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Reflecting on 25 Years, since Sonic SatAM ended on ABC


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 it's been 25 years ago today that this overly popular portion of the Sonic franchise ended on ABC.  It debuted around the 7:30 AM/8 AM time slot and since then has garnered a fan base like no other.  The first season originally ran from September 18 to December 11, 1993.

When I look back as a fan at the impact that this show has had on the franchise and on the fan base which I am proud to say I'm a part of.  It's no wonder why fans look back on it with such fondness and why new fans who get introduced to it, often wonder why they never heard of it or wish they were around when it originally aired on ABC.  Because when you compare it with its "Adventures" counterpart which debuted about two weeks earlier in syndication, the comparison/difference is night and day.  

With the syndicated version of Sonic, you had a show that was more closely related to the games then anything at that time and was more dependent on the Tex Avery style of slapstick then it was on an actual story, you could also see that the syndicated version was targeted towards a younger audience.

Now SatAM was the complete opposite of the syndicated one.  And the reason it was the complete opposite, was because it was targeted towards an older audience and had a darker tone, focused more on the action/adventure, as well as had a more dramatic tone to it then the syndicated version.  True, the Saturday morning show did have some slapstick moments to it, but unlike the syndicated counterpart, those slapstick moments were toned down and only used it when necessary.

Now as far as my own personal experience as a fan of the show goes, I remember 20 years ago, me and my family were living in Kansas, and were less than a month away from moving back to California.  Now me and my sisters had two different rooms, and of course I had a television in my room, so did they.  And I remember the night before, when networks like ABC would still air these preview specials, I remember watching the Saturday morning preview special, which was hosted in character by the cast of Family Matters.  Now you might wonder, why did they have the cast of Family Matters host this preview special in character, very simply because their breakout star Jaleel White was chosen to be the voice of Sonic in both the syndicated and the Saturday morning shows.  
The episode that was previewed during this special and then fully aired the following Saturday morning, was "Super Sonic".  And I have to give the writers of that episode a lot of credit, because it made you believe that season one was going to be spent having Sonic trying to rescue both Sally and Bunnie from Robotnik;s mind control.  That's how good the writing was for this episode and gave you the idea and showed you that the writing for the entire series with a few exceptions would only get better in time.

What's funny however, is "Super Sonic"was not the pilot episode, no,  the pilot episode which usually is aired first and would give you an idea on who the characters were and what the show was going to be about, the pilot episode actually was the last episode of season one to be aired, and I remember watching it on December 11, 1993, when me and my family were living with my grandparents at that time.  
Now you may ask yourself, what was the season one finale, which episode?  Well, according to the DVD set, "Sonic Past Cool" is the last episode, which is understanding, seeing how it is the only episode in the first season to have all the characters on an adventure.  However though, I look at "Sonic And The Secret Scrolls" as being the season one finale, mostly because of how it ends with Robotnik vowing revenge on Sonic and The Freedom Fighters, which traditionally with shows like this leads you into the following season.  However we may never know.

The first season was more of an introductory season, it introduced you to who the characters were, what the mission was about, and it even gave the characters back stories that the games never did.  And the back stories, specifically for certain characters would be explored more so in the second season.

Speaking of the second season, I watched and tried my best to record that entire season on one VHS tape, and what's funny about this, is I started watching the series in Kansas when it originally began the year before, and now here I was, a year later watching the second season as it originally aired, and I was back in Kansas with my father due to some personal family reasons.  But I can say this, I watched the pilot episode twice, once in California and secondly in Kansas.  But getting back to recording or at least trying to record the second season, I took a page out of my cousins playbook, you see he loved watching the 1990s X-Men cartoon, that he dedicated several six-hour VHS tapes to recording each episode of each season.  So I took that play out of his playbook and used it to try to record the second season of SatAM.  Unfortunately I was only able to get six out of the 13 episodes, the reasons being, 1. When the season two premiere episode came on, I over slept, and was only able to catch the last 10 min. of the episode, 2. Secondly, after I recorded "The Void" episode, which was a prelude episode to the final four episodes of the series or as we thought at the time the second season.  Me and my dad's VCR decided to die out, or at least the recording function decided to die out, because I remember when I put the tape in there the following week, and I pressed record,  I thought I had the episode, well after the episode was done, I decided to play it back to see how it came out and imagine my surprise when I saw nothing but fuzz where the episode should have been.  So I tried one of my variety tapes, and I got the same result, which basically told me the recording function was dead.  Because the play function was all right, the recording function however just went to crap.  And all I can say this, let this be a lesson, never buy a VCR from a secondhand pawnshop, unless they test it out for you.

So yeah, with just a few episodes of season one scattered about some variety VHS's that I had recorded other shows on and with only six episodes of the 13 second season episode recorded, I still had enough to suffice me, but still a part of me wanted the rest of the second season.  
Well, years later, a fellow Sonic fan that I met at of all places, The Acorn Café message board, decided to help me out and mail me a copy on VHS of the final episodes or at least three of the final episodes of season two that they had.  Okay, that brought my count up to having nine out of the 13 episodes of the second season.  But still I wanted to complete the season in full.  Well, basically many years later, actually about 2 to 3 years later, a fellow fan by the name of Rachel Avery a.k.a. RaphaelaXD decided to help me out, she help me out because I helped her out, I can't remember what I did to help her out, but an in exchange she sold me at a decent price, her VHS recordings of the entire Saturday morning show on VCD.  That's right she used her computer to transfer her VHS recordings of the entire show to VCD, and she would sell copies of the show on VCD to financially help herself out.  And I appreciated it, because now I had the entire series in my possession.  And at the same time, I was also the owner of my first DVD recorder, which was an Apex, and I used the six hour function to record 2 singular DVDs, one dedicated to season one and the other dedicated to season two.  So for a few years, that really sufficed me for while.  It also helped me to create and improve on making my fanvids, and sharing them with fellow fans as best as I could, even before uploading video sites came into being.

