the odds. He disguises himself (poorly) as a repairman come to read the meter, and of course Scratch and Grounder don't recognize him and tell him right where the power box is. They even tell him where to find the box that rigs the games when he outright asks. My lord, I can't believe how STUPID everyone is here, except of course for Sonic, our favorite blue Mary Sue. So after re-fixing the games, the sheep win and the robots realize they've been had. Now, what happens next is a really infuriating scene, something that really turned me off of this episode. It's been pretty mindless up to this point, but here is where things really start to fall apart. Deciding to show off and mess around with Scratch and Grounder, Sonic leaves Tails at the casino nursery, complete with ball pit and a babysitter on duty. What's wrong with this picture? Well, for starters, has Sonic forgotten that this casino is owned by Dr. Robotnik? Does he really think Tails will be safe here? Also, why does he need to waste time with the robots? Just go and force Smiley to tell him where Robotnik and the other sheep are and go deal with them. We're already super light on plot, so not having this next two-minute scene of filler wouldn't make much difference.
Sonic leads the robots to a dam where he erects a giant slot machine that washes away Scratch and Grounder. This scene was so necessary, wasn't it? But all this needed to happen so that our plot wouldn't come crashing down under its own weight. Back at the casino nursery, the crooked babysitter tries to make Tails pay one million Mobians... say that in Dr. Evil's voice, it sounds funnier. That's when Tails realizes what we all guessed several minutes ago: this is a trap. He's dropped down a chute and locked in a bird cage. Ha, Robotnik could have done this to the sheep all along. Oh, and by the way, Tails can fly! Why is it he keeps letting himself be dropped down pits or the like when he has the ability to fly? Stupid! Robotnik has formulated a new plan, one that will see Sonic defeated and him recruiting even more sheep to build his monument. You see, Sonic has to lose a race. Man, hitting him where it hurts, eh, Doc? It's Sonic vs. Grounder in a race to retrieve the flag at Mount Robotnik. If Sonic loses, the sheep become slaves, but if he wins, they go free, but Tails is doomed. As a result, Grounder gets a big lead in the race, while Sonic struggles to stay far behind. I like how as he's walking, one of the sheep says to him, "say it ain't so, Sonic." Hey, if it weren't for you, he wouldn't be in this mess, you idiot. I hope someone turns you all into lamb chops. Well, it seems as though Robotnik might actually win. I mean, Tails' life is hanging in the balance and he's going to get himself a flock of slaves to build that monument. I mean, he would have won if Grounder weren't so stupid and ended up revealing where Tails was being held prisoner. Faith restored, Sonic races back to the stadium where he manages to find Tails and free him, and get to the finish line ahead of Grounder. Unfortunately, he was too late. Old impatient Robotnik gathered up the sheep and took them away anyway. Well, he's evil, he doesn't have to play fair. Undaunted, Sonic races to the desert to rescue the sheep and foil Robotnik's plan, like he could have done LONG ago! He even gives the Robotnik Sphinx a facelift, putting his own up there. Robotnik throws a temper tantrum, some bad puns are exchanged, and we come to the end. Our Sonic Says opens with Scratch and Grounder racing across a railway bridge. I would say these two are Darwin Award winners, but they're robots. They get predictably flattened by a train, and Sonic tells us not accept stupid dares. A good lesson, in my opinion.
So that was High Stakes Sonic, and while it did have a good lesson about the dangers of gambling and betting more than you can afford, the story and plot are where it suffers, not to mention the very off-model characters and animation. As I said earlier, the scene where Tails gets captured in the casino nursery was really stupid, as they should have known all along it would be a trap. Again, this place is owned by Robotnik. He was pretty evil in this one, almost on par with the Saturday morning version of his character, though that one would have just kidnapped the sheep from the get-go. Casino Night Zone is the fourth level in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and it's a shame we don't get any familiar music cues or Easter eggs relating to that level here in the episode. In fact, we don't see much of the place at all. Maybe more elaborate traps or rigged games would have been nice. But anyway, it's extremely thin on plot, story, and logic, High Stakes Sonic isn't a terrible episode, it's just not very enjoyable or funny. You're better off just putting on Sonic 2 and playing your way through that level, and the many other colorful, creative levels that game has to offer, or any of the old school Sonic games. Do I recommend High Stakes Sonic? Sure, why not? Show it to any gambling addicts you know as it shows just how dangerous literally gambling with your life can be.
The Great Outdoors.
Sonic the Hedgehog's arch-nemesis Dr. Robotnik is nothing if not resilient. He's relentless and unwavering in his many attempts to conquer Mobius and defeat Sonic, but as we've seen many, many times, he can't seem to accomplish either. Maybe it would be a good idea if the Doc just hung it up and retired. With him out of the way and Mobius safe, maybe Sonic and Tails could have themselves a vacation. Well, it just so happens that both things happen in today's episode: The Last Resort. Let's see what happens when Robotnik feigns retirement and establishes a resort full of death traps to send Sonic on a permanent vacation. Sounds like fun to me. Our episode opens with a trio of large robots attacking a city, and players of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine will recognize Davy Sprocket as one of the attackers. Looks like he's gotten himself a mondo upgrade. Mayor McCheese, or Bumper, or whatever his name is, gets on the big screen to state the obvious: they are under attack, but he has mandated that any robots who dare attack his city must have a permit, including signing several forms in quadruplicate. Even the nursery schoolers in the audience would roll their eyes at that bad joke, and trust me when I say, there are many more to come. Fortunately, Sonic arrives to save the day and take a look at the crowd behind him: you can see Mike Wazowski with a blonde hairpiece. I wonder if any Pixar animators watched this episode before making Monsters, Inc. Nah, I doubt it. Anyway, just as Sonic is about to do his thing, the robots suddenly retreat, and then who should appear on the big screen but Dr. Robotnik himself, who officially announces his retirement from evil, even bestowing upon himself a gold watch. He's retiring to spend time with Momma, so he's going to become Norman Bates... except with his mother still alive. Not buying this retirement hooey one bit, Sonic and Tails pay the doc a visit and he just invites them right in for tea and fish cakes. He seems on the level, so with no reason to doubt him, they just rudely leave. Hey, I know he's your nemesis and all, Sonic, but you could've tried to be more polite, or are manners something for "slow-moes"? We next see our heroes playing checkers by the river, and this sudden amount of nothing to do has the hedgehog on edge, and have I mentioned how much I HATE the way he says, "I'm waiiiiting." He does it twice in this episode. Every time he does that, I just want to kick him. Let's face it, our heroes are in a rut. They could do with a vacation, and almost right away, Mayor McCheese arrives to thank Sonic for saving his city and gives him a very large key to it. Well, he didn't actually do anything, but you're welcome. He also presents them with an all-expenses paid vacation package to an island resort. At first reluctant, Sonic accepts and he and Tails are whisked away on an auto-piloted hydrofoil to begin their vacation. That's when it's revealed that the mayor was actually a robot and uses the phone in his stomach to call... Dr. Robotnik. That's right, if you believed his retirement nonsense then, well, get help. En route to the island, Sonic water skiis on the back of the hydrofoil, showing off as only he can. Below the surface, Scratch and Grounder follow in a submarine and launch a myriad of traps to try and stop Sonic, but of course they don't succeed. Oh, well, gotta put the other traps waiting for them on San Pelagroso to good use, I guess.
Upon arrival, Sonic and Tails are greeted by Guido, their totally "hip" tour guide. Wasting no time, he sets them off on their first adventure: whitewater kayaking, and the red flags don't go up when Guido locks Sonic into his boat. He believes it to be just part of the experience. Oh, and guess what? Guido is a robot too, as he takes a phone out of his stomach to call Scratch and Grounder to prepare for Sonic's arrival. They've got a booby trap waiting at the bottom of the falls. Okay, so what's this going to be? An enormous wood chipper under the water that will turn Sonic into saw dust? Perhaps a giant bottomless pit that he'll fall down, down, down? Nope, nope, nope, they deploy... spikes. What is this, a video game level? Sonic manages to see the spikes on his way down and quickly paddles back up the waterfall, while Tails bails on his kayak and gets swept away by the rapids, calling for Sonic to help him. Hello? You can fly, dummy! Sonic saves his two-tailed damsel, then he dams up the river, but only long enough for them to escape, then Scratch and Grounder get to experience a rockslide. With the attempts to snuff out Sonic on the water going up in smoke, their next little romp comes in the form of mountain climbing... except this mountain is an active volcano and they have to climb from the inside. Sounds like a challenge you'd see on TikTok. Don't try this at home, kids! They narrowly miss being burned alive in the molten lava just beneath their feet, and manage to escape the volcano. How predictable. Naturally, Robotnik isn't pleased that his luxurious resort death trap has left much to be desired. Well, only one adventure left: skydiving, and this time, the doc will do the job himself, leaving his two dumb-bots to tend to Momma. Well, stopping the hedgehog on land and sea have failed, so air will have to work, right? Sonic and Tails put on their parachutes and board the plane, and once they're at 6,000 feet, they jump. Okay, Botsy, what's the plan? Planting a bomb in their parachutes? No, he just swapped them out for knapsacks. Someone's been watching Looney Tunes. I can't tell who's dumber here, because Sonic knew very well it was Robotnik piloting that plane, and yet he willingly got on, let him fly them to a high altitude and then jumped. Oh, and Robotnik jumped too just to ensure Sonic would eventually turn into blue paste once he hit the ground. His only hope of survival is saying, "take that, physics" by having Tails fly his bungee cord back up to the plane, thus saving the hedgehog, but breaking through Robotnik's parachute in the process and sending him falling to his death. After that, they get back on the plane and fly away to a much better place. Our Sonic Says is about telling people where you're going so they won't worry. I like how it shows Tails walking away, and then Sonic wakes up and panics that he can't find him, even though Tails hadn't even left the frame yet. He walks in from the other direction and is chastised for going away without saying anything. Good lesson and all, but it's not his fault you're near-sighted, Sonic.
So that was The Last Resort. It's a pretty stupid episode with bad writing and predictable moments, but it does have some funny parts, like when Robotnik dresses like a hippie and says, "peace." LOL. The act of announcing retirement over a giant screen would be repeated in Sonic's Christmas Blast, where "Santa" announced his retirement and named Robotnik his successor. Do I recommend The Last Resort? Sure, it's not terrible, but it's not all that enjoyable either. I'd suggest going out and enjoying a real outdoor adventure instead of sitting at home and watching this. It also irritated me how many times Tails forgot that he had the ability to fly and just overall stupid he was acting. Like when they're on the plane and Robotnik makes the announcement, making no attempt to disguise his voice, Tails is like, "that voice sounds familiar." Luckily Sonic knew right away who it was, but how stupid can Tails be not recognizing their arch-nemesis? I hate that about shows like this, heroes going up against the same villain over and over and failing to see through his disguises. It's like on Rocky and Bullwinkle when neither of them ever recognize Boris and Natasha, but in their defense, they don't know their names. Anyway, my gripes aside, if you're looking to get away and have yourself an outdoor adventure, go and do that, but if you're a cheapskate, stay home and watch The Last Resort.
704 Hauser (1994)
A Show Must Be More Than Just Its Setting.
