Knuckles Is Barely In His Paramount+ Show

Knuckles Is Barely In His Paramount+ Show

I had a lot of expectations for the Knuckles live-action mini-series that, it turns out, might have been a bit too lofty. But I don’t think the expectation that the titular echidna voiced by Idris Elba would be in a show with his name at the top was that outrageous. I’m sad to report that Knuckles is only around for a fraction of the show named after him.

We won’t get into any major story details or spoilers here, but after watching all of the Knuckles series, I was dumbfounded to realize the punch-throwing echidna is barely in it. The story’s not about him; he spends large sections of the show remarkably absent from even pivotal scenes, and even when he’s around, he’s seldom the focus of what’s going on. This show is actually all about Wade Whipple, the comic relief cop you’ll remember from the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movies.

The first few episodes do a decent-enough job of dividing time between Knuckles trying to find some purpose in the world and Wade’s bowling tournament plot. But there’s a scene at the beginning of episode four in which Wade gets dragged away by his own subplot, and Knuckles says to another character he will let the cop save himself as part of his “training.” Then it clicks that Knuckles will be vibing off-screen for an entire episode. He shows up again in the final scene, but he just bookends the episode.

This imbalance between Knuckles and Wade’s screen time became so stark by the latter half of the season that I scrubbed back through all six episodes to break down, by the minutes and seconds, just how much Knuckles is actually in his show. And folks, Elba is providing voice work for roughly 76 minutes and 47 seconds of a 172-minute-long season. Those are just scenes Knuckles is in, not accounting for whether or not he’s actually contributing to the scene in a meaningful way. That’s less than half of the six-episode runtime.

I imagine that Elba’s time and the process of animating Knuckles are both expensive, but also, importantly, the show has essentially been positioned as an MCU-style play for the beginnings of an extended universe beyond the films. His severe lack of screen time suggests that the live-action universe may not have its priorities in order if it’s willing to spend more time with its less compelling human characters than the one this show is named after. Here’s hoping Sonic the Hedgehog 3 better manages the time between its anthropomorphic characters and the human ones nobody’s buying tickets to see.

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