Now imagine my surprise, a few years after I got these these VCDs, that I hear/read the announcement, that Shout Factory is going to release a complete series set of the show in March 2007.  Just like many fans, I was blown away at this news.  And what made this even better, was Brian Ward of Shout Factory, wanted the fans to help make this the DVD for the fans.  And how would this happen, by allowing fans to submit fan art to Shout Factory and Brian Ward, and have it displayed as part of the outside and inside covers of the DVD set, which like I said, made it a DVD by the fans for the fans.

This however wasn't the first time the series was released onto DVD, you see three years before the complete series release, Loin Gates home entertainment and Trimark home video released a singular DVD, containing four episodes of season one and a bonus episode of season one.  Now even though, these were just random episodes from season one that had been released onto DVD, fans like myself were happy that at least the show was finally being released in some ways onto DVD.  However this first release would not last long, for you see Buena Vista home entertainment had the DVDs pulled from the shelves, because DIC entertainment didn't get their permission to have an outside company distribute the series in any way on DVD.  But ironically, 2 1/2 years later, after the licensing expired for BVE on the DIC properties, only then were they able to negotiate with the likes of Shout Factory and finally get the show released as a complete series DVD.

As a fan, the announcement and timing of this news couldn't have been better, around this time, I had just started working as an unloader for Walmart.  Now when you're an unloader, you unload and see items that are not intended to be released until a certain time.  Well again, imagine my surprise as I'm walking in the back, and one day walking by the storage aisles for the DVDs, video games, etc., Imagine my surprise when I took a peek into one of the boxes containing soon to be released DVDs, and I saw in one of those boxes, a bunch of DVD complete sets of the Sonic Saturday morning show.  When I saw this, I was smiling like a Chester cat, because as far as I was concerned, before any other Sonic fan in Lawrence, Kansas, I had laid eyes on the complete series DVD.  


So on March 26, 2007, because I have SSDI, I could only work a certain amount of hours or at least a certain kind of schedule, so after me and the other unloader's clocked out for the night, I went to McDonald's to get something to eat and bide my time, so finally when 11:50 PM hit, I went back into Walmart and I waited until midnight hit, and when it did, and they wheeled those boxes of DVDs, games, etc. out to the other customers who were waiting to be the first to grab a hold of what ever movies or games they wanted, I remember looking at a certain box that I knew contained the complete series DVD of the SatAM show, and as soon as they opened that box, I snatched a copy of the series and I went to the checkout line upfront, paid for it, exited out the doors and went home.  I did document me buying the DVD set to share with other Sonic fans, unfortunately that document was lost, when my second main channel was deleted from existence.  And along with it, went my documentary of me buying the DVD set during its original midnight release.

But I did make up for it though, for you see, to make sure I would have a copy, I pre-ordered and bought from places like Amazon, Hastings, Best Buy and even once again at Walmart, I bought several more copies.  I sent two copies, one to Rachel Avery for helping me out, and the other to JayFoxfire because she help me out I believe with a commission of some sort I can't remember.  And then I sent a copy to my cousin in Hayward California, and then one to my 18-year-old nephew in Modesto California, when he was 11 1/2 years old.  As for me, I have my viewing copy, and a copy which for 6 1/2 years since its original release, has yet to be opened.  Kinda tells you how big of a fan I was and still am.

To say the impact of this show for the past 20 years has been influential and felt throughout the entire franchise and fan base, would be an understatement.  For you see the show in some ways, influenced a live stage show down in Sydney Australia at one of the many indoor SegaWorld theme parks.  And what was unique about this stage show, was yes, you had Sonic, Tails and Robotnik in it, but imagine the surprise of many fans who never knew about this stage show outside of Australia, when they found out that Sally was also costarring with Sonic and Tails in this stage show.  From what I understand, the stage show went through two different versions, one I believe I've heard consisted of people in costumes, while the other version consisted primarily of puppets.  Not to say Sally's popularity didn't take off to an all time high because this stage show would be an understatement as well, because just like Sonic and Tails, she too had merchandise based around her.  Merchandise that ranged from overalls, plush dolls of various sizes, cups and mugs, you name it.  Speaking of the plush dolls, I have a medium-sized Sally plush doll from the Sydney show, that I had spent days, and wee hours to obtain on eBay.  And obtain that plush doll I did, for around $250.  Because of that, I can say that I do own a Sally plush doll.