All in the Family was arguably one of the best sitcoms to ever air on American television. It said what every other show at the time was afraid to say. It challenged its audience and made them think. Week after week seeing Archie the working-class bigoted conversative butting heads with Mike, his liberal, college-going son in-law on a myriad of issues ranging from race relations, politics, war, women's rights, civil rights, you name it, they talked about it, and with their wives Edith and Gloria respectively giving their two-cents as well. It was funny, it was smart, it was daring, and though the show's quality began to decline in later years, it was still considered a massive hit, running from 1971 until 1979 at which point it was retitled Archie Bunker's Place, shifting focus more to Archie at his workplace and continuing until 1983 when it was unceremoniously canceled. Throughout the eighties and even into the nineties, All in the Family continued to burn up the airwaves via syndicated reruns, even rerunning on their parent station of CBS. Then in 1994, Norman Lear broached a question that nobody ever asked: "who is living in Archie Bunker's house now?" Well, isn't Archie still there? If not, surely Stephanie and Billie are living there, right? Nope, not even them. That's when Lear decided it was time to return to television, as he had a spotless record with so many hits under his belt, it was certainty that anything he could come up with would be a winner. Unfortunately, that was not the case when he created and developed 704 Hauser, a successor to All in the Family featuring an African American family living in Archie Bunker's house. I guess that's the first selling point: hey, what if a black family moved into Archie's house? Yeah, what if. Who cares? That's this series' first and probably biggest problem: its setting. Why did they need to set it in the Bunkers' house? What is the significance? That's like asking who's living in the Ricardos' old apartment, or Rob and Laura Petrie's house, or Darrin and Samantha's house, or hell, what's going on at that spot in Korea where the 4077th M*A*S*H was located? We didn't see new shows set in those locations, so why set this new show in such a recognizable place, especially when show has very little to do with All in the Family? Well, actually, a character from that series appears in the pilot, but I'll get to him soon enough. Now then, what is 704 Hauser about? Like I said, a black family, The Cumberbatches, moved in sometime between 1983 and 1994. What happened to Archie, Stephanie, and Billie? They never say. Ernie, Rose, and their son Thurgood "Goodie" now reside in Bunker Palace, and the best way I can describe them are as follows: Ernie and Rose are a black, liberal version of Archie and Edith, except if the dingbat were a firecracker. Yeah, Rose doesn't take guff from Ernie and proves he's whipped like a bowl of mashed potatoes. Goodie is a conservative who is dating a white, Jewish woman named Cherlyn. You got that? Two black liberals, a black conservative, and a white Jewish woman. Unfortunately, their race and religious affiliations also count as character traits, which sadly writers still use even to this day. Instead of writing a strong, relatable character, they just refer to them as "the black guy" or "the Jewish man/woman" or something basic like that. It's lazy writing at its finest. The way in which these characters are introduced is in the pilot episode that has a very familiar storyline, that's because Norman Lear essentially copied the pilot to All in the Family, it's almost the exact same episode with only a few minor changes. That's incredibly lazy; they couldn't be bothered to come up with a brand new way to introduce these characters? But then when you consider the series' setting and that the characters are essentially the Bunkers and Stivics turned inside out and thrown into a blender, maybe it isn't out of place to have a copy and paste script.
Do any familiar All in the Family characters show up on 704 Hauser? Well, as previously stated, yes. Guess who they got? Joey. Yeah, Mike and Gloria's son Joey shows up on the Cumberbatchs' doorstep for no reason whatsoever. He's played by that guy who was one of Biff's lackeys in the Back to the Future trilogy. He shows up ten minutes into the pilot and asks if he can take a look around the house. Okay, that would never happen in real life. If you went back to your childhood home after a decade and asked the new residents if you could look around, they would refuse you, especially since that's a pretty easy ploy used by people who then turn around and rob the place. But no, without question, they just let Joey mosey on in and help himself to anything he wants in the kitchen. Ha ha ha, he's a food vacuum like his old man, ha ha ha... not funny! It would make sense if Joey Stivic was going to be a recurring character, like if he were this show's answer to Lionel, but he never appears again. I don't even know why he was included in the first place. Maybe they tried to get Carroll O'Connor, Rob Reiner, or Sally Struthers to guest star, but they probably all said no. They couldn't even get one of the actors who played Joey as a kid to show up. That was a dumb move, adding that character. As for the pilot itself, it's basically the father and son going back and forth arguing about things, mostly race relations. I don't really understand it, so maybe this show wasn't meant for me. In the end, Goodie is seen on Face the Nation, where he gives props to his old man, and we actually have a tender moment where it seems he and Ernie are making amends for all the cruel words exchanged... but then he goes and starts ridiculing his father on national television and another fight ensues. At least with the fights and arguments on All in the Family, they actually had something to say. This is just mean-spirited as it's between a father and a son, not in-laws. Not much else happens, and I'm not surprised this series was canceled after only 6 episodes were made. You could say maybe the world wasn't ready for this type of show, but then you would be wrong, because the way this series tries to be "edgy", it feels like something out of the mid-'80s, not the early '90s. This type of thing wasn't edgy anymore, it was no longer taboo for a black man and white woman to be in a relationship. I'm sorry, but it feels like Lear was considerably out of touch when he made this.
So why exactly did 704 Hauser fail? I want to blame the unoriginal concept and setting it in the Bunkers' old house. Sure, it looks nice redecorated and brought up to date, except whoever redid the kitchen put the door in the wrong place, but there was no reason to set it there. If they had set it anywhere else, it would have worked better, because the audience wouldn't keep getting distracted by this familiar location and always wondering what became of Archie Bunker. This series also fails in the acting department, though it was nice to see John Amos get another shot at a lead role in a Norman Lear sitcom, as I guess it was his way of making it up to Amos after firing him from Good Times. But even he couldn't save this show, because we don't see him as a black Archie Bunker, we see him as an angrier, more racist James Evans. I have a feeling this series was never going to be a hit, and it was just an excuse to cash in on a wildly successful series, and to utilize a set that had been sitting in storage for eleven years. 704 Hauser is largely forgotten now adays, and I think that's for the best. Lazy concept aside, they couldn't even give it a decent intro! I mean, I wasn't expecting Ernie and Rose to sing an updated version of "Those Were the Days", but all we get is a stock image of the house used for the Bunker abode and a bad hip-hop tune, then the episode begins. Sadly, that's how most modern shows begin as their producers are too lazy to make a decent opening, and the opening is usually the best and most iconic part of any show. Do I recommend 704 Hauser? No, it's boring, it's not funny, it brings nothing new to the table, and it was done much better 23 years earlier. But do check out All in the Family and any other show Norman Lear attached his name to, as I've still got mad respect for him and his efforts that saved television in the 1970s. In fact, I'd say he needs to get back to work and save television now. If he can't do it, nobody can.
Stupid is as Stupid Does
If you're an avid viewer of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, as I am, the one thing you never expect from this series is a strong plot, and with this episode, you won't be disappointed because we have no plot whatsoever. Robotnik invents a stupidity ray, Sonic and two annoying characters nobody cares about try to get to it, Robotnik is thwarted, the end. That's it, nothing else happens. I could stop the review here, but I've got lots more griping planned. One thing I will give it props for is that Attack on Pinball Fortress pays homage to the video game concept of Sonic the Hedgehog, because the fortress itself is like one big video game, almost like Sonic Spinball. If you like that game, this episode will... make you wish you were playing that instead. So, how do we begin a stupid episode? With Dr. Robotnik dressed like Rambo and shooting off his new stupidity ray. That's right, this week he's invented a ray that will significantly lower the IQ of anyone who gets in its wake. Um, someone else already invented that; it's called television. He tries to blast Sonic with it, but of course he's too fast of a target. He races Robotnik's laser beams into the local town, thus putting its citizens in danger. Why don't you draw him away from civilization, Sonic? So as the beams rain on the town, it zaps one of Sergeant Doberman's soldiers, making him stupidly obedient, and it zaps one of Wes Weasely's customers, making him buy everything the swindler was offering. Both men are intrigued about this new stupidity ray and want it for their own selfish purposes. As for Sonic, he takes nearly two minutes to take down Robotnik, by way of springboarding a mule behind the doc who gives him a good kicking, and boy can that mule kick. He sends Robotnik flying into the next county. With him gone, Doberman and Weasely begin fighting over the stupidity ray, while Sonic simply smashes it with a boulder. Problem solved, right? No, we've still got another fifteen minutes remaining. Robotnik calls in to say he still has the plans for the ray, and intends to build a much larger one located in his impenetrable Pinball Fortress. Not sure how it's any different than his regular fortress, but whatever. Doberman wants the stupidity ray so he can have a ton of stupidly obedient soldiers, and Weasely wants it so everyone will be stupid enough to buy his wares, so they both volunteer to help Sonic infiltrate the fortress... that is, if they can ever stop fighting. Why doesn't Sonic just leave these two idiots and go by himself? You know he's gonna find a way to get in there and stop Robotnik like he always does, so why does he need two tag-alongs? For comic relief? Neither of these characters are funny, and they grate my nerves every time they're on screen. But no, Sonic lets them join him anyway, while Tails plays eye in the sky. Yep, he gets to stay behind while Sonic and two characters not from the video games go on the adventure. Lame!
The hedgehog climbs up the mountain adjacent to Pinball Fortress, while waiting for the doughy ex-soldier and the hot-air salesman to follow him up, and boy, I HATE the way he says, "I'm waiting." Every time Sonic says that, I want to reach through the screen and smack him. Anyway, by working together, they zipline across the canyon and arrive at the front door. How could they possibly get inside? While they try to figure that out, Robotnik shoots missiles at them, proving he has all the marksmanship of a Stormtrooper. Turns out Weasely the crooked salesman had sold Robotnik most of the booby traps and security systems for the fortress, and so he exploits a stupidly simple flaw in the front door, making it crumble and gaining them entry. Now if you're wondering why it's called Pinball Fortress, that's because it's designed like a huge pinball machine. They go flying and bouncing around while sound effects from Super Mario Bros play. Did DiC not have the rights for Sonic sound effects or something? After bouncing around for a while, they end up in an underground lava pit, where Boss Scorpion makes his appearance. You may remember him from the first level of Sonic Spinball, except he looked much cooler and more menacing there. Sergeant Doberman fired all of his ammo at it, but doesn't even scratch the scorpion bot, mainly because we can't let anyone other than Sonic save the day, so the wily hedgehog punctures the ground on which the scorpion is standing and it falls into molten lava. If Robotnik and his machines are such big pushovers, why are they even considered threats? Gotta say, the traps are pretty lean for this place considering all the build up we've had thus far. Does Botsy have any more tricks up his sleeve? Sure, when Sonic, Doberman, and Weasely come through the door, he'll aim his Stupidity Ray v 2.0 at them and, when he tells Scratch and Grounder "shoot", they do just that. Speaking of stupidity, get a load of this: Sonic just waltzes into the room and surrenders, even bearing a gift. Okay, so he's got the hero right where he wants him, he could have ordered the robots to fire the ray at any point, but instead Dr. Robotnik falls for the oldest trick in the book. He opens the gift, which turns out to be Doberman and Weasely, having somehow stuffed themselves into a small box. That's when those two buffoons easily kick Robotnik away and fight over the machine. Again, this guy is a tremendous pushover. He's not a villain, he's a comic foil. Only thing left to do is Robotnik orchestrating his own downfall by saying "oh shoot". Remembering their cue, Grounder and Scratch a-fire their laser, draining their boss' IQ down to zilch. He finds a shiny deus ex machina and pulls it, triggering the fortress' self destruct function. Sonic, Doberman, and Weasely jump out, with Tails helping them to the ground, while Robotnik, his robots, and his fortress go sailing away. So, does our story have a moral? If it was trying to demonstrate that people from different walks of life can still work together to achieve a common goal and walk away with a better understanding of one another, then they failed, because they pull a Wayne's World at the end by saying, "we make a great team. Not!" What is our Sonic Says about? Well, after Robotnik gets blasted a second time by his stupidity ray, Sonic comes in to tell us three ways not to be stupid: stay in school, stay in school, and obey rules 1 and 2. Ha... ha. I like how Scratch and Grounder just stand there looking annoyed at Sonic as he talks.
I have to say, this episode might be somewhat offensive to people with mental disorders, because that seemed to be the effects of the stupidity ray. Still, such an invention included here was almost meta, as if the producers knew this was going to be a really stupid episode with no plot, so why not show something that will make people stupider, all while watching a show that has the same effect on its viewers. Look, I like Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, don't get the impression that I hate it, but episodes like this just make me resent the hell out of it. Here's the breakdown: the writing was terrible, the animation was bad, and the voice acting was horrible! I mean, nobody in this show can give a decent performance, although I will give props to Jaleel White and the late Long John Baldry, because I can definitely tell they're having fun recording these lines, and I guess that's how you can get through this show: don't take it seriously, just turn off your brain and have fun with it. I'm not kidding, you can't take this show seriously at all, because it was never meant to be seen that way. So with that in mind, Attack on Pinball Fortress was still a very weak episode, but it wasn't terrible, just mindless, and I think even little kids would be bored by it. Sergeant Doberman and Wes Weasely are meant to be comic relief, but they're not funny characters, they're two exhausted stereotypes that we've seen in a million other shows. I don't expect deep characters from AOSTH, but can you make the ones you can come up with just a little less annoying? In closing, I do recommend this episode, but it will leave you feeling empty with no laughs and nothing gained. Instead, I suggest playing Sonic Spinball, or any of the original Sonic games.
