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Sonic Underground

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Sonic Underground
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"They made a vow, their mother will be found!" Yeah, right...
Genre: The Show:
Musical
Action
Adventure

The Songs:
Arena rock
Hair metal
Synth-pop
Contemporary R&B
Pop rock
New wave
Hard rock

Running Time: 21 minutes
Country: France
United States
Release Date: January 6 – May 23, 1999 (France)

August 30th – October 22nd, 1999 (United States)

Network(s): TF1 (France)
UPN (United States)
Teletoon (Canada)
Disney XD (2012)
Created by: Jean Cheville
Jean Chalopin
Robby London
Distributed by: Buena Vista International Television
Starring: Jaleel White
Maurice LaMarche
Garry Chalk
Gail Webster
Peter Wilds
Sam Vincent
Michael Stark
Episodes: 40
Previous show: Sonic the Hedgehog SATAM (1993)
Next show: Sonic X


Sonic Underground is a 1999 French-American TV series produced by DiC Entertainment and their French subsidiary Les Studios Tex. It is based on the Sonic the Hedgehog games, however, it bears little relation to them. It follows the story of Sonic and his siblings, Sonia and Manic as they go on adventures to try to find their mother.

Bad Qualities

  1. Poor grasp of the source material.
    • Tails is not seen nor mentioned in the series without any given reason at all. He doesn’t even make a cameo appearance. This is made worse as Knuckles is seen in the show, so why not Tails?
    • This changed Sonic's backstory in which he had a brother and sister. Even his mother, who is a Freedom Fighter from the SatAM series, is changed into some queen.
    • The Chaos Emeralds are poorly represented until modern takes of Sonic.
  2. Cheap, stilted, and stiff-looking animation. It doesn't help that, though they outsourced the animation to Hong Ying (owned by Wang Film Productions), the show was made by the infamous Les Studios Tex (the same studio behind the infamous The Wacky World of Tex Avery). It is also infamously loaded with tons of animation errors. There are plenty of weird faces, perspective and anatomy issues, and cut-off/unfinished body parts that populate the series. Knuckles suffered especially from these.
  3. Despite it being a separate universe apart from Sonic SatAM, it feels like this show wants to be newer to fans who don't play the Sonic games but fails to do so.
  4. The humor and jokes are both laughable and insufferable, with some exceptions.
  5. Most of the episode ideas are recycled from Sonic SatAM and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. For instance, the episode "Sonic Tonic" rehashes the episode from the latter series, "Full Tilt Tails".
  6. Outdated, unfitting, and/or rehashed character designs, many of these characters look like they don't even fit in the Sonic universe whatsoever; examples of these include Sleet and Dingo looking like Looney Tunes rejects and many supporting characters like Bartleby looking like they're rejected from the Disney Afternoon. Sonia and Manic are especially laughable since they look more like fan-made characters that were made using DeviantArt.
  7. Awful voice acting, even from usually great actors such as Jaleel White and Maurice LaMarche, with White's voice for Sonia being the biggest offender.
    • Vince's voice is almost identical to Smart Grounder from AoStH's tone of voice (ironically, both characters are voiced by Garry Chalk); his similar cadence to Grounder himself is better shown when you hear the vocal squeaking while he is yelling for mercy in the episode "Artifact".
    • Speaking of Garry Chalk, he does a very mediocre job at voicing Robotnik. This makes this version of Robotnik have a bland, manly voice that's not anywhere near as terrifying as Jim Cummings's voice from Sonic SatAM (despite how his character design is faithful to the SatAM one) and isn't as brilliantly entertaining as Long John Baldry's voice from AoStH.
  8. Sonic has an incredibly annoying personality, as he tries way too hard to be cool, but only comes off as a major dork. Also, his singing voice (which is provided by Samuel Vincent) is just horrible.
    • Bartleby is by far the worst side character in the show, who also heavily rips off Antoine Depardieu from Sonic SatAM and Callie Briggs from SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron with none of the charm and likability they had.
    • This version of Dr. Robotnik is meant to be a mixture of the threatening, tyrannical & badass personality that SatAM Robotnik has and blending that with some of the goofiness, hamminess, and comedic aspects of AoStH Robotnik, but when it comes to how he was executed; it's not done interestingly since he's portrayed as a typically incompetent tyrant who has thoughts on murdering Sonic and his siblings despite being a lenient dictator on Robotropolis, making this version of Robotnik very uninspired, inconsistent and unoriginal. The sad part is, that he's the best part of the show.
  9. Unbelievably stupid and unexciting battle scenes. Sonic's guitar is capable of shooting lasers from the headstock with the trigger of this laser sometimes being the strum of the strings.
  10. Most of the songs (except "Someday", "I Found My Home”, "Teach the Children, "Light the Way" and "Justice Calling") are so horrible, forgettable, stupid, disgraceful, and ridiculous, especially "Fun in the Sun" and "Being a Kid Is Cool". And that is extra awful because one of the main themes of the show is music.
    • Speaking of which, the music videos by how they're edited are both awkward and weird.
    • On top of that, many of the songs sound like arena rock and hair metal; both sub-genres died out long before the show was made. However for hair metal makes sense,because since 1997 to the 2000s,many new bands like Steel Panther emulate the genre,but still.
    • Sonic and his siblings also play the "genre roulette" too often, as they have a mixture of different genres. Such genres include:
      • Rock, especially AOR and hair metal.
      • Pop.
      • Salsa and Mexican cumbia in "The Last Resort".
      • New wave.
  11. Speaking of the editing, the way that its imagery and transitions are edited is sometimes done in a very embarrassing and distorted way, even more than the music videos are. When it's not just typical cinematic zoom-ins of a location or action sequence that are passable, there are strange moments where the screen would stretch out horizontally, vertically, and then make an extreme close-up of a character's face in a similar way that one would see images and videos on YouTube videos in the 2020s that'd change in proportions that are done for comedic effect by professional video editors, but it just doesn't work for a publicly broadcasted animated show (especially in serious-driven scenes) and the result would be having awkward-looking transitions that are very nonsensical, cringe-worthy and jarring to watch.
  12. This series is all just an ad and a marketing tool for Sega's upcoming console at the time, Sega Dreamcast.
  13. Knuckles is simply forgotten in this show (despite some episodes featuring him).
  14. The idea of Dr. Robotnik, a human, wanting to marry Queen Aleena, a hedgehog, is very disturbing. Similarly, Dingo's crush on Sonia is also awkward and disturbing, considering that Sonia herself is only a teenager.
  15. The extremely cheesy nature of the show feels like it would fit more in the '80s or early '90s rather than in 1999.
  16. The show has way too many attempts at being "totally radical" and appealing to the young hip crowd.
  17. There are some disturbing and scary moments happening in a kids' show like this. For example, in the episode "Three Hedgehogs and a Baby", there is a moment where Manic loses Hip and makes him fall apart.
    • The episode "The Price of Freedom", had a remarkably awkward and uncomfortably weird nightmare sequence for Sonia that first had a grating jingle of Sonia and her brothers playing a tune, which is followed up by the hedgehogs running away from the Swatbots; Sonia falling into Robotnik's arms makes her scream as Robotnik laughs maniacally as his face gets slowly distorted, she then runs away and a cloak that moves and sounds like a cobra wraps around Robotnik to make him spin and launches him away. When Sonia emotionally responds to her mom seeming halfhearted and silently telling her to follow her with hand gestures, the screen starts stretching out abnormally where Queen Aleena gets shape-shifted into Robotnik as he laughs again and it awkwardly zooms into his mouth moving before we cut back to Sonia being very terrified of her bad dream.
  18. Like its predecessor, Sonic SatAM, the series ended on a disappointing note. The triplets were supposed to reunite with their mother, which can fulfill the prophecy, defeat Robotnik and restore everything. Aside from defeating Robotnik and supposedly putting an end to his schemes, the outcome was never resolved when the series was canceled, thus making the entire show pointless and moot. A comic conclusion was planned but was later canceled as well, especially after Archie Comics lost their ownership of the rights to produce comics based on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