Now throughout the past 27 years, the Saturday morning show has had its ups and downs.  Most notably, in the mid-1990s, USA Network had obtained the rights to air both Sonic cartoons as a part of their action extreme weekday morning block, now if you're a fan of the Saturday morning show, you think this is great news, unfortunately it wasn't, because even though I only caught glimpses of the show on USA, because I was taking a two-week vocational summer program, where I was living with other people, kind of getting the idea of what it would be like living in a college dorm room, I was only able to catch a few glimpses here and there.  So I had no idea, that USA had, as some fans put it, butchered the series, in other words cut out certain scenes from the episodes for time restraint reasons, but when I finally did see what they were talking about through various online sources, I could definitely see that it's run on the USA Network was not the best idea for the show.

Now between all that, apparently Ben Hurst was planning on somehow making season three a reality.  For you see,  season two ended on a cliffhanger, and Ben didn't want to give too much away about what was to come in the third season, if he was able to finally make it a reality.  So from what I understand, he wanted to go in several directions, the first of course, was to try to get the third season made and aired in someway, the second choice was to do a movie, basically taking I'm assuming the best elements of season three and putting them together into a movie that would make up for the long lost season three that was never aired.  And I guess thirdly, he was probably planning, from what I understand, a possible direct to video approach.  Unfortunately none of this came to pass.  He did however work with Ken Penders on possibly making a movie happen, but Ken decided to go off and do his own thing.
So around 2000 I'm guessing, he did an online chat, where I guess he finally revealed what season three was going to be all about, and he did the same thing in late 2006/early 2007, were again he revealed what was going to happen and a little bit more, because as he put it the questions had gotten more mature by the fans who asking them.  

Now there is speculation, that Ben Hurst had more than season three planned out.  Now I read this somewhere years ago, I can't remember where, but from what I read and understood, this speculation was, that Ben and I'm guessing several of the other writers on the show, were planning out future seasons, either planning them out in their minds and discussing them with each other, or maybe even writing them down to remember them for future use.  But apparently, the speculation is, that Knuckles would arrive on the scene towards the end of season three and be more involved in the show and with the characters in the fourth season, which from the speculation was also going to introduce Amy rose as well.  Remember now, this is all speculation that I had read somewhere many years ago, even before the DVD set was scheduled for release or even was being considered.  Again this was pure speculation and rumors that I had read somewhere online.  But yeah, that was what the fourth season was being planned out to be like, according to speculation/rumors.

However what's ironic, as you have a fan base nowadays, that is ready,  willing and able to make that third season a reality.  For you see, there is a group of fans that have come together and have created a web comic series based on some of the ideas that Ben Hurst had originally written down for the first few episodes of the third season, as well as putting their own original ideas as to how they feel the third season could have panned out.  But you see this group of fans are determined and have showcased that they are going to take this to the next level.  Because they are planning to release the third season in animated form as an online exclusive show.  A show that will be seen exclusively on sites like YouTube, blip.tv and Dailymotion, among many others.  And they are doing their damnedest to make this a reality.  For they have gone to several conventions over this past year, the super convention in Florida, and most recently the San Diego comic con a few months ago.  Were they have showcased at both conventions the progress in animated form of what they are doing.  And so far they have gotten strong positive feedback from those they have shown the footage too.


So if you were to tell me back in 2003, which was the 10th anniversary of the show, that 17 years later, the third season would finally see an animation debut of some kind, honestly I would have believed you, my only question would be how that would happen.  And it seems we have gotten that answer.

In closing, let me say that as I reflect back at the past 20 years, to say it has been one heck of a ride, would be a true understatement.  Because here you had a show and a fan base so dedicated to the show, that they stuck with it through thick and thin.  I mean even when ABC had to move it to earlier timeslots due to college football and other sports like it, fans still did their best to watch it.  I remember a few times living in California with my grandparents, that even though me and my family shared the same bedroom, I would do whatever it took to watch the Saturday morning show, knowing that it had been moved to a certain time slot due to college football.  Fortunately it didn't do it as much if at all in the Midwest when I was living in Kansas.  But even then I would get up early to watch and even record the show.


 

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Yeah, like the other Sonic cartoons, it certainly didn’t age well. I remember watching the pilot a year ago, and was thinking to myself, “wow, was the script this bad?” Although that really just depended on the episode, as some were decently written.

It and AoSTH are definitely fondly remembered tho. Man, I miss those golden ages. If they ever decided to do a remake (which is doubtful right now), they’d definitely have less problems with viewership in this age of streaming where the viewer picks what they want to watch instead of the network deciding the slot to place it or can it outright that occurred back then.

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It's a decent generic Saturday morning cartoon show but it's a terrible Sonic cartoon IMHO. It saw the charm and whimsy of the games and instead said "Nah fuck that. Let's make it about a band of rebels fighting a totalitarian Eggman instead."

Now I d like the original characters because of how they developed in the Archie comic and in the show I like...Sally and Bunnie mostly. Antoine is a cheap French coward stereotype and Rotor exists.

I don't want to speak ill of the dead but I sometimes think Ben Hurst had some sort of vendetta against the games. He did everything in his power to not only make Sonic absolutely annoying but also brain dead stupid. Let's not forget such wonders as replying "You mean like eggs" when Ari said they need to Unscramble a computer, literally asking what thinking is, in that same episode fucking up the entire mission because he couldn't stop thinking about Chili Dogs. Then there's just how often he needed to be lectured about not relying just on his speed and it really feels like the writers just flat out hated Sonic and wanted to paint him in the worst possible light.