Make Mobius Great Again
Election Day. Democracy. These are things we take for granted, as some citizens are not as fortunate to be able to choose their leader. But choosing a leader can be difficult as you want to make absolutely sure you choose the right person for the job, someone who will watch out for the little guy, negotiate deals with foreign powers, keep the land safe, and make sure everything runs smoothly. How much you wanna bet Dr. Robotnik would not do any of the above if he were running for president? Well, you'd be right, and the planet Mobius will discover that as well when the portly baddie runs for president. So, he would be ruler of the whole planet, even though Mobius has been shown to have numerous countries and provinces. One world leader. I kinda thought Robotnik was already a ruler, as he seems to do as he pleases with little opposition, except from Sonic, of course. In the Saturday morning version, Robotnik does rule the planet, except he's a dictator. I guess the writers of the Adventures series wanted to try and do something satirical about American elections, and because their level of humor doesn't rise past first grade, you can be sure we won't be getting any sort of deep political commentary, but i'm sure it will be fun anyway. So one fateful day, Dr. Robotnik was minding his own business when suddenly, Momma comes a-calling. For someone who despises her son so much, she sure does like visiting him. She tells him that she wants him to run for president of Mobius, and that's how we got our plot started. That's right, Momma Robotnik tells her son to run, and he obeys. Okay, fine. Since he can't seem to conquer the world through his many inventions, his army of evil (yet stupid) robots, or just plain fear, he has to go and take over the world the legal way. What is Sonic going to do when he sees his arch nemesis' mug posted all over the town in shoddy campaign posters? Deface them, of course. Yeah, that'll show him. So what does every good presidential candidate need? Robotnik wouldn't know, because he isn't good, but he seeks out a campaign manager anyway, and it's... oh no, Wes Weasely again. You'd think Robotnik would know by now to trust this guy, but he swindles the swindler into helping him get an edge in the polls. Since the people like their candidates to be family men, Weasely concocts the doc a robot wife and a robot dog, which surprisingly isn't named Checkers. Now for some TV ads, in Hypno-vision. Kinda funny that the motor-mouth salesman is more intelligent than Dr. Robotnik. So what will Botsy's TV ads look like? Oh, they're a pip, trying to paint him as the classic American... er, Mobian man with a disobedient robot dog, Momma burning her hands on apple pies, and Scratch and Grounder accidentally beaning their boss in the head with a flagpole. Sonic laughs his spiny hiney off, but nobody else does. This is because subliminal hypnotic swirls appear off and on throughout the ad, but because Sonic's eyes are faster than others, he didn't see them. These ads brainwash the already stupid population. I guess cheating is definitely more Robotnik's style. As a result, Sonic announces his bid for the presidency, even though he's nowhere near the required minimum age, but I guess in Wacky World, a teenager can run things.
How will our cocky hero outdo Robotnik in a presidential race that's unfairly geared in his favor? I mean, Sonic could easily dig up dirt on his foe and expose him to the world, even though I'm sure by now everyone is familiar with Dr. Robotnik and his repeated attempts to conquer Mobius, and about the thousands if not millions of lives he's either endangered or killed. He's enslaved, kidnaped, blackmailed, broken every law under the sun and has never faced justice for any of them. He could do all this, but I guess Sonic's idea of bringing down Robotnik is to continuously deface his campaign posters and mix up his taped speeches. Gonna have to do better than that, hedgehog. Next, Robotnik goes to sample some food cooked for him by the locals, and each time he tries to take a bite, Sonic quickly replaces the food with pieces of trash Tails found at the dump. Making him eat garbage, okay like I said, Sonic, you're going to have to do better than pranks a 5-year-old would pull. Next, Weasely gets Robotnik a gig at a ribbon cutting for a suspension bridge, even appointing Scratch and Grounder as secret service, though in their case, it would be special service. Sonic easily gets passed the dumb-bots and loosens all the bolts on the bridge, making it collapse when Robotnik cuts the ribbon. Nice, you could've gotten several people hurt or even killed, Sonic. Can't believe I'm saying this, but I would lean more toward Robotnik right now. I forgot to mention, each time a disaster happens, the "Hypno-vision" wears off on the sheep, making them turn on their candidate. Not sure how that happens, but when you're accustomed to pulling plot threads out of your keister, you tend to forget rhyme and reason. Let's hope he'll do better at the big debate that night. Sonic goes all Bugs Bunny and dresses up like a woman to try and seduce Robotnik, and he falls for it because he's an idiot. He paints the man's face with lipstick, making his robo-wife very angry. Hey, at least there were no cigars involved. Once the debate gets underway, Robotnik orders his robots to eliminate Sonic, and of course, each time they fail and Botsy suffers a mishap. He finally loses his temper and fires a laser gun at Sonic, making the whole place crash down, leaving the hedgehog to ask viewers who they're going to vote for. Personally, I wouldn't vote for either of you! Robotnik is evil, plain as day, and Sonic, while the hero, is being a jerk as well. Tell us why we should vote for you, Sonic, mention free chili dogs. Anything. Well, usually in an election, they say to vote for the lesser of two evils, and so Sonic wins. I'm not saying he's evil, I'm just pointing out he's no more worthy than Botsy. It is then revealed that Scratch and Grounder forgot to vote, and Momma voted against her own son. Man, why are they making me feel so bad for Dr. Robotnik? He's the bad guy. Why does he always look so pathetic? Besides, it was Momma's idea to have him run in the first place. In response, Sonic resigns and gives the position to Henry Walrus, an older and more experienced candidate. Dr. Robotnik tries one last hurrah to destroy Sonic, but ends up getting crushed by the huge stacks of ballots. Our Sonic Says is about dental hygiene, and it's a good lesson that I have nothing to say about.
So that was "Sonic is Running". No duh, isn't he always? This whole series is him running all over the place. Our story and plot are very thin, there are very few laughs, the gags are all predictable, and whatever message it was trying to convey got lost in the fold. It's not a bad episode, it just has no reason to exist. It made me pine or the Saturday show's Robotnik, as he would have destroyed all opposition and conquered the planet overnight. That guy is a darker and far more dangerous adversary than the comic foil Sonic has in this show. Robotnik wants to take over the world, and here is the closest he ever came: doing it the democratically elected way, hypnotizing people into voting for him, and making himself look like a worthy candidate with a fake wife and dog. Then Sonic decides to run purely to deter people from voting for Robotnik, when really, why didn't he just build up Henry Walrus? Fight fire with fire, like he said? But, why start making sense now? As stated before, this was probably the showrunner's idea of introducing political commentary into their cartoon, but they don't make a valid point. However, let's compare this to the 2016 presidential election, shall we? Does Robotnik remind you of anybody? Does Henry Walrus? In fact, I'd compare this to an episode of Dinosaurs called "And the Winner Is", another prophetic early '90s show that seemed to predict the election. If only Sonic had handled it in a more clever fashion. So whether you're a Sonicrat or a Robotnican, you may get some mild amusement out of Sonic is Running. I do recommend it, but don't expect anything groundbreaking.
They're Magically Pernicious.
There are alot of people in the world who think magic can solve their problems, but if old cartoons like this are anything to go by, it most certainly will not. Since science seems to fail in helping Robotnik catch Sonic so many times, perhaps he will turn to magic. Ha, no way, but his butt-monkey robot Coconuts will, and you better believe it involves a story and plot that make no sense. So, how do we get the ball rolling this week? The Mobius Mint has announced that they will be putting Sonic's face on the 12 Mobian bill, though personally I think it should've been the 3. By the way, mints don't produce paper money, that's handled by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but I guess Wacky World doesn't have that. Sonic is handed the first of these 12 Mobians, and what is he going to do with it? Buy chili dogs, of course. Now, remember this action, folks, because I will be coming back to it during Sonic Says. Oh, what's Dr. Robotnik going to say when he finds out his most hated adversary will now be staring back at him when he opens his wallet? He's not happy, no sir, in fact, he instantly hatches a brilliant evil scheme of... putting his own face on the money. Wow, great plan there, Doc, took you five whole seconds to come up with that one. He sends Scratch and Grounder out to occupy Sonic, while he works out the logistics of his supercilious plan, and he sends maltreated Coconuts back to scrubbing his toilets. Just then, who should come a-knocking but that fast-talking swindler salesman Wes Weasely, a guy who makes me pine for Al Swindler from Garfield and Friends. He now represents a company that dabbles in the black arts and tries to sell Robotnik a bunch of crappy magical spells, potions, and hexes. Fortunately, Botsy remembered very well what happened the last time he trusted this windbag and quickly ejects him, however Weasely does find a very gullible customer in Coconuts, who wants to try this new magic act to make a certain hedgehog disappear. In order to pay for these new tools, he fools Dr. Robotnik into signing an order form for additional cases of toilet paper, since he uses so much. Ah, so Robotnik was partly responsible for the big TP shortage in 2020. Also, you'd think a brilliant man like Robotnik would actually read the form before signing it, but no, he basically just signed a form that allows Coconuts to buy whatever he wants. Ooh, boy, that monkey's going to wish he'd stayed in the sewer. So, what is the first trick up The Great Cocodini's sleeve? He's going to use a magic wand to make Sonic and Tails disappear. Can't he make the script disappear instead? Meanwhile, Scratch and Grounder are setting up a trap of their own, involving wet cement, a wrecking ball, and a chili dog stand. I think even if Coconuts hadn't shown up to prove how big of a bumbling magician he is, that trap probably wouldn't have worked. In short, he makes the construction equipment disappear, thus dropping the wrecking ball on the stupid robots. With that trick predictably gone awry, Coconuts moves on to a Conjure Your Own Ghosts kit to scare the hedgehog to death. All you need is a cauldron, bat wings, and ginger ale. Well, he conjures a ghost that I can only assume is one of Robotnik's ancestors, because he looks just like him, only sans the mustache. But guess what? It turns out Sonic has fans in the netherworld, because Ghosty asks for his autograph, then he scares off Scratch and Grounder, and that's the last we see of them in this episode! Deciding that maybe this magic stuff isn't all it's cooked up to be, Coconuts considers hanging it up and not trusting this clearly untrustworthy salesman, but when Weasely suggests going back on sanitation detail, the monkey goes for his next trick: a turn-to-stone spell. Speaking of stone, I think the writers of this show had to have been stoned on several occasions. So he tries this spell on Sonic and Tails, and after flubbing the magic words a few times, he actually succeeds! He turns our heroes to stone. Well, third time's really the charm. Guess Robotnik wins, he'll get his face on all the money, and it's all thanks to Coconuts, Weasely, and some costly magic tricks. I mean, I don't see how Sonic could possibly get out of this one. Unless that dumb ape accidentally recites the undo spell, which is oddly specific: "hang up a phone, no more stone." Really? Could the writer not think of any other way? Well, after Coconuts says he won't hang up a phone, guess what? He hangs up the phone, freeing our heroes from stone. Idiot!
Meanwhile, Robotnik infiltrates the mint, which is surprisingly very understaffed and not guarded. He's there to steal all the money, though wasn't his plan just to put his face on it? Well, he's an evil genius, I guess he can do both. As for Coconuts, he still won't give up this magic kick, so he tries one last gadget: a bad-luck emitter. Whoever is blasted by it will have a run of bad luck. This one isn't so much about magic as it is technology, shouldn't it be like a bad luck spell or something? Guess Brian Swenlin gave up early on this one. Not a big surprise, I'm sure most scripts produced for this series were first drafts written in an afternoon anyway. Sonic somehow knows Robotnik is at the mint, so he and Tails go to try and stop him, but then Coconuts shows up with his new toy, and as expected, it misfires and hits Tails instead! What? Why?! So, as expected, bad things start happening to Tails, just like they always do on this show, and he winds up on a conveyor belt heading toward a large pair of scissors. Why doesn't he just fly off? Stupid! Using his super speed, Sonic manages to save the little nimrod, then hurries off to stop Robotnik and Coconuts, as the former gloats about how they've got enough cash to torment Mobius for centuries. Ah, so you're going into the game of capitalism, eh, Botsy? Pretty fiendish. Sonic comes at them with a forklift, sending them through the presses and flying out the skylight. Once they land in the bushes outside, Weasely returns to hand Robotnik his very large bill for all the magic crap Coconuts bought behind his back. In response, he chases the two of them down the street with a zapper ray. Do it, Robotnik, incinerate these two pests! Look at me, I'm cheering on the villain. But now, boys and girls, it's time for Sonic Says. You remember earlier when Sonic was given the twelve Mobian bill and said he would spend it on chili dogs? Now it's time for that message to be put into play and show what a hypocrite that blue hedgehog can be: in this week's PSA, Wes Weasely is trying to sell Coconuts some candy and toys, which he's very eager to pay for, until Sonic comes in and encourages him to not waste his money and save it for something real nice. The monkey decides to save it and buy a new plunger to make Robotnik happy. Okay, first of all: yes, it's a good message about saving money, but let's look at it objectively: Coconuts has a miserable life, all he does is scrub Dr. Robotnik's toilets. I say let him buy junk food; it will make him happy, if only for a short while. Secondly, the fact he still wants to please his cruel master shows that Coconuts has serious Battered Housewife Syndrome. Finally, you were going to spend your twelve bucks on chili dogs and sodas, Sonic, so you're really not in a position to school others on how they spend their money. But it makes as much sense as anything else in this dumpster fire of an episode.
