TV Reviews
Knuckles (2024).

Knuckles Review: A Middling Entry in the Sonic Franchise

The Paramount+ television miniseries Knuckles, a spin-off of the Sonic the Hedgehog film series, aims to bridge the gap between Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with a unique narrative focus on the titular echidna. Starring Idris Elba as Knuckles and Adam Pally as Wade Whipple, the series shifts gears from the high-octane, globetrotting adventures of Sonic to explore more personal themes of mentorship, redemption, and family ties. While Knuckles showcases promising elements, it ultimately struggles to find its footing, culminating in a final product that’s as inconsistent as it is occasionally delightful.

The premise of Knuckles initially offers an intriguing expansion of the franchise’s lore. Placed between the events of the second and forthcoming third Sonic films, it provides a character-driven narrative focusing on Knuckles’ attempts to adjust to life on Earth. This storyline is given weight by Knuckles’ undertaking to mentor deputy sheriff Wade Whipple, played with an affable charm by Adam Pally. The miniseries tries to layer its action-adventure skeleton with emotional flesh by incorporating themes of self-discovery, familial reconciliation, and the mastering of one’s potential. Unfortunately, these lofty ambitions are often undercut by a disjointed narrative and tonal inconsistencies that plague the series throughout its run.

The Good:

One of the show’s strengths is its character work, particularly with the leads. Idris Elba reprises his role as Knuckles, imbuing the character with the same gravitas and intensity that made his portrayal a standout in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. His mentorship of Wade introduces a dynamic that allows for moments of humor and heart. Adam Pally’s Wade Whipple provides a commendable balance of comic relief and emotional sincerity, although the character sometimes veers too heavily into caricature. The interaction between Knuckles and Wade is, without doubt, the heartbeat of the series, driving home themes of growth and the importance of forging one’s path.

The Bad:

However, the show often falters in its broader narrative and pacing. The storyline, while novel in its focus on lesser-seen aspects of the Sonic universe, meanders through subplots that feel tangentially connected at best. The central plot – training for a bowling tournament in Reno, Nevada, while being pursued by a vengeful former agent of Dr. Robotnik – oscillates between being engagingly absurd and bewilderingly so. The juxtaposition of such a mundane human activity with the high stakes of interdimensional conflict creates a tonal dissonance that the series never fully reconciles.

Moreover, the show’s integration into the broader Sonic universe feels uneven. While it serves as a bridge between the second and third films, Knuckles sometimes seems adrift from the main storyline, with references to established characters and events feeling shoehorned in rather than organically woven into the narrative. This disjointedness extends to the series’ action sequences and visual effects, which, although competently executed, lack the kinetic energy and coherence of its cinematic counterparts.

The series’ thematic explorations, particularly concerning family and redemption, are commendable but inconsistently executed. The reuniting of Wade with his estranged family members and Knuckles’ confrontation with his own legacy and responsibilities offer emotional high points. Yet, these moments often come across as underdeveloped, with resolutions that feel too convenient or inadequately set up.

Overall:

Knuckles does offer some innovations, most notably in its expansion of the series’ mythos. The introduction of new locations, characters, and lore tied to the echidnas enriches the universe in compelling ways. However, these elements are sometimes at odds with the series’ more grounded, character-driven aspirations, resulting in a narrative that feels caught between two worlds.

Knuckles‘ ambition to deepen the lore of the Sonic universe while offering a focused character study of its titular echidna is laudable. Idris Elba and Adam Pally deliver performances that highlight their characters’ complexities and charms. Nonetheless, the series struggles with pacing, narrative coherence, and tonal inconsistencies, failing to fully leverage its unique premise. While Knuckles provides moments of genuine entertainment and insight, it ultimately falls short of its potential, rendering it a middling entry in the expanding Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

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Knuckles Review: A Middling Entry in the Sonic Franchise
  • Acting - 6/10
    6/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
    4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
    4/10
  • Watchability - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 2.5/10
    2.5/10
Overall
4.6/10
4.6/10
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