And Robotnik. I fucking despise this version of the character with every fiber of my being. Who looks at the game character with his wacky ships and tantrums and decides "Remove all his character traits and make him a generic evil dude sitting in his high castle. Oh, and you know how he regularly fights Sonic himself in the game and is capable of creating his own materials? Well we're removing that. Now he just sits down talking in a scary voice to show how serious and evil he is and instead of inventing the Roboticizer he stole it." He's so bland. Literally all he has going for him is that Jim Cummings voice but even then he still suuuuuuuuuuucks.

Honestly I'd rather watch literally any other Sonic cartoon than SatAM.

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This was an awesome cartoon and I have to disagree, it has aged better than any of the other cartoons(besides Japanese Sonic X which is my second favorite--AoSTH is great meme material for Robotnik alone, Underground is ehhhh, BOOM is mixed).  They actually put effort into this one and had some great lines (who can forget "MARGARINE!!! HAHaHAHA) from time to time.  It's not perfect and without fault of course.  DULCY I could've done without.  She came out of nowhere in Season 2 and I only knew her because she was that also the voice of that black baby(I'm sorry I forget her name...I think it's Susie) on Rugrats.  Antoine was turned into a joke character for the sake of a joke character(though, again...he did get some good lines lol).    But despite that, we got a great cohesive storyline with "The Doomsday Project" in Season 2 which continued "in spirit"(IMO) in the Archie Comics with the Ultimate Annihilator, then the Naugus storyline.  We also got some great female characters in Sonic...Sally, Bunnie and Lupe when all the games had was fan girl Amy and you couldn't even play her until Sonic Adventure.  The comics would continue with that tradition in Hershey, Mina, Fiona Fox and so on.  I kind of adored Sonic's time with Nicole and turning her into a slang talking computer(Sally was like "What did you do to her?!").  Robotnik was actually turned into a great villian with this show and why a lot of people preferred this incarnation.  He was actually a THREAT.  He already won and the Freedom Fighters were fighting an increasingly futile battle against someone who had a great big advantage.  That was great and it was good to see a more mature cartoon for such a new franchise at the time.  I wish they'd do another cartoon like this again or at least something of a mix.  Overal though, a great cartoon and one I'll hold close to my heart always.  

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4 hours ago, StaticMania said:

What character traits?

You have...his laughing sprites, panicked sprites, and his angry sprites.

You can get from his expressions and character animation that he's a giant man child. It's literally been there since day 1 and it's something AoSTH managed to get right so SatAM had no excuse. 

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As a kid, I enjoyed SATAM for what it was and have fond memories of it. Now that I'm older, there are parts of the show that I still like, but it definitely is far from perfect. 

Just some of the things I like even now:

  • Sonic and the Freedom Fighters didn't always win - especially in the first season. Sure, they were able to foil Robotnik's schemes, but sometimes that came at personal loss. Two examples that come to mind are the mission where Cat was captured (and later roboticized) and also when Uncle Chuck reverted back after helping the Freedom Fighters out. 
  • Sonic was able to show some emotion. For example, he actually shed a couple of tears when the Freedom Fighters had to ditch Uncle Chuck after a mission. Yeah, Sonic might try to be all "cool" most of the time, but it also shows how the war affects him on a personal level. Nowadays Sega would shoot down the idea of anything close to Sonic showing any emotion like that because it doesn't jive with the image they want to portray of him.
  • Bunnie Rabbot. Out of all the Freedom Fighter characters created, she was my favorite. I loved the moments where you can tell she has serious conflict/shame/insecurities about her robotic limbs. I wish they would have focused less on Antoine and giving him his own episodes and put more of the focus on Bunnie. 
  • The OP theme song/intro. The opening animation/theme song still holds up to this day as the best one out of all the Sonic shows. 
  • Helped to keep the Archie series alive. If the Sonic comics in the early days had kept to the slapstick, stand alone stories, I seriously doubt it would have lasted as long as it did. But relying on the SATAM lore to build off of initially when taking the series in a different direction, I believe, helped it evolve and survive. 

What I don't like: 

  • The drop in quality in season 2. I probably could create an essay on this alone, but I feel like season 2 was an overall downgrade compared to season 1 (although S2 did give us Tim Curry, and I can't hate on that...) 
  • "Tails". This one is hard for me. In the spirit of what the show was about, you would not expect a 5-year old kid to be heavily involved in a war. I think Tails was aged up to be closer to 10 in season 2 so there was some justification around giving him a bigger role as a Freedom Fighter-in-training. Ben Hurst hinted that Tails would have a bigger role in Season 3, so I always wonder what they would have done with his character. 
  • Dulcy. I like the idea of a dragon character, but she was kind of annoying and created supposedly to fulfill a need to have another female lead. I just don't think she added anything of value and actually took away from another female character (Bunnie)... 
  • Antoine. I. can. not. stand. this. character. Just so cringe worthy for so many reasons and filled with too many French stereotypes. Why did the Freedom Fighters keep bringing Antoine on missions when he constantly messed things up?? 
  • Redesign of most characters in season 2. The one with Rotor especially is such a downgrade. I liked Rotor season 1 - sadly he got pushed to the side big time in season 2 and had such a baffling new look that I don't know what the producers and such were thinking. 
  • Sonic's outdated language. It was cool in the early/mid 90's but now it makes me cringe hearing some of his talk - although "way past cool" still makes me smile sometimes. 
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1 hour ago, AuroraRedwinters said:

As a kid, I enjoyed SATAM for what it was and have fond memories of it. Now that I'm older, there are parts of the show that I still like, but it definitely is far from perfect. 