That was "Magic Hassle", and boy, was it ever a hassle to get through it. Most episodes of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog are pretty good, but there are some that can be downright infuriating in how bad and nonsensical they are. While Magic Hassle isn't as bad as, say, Tails' New Home or Sonically Ever After, it still reeks like a two-week old skunk carcass. The writing was terrible, the animation was terrible, and the acting was godawful! I know these characters are meant to have annoying voices, but Coconuts reached new levels for me here. He was so grating to listen to. Most of this episode was subpar and its plot couldn't have been weaker: Sonic got his face printed on money, so Robotnik wants the same. Add in some lame gags about performing magic tricks and screwing up, and you've just wasted 20 precious minutes of your life. The part that annoyed me most of all was when Tails got blasted with the bad luck emitter. Just what was their problem with Tails? He was always such a "damsel scrappy" as TV Tropes would call him, and even at times, a "woobie". He was always a wimpy kid who had to be saved, though I do give the producers credit for the few times they allowed him to be the hero, but for the most part, he was just a damsel for Sonic to rescue, and as someone who has played the original Sonic the Hedgehog games, I can assure you that such a thing never happens in any of them. He's just as capable as Sonic, just not as fast. How does that translate to wimpy baby who needs rescuing? That's a major pet peeve with me about this show. Now as far as Coconuts, he was never smart, but he really wasn't this stupid. It actually made me miss Scratch and Grounder, because at least their stupidity was expected, and like I said, he was extremely annoying. In closing, I don't recommend The Magic Hassle, because it's stupid and annoying, but do check out other episodes of this show, because like I said, most of them are pretty good.
The Naked Truth
I'm sure that we're all familiar with the classic story of The Emperor's New Clothes, it's about a vain, pompous emperor who commissions a perfect new suit for him to show off to his kingdom, only he's so pre-occupied with himself that he fails to notice he'd been played for a sap and walks around his kingdom in the buff. Well, there is a good lesson to be learned from all this and most adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen's tale are pretty good, such as the one brought to us from Rankin/Bass in 1972, hosted by Danny Kaye and featured under the banner of The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye. He narrates as well as takes up the role of Marmaduke, a charming con-man who, aided by his assistant, Mufti, search high and low for their next caper, and lo and behold, they quickly find it: Emperor Klockenlocher the Proud of Bibentucker is offering one million Grinklens to anyone who can fashion him the perfect new suit. I don't know what part of that sentence to laugh at first, but with a payday of one million Grinklens at stake, Marmaduke decides to give it a go. He and Mufti pose as tailors set to knit some new threads for this fine ruler. Upon entering Bibentucker, they meet the Emperor, strutting around in a tacky suit while his jester, Jasper, announces that he's won yet another prize for best fashion. An easy enough mark, though Marmaduke quickly takes a liking to the Emperor's beautiful daughter, Jane. He goes to chat her up and she tells him that not everything is sunshine and roses in Bibentucker. To put it simply, Jasper is evil and he took advantage of the recently bereaved emperor to focus entirely on his fine clothing, while he secretly took over his treasury, paid the tailors slave's wages, and kept the rest for himself. Jasper has the makings of a corporate man, alright. But now, the Emperor's treasury is down to its last one million Grinklens, which will be offered as prize money, and then the kingdom will fall into a recession. Huh, this is all very prophetic. The Emperor catches them and, under suggestion from Jasper, has Mufti and Marmaduke banished to the Boulevard of Rogues, where he has sent other people who don't meet the dress code. While there, Marmaduke formulates a new plan, and both he and Mufti become unexpected parents to an orphaned boy, Busky. That night, the trio escape by way of Marmaduke charming a group of alligators, and go to see the Emperor properly. After a song and dance, Jasper becomes hooked and suggests they make the Emperor something special, as opposed to the cobbled-together jacket they patched together in the Boulevard. Marmaduke tells him that the cloth with which to make this special suit is enchanted, meaning it's invisible to any person who is very stupid and/or unfit to hold office. Ha, ol' Click-Clack or whatever his name is has got to be the most gullible man whoever lived. He didn't even realize this guy just insulted him right to his face, but not before he bought that baloney about enchanted, invisible cloth. Jasper isn't fooled one bit and sees this as the perfect distraction in order to bilk the kingdom out of the last of its money, but the Emperor... I'm really starting to pity that guy. He doesn't know people are laughing at him behind his back.
Marmaduke sees this as one of the easiest paydays of his life: making an invisible garment for a dim-witted Emperor, easy money in the bank, right? Well, sure, if not for one literally small problem: Jasper. Just because he's got Emperor Clockwatcher under his thumb, that makes him think he owns the place and starts bossing around Marmaduke, telling him to stay away from Jane, as he wants to marry her, even though she's not all that into him. Like, at all. Something like that doesn't phase him, as he plans to trick her into a wedding. Good luck with that, pal. Meanwhile, the Emperor tries to brush up on his education in order to finally see that so-called enchanted cloth. Ha, poor Emp, however it's nice that this whole thing has been an incentive for him to further his education, which he no doubt neglected when he inherited the crown. As for Jasper, he stops by to remind us that he's the villain by forcing Marmaduke to hand over Princess Jane to him as if she were some sort of a commodity... well, it is the 18th century. In addition, he also orders the two rogues to give him the million Grinklens, minus one each for their trouble, and if they refuse, he'll fire a cannon on the Boulevard of Rogues. All this guy needs is a mustache to twirl he's such a stock antagonist. Not willing to let The Joker get away with his nefarious scheme of trapping Jane in a loveless marriage and pocketing the Emperor's treasury for himself and ruling the world, Marmaduke formulated a plan. First, they show off the Emperor his invisible suit, which he reluctantly accepts and pays the million, which our heroes swap out for a bag of fake money and hide the real one in a cannon... don't see that going wrong. So how does the unwitting ruler go about showing off his new suit? About how you would expect: he parades around the kingdom stark naked. Oh jeez, Your Majesty, put on some underwear, this is a family show! Nevertheless, he was feeling very proud of himself. Now to help the good citizens of Bibentucker erase the mental image of their naked emperor from their minds, it was time for the wedding of Princess Jane to Marmaduke. Going with his plan, the wily rogue admitted to already being married, and announces that Jasper will be the replacement groom. However, anyone who has seen Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland will recognize this classic ploy: when Jasper goes to kiss the bride, he lifts the veil and sees... Busky! Furthermore, the boy lets the Emperor know that the suit he's wearing is his birthday suit, much to his extreme dismay. Again, I really pity this man. He rightfully blames the whole mess on Jasper and banishes him from the kingdom forever. He also tries to have Marmaduke arrested, but Jane begs him not to, saying she loves him and wants to marry him. The Emperor gives them his blessing, and even owns up to the fact that he commissioned and demanded the invisible suit he now wore, and would proudly display it for the rest of the day. Huh, leave it to this guy to walk around naked AND maintain his dignity. So Marmaduke and Jane were married and all was well, though Jasper wasn't willing to give up so easily and ordered the cannon fired, raining the million Grinklens over the Boulevard of Rogues.
That was The Emperor's New Clothes, brought to life by Rankin/Bass' fabulous AniMagic puppetry, and we've got a terrific voice cast, including Danny Kaye as Marmaduke, Cyril Ritchard as Emperor Clockwork Orange, Imogene Coca as Jane, Allen Swift as Mufti, Bob McFadden as Jasper, and Gary Shapiro as Busky, who all gave great performances. The songs and music were fantastic, the stop-motion animation is pretty good for 1972, this is definitely one you should check out. It has a good lesson about being honest with yourself and believing in who you really are, and not always relying on some expensive set of clothing to make people think you are what you're not. It also warns you not to be too trusting and slack on your responsibilities, as the Emperor did with Jasper. I can only hope that jester was imprisoned, as he not only manipulated the Emperor and stole his money, but he also married a minor. Hopefully he met a deserving fate with the old guillotine. Also, I'm glad those with a morbid curiosity never got to know if R/B AniMagic puppets are anatomically correct, as even though it was a controversial move to show the Emp naked, they do have the decency to censor him Austin Powers-style. So, if you're familiar with this tale, you like Rankin/Bass' work, and you need a reminder how clothes don't always make the man, then I recommend The Emperor's New Clothes.
A Tale of Two Heroes
What happens when another superhero gets on Sonic's turf, though instead of actually helping him, he becomes yet another damsel in distress for the hedgehog to rescue? This is the story of a former hero who took his suit out of mothballs and tried to reclaim his former glory, only to get bested by the younger crowd. This is "Over the Hill Hero", and the fun begins as Scratch and Grounder drop bombs on a village... sneeze bombs, that is. Have to keep it family friendly. This is Hill Top Village, though it isn't like the fifth level in Sonic 2, and Robotnik wants this place for some reason, and what that is, we'll find out later. So as Sonic races to the rescue, the robots drop a bomb on him, though instead of exploding, it bounces off the rubbery ground and lands in his hands and sneezes. That's like a live grenade bouncing on the ground and flying into your hand before it goes off. But it's at that moment, we meet an old, overweight raccoon in a cape. This is Captain Rescue, a retired superhero with a gadget belt that would make Batman blush. His attempts to defuse the bomb only end up giving Sonic a severe sneeze attack. Since Captain Rescue was more of a hindrance than help, Sonic manages to dispatch of the two robots himself, by way of making their blimps sneeze... just go with it. So with that semi-threat stopped, the former superhero shows Sonic and Tails highlights from his glory days, excerpts they keep in the public library for some reason. Rescuing cats, foiling bank robberies, clawing out an entire erupting volcano to save a village, you know, typical, generic good guy stuff. Okay, sure, but my question is: where has this guy been all this time, and why all of a sudden has he decided to come out of retirement to help fight bad guys again? He mentions seeing Sonic on TV and figured he could use his help. Didn't CR train a replacement before he retired? Obviously not. The hedgehog rudely refuses the old raccoon's help, making him walk away in a huff. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik was taking his latest defeat as well as you'd expect. But why was he so concerned about Hill Top Village? Because it would give him better access to a satellite orbiting Mobius, which would power his latest invention: the Egg-o-Matic Force Field, an impenetrable, inescapable egg with which he would cover the whole planet, though not before literally tossing Sonic off it and into deep space. Huh, okay, might as well give Botsy the benefit of the doubt. I mean, all his schemes to conquer Mobius thus far have failed, but I've got to hand it to him for his determination and optimism. He launches a second raid on Hill Top Village, which Sonic was prepared for since he knows Robotnik believes any bad worth doing is worth doing twice. Since when? He's never made any second attempts at any of his plans before. Anyway, Sonic disguises himself as General Disorder of Military Intelligence (ha...ha), and of course, Scratch and Grounder don't recognize him, and quick as you can say "forward march", Disorder marches a trio of giant robot soldiers off a cliff. Hey, Robotnik, if you really wanted to take over the world, how about making robots that are NOT stupid? Program them to recognize blue hedgehogs in disguise! Captain Rescue shows up again, and he and Grounder have a battle of gadgets, then Scratch picks him up, rolls him into a ball, and tosses him away. While they may be stupid, these robots sure are strong. So Sonic has to save the dim-witted former hero again and literally bowls Grounder and Scratch over. It's then that Robotnik formulates a new plan, which he literally interrupts the scene to tell us. Breaking the fourth wall is nothing new in this series, but peeking out from behind the scene to exposit to the audience, that's definitely a Robotnik thing to do. He plans to manipulate Captain Rescue to help him in his evil bidding. Just ask him to help, that'll do the trick. Anyway, Sonic is a jerk to CR again, though to be fair, he was getting in the way, and so the aged relic of bygone days goes to sulk, when Robotnik shows up, claiming to be his biggest fan, and right here is where Captain Rescue loses credibility. He's a big hero on Mobius, yet he doesn't seem to recognize Dr. Robotnik. Yeah, the mad scientist who constantly tries to conquer the world, who is Public Villain Number One with a bullet, underlined, squared, and circled in stars, and yet this so-called superhero doesn't know who he is?! That would be like if Superman didn't recognize Lex Luthor. Anyway, Robotnik pretends to be a good guy and requests Captain Dumbbell's help in fighting villainy.
