Knuckles Review

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How can someone so gruff and stoic like Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba) have his own TV show? The answer is simple — a loveable, dim-witted human companion named Wade Whipple (Adam Pally). While he may play second fiddle to James Marsden’s Tom Wachowski in the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movies, Paramount+ miniseries “Knuckles” is Wade’s time to shine — and become the next warrior of the Echidna Tribe. Well, sort of: His Tournament of Champions is actually a nationwide bowling competition in Reno that he’s already been dumped from in favor of an 8-year-old girl with rich parents. But don’t worry, Knuckles is there to set him straight and the two embark on an almost-epic clash of the 10-pin titans.

Let’s be real — none of this makes any sense. But teaming up Knuckles with Wade is pure brilliance. The bumbling ’80s obsessed man-child is the perfect foil for Sonic’s last surviving Echidna warrior and their unlikely friendship sets the stage for an adventure that flips Sonic and Tom’s movie relationship on its head. Here, Knuckles plays it straight while Wade cranks up the comedy with his never-ending supply of daydreams, misadventures and slapstick gags. Elba does steely very well as Knuckles, but Pally hams up every single one of his scenes. It’s a great dynamic: Knuckles’ resolve against Wade’s constant screw-ups keeps both story and laughs rolling.

It was awesome to see other members of Team Sonic come back for this show, including Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails from the movies — not to mention a delicious cameo by Christopher Lloyd as great Echidna elder Pachacamac. There’s plenty of action too, and with two former G.U.N agents (Kid Cudi and Ellie Taylor) tailing Knuckles and Wade, getting to Reno isn’t quite the easy ride they both hoped it would be — resulting in lots of face offs, and a boss fight at the end of the series that really delivers the thrills. The production value here is way higher than you’d expect from a streaming show, and the combat feels chaotic, well-paced and really fun. The introduction of Wade’s family — Stockard Channing as his mom, Edi Patterson as his sister — is a highlight, and their disastrous Shabbat dinner ends in a fight scene that careens wildly around the Wade family kitchen to the sounds of “Hava Nagila.”

“Knuckles” does an interesting twist on one of the Sonic movie formulas for its baddies getting their power from one of an echidna’s own quills. But there’s enough variety here to keep things fresh. It’s not about speed in this miniseries; it’s all about strength — which Wade hilariously hopes to gain through his training with Knuckles. Of course there’s a training montage, plus an ’80s classics-heavy/’90s-alternative rock-leaning kick-ass soundtrack. Watching Wade jam to Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” is worth your time alone.

Knuckles is pure happiness, although it is much more than that as well. The bowling contest is a wild card that results in motorbike-back duels, an epic bowl-off, and a mid-season rock-opera dream sequence featuring the voice of Michael Bolton and The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt in a low-budget owl costume. It’s a madcap vibe that suits such an outrageous premise and perfectly offsets Knuckles’ prickly nature.

Knuckles is tremendously funny with a lot of heart, and while the little red guy lends his name to the series, it’s Wade who ultimately steals the show. Pally’s brand of zany comedy brings a lot of laughs, and the whole caper is stitched together with some high-stakes action that feels just as grand as the movies’. Knuckles deftly channels the buddy cop energy of Sonic the Hedgehog in surprising directions, and it’s a welcome addition to this growing cinematic saga. It’s not just more of the same, either – this adventure feels funny and fresh in ways that are completely unlike the films. The titular lead often takes a back seat to Wade’s over-the-top personality, but that’s not a bad thing – it’s an exciting twist on the Sonic formula that sets Knuckles apart. Throw in a fistful of frenzied fight scenes and a main quest that’s touching and hilarious, and Knuckles injects some chaotic energy into the franchise.


Knuckles is an absolute blast. Wade Whipple’s over-the-top antics give the stoic echidna a much-needed foil, resulting in joke-a-minute road movie over six episodes. It’s daring stuff, too — creative storytelling decisions abound — but there are also heartwarming payoffs along the way as Knuckles grows closer to his hapless human sidekick with each passing installment. In doing so, it actually nails what made Sonic so great at the time, and even a bit of Sonic 2.

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