Just some of the things I like even now:

  • Sonic and the Freedom Fighters didn't always win - especially in the first season. Sure, they were able to foil Robotnik's schemes, but sometimes that came at personal loss. Two examples that come to mind are the mission where Cat was captured (and later roboticized) and also when Uncle Chuck reverted back after helping the Freedom Fighters out. 
  • Sonic was able to show some emotion. For example, he actually shed a couple of tears when the Freedom Fighters had to ditch Uncle Chuck after a mission. Yeah, Sonic might try to be all "cool" most of the time, but it also shows how the war affects him on a personal level. Nowadays Sega would shoot down the idea of anything close to Sonic showing any emotion like that because it doesn't jive with the image they want to portray of him.
  • Bunnie Rabbot. Out of all the Freedom Fighter characters created, she was my favorite. I loved the moments where you can tell she has serious conflict/shame/insecurities about her robotic limbs. I wish they would have focused less on Antoine and giving him his own episodes and put more of the focus on Bunnie. 
  • The OP theme song/intro. The opening animation/theme song still holds up to this day as the best one out of all the Sonic shows. 
  • Helped to keep the Archie series alive. If the Sonic comics in the early days had kept to the slapstick, stand alone stories, I seriously doubt it would have lasted as long as it did. But relying on the SATAM lore to build off of initially when taking the series in a different direction, I believe, helped it evolve and survive. 

What I don't like: 

  • The drop in quality in season 2. I probably could create an essay on this alone, but I feel like season 2 was an overall downgrade compared to season 1 (although S2 did give us Tim Curry, and I can't hate on that...) 
  • "Tails". This one is hard for me. In the spirit of what the show was about, you would not expect a 5-year old kid to be heavily involved in a war. I think Tails was aged up to be closer to 10 in season 2 so there was some justification around giving him a bigger role as a Freedom Fighter-in-training. Ben Hurst hinted that Tails would have a bigger role in Season 3, so I always wonder what they would have done with his character. 
  • Dulcy. I like the idea of a dragon character, but she was kind of annoying and created supposedly to fulfill a need to have another female lead. I just don't think she added anything of value and actually took away from another female character (Bunnie)... 
  • Antoine. I. can. not. stand. this. character. Just so cringe worthy for so many reasons and filled with too many French stereotypes. Why did the Freedom Fighters keep bringing Antoine on missions when he constantly messed things up?? 
  • Redesign of most characters in season 2. The one with Rotor especially is such a downgrade. I liked Rotor season 1 - sadly he got pushed to the side big time in season 2 and had such a baffling new look that I don't know what the producers and such were thinking. 
  • Sonic's outdated language. It was cool in the early/mid 90's but now it makes me cringe hearing some of his talk - although "way past cool" still makes me smile sometimes. 

I agree with the vast majority of this (though, granted I haven't really watched the show in any significant quantity in years). The only disagreement is that I think Antoine was fine in season 1, even though it didn't make much sense that he was a major Freedom Fighter when he was so cowardly. But season 2 Antoine....EEEUURRRRGGHHH. Just horrendous. Overall, I definitely like Archie Antoine the best.

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People be calling SatAM Sonic stupid and I'm like "but he's not, tho?"

He was definitely flanderized a bit in Season 2, but in Season 1 he's shown to be quite crafty and intuitive. Prone to thinking on his feet and adapting in tense situations. He might not be a braniac like Sally or Rotor, but Season 1 showed a Sonic who could plan attacks on Robotropolis, who was able to compromise and understand others' plights (see: Griff and splitting the power stone), and who had genuine trauma (see: Sonic's Nightmare).

SatAM Sonic is someone who comes across as a cocky cheeseball protagonist. He's also someone who lost his only family at age 5 and still has baggage from it, as shown by basically any episode that has Uncle Chuck as the focus. Also, even in Season 2 he had moments where his craftier side showed, like when he pretended to surrender himself to Robotnik so he could rescue his uncle.

I'm just really tired of people acting like SatAM's version of Sonic is a flat character. Some of his qualities get exaggerated depending on the writer, but he still has a kind, caring side to match his attitude and some genuinely somber moments, too. And he knows when to humble up, too. He wasn't mad when Bunnie saved him in Sonic and Sally, for instance. He was thankful. :P Not all, "man, I coulda totally done this myself!" like other heroes of his archetype might've been.

SORRY IF THIS SEEMS EXTRA NERDY, but SatAM's version of Sonic is the version of Sonic I knew first. Before the games. Before the comics.

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Honestly, SatAM is probably still a contender on the list of best adaptations of a franchise to a cartoon format. I know it was said that the script hasn't aged well and that's probably true, I haven't watched the show in years myself, however I'd still say it felt like there was genuine effort put into making it the best they could for the time. It's honestly impressive what they were able to do with it given how limited a framework they had to hang a story on given despite there being a Sonic bible for the Western side of things, which was still a bare-bones backstory at best and still the writers chose to eschew the origin story in it for their own ideas.