The plan involves Captain Rescue trying to stop some remote controlled planes, and failing. Sonic stands in a very precarious spot while announcing his intent to do a "Sonic spin". Robotnik got very lucky that Sonic would just happen to stand in that one, specific spot. What's wrong with it, you might ask? It was the platform for Robotnik's new force field, which he gleefully activates, trapping Sonic in an impenetrable egg. By sheer act of luck, it seems Dr. Robotnik has won. Captain Rescue quickly realizes he bet on the wrong horse and tries to sick his gadgets on the bad guys, but they misfire, making him look quite the fool. He falls into a depression, while Tails tries to tell him it wasn't his fault. Actually, it kind of was: he played along as a diversion, which allowed Sonic to be trapped, and he didn't even recognize the most infamous villain on Mobius. So yeah, this was partly the masked raccoon's fault. As he goes away to pout, Tails flies in and rescues the encased Sonic, whom Robotnik was planning to put on display in the center of town to show what happens when one dares to defy him, and they do nothing to stop him. So, with Sonic out of commission, who's going to foil the doc's evil schemes this week? Obviously Tails can't do it, because...? Eh, let's not give up on the fat washout just yet, so Tails pays him a visit to try and get him to help, but he's just too down on himself. Tails tells him he's scared about Sonic... oh, and the world too, I guess. But with one look in the mirror, Captain Rescue snaps out of it and agrees to help. Wow, that was quick. No motivational speeches? No training montages? I mean, we've got six minutes left, there's time. No, just one look and he's back. Okay, good. Take that, Rocky. He and Tails fly back to Hill Top Village by way of the Rescue Rocket, which makes short work of Scratch and Grounder, who were literally stomping on buildings in giant robot walkers with large sneakers. Great, but how are they going to free Sonic? Easy, he borrows the Rescue Rocket to fly high into the sky where air pressure is extremely thin, which would cause the force field to expand and burst. See? Even Dr. Robotnik can't defy the rules of nature. He flies the rocket out into space, where both it and the force field explode, which then causes Sonic to free fall back to Mobius. He would be extremely dead by now. He would simply turn to ice and float away, but because this is a nonsensical cartoon, he makes back to the surface by catching a ride on a passing bird. Well, Captain Rescue and Tails easily get captured by Grounder, while Scratch aims his laser gun at Sonic, yet like the Bond villain lackey he is, he takes look long in decimating the hero, which gives them time to react. Captain Rescue uses his Gadget lasso to tie up the robot chicken, while Sonic activates Robotnik's trashed Egg-o-Matic hovercraft to bounce the three baddies away into the next episode. He then apologizes for being a jerk to CR and Tails calls him his second favorite hero. Before they depart, they tell him if his help is ever needed again, they'll call upon him. I guess they didn't mean that, as we never see Captain Rescue again. Guess he outlived his usefulness. Our Sonic Says is a unique one, as Sonic doesn't appear. It's Captain Rescue and Tails getting lost in the woods, and an old bear reminds them that moss grows on the north side of trees. The lesson is about respecting your elders, which is a good lesson, actually.
This episode was pretty fun, though the animation is flawed, as the characters go off-model in many shots, and as for things like bombs and blimps coming alive, I should like to point out that the animators were inspired by the works of Max Fleischer, and if you've watched their old cartoons, everything was alive. Our plot didn't make much sense, but on a show like this, that can be forgiven. As far as characters, Captain Rescue had a good heart, but was pretty flat and almost stereotypical, but again, if you want better developed characters, watch the Saturday morning series, as this one is just about being goofy and silly. Keeping in mind what Sonic said about Robotnik performing similar acts of badness twice, it's always strange to me that he never tried that force field trap again, because it actually worked. In fact, if we take Captain Rescue out of the story, Dr. Robotnik would have won and conquered Mobius, similarly to "Baby Sitter Jitters", had it not been for the beaver babies, Robotnik would have won there too. I guess it's fortunate that every time he has a competent plan, there's always a third party who relies on dumb luck to thwart them and save the day. So, in closing, I recommend Over the Hill Hero, it's good fun and it has a good moral: don't give up on yourself, no matter how out of shape, out of touch, or inherently clumsy and dim-witted you are, because you might get lucky one day and save the world.
More Like "Trail of the Missing Plot."
Most episodes of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog are pretty good. They're zany, of course, they make little sense, but all in all, they can be good fun. However, when you've got a bad episode, you really know it. One that just lets you know that either the animators, the writers, or sometimes all of the above had to be on drugs when they made it, and Trail of Missing Tails certainly fits the criteria of something made via substance abuse. First time I saw this episode, I was baffled at how stupid it was and couldn't bring myself to continue it, but now, many years and therapy visits later, I'll look at the whole thing and make what little sense of it that I can. So we open in the Twilight Zone, where this whole series is set, and some weird guy in the shadows with a floating toupee monologues about how his cousin Robotnik banished him to the "warp of confusion." More like the zone of bad writing. He goes on to say he'll have his revenge, all while studying Sonic through a telescope. Who is this guy, besides Dr. Robotnik's cousin? Well, introductions will have to wait because now we're treated to a pointless set piece where Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts set up a symphony of over-kill traps for one blue hedgehog, using a tasty chili dog as bait. These guys watch way too many Roadrunner cartoons. Sonic and Tails are nearby, and right away sense that it's a trap. I mean, they could just go. Leave the stupid robots waiting around all day, while they go somewhere else, but no, Sonic can never resist the chance to show off, so he tells Tails to wait there and watch while he causes the robots to be smashed in their own traps, like we didn't see that coming a mile away. Following the chaos is a massive explosion, leading Tails to go over and see if Sonic was alright, and predictably, he falls into a crater and gets captured by the robots. Wait, was that their plan all along? Create a diversion trap for Sonic, when really their plan was to nab Tails? Naw, I'm giving them too much credit. They somehow managed to recover very quickly and got lucky enough to catch Tails, because let's face it, he's such a weak damsel in distress. Sonic saves his pal, and then scolds him for running off. Hey, if you hadn't been so vainglorious and wanted to show off and instead just walked away, maybe that wouldn't have happened, you cocksure, supercilious little punk. Gotta love my thesaurus. Anyway, when Sonic wakes up the next morning, he finds Tails missing. Oh, so can our plot begin now? It's only been seven freakin' minutes. Right away, he assumes Robotnik took him and races to his fortress, where the evil doctor was once again shouting at Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts for failing (once again) to capture Sonic. Well, what did you expect, Robotnik? I mean, you're supposed to be an evil genius who specializes in making robots, so why did you build three stupid ones? Why not just upgrade their intelligence, like Koopa did to Iggy and Spike in the Super Mario Bros movie? It's bad when that movie makes smarter choices than the Sonic show. When questioned about Tails' whereabouts, Robotnik swears innocence, suggesting maybe it was Sonic's fault, which the hedgehog believes, citing his scolding of Tails the day before. So, yeah, it is your fault, Sonic. As he goes off to find his buddy, Robotnik decides that this will be the perfect chance to finally nab the hedgehog, as he'll be too distracted to notice. Um... why don't you use his distraction to enact some master plan of conquering Mobius, Robotnik? No evil plan this week? Man, Bob Forward really had no plot for this one, did he? We're ten minutes in, we haven't had a proper introduction to the main villain of our story, and just nothing but Robotnik and his goons setting traps for Sonic, which he easily avoids. This is so stupid. I know the Adventures series wasn't noted for decent plots and storylines, but this is lazy even by their standards.
Sonic literally leaves no stone unturned as he searches for his missing buddy, all while Robotnik and the robots follow in the Egg-o-Matic. How can they all fit in that thing? He sends them out to catch Sonic and warns them not to fail. Guess what? They fail. Surprised? Anyway, through an odd series of twists and turns, Sonic finds himself in the "warp of confusion" and now, we finally meet the guy behind all this madness: Dr. Warpnik. In short, this guy is Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. He's got a red face, a floating toupee, he makes your average mad scientist look sane by comparison. As he said before, Robotnik banished him there for being loony... and he was right! The one time Robotnik actually did the world a favor. You know, if this Warpnik guy were dangerous, he'd make an interesting villain, but he's actually harmless. Instead, his job is to entertain the mindless babies in the audience, who think a weird man pulling stupid faces with weird sound effects is funny and entertaining. It isn't! Also, what is with this episode's obsession with fish? The robots tried lobing buckets off of them at Sonic earlier, then we see floating fish in Warpnik's dimension. Were the animators fishermen or something? Robotnik shows up, and he and his cousin commence to slapping each other with fish, while Sonic rescues Tails. What evil, diabolical traps will Dr. Warpnik activate to keep his prisoners from escaping? A zapper ray that turns things large and sentient. Why would I expect anything less? He and Robotnik fight over the controls until the cannons get tied. Literally. But not before Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts get blasted, turning them into bigger, more menacing robots. Alright, now this is getting interesting. Unfortunately, their brains stay the same size and instead of using their new powers against Sonic, they decide to take revenge on Robotnik for mistreating them. However, instead of crushing the two 'niks, they destroy his equipment, causing the entire place to fall apart. Sonic and Tails book it out of the warp zone- did I mention the entrance was a trash can? Exactly where the script belonged. The two pals escape before the trash can explodes, trapping Robotnik, Warpnik, Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts in wacky world forever. Huh, that's actually where we leave them. We don't see them get out, or hear Robotnik say "I hate that hedgehog." We just end on the robots, still supersized, watching Robotnik and his cousin slap each other with fish. This should have been the final episode: bad guys trapped, Mobius safe, Sonic emerged the victor. It's not the finale, but let's pretend it is, shall we? Our Sonic Says is about knowing your area code. Tails tries to make a call, but doesn't know it. It's a good lesson, but it doesn't apply to Sonic and Tails, as they're globetrotters. Besides, Mobius only has one area code: 666.
So that was "The Warp of Fever Dreams", or as we call it on earth, "The Trail of Missing Tails." It made no sense, the writing was horrible, the acting was horrible, the animation was horrible, just what was the point? This one was absolutely ridiculous. I hated it the first time I saw it and, well I don't hate it now, I just don't get it. Just avoid this episode. You're not missing anything. It's chock full of the robots and Robotnik trying to trap Sonic, ala Wile E. Coyote and failing, we don't get to our nonsensical plot until ten minutes in, and our main villain was a complete and utter joke. Even babies would find this episode insulting. Just avoid it. Watch any other episode, except Tails' New Home, Sonically Ever After, Momma Robotnik Returns, and this. I do not recommend Trail of Missing Tails. Instead, going on the trail of watching something better.
After MASH (1983)
How Not to Do a Follow-up to a Successful, Character-Driven Show
I have a lot to say about this one. So, yeah, this series has caught a ton of flack as being the worst spin-off in television history, but is it really as horrible as everybody makes it out to seem? I will say this: AfterMASH was more boring and pointless than it was terrible. I mean, it's bad, but you can tell they tried to do something with it. Tried and failed, but you can tell, for some fleeting moment, something was there. Anyway, so as M*A*S*H was on its last legs in 1983, they aired a 2-hour series finale movie, which was the top-rated event in television history and it held that honor for 30 years! Everybody in the world tunes in to see how the characters would get home after the war. Even people who had stopped watching M*A*S*H by then still tuned in. It was a juggernaut in the ratings, so you know Fox and CBS couldn't let M*A*S*H go at this point. Not when it was still as profitable as it was, but the series was over, and only 3 of the 7 main cast members were willing to continue. How can you continue an ensamble show of that caliber with just three cast members? Make a follow-up, spin-off... and put NO effort into it whatsoever. The network hired back Larry Gelbart, who had left M*A*S*H in it's fourth season to develop the new show. Not sure why he bothered, but then again, I'm not sure why he bothered writing "Hawkeye". First thing he did was create the title AfterMASH, which he thought was the funniest thing he'd ever written in his life. No joke, he laughed about it for hours. Yeah, I get it, it's a pun on the word "aftermath", but is it really THAT funny? No, it isn't. Then Jamie Farr suggested setting it in a stateside veteran's hospital. "It's never been done before." Yeah, there's probably a reason for that, Jamie. Stateside vet hospitals are boring. But hey, the original cast and some funny side characters can make it work... right? So, here's where things take an "interesting" turn, as you have to wonder how Colonel Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy, characters from opposite ends of the country and who have nothing in common, all get together again in one place. If it sounds farfetched, that's because it is. The series begins as Colonel Potter returns home to Missouri, and we finally get to meet Mildred. Potter's got a job at General Pershing Veteran's Hospital in Riverbend, and Klinger's going to be working for him. Yeah, you remember in the M*A*S*H finale where Klinger actually volunteered to stay in Korea and help his bride Soon-Lee find her family? She'd been looking for them for months and hadn't found them. That was a big character moment for Klinger and went against his years of trying to get out of Korea, and this gave him motivation to stay. Eh, they found her family almost instantly, and now they're back in the states. Wow, what an insult. Father Mulcahy joins the gang in part 2 of the two-part pilot, and you remember how his hearing got damaged by an exploding mortar blast, and he was going deaf? Another huge character moment from the finale that got completely tossed aside due to a miracle surgery. Geez, I'll bet if Winchester were in this show, he'd go right back to listening to music.
