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April 26, 2024 / Paramount+

Starring: Idris Elba, Adam Pally, Stockard Channing, Edi Patterson, Scott Mescudi, Ellie Taylor, Julian Barratt, Rory McCann, Cary Elwes, Christopher Lloyd

Created For Televison By: John Whittington, Toby Ascher

The new live-action event series follows Knuckles (Idris Elba) on a hilarious and action-packed journey of self-discovery as he agrees to train Wade (Adam Pally) as his protégé and teach him the ways of the Echidna warrior. The series takes place between the films Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Written By Darren Zakus

Rating 3 out of 5

Knuckles is the fun miniseries fans want it to be when focused on the titular Echidna voiced perfectly by Idris Elba, but the miniseries is too often sidetracked by supporting characters and subplots which causes it to miss the mark of being great.

Sonic the Hedgehog has turned into a major hit for Paramount with two successful films, with a third one arriving later this year, bringing the classic video game franchise to life for fans of all ages. The second film saw the introduction of Knuckles the Echidna, originally an adversary to Sonic turned friend by the end of the film. As a no nonsense, taking everything literally warrior, Idris Elba’s authoritative and strong voice was a perfect fit for the characters, allowing him to steal the film whenever he was on screen. Naturally, after an impressive debut, it was time for Knuckles to get his own starring vehicle, and that desire of fans has been answered with the Paramount+ miniseries Knuckles, bridging the gap between the second and third film and focuses on Knuckles as he tries to find his place within the Wachowski family while saving the world from a new threat.

Once again, Elba is brilliant as Knuckles, bringing a wicked sense of comedy to the series as Knuckle’s literal interpretation of the world leads to some comical misunderstandings. But with a story focused on his character, Elba is able to build a sorrow longingness to Knuckles as he searches for his place in the new world he finds himself in, instantly making the audience care for Knuckles as a hero. This creates the beating heart of the series through Elba’s tender voice performance, making for a true hero equivalent to Sonic in the films. However, Elba’s work is sidelined with the story’s insistence of taking the spotlight away from Knuckles and focusing on Adam Pally’s Wade instead. Pally is funny as Wade, but he keeps doing the same routine for six episodes and by the time you reach the fourth episode, it starts to grow old. And despite Elba and Pally being a great team, creating a buddy cop feeling to the series when they share the screen, the story largely keeps them apart and hampers this fun dynamic. And it’s a shame as Wade’s storyline, coming to terms with his family situation and estranged father who just happens to be his opponent in a bowling tournament without Knuckles present, is not as engaging as the writers think it is. Nor does it help that the miniseries’ main villain is barely present aside from a few small appearances until the final episode, which only sets the stage for a forgettable hero’s quest for Knuckles compared to Sonic going up against Dr. Robotnik again and again, or that annoying musical number in the fourth episode which even failed to excite this musical loving critic.

Aside from Elba, the other standout of the miniseries is the third episode: “The Shabbat Dinner.” This episode sees Knuckles meeting Wade’s mother and sister and focusing on the characters within the show, rather than the forgettable villains. It has lots of laugh out loud moments, heartfelt exchanges and a fun action sequence, which captures the essence of the story being told as Knuckles searches for his new family. Largely, this is thanks to the always incredible Stockard Channing who is excellent as Wade’s mother Wendy, from her pronunciation of Knuckle's name and the never amount of zingers she unleashes. Edi Patterson is fun as Wade’s sister Wanda, creating a fun bickering rivalry with Pally, and the three of them create the perfect lovable yet slightly crazy family unit for Knuckles to bond with over the course of that episode and the remainder of the series. It’s too bad the rest of the miniseries could not match the standard set by this episode.

It may not be the exciting miniseries that matches the quality of the two Sonic the Hedgehog films, but younger viewers are definitely going to enjoy this side adventure of Knuckles and Wade. While there is no denying how badass Idris Elba continues to be as the titular echidna or how Stockard Channing still continues to steal everything she is in, Knuckles suffers an identity crisis which sadly buries the story fans care about and fills this six episode miniseries with meandering side plots that fail to generate the requisite excitement.

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