Hell, in regards to the not aging well bit, I'd argue it has still aged better than Power Rangers, the show that ended up being considered responsible for ending its production. Off the top of my head given I don't remember too much of the show now, I'd say my biggest gripes with it and one that extends to the Archie comics for the next decade or so is that the anthropomorphic characters don't fit in with Sonic's own art style in the slightest, which is something I appreciate the artists for the comics improving on dramatically since the Archie reboot timeline and the IDW comics. Tangle and Whisper both look more like what I would have expected to see from anything Sonic related by a mile compared to the original Freedom Fighters appearances.

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I think the main issue with SatAm Sonic was that they tended to flanderize his trademark attitude and impulsiveness as him being a perpetually arrogant jock with no sense of strategy, especially under Ben Hurst's pen. Not to STC's level where he's just a full on jerk, but he did sort of take the role of the 'impetuous protagonist that always has to learn lessons' by Season Two, with Antoine kinda being flanderized even worse so he still looked competent by relation (I don't think this really helped though, since they also made Sonic so damn snide and outspokenly 'Hey everyone, look how much cooler I am than THIS loser' that he started to come off as unlikeable). Sonic being cocksure and NEVER learning from his mistakes also rubbed the wrong way in a show where the stakes were far more serious and Sonic was putting way more people at risk just to show off (this was something that slowly led me to find Archie Sonic kind of odious as follies piled up as well, since several of them had actual casualties).

I don't mind Sonic being vulnerable in areas, and let's face it, no matter what interpretation, Sonic is to some degree arrogant and works getting taken down a peg sometimes, but I think Season One actually had a better balance for Sonic in terms of competence while actually letting the other characters shine a lot more (especially Bunnie who got WAY more tidbits of importance in that season). I also kinda preferred his dynamic with Sally in that season, with Sally being as bull headed and flawed about her strategic approach as Sonic was his on-the-fly one, while Season Two tended to just go for Sonic being reckless and 'wrong' and Sally being cautious and 'right' (this is the 90s, the girl always has to be the more competent one :P). In Season Two, Sally just becomes WAY too all encompassing, you could tell Hurst was a bit overfond of the character. None of the one shots or even most of the other main Freedom Fighters really get to do much or have much of an agency because her 'brains and brawn' dynamic with Sonic is too perfect for every job (at least when Sonic listens to her). I mean for how popular Lupe is, does she or any of the other guest Freedom Fighters actually help at all in the final showdown after all that build up?

I actually think SatAm did a better job giving the Freedom Fighters some level of vibrancy compared to the comics, where I always tended to find them a bit too 'normal' and dry outside the earlier issues, it feels like their quirks and whimsy stick out more in the show, especially the pilot which even has an adorably dorky Rotor. Robotnik kinda leans the opposite direction, not that he didn't have SOME subtle moments of comedy, but I think, much like Sonic, the show had a way harder time balancing the character of his new premise, with him now being a competent conqueror who has kept grasp of the planet for over a decade, and yet keeps losing to the Freedom Fighters primarily out of arrogance or sadistic impulses. There's at least a couple instances where Sonic could have EASILY captured or disposed of him, but of course the show would end if he did.

I think despite it's status within the fanbase as the perennial 'dark' Sonic adaption, SatAm actually did a better job maintaining a balance of light hearted and dramatic compared to other 'darker' takes of the franchise, but still suffered from a rather pretentious air sometimes and failing to be the 'epic' that the creators wanted it to be. Some of the blueprints for Season Three suggest this would have only gotten worse, with some rather morbid and nonsensical ideas like NICOLE's backstory and the premise deviating even further away from the games and more into 'monarchy vs sorcery' (compared to early on where, unlike the 'dark' Japanese takes, the show actually does a decent job still keeping the Sonic vs Eggman premise relevent just with its own twist).

For all people complain about Underground for being a poor man's Satam (including Hurst who had to work on that as well) I do think it at least sometimes shown improvements in strengthening the premise, such as making the sibling trio more balanced in terms of strengths and flaws and importance compared to the clear heirarchy of the Freedom Fighters, as well as giving more substance to why Robotnik could maintain control when he still acted like a blundering doofus at points.

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Honestly, I don't like a lot of the concepts as presented in Satam, or the characters. Archie did like everything Satam introduced and made them good. Rotor and Bunnie were actual characters, Antoine wasn't a borderline offensive-caricature, and Sally could be wrong sometimes. Robotnik went from lame doomsday villain with generic drones to something vaguely resembling his game character too. 

But it's a good jumping off point. There's definitely a world and stories to be told, even if they didn't do them the best, so I can give them credit for that.

 

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On 7/19/2020 at 5:48 AM, SBR2 said:

It's a decent generic Saturday morning cartoon show but it's a terrible Sonic cartoon IMHO. It saw the charm and whimsy of the games and instead said "Nah fuck that. Let's make it about a band of rebels fighting a totalitarian Eggman instead."

Now I d like the original characters because of how they developed in the Archie comic and in the show I like...Sally and Bunnie mostly. Antoine is a cheap French coward stereotype and Rotor exists.

I don't want to speak ill of the dead but I sometimes think Ben Hurst had some sort of vendetta against the games. He did everything in his power to not only make Sonic absolutely annoying but also brain dead stupid. Let's not forget such wonders as replying "You mean like eggs" when Ari said they need to Unscramble a computer, literally asking what thinking is, in that same episode fucking up the entire mission because he couldn't stop thinking about Chili Dogs. Then there's just how often he needed to be lectured about not relying just on his speed and it really feels like the writers just flat out hated Sonic and wanted to paint him in the worst possible light.