So, what about the other characters in this series? We've got the hospital administrator, Michael D'Angelo-yes, that's really his name-and the best way to describe him is to imagine Henry Blake if he were not funny or likable. We've also got Alma Cox as Mike's assistant, and she is, well, imagine Hot Lips if she were not funny or likable either. Both of these characters are dull, boring, and just plain mean. There are, however, two promising new characters who actually are likable: Dr. Gene Pfeiffer, a young, idealistic doctor who works alongside Potter, and Bob Scannell, who served with Potter in the first World War. So at this point, the good characters outweigh the bad, but sadly, that was about to change. Towards the end of the first season, the show began to completely fall apart. Dr. Pfeiffer is replaced by Dr. Boyer, who is essentially an unfunny, unlikable Hawkeye. Yes, that's the strategy for AfterMASH's new characters: take likable M*A*S*H characters and give them bland, unappealing personalities and make sure not a single line of dialogue is funny. Boyer has a sullen attitude and lost his leg in the war. Why did they replace Pfeiffer with this sad-sack? Also, D'Angelo gets his walking papers and is replaced in Season 2 by Wally Wainwright, an even more deplorable person. Soon-Lee gets pregnant, and Klinger goes to jail for assaulting a shady real estate agent. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Radar makes an appearance in their tenth episode. He could've joined the cast here, but they instead gave him his own spin-off: W*A*L*T*E*R, and the less said about that horrific piece of crap, the better. Anyway, so in Season 2, they recast Mrs. Potter and changed the opening sequence. Also, they had Klinger declared insane to avoid going to jail, and you know what that means: he gets to pretend he's crazy again. You're not even trying!! But then again, when were you ever? So nothing much else happens as the series mercifully got canceled at the end of Season 2, with one episode never airing.
So, yeah, this is a bad show. Mostly because it's boring. It had nothing to say, nothing to add to the M*A*S*H canon, it was just a lazy, sloppy, incoherent show CBS made them throw together quickly in a vain attempt to save their most successful show of the 1970s. Nothing but a shameful cash-in. It's also painful to watch actual funny people performing such terrible scripts. Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher were too good for a show like this. You could tell they were trying hard to make this show work, but they couldn't do it. The writing and directing was that bad. Apparently, this series was killed when it aired opposite The A-Team in a foolishly cocky display that made them thing AfterMASH would steal their viewers. I pity the fools. The A-Team was a fresh, new, well-written, action-packed character driven show, while AfterMASH was tired, old drivel that offered nothing new or even vaguely interesting. I've seen about four episodes of AfterMASH, and they are boring, dull, lifeless, and not funny. I could get a weak chuckle out of Morgan, Farr and Christopher, because they're naturally funny people. I also liked Patrick Crenshaw as Bob Scannell, but nobody else in this cast can be funny or give a good performance, to say nothing of Rosalind Chao's naive, fish-out-of-water act. I think most M*A*S*H fans disregard AfterMASH and it wasn't included in the Complete Series DVD set, or even released on DVD at all. Maybe it's for the best. I think this series needed better writers, better directors, and a supporting cast that could actually be funny, but maybe that was too much to ask. It was obvious the network was scared of taking risks with it, and when the ratings slightly dropped at the end of its first year, they panicked, which is why they recast Mildred and changed the intro. So, in closing, do I recommend AfterMASH? No. It's boring and pointless. But if you're curious to see what happened to Potter, Klinger and Mulcahy after Korea, then I'd say take a look. Oh, and one more thing: why does it have to say "A continuation of M*A*S*H" in the closing credits? I think we can figure that out ourselves, but then again, this show things its audience are idiots.
Things That Go Boom-Boom in the Night
I was surprised to discover that this was an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog that I had never seen before. I thought I had seen them all, but it would appear I missed one. This is the story about how Robotnik's butt-monkey Coconuts recruits a big, strong ape to try and take down a certain hedgehog. Er, no stranger than the other plots they came up with for this show, so how do these monkey shines get started? When Coconuts borrowed Dr. Robotnik's Egg-o-Matic to try and chase Sonic. Not sure how this transpired, I guess he one day just decided to give it a try. Needless to say, Sonic literally runs circles around the befuddled robot monkey, making him crash. When Robotnik saw his destroyed Egg-o-Matic, he was livid. He then booted Coconuts out of his fortress, sending him on a permanent vacation. You have wonder why Robotnik continues to tolerate Scratch and Grounder, despite their many screw ups, yet after just one mishap with Coconuts, he writes him off. Ah well, for now the doctor has bigger fish to fry, like a 10-foot-tall gorilla he's got chained up in the basement to be used in his latest plot to try and destroy Mobius. Yeah, well, don't quit your day job, Robotnik. Meanwhile, Coconuts ended up in a remote jungle, meeting a giant baby ape who mistakes him for his father. Huh, how long has this little tyke's father been gone that he no longer recognizes him? Anyway, the robot monkey quickly comes to the realization that having a two-ton baby ape at his disposal might be useful in dispatching Sonic the Hedgehog, so Robotnik will take him back. Um, why do you want to go back to him? Have you forgotten that he always made you clean out his toilets? I guess Coconuts suffers from battered housewife syndrome. Anyway, light-bulb brain plays along and claims to the ape, Boom-Boom's daddy. Why do they call him Boom-Boom? Because he slams people like Bamm-Bamm Rubble, but they have to call him Boom-Boom or else some Stone Age lawyers will come a-calling. So we all know Coconuts is significantly smarter than Scratch and Grounder, I'll bet he'll come up with a great trap to slow down a certain blue hedgehog once and for all. Or, he could just take a page out of the Wile E. Coyote handbook, by way of diverting a road into the side of a cliff and have Boom-Boom waiting above to drop a boulder on him. Ha, even if Sonic and Tails hadn't overheard that ridiculous plan, the hedgehog would be too smart to fall for something like that, so it goes without saying Coconuts gets smashed in his own trap. Boom-Boom gets sad again, thinking he squashed his daddy, only for Sonic to reveal that Coconuts is not his daddy, despite his swearing to the contrary, and just a robot. So, where is BB's real daddy? The baby ape says he was kidnaped by a bad man a long time ago. Sonic and Tails do some detective work... and by that, they immediately suspect Robotnik, as he's apparently the only person on Mobius who would kidnap a giant ape. He did it for the sole purpose of creating an ultimate weapon: onto that giant ape he placed a mind-control device. So, wait, Robotnik kidnapped Boom-Boom's daddy and kept him locked away while he perfected his invention? Why not just take him when he was ready to use it? Might have saved himself thousands of dollars in buying bananas to feed that thing. No matter, once the device is placed on his head and with Robotnik in control, the King Kong wannabe will smash and destroy whatever he is commanded. However, he's going to take a more hi-tech approach: he's going to have the ape climb Mount Mobius and fire off a giant laser cannon, blasting everything to smithereens. This would be like if King Kong climbed the Empire State Building and instead of just roaring and knocking down planes, he fired off a sniper rifle. Well, I give him points for creativity anyway.
Now with a huge mind-control ape at his disposal, Robotnik no longer needed his idiot robots, so Scratch and Grounder are out of a job too. That's when Coconuts comes back and helps them make a plan to capture Sonic and get back in Robotnik's good graces. What is the plan, you wonder? Dress up as a huge ape, of course. Though with Sonic's help, disguising himself as a member of the S. P. C. A (Society for Prevention and Cruelty of Apes), they see right through the ruse and give those three robots a good thrashing. That's when our heroes see Robotnik and his new simian lackey atop Mt. Mobius, where he's a-firin' his laser! Earlier, Robotnik stated that Mount Mobius has never been climbed before, yet if he, the ape, and eventually Boom-Boom, Tails, and Sonic manage, then what has stopped other people from attempting it? Due to his mind control apparatus, the big ape doesn't recognize Boom-Boom and instead fires his frickin' laser beams at Sonic and company. The hedgehog deduces that the laser canon must be running on batteries, so he keeps taunting the ape to shoot at him until the cannon predictably dies. Now forced to resort to brute strength, the big ape grabs Sonic and prepares to chuck him off the mountain, when luckily Boom-Boom decides to be useful and bam-bams Robotnik, making him drop his remote control. This somehow shuts down power to the mind control helmet, so now Big Daddy is back to normal and he and his son are happily reunited. But when Boom-Boom gets sad that he lost his rattle, Big Daddy gets him a new one: in the form of a very rattled Dr. Robotnik. Our Sonic Says is about telling your parents if you're going somewhere, so they won't have to worry. Good message.
So that was Big Daddy, a surprisingly good episode of Adventures of the Sonic the Hedgehog. Most episodes are pretty good, but it does have more than its share of stinkers. I like that this one gave focus to Coconuts, as he was rarely seen in the show. He was a baddie in the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, as well as the level 4 opponent in Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, but in the show, he was relegated to sewer patrol. I have to wonder why Robotnik relies on Grounder and Scratch to constantly do his dirty work when Coconuts is clearly more competent than them. Instead, he treats him horribly. I know Robotnik is a bad guy and treats his minions like scum, but did he invent Coconuts just to be treated badly? Wasteful and sadistic. As for this episode, the gags are funny, the story is amusing, and there are plenty of fun twists and turns. So if you're a Sonic fan, or you're a fan of big apes, or if you're a father or a son, then check out Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Big Daddy.
Let the Sunshine In
If you're like me, you've grown up with the Berenstain Bears, and let's get out of the way right now that the third syllable of the name is pronounced "stain" and not "steen," and you're not remembering it incorrectly, it was always spelled "Berenstain", with an A. Now with that settled, let's look back on a time many years ago when Easter almost wasn't. This happened right before Sister Bear was born, a time when the seasons for some reason or another became stuck. Spring never arrived and Bear Country experienced a prolonged winter. Maybe the groundhog missed his cue? Maybe Bill Murray won't have to repeat a single day forever. Around this time, Brother Bear was an only-cub and while living in Bear Country was a lot of fun and adventurous, it could get lonely, and Brother is a child just loaded with questions, which he was always bugging Papa Bear with, and he is a self-proclaimed expert on everything, yet always finds a way to dodge his son's questions, but he knows the answers, sure as his name is Papa Q. Bear. I've always wondered what the Q stood for, but maybe it doesn't stand for anything and he's like Q from James Bond. So as winter carried on and on, Papa and Mama Bear start to worry about spring and Easter, which apparently Brother never heard of. When asking his parents, Papa tells him it's all about candy, eggs, and jellybeans, while Mama informs him that it's more about a time of new life and rebirth. Well, can't it be both? She also informs Brother that he's going to get a big Easter surprise, at the same time he discovered that Mama's lap was suddenly too small to sit in. Something tells me it won't be such a surprise for long. Just as Brother starts asking about Mama's shrinking lap, they whisk him away to see none other than Boss Bunny. Who is he, you ask? The one who welcomes spring by twitching his ears. I see, so in Bear Country they don't have a groundhog who sees its shadow, they have a bunny who wiggles his ears. Hmm, creative. Bear Murray in Bunny's Day. Okay, that's my last Groundhog Day reference, I promise. When the Bear family arrived outside Boss Bunny's abode, a crowd of other bears had formed, and were all looking at the great, big "I Quit" sign posted above the door. I guess being the sire of seasons doesn't pay well. The bears all wonder about Easter, while Brother is sad that he may not get his Easter surprise. Oh, don't worry, I'm sure you'll still get that, Boss Bunny doesn't control whether bears get born... or does he? Trying to think of a solution to their dilemma, Papa suddenly hit upon a brilliant idea: he would become the Easter Bunny! Tying two carrots to his head and gluing whiskers to his face, he builds an automated assembly line to paint and dye eggs, and it works great, until Papa gets caught in the machine and it all comes tumbling down. I like how throughout the whole sequence, Mama keeps bracing herself for when it would inevitably fall apart.
