Re: Sonic: One Opinion

From: Erich Schulman (KTN4CA) -- Team OS/2 <"Erich>
Date: Sun, 28 May 1995 23:22:39 -0400 (EDT)

On Sun, 28 May 1995, Dan Drazen wrote:

> (excerpted from a letter dated 1/27/95):
> The major influence on that episode was "Quantum Leap" -- the computer
> with the holograms (whose name escapes me, even though the show ended
[stuff deleted]
> yourself. The nature/machine dichotomy has pretty much been done to
> death, from George Lucas' Ewoks to (on a more pessimistic note) H. G.
> Wells' "Time Machine". Basically, though, the roboticizer (?) suggested
> to me the Borg episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". All of
[and some more]

Stories, music, art, etc. have been developed for a very long time. Only
the most avant garde works have a chance at being totally original.
Almost everything does something that's been done before, whether
intended by the author or not. In the case of music, the courts have
already ruled that all possible combinations of notes have been
exhausted, so now it's not necessary any longer to prove absolute
originality in a defence in a copyright infringement suit.

> be--carnivores. The series sidesteps this problem by infantilizing the
> foxes, keeping them at a child (at best, adolescent) stage of
> development. These anthropomorphs' ancestor is, of course, Bugs Bunny,
> whom Richard Adams once dismissed as "a guy in a rabbit suit" who had
> nothing to do with real rabbits.

He must be less familiar with the games than even I am. Tails is "almost
five" except for being ten years old in the Saturday series. For DIC to
portray Tails as an adult would be a non-sequitor, an inconsistency with
the characters' point of origination (the games).

As for Bugs Bunny, why does he have to be a like a real rabbit? Ooooh,
six minutes of Bugs Bunny silently hopping around a meadow. That'll keep
us in hysterics. (Reference to "Slappy Goes Walnuts" intended.)
Likewise, why do Tails and Antoine (and Sally??) have to be like real
foxes? If they were, Bunnie wouldn't have a chance if not for her
robotic limbs. And since Sally is (more than likely) a squirrel, she'd
be in trouble too. As explained in Schneider's book, the Looney Tunes
and Merrie Melodies were made "cartoony" in direct opposition to Disney's
preference to realism. If you prefer realistic animation, fine. Pick up
"Bambi" and "Snow White" at your local video store.
> As for the lead Sonic characters, there doesn't seem to be much one can
> do with them except use them for their original purpose; the series is,
> after all, a half-hour commercial for Sega. The Boss [Robotnik?] is
> one-dimensional, but Sonic, Sally and the other forest-folk barely make
> it to two-dimensional. If I had to write anything for these critters,
> I'd have to invent a lot of biography and motivation along the way. The
> character design is nice, but (a) the studio is borrowing Sega's designs

What you're asking for is an original series, not a show based on the
game. If you re-invent the characters, you end up with something like
the movie "Halloween III: Season of the Witch": a movie that has nothing
to do with its predecessors except title. You think there are
differences between the two cartoon series, the two comics (US and UK),
and the games now? Just imagine the games being what they are now, and
the SatAM show using only humans and taking place in New York City, and
Robotnik is just a powerful man in the drug trade. May as well scrap the
game connections and make a totally new show.

There's also a matter of the budget. The show would be very different if
it were made by Disney (perhaps passed along to Touchstone) where much
more could be spent on writers, animation, and so on. Any list.members
care to speculate on what the show would have been like if another studio
made it?

The cartoon-commercial issue was debated extensively about ten years
ago when we were treated to plotless cartoons like "Strawberry Shortcake"
whose sole purpose was to sell-sell-sell. At least "JEM" had some good
music now and then. "Sonic the Hedgehog" is a giant step up from there.
The Sonic cartoons and comics have helped to develop the concept further
and faster than the games. Sega can't release a new Sonic game every month.

Of course, the connection to an item of merchandise is there; it's
inseperable for this show. But I don't think it was made to be a
commercial any more than specifying my e-mail address in my .signature is
an attempt to solicit customers for United States Internet, Inc. Do you
see in my .sig, "For the best in Internet connectivity, contact USIT at
---"? Do you see any blatant sales pitches in the show?

Robotnik, boss only to Snively, should be a limited character. It would
dilute the story if he only roboticized those who commited capital
crimes, or if he were to apologize for what he does as he does it. If
Robotnik was just a component of a schizophrenic Julian, well, we'd have
a more complex story and a less formidable opponent.
> Beyond that, and their essentially adolescent perspective, Sonic and
> Sally still pretty much embody the gender stereotyping of commercial
> television: she's Appollonian, the planning aspect, while he's the
> active, unthinking Dionysian counterpart. You rarely see a female

"Commercial television", hmmm, last time I checked my TV listings, my
local PBS affiliates weren't running Sonic. You can't blame your tires
for being round. I'd rather see this configuration than one like Cliff
Huxtable who's just an amiable buffoon (just how did he manage to get
through med school, or high school for that matter?). Sally might have
the "brains" but she alone can't carry out her plans, with the possible
exception of her mini-series (she did have help from St. John). Remember
the episode where Sally blamed herself for not adequately planning an
attack and some Freedom Fighters were roboticized? Sounds like something
I'd do too. But Sonic was there to support her, and *together* they made
it through. Sega's bio of Sonic says he's of average intelligence (see
/pub/sonic/list/sonic-bio at the ftp site) and he tends to be impatient.
Remember when Sonic said he would do what "I do best: wing it!"? Sonic
wouldn't even want Sally's "planner" role. Not unless you re-invent him,
and now we're back to may as well make an original series.

|-- Erich Schulman (KTN4CA) + Team OS/2 ---- -----|
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Received on Sun May 28 1995 - 23:30:26 PDT

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