And Robotnik. I fucking despise this version of the character with every fiber of my being. Who looks at the game character with his wacky ships and tantrums and decides "Remove all his character traits and make him a generic evil dude sitting in his high castle. Oh, and you know how he regularly fights Sonic himself in the game and is capable of creating his own materials? Well we're removing that. Now he just sits down talking in a scary voice to show how serious and evil he is and instead of inventing the Roboticizer he stole it." He's so bland. Literally all he has going for him is that Jim Cummings voice but even then he still suuuuuuuuuuucks.

Honestly I'd rather watch literally any other Sonic cartoon than SatAM.

I was a pretty big Sonic fan back then, would sit and draw and obsess over Sonic when the only non-game content was the instruction manual and magazine articles.. Started reading Archie Sonic when they released their first issue, started watching both Sonic cartoons when they premiered.. and they all felt like good adaptions for what we had at the time..

Sonic had a cocky attitude in what little personality was shown in the games and US artwork.. Robotnik was  this singular human entity that transformed animals into robots and nature into factories and chemical plants.. This show was releasing alongside AoSth and Archie Sonic, which both had plenty of whacky tantrum inventor Robotnik, in retrospect this show feels like it missed the mark there, but during it's time I felt more like this was just an aspect of his character.. Like just a grumpier more serious version of those other incarnations rather than a completely different character..

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Concerning its deviations from the games, I admit to being perplexed by how while the earliest concepts derived from the pilot and early development do seem  to be keeping to adapting the games loosely but in their own unique way (eg. the power rings, the nature vs technology aesthetics, Ricky/Sally Acorn, Buzz Bombers and Cluck making appearances in redesigned form), pretty much everything after seems to actively AVOID being linked to them, even when it was a perfect match. Like AoSth didn't exactly try to be a close adaptation either, but even then it had its points where it said 'You know this is kind of a lot like what the games have, may as well make a nod to that for a nice touch' (eg. using rings and Chaos Emeralds and making references to zones and badniks when their archetype fit)

Like they have powerful artifacts that look and act like Chaos Emeralds but decide to not call them that, they have a Tornado counterpart but call it something different and then just to fully avoid that link being possible, replace it with Dulcy the season after, they have a floating island and Time Stones but seem to make them as distant from the games versions as possible, even if it causes just as big an undercooked WTF in presentation. It's almost like some point in the creators were offended at the idea of being seen like some cheap adaptation to those silly kids games and tried to keep them as distanced from the show as possible, even when the opportunities perfectly meshed. Then we seem to have this weird genre change as the show was moving forward, making magic and dragons and sorcerers the bigger picture over industry (the first season did have a wizard character but one that still revolved his craft around technology).

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Here in Sweden, SatAM and AoStH didn't air simultaneously. Instead, AoStH aired first and was eventually replaced by SatAM. As a kid, I loved AoStH and I will never forget the first time an episode of SatAM aired in it's place. At first, I thought that AoStH had simply gotten a new, and somewhat perplexing, intro. Once it became clear that it was a different show entirely I was sceptical. And even though I learned to accept it, I never grew to love it as much as AoStH.

As an adult however, I must admit that SatAM is the better show. It's not great, but it's good enough. AoStH on the other hand is kind of a hot mess to be honest.

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19 minutes ago, batson said:

Here in Sweden, SatAM and AoStH didn't air simultaneously. Instead, AoStH aired first and was eventually replaced by SatAM. As a kid, I loved AoStH and I will never forget the first time an episode of SatAM aired in it's place. At first, I thought that AoStH had simply gotten a new, and somewhat perplexing, intro. Once it became clear that it was a different show entirely I was sceptical. And even though I learned to accept it, I never grew to love it as much as AoStH.

As an adult however, I must admit that SatAM is the better show. It's not great, but it's good enough. AoStH on the other hand is kind of a hot mess to be honest.

Actually  the same thing kinda happened in the UK. They started off airing AoSth and then aired the first season of SatAm near about in the middle of it. It was jarring to me, like the show had underwent a heavy reboot, which I think left me put off by it. I missed Scratch and Grounder and comedic Robotnik (and being a cliche dumb little boy I hated having 'schmaltzy' scenes of Sonic crying and what not and always wondered why he didn't just bounce on the robotised characters to turn them back :P) so I was relieved when the run of the first season ended and they supposedly reverted back to AoSth format.

Merchandising was weirder here in the UK though. I remember some stuff that had the pink Sally on it, and it taking until the pilot aired to realise it was meant to be from the show (and yes it still aired as the last episode of Season One with me not realising it was the same Sally in episodes prior, I was dumb). Remember Sally beforehand was the gender swapped Ricky from games mechandise and comics.

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6 minutes ago, E-122-Psi said:

Actually  the same thing kinda happened in the UK. They started off airing AoSth and then aired the first season of SatAm near about in the middle of it. It was jarring to me, like the show had underwent a heavy reboot, which I think left me put off by it. I missed Scratch and Grounder and comedic Robotnik (and being a cliche dumb little boy I hated having 'schmaltzy' scenes of Sonic crying and what not and always wondered why he didn't just bounce on the robotised characters to turn them back :P) so I was relieved when the run of the first season ended and they supposedly reverted back to AoSth format.