After that, Brother goes for a walk and runs into his old pal, Bill Bunny. After informing him of his intent on finding Boss Bunny, Bill says no problem, as Boss is his father. How convenient. They enter his lair via a secret trap door and wind up in Boss Bunny's enormous, underground candy factory, except now it was abandoned, covered in cobwebs and looking very spooky. They find the old man fast asleep in a back room, and he's none too happy to be awakened out of a sound sleep by an intruder. Boss Bunny complains about having done the job for so long, he's gotten plumb sick of it, saying it's undignified to wiggle his ears and twitch his whiskers once every year, and he goes on to gripe about labor issues, his workers wanting too many breaks and vacation days. Hey, blame those dang unions, don't make the bears suffer. Needless to say, Boss Bunny is a wreck, and despite Brother's constant pleasing and trying to reason with the old curmudgeon, Boss Bunny once again states, or rather sings, that spring is a bore and he doesn't care about Easter. Well, I guess the old man has made up his mind. I mean, he does have a point as doing the same repetitive task over and over, year after year, can get rather tedious, and eventually, we all get old, and if there's no one to truly help us, we just want to give up the ship. Nice metaphor for the working class they snuck in there. So BB opens his door to shoo out Brother and Bill... funny, he never once acknowledged his son in this scene, nor did Bill address his father. Are you sure they're father and son? Just because they're the only two bunnies in this special doesn't mean they have to be related. If ever there was a time for a miracle, this was it, and you know what? It happened. A big, colorful rainbow spread across the sky, which literally made Boss Bunny see the light, and it has the same effect on him as the spirit of Christmas did for the Grinch. He felt young again, his muscle and back aches were instantly cured. Happy and overjoyed, he started up his machinery again. Huh, so all he needed to do was go outside? Guess he spent so much time in that underground factory that he probably hadn't seen the light of day in years. That would make anyone cranky. His workers appear out of thin air and happily get to work, and I guess Boss Bunny will gladly give them breaks and vacation time now. So Easter was saved and winter finally ended. Hallelujah! Come Easter morning, Brother found a plethora of sweets delivered by the Easter Bunny, but best of all, was his long-awaited surprise: a new baby sister. Brother must be a sound sleeper, or Mama must go into labor very quietly. It was a happy holiday for everybody, except Brother had one last question: where did the baby come from? Ha ha, kids.
There you have it: The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise, a cute, fun special to watch around Easter, or any time really. We watched in my elementary school a few times, and my favorite part was Papa building the egg assembly line. The story has a good moral too: at times we can become jaded by holidays, times of the year, and even our jobs. We may lose our passion for it, become apathetic, and lose all joy in life itself, but that's when you've got to let the sunshine in and remember why you loved them in the first place. Boss Bunny's redemption was very metaphoric for how we humans go about our humdrum lives. So this Easter, or any day of the year, I recommend The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise, it has decent animation, good songs, good voice acting, and a great message. This special was produced in a series of one-off Berenstain Bears specials from 1979 to 1983, which predated their 1985 TV series, and that of course predated the one in 2003 on PBS. If I had to choose a favorite, I'd choose the 1985 series as that's the one I grew up with. So I recommend you check them all out, along with the books. Great memories and great times are waiting to be had.
The First Easter Rabbit (1976)
The Right Rabbit for the Job
It's Easter time, and our friends at Rankin/Bass have prepared this charming little tale all about the very first Easter rabbit. This isn't the Easter Bunny, it's the Easter rabbit, there's a difference. Christmas isn't the only time of year these masters of stop-motion animation... well, the best that the '60s and '70s had to offer anyway... can put together a fun, enchanting holiday special. The First Easter Rabbit opens on... Christmas. Okay, that's interesting, I guess RB really DO love that holiday, and if our narrator sounds familiar, that's because they brought back one of the best: Burl Ives, who you may recall told us the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. He's back, though this time as an old rabbit, complete with familiar waistcoat, and here to tell us the story of the first Easter Rabbit (again, Rabbit, not Bunny, remember that). It all began when a stuffed rabbit was given as a Christmas present to a beautiful little girl named Glinda, who fell in love with it instantly and gave it the placeholder name Stuffy, saying she'll come up with a better one later. I guess Peter wouldn't be very original. So while Glinda was outside playing in the snow with her new fluff-filled friend, we meet a trio of troublemaker rabbits- Spatz, Whiskers, and Flops, who are clearly up to no good. They're going to serve as our comic relief throughout the story, and I think we'll certainly need it, as not long after, poor Glinda came down with scarlet fever. The doctor told her mother to burn not only her bed clothes, but that "old, stuffed rabbit." Huh, so was Stuffy a hand-me-down rather than a new, store bought toy? Regardless, the mother now had a heartbreaking task before her: in addition to dealing with her sickly child, she now had to take her treasured toy away. Fortunately, the mother was too tired to make a bonfire that night, so she left poor Stuffy on a stack of toys to be burned for the morning, but then, something magical happened: the inanimate stuffed rabbit shed a tear, and from that, a beanstalk grew, and from out of which came a fairy named Calliope. Her job is to take old, discarded toys once loved by children and bring them back with her to be transformed into real. Huh, that's kind of a scary thought. What if some child threw out an old robot armed with cannons, missiles, and gatling guns for hands? Would Calliope turn that into a real robot to wreak havoc on the people? Or maybe she just turns dolls into real boys, and if that's the case, Pinocchio should've called her instead of that other fairy who made him behave himself, but I digress. Calliope has chosen Stuffy for a very special mission: he was to be the first Easter Rabbit. Why does Easter need a rabbit? Well, for those non-religious folks, they needed their holiday to have a symbol, and with eggs and chicks and candy, a rabbit is the obvious choice, is it not? So his mission, should he choose to accept it, is to travel all the way to Easter Valley to find the Golden Easter Lily, but is warned to beware of Zero. I'd say that's kind of a lot to throw at a guy who just came to life. He's left with so many questions, but this special would only be ten minutes long if he were told everything from the beginning, similar to how Glinda (the good witch) kept Dorothy in the dark about certain important details until her journey concluded. So Stuffy set out on his mission, hopping all the way, and that's when he runs into the three stooge rabbits. When they heard tell of a golden Easter lily, they offered to help Stuffy on his way. I dunno, I wouldn't trust those guys as far as I could throw them. If you're wondering who Zero is, he's our villain, of course. He's an ice wizard with a talking snowball, Bruce, as his accomplice. His job is to-get this-keep the North Pole white and snowy all year round, though the one patch of northern land he could never touch was Easter Valley. It was a lush, green, fertile paradise surrounded by mountains, and the only reason it stayed that way was because Zero couldn't find a way to get to it. I don't know, is that really a problem? Acres and acres of tundra, but this one, miniscule green valley is posing a problem? Guess Zero is an OCD perfectionist.
Stuffy, Whiskers, Spatz, and Flops arrive at the outskirts of Easter Valley and were baffled about where to go from there. Fortunately, a chirping bird helped them find the right path. Gotta love those happy, golden birds that can live in subzero temperatures. The bird points them to a hollow tree, which they all slide down and instantly arrive in the beautiful, green Easter Valley. Well, if a bare, hollow tree was the only entrance, I can see why Zero was baffled. I guess birds don't talk to him. The rabbits were only in the valley a few seconds before Santa Claus showed up. Well, hey, what's one holiday icon helping another... er, to say nothing of that time a guy from Halloween tried to take over Christmas, but that's another story. Yes, this is where Santa spends his off days, I guess, and he encourages the group to go about their task of painting eggs and delivering them. A large chore, of course, but he suggests starting with one town, and then gradually working their way up to whole countries, after all, it's how Santa started. Yeah, and when an evil mayor (the loveable ol' B. M.) tried to stop him, he had to engineer new and very creative ways of still delivering the gifts and those evil men were none the wiser. Having fulfilled his contribution to the plot, Santa wishes them luck and flies away on his reindeer. Zero watched the whole thing with his telescope, cursing those rabbits for finding the secret entrance to Easter Valley, however he knows something they don't: the Golden Easter Lily is what gives the valley it's year-round springtime. If it were to disappear, the valley would lapse into a time of drought, dryness, and despair. Ah, don't worry, I'm sure nothing will happen to that precious lily. Nothing at all. In the meantime, remembering that special little girl who took him in and the first to ever truly love him, Stuffy makes a short visit back home to see Glinda, who was overjoyed to see her toy again, and that he was alive. Naturally, when she relayed all this to her mother, she assumed it was the fever talking. Feeling much better, Glinda is now looking forward to the big Easter parade and plans to wear her prettiest dress... yeah, about that: Mom comes clean about having incinerated all of her clothes, but Glinda was very forgiving. A girl who doesn't care about clothes? That is a miracle. Guess she didn't mention torching her toys as well, but I suppose she wants to spare her daughter as much trauma as she can for the time being. En route back down the tree, Bruce spots Stuffy and quickly reports back to Zero. This time tomorrow, Easter Valley would be finished. Again, I'm not sure why this place poses such a threat to him. Well, he's the villain, he doesn't need a reason to be evil. So, the next day, as the rabbits go about their chore, they notice that it was beginning to snow, and that snow quickly turned into a blizzard. That dastardly Zero had infiltrated the valley and pilfered the Golden Lily! Dang it, I did not see that coming. It's at this point that Bruce begins to have a crisis of conscience, as the sound of Zero willing to leave everyone in Easter Valley to freeze to death didn't sit well with him. He knows that the only morally right thing to do would be to fink on his boss, so he rolls down to Santa's workshop and tells him everything. It isn't long before Santa flies in on his sleigh to save the rabbits and their baskets of eggs. Hooray! Even little Glinda received her gift: a lovely new hat, and both she and her mother received a surprise visit from the doctor, Jonathan, who brought them presents, including a beautiful new dress for Glinda. I'm sure he means well, but I'm not sure if this is appropriate. Do medical ethics state if it's okay for the physician to bestow gifts upon their patients? Let's be honest, he's got the hots for Elizabeth (the mom). So the parade was on and it was a grand affair. But what of Zero? Santa delivered the following ultimatum: either he return the Easter Lily, or he would move his entire workshop away from the North Pole, leaving Zero all alone. The prospect of which shook him to his core, so he returned the lily and apologized to Stuffy and his friends. So now, all was well again, Easter Valley saw an eternal spring, Stuffy had a new job he loved, and in case you haven't figured it out, he was Burl Ives all along.
This Easter special was pretty good. The animation was decent and colorful, the songs and music are great, and the voice acting was fantastic. The only problem I could see was the story, as it didn't make much sense in some places and things felt kind of rushed. If you're willing to overlook that and just enjoy this as another colorful, light-hearted holiday special, then you're in for a good time. Now to give credit where it's due: Burl Ives once again does a fantastic job as our narrator, Robert Morse played a great Stuffy, and the immense talents of Paul Frees, Don Messick, Joan Gardener, Stan Freberg, and Dina Lynn are put very well on display here. I discovered this gem a few years ago and have been wanting to talk about it for a while. There aren't that many memorable Easter specials out there, aside from the Easter Beagle. Rankin/Bass made two other specials celebrating this holiday: Here Comes Peter Cottontail, narrated by Danny Kaye, and The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town, which was a spin-off of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, both narrated by Fred Astaire. Speaking of Santa, it was interesting he played a part in The First Easter Rabbit. I guess the tie-in with Christmas really does show how much RB love the holiday. Well, whether it's Easter or Christmas, I recommend checking out The First Easter Rabbit.
A Very Grimm Episode
You know how Jay Ward was known for fractured fairy tales? Well, the makers of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog just outright mutilated them. Here's another episode that never sat well with me, and I just had to address it. It was produced toward the end of the series, in fact, this is the series finale. The final episode made until Sonic's Christmas Blast came out three years later. It's probably for the best this series got canceled, because getting toward the end, you could tell they were really running out of steam and they quit trying to make sense of anything, not that that's saying much given how nonsensical this series was. So what was so bad about "Sonically Ever After"? Well, as I said above, it's about fairy tales. Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik get transported into a fairy tale dimension and act them out. How did they get there? Bet it's really ridiculous? Our story... I'm kidding, there is no story... our insanity begins as Robotnik, Scratch and Grounder chase Sonic and Tails into the park. They elude them by way of cheap policeman disguises and cite them for a litany of goofy reasons, but then Tails somehow sprains his tails, and a kindly old lady who was reading a story to some children in the park offers to read to him too. She's the same old lady who ran the day care center in "Musta Been a Beautiful Baby", and you can see the sloth kid from "Slowww Going" as part of her audience. But then, something miraculous happens. Robotnik catches Sonic. Yep, he just grabs him after the hedgehog came running back to Tails screaming bloody murder over being "forced" to listen to a story. I'm not making that up. Three minutes in and Robotnik has won? Scratch and Grounder bring around some trans-dimensional transport whatchamacallit ray and, of course, they screw up and beam Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik right into the fairy tale book. Again, not making this up. The ensuing chaos occurs without rhyme or reason, so expect the unexpected from hereon out. Sonic and Tails arrive in... Oz, I think, and they've taken up the roles of Hansel and Gretel... Tails is Gretel, and he has... cleavage. I didn't even notice that at first until someone pointed it out. They gave Tails cleavage. That is wrong for so many reasons. Oh wait, it's not Hansel and Gretel, it's Hansel and Nettle... WHAT? Why did they change the name? That's not funny, that's stupid. So Hansel and... Nettle, discover a house made of chili dogs and Tails just now realizes he's a girl. Very good, maybe next you'll discover you have two tails. Stupid! But then, they're cornered by the evil... Ro-witchnik. He invites them to stay for dinner, and dummy Tails falls for the ruse, but Sonic manages to get the drop on their witchy host, making him fall in a vat of chili. He says it's because he knew the story of Hansel and "Nettle", when in reality, it's clear he knew that was Robotnik... or did he? I guess it would've been too graphic if they shoved Robotnik into a hot oven and he burned to death. I mean, I wouldn't complain, but still. Time for the next story! It's Snow Height.... okay, DiC, it's not cute changing the names of famous fairy tales like this. They call her Snow Height, because she's very tall. That's the joke. And instead of seven dwarves, she lives with "seven squatty guys". Sonic and Tails are two of the "squatty guys" and they all dance for some reason. But as bad as things have been up to this point, they're about to get even worse. This next scene was nearly a deal breaker for me where I nearly just gave up and abandoned all hope for this series. Okay, so you know the part of the story where the wicked queen, out of jealousy, becomes a haggard witch and gives Snow White a poisoned apple? Well, replace the witch with Robotnik, replace the apple with a chili dog, and replace the recipient to a gluttonous Tails. He eats it, gets poisoned, and collapses. That really just happened! Sonic laments that Tails doesn't know his fairy tales. Yeah, and neither do the writers of this show. Also, forget the fairy tales, he clearly doesn't know his villains either! Robotnik made no attempt to disguise himself, and still Tails took the chili dog from him. Why is Tails so stupid in this episode?! It makes me really angry at how little this show's producers valued the audience's intelligence. Anyway, Sonic convinces Snow Height to kiss Tails, lest he sleep for 26 weeks... just go with it, in exchange, he would introduce her to Prince Charming. So she kisses the little nimrod and he wakes up, and her so-called prince was Robotnik. As he runs away, he steals the Fairy Godfather's wand. Yeah, Godfather as in Don Corleone, so a point for a funny joke, and now with a magic wand, Robotnik manages to trap Sonic and Tails, after turning Snow Height into a toad, and procrastinates over what he could do with them. You really are a lost Bond villain, Robuttnik.