Good Qualities

  1. That catchy theme song is badass (both opening and closing).
  2. Some heartwarming moments.
  3. Manic is the only likable character, and his singing voice is passable. Despite Dr. Robotnik being watered down, he alongside Sleet and Dingo can be considered the best part of the show as well.
  4. Sonic's character design is at least identical to his AOSTH and SATAM design (despite being outdated/rehashed).
  5. While Tails doesn't appear in this series, Knuckles (making his first appearance in a television series) does make appearances in the series.
  6. Jaleel White (English) and Olivier Korol (French) reprise their role as Sonic, as was usual with DiC.
  7. As mentioned in WIS #3, some of the jokes (either intentional or unintentional) are comical.
    • With that said, there are some very stupid, ridiculous, silly, and corny scenes and aspects of the episodes (like hearing Sonia's voice for the first time) that come off as unintentionally funny. Which can venture into "so bad it's good" territory.
  8. As mentioned in BQ #11, "Someday", "I Found My Home", "Teach the Children, Light the Way", and "Justice Calling" are pretty decent songs.
  9. Most of the songs teach good morals.
  10. The Latin American Spanish dub, unlike the first 2 shows, was well received.

Trivia

  • Sonic Underground was created and released to help promote Sega's then-upcoming console the Sega Dreamcast.
  • This was the last acting role for Gail Webster, the voice of Queen Aleena, (who only had seven roles other than the one she had in this show) as she has had no others since.
  • This was also the last Sonic series to be produced by DiC Entertainment, as well as Jaleel White's last official voice role as Sonic.
  • Sean Connery is often miscredited as having voiced Great-Grandfather Athair, when in fact it was Maurice LaMarche imitating Connery.
  • The show's main theme song would later spawn memes of it.
  • This is the first Sonic show to feature Knuckles the Echidna.
  • There was a Catalan (Valencian dialect) dub of the show.

Videos

Reception

Sonic Underground was met with mostly average and negative reviews. Some people have said that out of all the Sonic cartoons DiC produced, this is the worst of all them.

David Cornelius of DVD Talk said "While many Sonic fans did not take too well to all the changes, preferring the original "Sonic" cartoon to this stranger, sometimes darker, sometimes sillier incarnation, the series did win a small but loyal cult following. I fall more on the side of disappointment - for all the cleverness that went into crafting an all-new backstory, the episodes themselves are uninspired - but acknowledge the simple fact that it scores well with its target audience."

It currently holds a 6.1/10 on IMDb.

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