Merchandising was weirder here in the UK though. I remember some stuff that had the pink Sally on it, and it taking until the pilot aired to realise it was meant to be from the show (and yes it still aired as the last episode of Season One with me not realising it was the same Sally in episodes prior, I was dumb). Remember Sally beforehand was the gender swapped Ricky from games mechandise and comics.

I suspect that the handling of the Sonic franchise in those days (what kind of merchandise we got, ect) was similar in the UK and Sweden, as it was probably all overseen by Sega of Europe. And yeah, looking back at it, it was a bit of a mess. Characters from various continuities could pop up a little bit of everywhere, Robotnik/Eggman could look like his AoStH self on one piece of merch and like his SatAM self on another piece, ect. But hey, it all worked out pretty well anyway, since Sonic was huge in all of Europe at the time. I don't have any data, but I've heard that his popularity here might even have eclipsed his popularity in North America.

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Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) is honestly my favorite Sonic series if I think about it long enough. Other then that episode where Sonic goes into space and has a battle of the bands moment with some robots, those Antoine exclusive episodes, and a few moments with Dulcy, I still like most things about this show. It's up there with other good short lived action-adventure shows like Swat Kats for me. I could nitpick a few things like Tails not being as prominent as he should have been, but it all just...somehow works. Even Sonic's outdated slang just feels charming to me. I first saw this series when I was 17 and I still get a laugh at Sonic & Sally arguing over right and left, I still get a little teary eyed when Sonic was unable to save his Uncle Chuck and I still get tense at this scene between Snively and Robotnik. I swear, I was only a year away from turning into an adult and yet - I literally JUMPED at that scene when Robotnik finally exploded on Snively. Robotnik also has one of my favorite villainous break downs in a 90s kid's cartoon, the fact that it's an expanded and intense version of AOSTH Robotnik's catchphrase "I hate that hedgehog!" just makes it even better. I love the soundtrack too, there's just something so triumphant, whimsical, and full of hope that this score brings.

I think what's helped make SatAM's appeal last as long as it has, beside it being a pretty good early 90s Saturday Mourning Cartoon with an interesting premise with likable characters with a long running spiritual successor in comic form, is that it's just the most interesting of all the Sonic Cartoons to talk about. You can talk about what you like and disliked about it of course just like any other show, there's a lot that can be talked about from that alone, but then there's also the "What-ifs". What if we got that third season? What if we got the movie Ben Hurst wanted ? Other interesting things include, Len Janson having to justify the shows' creative liberties to Sega(in particularly the Blast to the Past two-parter), the show's original Season 1 theme song that was only used when it originally aired on TV, the lost intro intended for the pilot "Heads or Tails", Sonic Underground originally being a continuation of SatAM, etc. That's not even getting into the show's pre-production, human Sally, Ganon Robotnik, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog originally being a prequel to the Saturday Mourning series, etc.

There is just so many interesting facts and ideas to talk about, this has just been a few. Happy belated Birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). I hope we can continue watch and learn even more about this fascinating show in the future. "Let's do it, to it!"

 

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Nice write up! It's funny, I've never really had a good relationship with this show. As a kid I thought it was a bit upsetting in tone compared to the games, as a highschooler I berated it for being way more interested in being a Don Bluth ripoff story of it's own than being Sonic (those designs and that concept art is quite revealing). And now as an adult having watched it all and seen that world carried through the inane dumpster fire that is the Archie comics I just groan and shudder even hearing people say stuff like "mobius" or "freedom fighters". 

It's kind of a shame, cuz i felt like the flynn run of Archie actually, for the first time, had me caring about this world, once it stopped being bogged down by generic 90s cartoon writing or deranged 00's furry fantasies.

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17 minutes ago, Natie said:

Nice write up! It's funny, I've never really had a good relationship with this show. As a kid I thought it was a bit upsetting in tone compared to the games, as a highschooler I berated it for being way more interested in being a Don Bluth ripoff story of it's own than being Sonic (those designs and that concept art is quite revealing). And now as an adult having watched it all and seen that world carried through the inane dumpster fire that is the Archie comics I just groan and shudder even hearing people say stuff like "mobius" or "freedom fighters". 

It's kind of a shame, cuz i felt like the flynn run of Archie actually, for the first time, had me caring about this world, once it stopped being bogged down by generic 90s cartoon writing or deranged 00's furry fantasies.

While Ian does write some good things with the Sonic franchise I never really got into his takes on the SatAm stuff, especially  the Freedom Fighters. I always felt like they were at his dullest through him, or when he gave them a bit of personality it was through practically making them a different character.

Like I always felt like Sally was meant to be a bit pompous, that was her 'not so different' trait of Sonic's, that for every element he was narcissistic she was self righteous, even Hurst liked making fun of her uppityness a little in spite of glorifying her, that to me kept her fun in the show, and I always felt if you wanted to pinpoint a flawed side to her, that was the element to target. But Ian never targeted Sally's ego, or even liked conveying her as having one, which made her a bit bland, even in his attempts to make her a more fallible character (he still instinctively kept the dry smugness about her though, which made her a bit insufferable with no substance to it).

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