Meanwhile in the surreal world, Scratch and Grounder try to undo their screw-up, and despite their best efforts, they succeed. Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik are teleported back out of the book... but along with them come Cinderella, Fairy Godfather, the beatnik giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, and a dragon. The evil doctor sees this as an opportunity for world domination, with magic at his disposal, however Sonic hatches a plan to beat him at his own game, fight fairy tales with fairy tales if you will. First, he poses as Rapunzel... wait, so they can use Rapunzel's name, but not Gretel and Snow White? Whatever. Robotnik falls for the disguise, because he's an idiot, and he climbs up the tower via long hair, and is tricked into kissing Toad Height, changing her back to a humanoid. Sonic fails to get the wand, but he doesn't give up. It's at this point that Tails loses faith in fairy tales, and honestly, I don't blame him. However, kindly Mrs. Whats-her-face tells him the point of the stories isn't to introduce children to the dragon, but rather the possibility of defeating the dragon. Yeah, I don't know where you pulled that from, lady, but put it back. Right on cue, Robotnik arrives on his dragon to make himself a roasted hedgehog. However, Sonic has another trick up his sleeve, recalling the fairy tale about the lion and the mouse... that's not a fairy tale, you idiots, that's one of Aesop's fables, and it's based off Daniel in the lion's den. Did you do ANY research?! Anyway, Sonic finds a thorn in the dragon's paw, and now he's good. I hate this episode so much. After making short work of the giant, pun intended, Robotnik begins to, I guess, ponder how he can bring about the destruction of Mobius with his wand, and just when you're wishing this thing would hurry up and end... it kinda does. Yeah, get this: Sonic and Tails race toward the airport, with Sonic reminding Tails of his promise to be his friend to "the end"... okay, this is getting somewhat dark. Nope, they steal a plane and skywrite the ultimate deus ex machina: "and they all lived happily ever after. The end", which somehow renders Robotnik's magic wand powerless and opens a vortex to send all the fairy tale creatures back to wacky world... so, wait, they could have done that this whole time?! But then we pull out of a storybook that the lady was reading to the kids, so is this some kind of Inception story or... what? I don't get it. We end on Sonic telling us to stay tuned for more Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Sorry, buddy, you've been canceled! LOL. The Sonic Says is about going to the library, and if that was the point of this episode, then I'd say they failed, because if their message was getting children to read more, they did it as effectively as The Pagemaster.
In closing, Sonically Ever After is a mess. The writing is terrible, the acting is terrible, and nothing makes a lick of sense! They clearly gave up at this point in the game. I mean, making your own versions of famous fairy tales is fun, but virtually EVERY OTHER show that's done it has done it better. The Simpsons, for example, did a far better job at parodying these stories than AOSTH did, and so did the Looney Tunes. Why did they change some characters' names? Furthermore, why was everyone in this cartoon so STUPID? They made Scratch and Grounder look intelligent by comparison! The story got away from them halfway through and they clearly had no ending. Did they even read this script out loud? Like, did this series have a table read before each recording session? I know this series was made on a low budget and episodes had to be made quick, but you can't tell me a bunch of people read this and said, "it's good, I like this, let's go with it." How tight were the time constraints? I mean, I know it's just a kid's show, but when they treat kids like they don't have a brain, then it becomes a problem. So, do I recommend Sonically Ever After? No way, Jose. However, do give Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog a look, as most episodes are pretty good, but there are some that are just beyond horrible, and this was one of them. Check out the Saturday morning version too, as it at least got a second season before it was unfairly canceled, and unlike Adventures, that show actually had more stories to tell.
Law & Disorder
Sometimes, the system fails us, in more ways than one. This is another episode of this crazy show that I never liked, but is it really a bad episode? Mean-spirited, sure, in fact it is among the meanest episodes of the series, but does that make it bad? I guess not, but it sure is frustrating. You remember Robotnik's mother, who is practically more evil, ruthless, cunning, and intelligent than her son? Well, she's back, as you can tell from the title. She's escaped the psycho ward and is determined to track down her son, who at that very moment was unveiling his latest plan: to hack a microwave tower thereby interrupting every machine on the planet... you know, Dr. Robotnik is supposed to be a genius. In the games, he has an IQ of 300, but in this show, they made him really stupid, ineffective, and childish, and nowhere is that proven more than in this episode. Momma shows up unexpectedly and completely disowns her son, citing what a screw-up he is and thus takes over his fortress, and since Robotnik doesn't have a spine, though in his defense, that woman would terrify me too, he can't do anything about it. Scratch and Grounder, the boot-licking yes-bots instantly side with her against Robotnik, and so does Coconuts, until she makes him stay on sewer patrol. Well, with this evil, she-demon at the helm, maybe Sonic will have a real enemy to contend with. I mean, he busted Dr. Robotnik's scheme of the microwave tower within minutes, and if that's the best he's got, then he's out of luck. What sort of evil, diabolical, despicable scheme will Momma Robotnik cook up to finally rid Mobius of that do-gooder Sonic? Oh, she's got a plan, alright, and it's really evil. You won't believe this. Dr. Robotnik himself couldn't come up with something this dastardly if he tried. You see, Momma is going to take the so-called justice system to bend it to her will. It's easier than you think. It all started when Tails was showing off his flight skills in an area that had a No Fly Zone sign posted. He thinks that's a load of hooey, until he fails to notice the tree in front of him and crashes. As Sonic helps him out of the water, he tells him that laws are there for a reason, and while we don't always agree with them, we have to obey them. Nice authoritarian propaganda for the kids there, and be careful, Sonic, because something tells me your little message will come back to bite you on your spiny, blue butt. Suddenly, a messenger rides up on a penny-farthing bike to deliver Sonic a summons to appear in court. Get this: he's being adopted. We all know Sonic is still a teenager, and this reminds me of that episode where he was trying to find Tails a new home. Now let's see if you practice what you preach, Sonic. So they go to the courthouse, Judge Dr. Scratchensniff, presiding. Seriously, if the psychiatrist from Animaniacs was bred with a tiny owl, it would be this abomination. Anyway, Sonic doesn't want to be adopted, but since he's a minor, he has no choice. Who is adopting him, you wonder? Do you even have to ask? Momma Robotnik, in a really cheesy disguise, bursts in and hugs her new "son", despite his protests. It's then he remembers back to his ham-fisted message to Tails about obeying the law, no matter what. Ha, bet you get tired of sticking that sneaker in your mouth, don't you, Sonic? Well, he refuses to go along with it, however Momma has some insurance: the idiot robots captured Tails outside... wait, how'd he get outside? Last we saw him, he was in the courtroom with Sonic. Naturally, the hedgehog tries to point out this kidnaping to the stupid judge, but he doesn't care. So it looks like Sonic the Hedgehog was legally adopted by Mrs. Robotnik. Huh, he and the doctor are now brothers. Back at the fortress, a social worker comes to look in on Sonic's new living quarters. Really? She didn't notice she was walking into Robotnik's fortress? Guess the stupid woman can't formulate rational thoughts with that literal beehive on her head. Seriously, she's got a hive complete with buzzing bees on her head. They had to been on drugs when they made this. At first, Sonic refuses to cooperate and roughs up Scratch and Grounder. Good, turn those dunces into hubcaps. However, Momma reminds him that Tails is locked in the dungeon over a deep pit, and unless he cooperates, she'll drop him. Well, I've gotta hand it to Momma R for creativity and for finally capturing Sonic. She didn't even have to overthink this plan, and it's certainly more intelligent than anything her son ever come up with. Only difference is Dr. Robotnik is more of a fun villain, and his mother even makes the Saturday morning version look warm by comparison.
On the other hand, maybe I'm giving her too much credit. Now that she has Sonic as her prisoner, what does Momma do? Puts him to work for her. Yeah, we've entered Cinderella territory as Sonic is now a drudge, complete with an evil stepmother and two wicked step-bots. Really? That was your master plan? Make Sonic perform menial chores for you? Guess the tree didn't fall far from the apple. However, there may be a silver lining to this dust cloud of entertainment, as Dr. Robotnik tries to think of a way to get back into his own home, and enlists Coconuts to help him with a promise of putting him in charge of Scratch and Grounder, which he really should be, as he's more competent and cunning than those two idiots. So what type of brilliant plan do they come up with? You'll see. Momma Robotnik goes to work using the microwave tower to control all machines on the planet, giving us a collective Maximum Overdrive flashback. While that's going on, Sonic is continuously put to work and hounded by Scratch and Grounder, and just as Momma is about to dispose of our heroes, the social worker, Beehive Brain, shows up again due to an anonymous call. That's when the doc comes back and lets it slip about Momma disowning him. Beehive quotes a Mobius law saying that no one who disowns a child may adopt another, therefore her adoption of Sonic is now null and void. Really? For one thing, Dr. Robotnik has got to be in his late forties or early fifties, so he's hardly a child... physically. Also, you should have picked up earlier that this woman was evil. Just look at her, and look at her fortress! Momma tries to deny Robotnik is her son, so Sonic rips off his mustache and puts it on her, which is funny because in "Momma Robotnik's Birthday", she actually has a mustache of her own. Sonic then rushes off to rescue Tails from the dungeon, but not before he tricks Grounder into destroying the supercomputer, thus putting the microwave on the fritz. So now they're free, and the members of the asylum show up to cart Momma Robotnik away, and now that he's back in charge, hopefully Robotnik will recycle Scratch and Grounder, and keep his promise to Coconuts... but I wouldn't hold my breath. Our Sonic Says is about, what else, obeying the law. I know people like to poke fun at these segments, but we can't blame the series' writers. The networks mandated these things to be part of children's shows, teaching necessary lessons about sharing, knowing your area code, not talking to strangers, not letting people touch you inappropriately, and so on. But back to our lesson on obeying the law: you remember that stupid "No Fly Zone" rule Tails disobeyed earlier? That's the basis for our lesson. Tails is forbidden to fly for a month, and Sonic tells him the judge was fair, that it could have been a lot worse, and again, he reiterates that we have to obey the law lest we end up in court. Bite me, Sonic.
Well, was this a bad episode? I didn't like it, I thought it was nonsensical, insanely mean-spirited, and I don't get what it's message was supposed to be. If it was meant to be a satire about how bad people can skirt the law to work in their favor, or that our justice system is so broken, there are plenty of loopholes to exploit and cracks to slip through, then they failed because they don't address any of that. Maybe a smarter script could have shown these, but this show isn't meant to teach us anything, it's just running, yelling, and explosions with a forced message at the end. If that's what you like, then more power to you. With the inclusion of Momma Robotnik, I can tell the series took a page from Ninja Turtles, from the episode where Shredder's mother visited. I guess it's funny to show that our evil, diabolical villain is still a child at heart, especially when Momma comes to visit. I think I'd take Shredder's mom over Robotnik's any day. Do I recommend Momma Robotnik Returns? No. Skip it and watch any other episodes of this series, except Tails' New Home and Sonically Ever After. This series has mostly good episodes, but the few that are bad are just really bad.