Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)/Development/Ben Hurst's Ideas
From Sonic Retro
The following text is a series of e-mails written by Ben Hurst, writer of the Saturday morning Sonic the Hedgehog animated show. The e-mails were sent to three people: Quexinos, former webmaster of "Fans United for SatAM," Kanshisha, former webmaster of thesatamnetwork, and Ben Hurst's brother. Written between 2003 and 2004, the e-mails were an attempt by Ben to write down his idea for a potential season three or follow-up movie, even though it was not in active development. The thought was that if something were to happen and Sega was interested, he'd be ready to go.
Following Ben Hurst's death, Quexinos released the shared correspondence. 
To my three watchers: Some of this will be confusing to you because I’m going to be sharing some of my stream-of-consciousness stuff as it comes outta my head. Again, some of it will become rock-solid – some of it will disappear – and sometimes, things that disappear will come back. Until the actual first premise for the movie is complete, everything is up in the air. And then, when I move to outline, things will change/transform/appear/disappear again. So, though I know some of what you’re going to read will make you scratch your heads in confusion, have faith. I’ll straighten out all the loose ends by the end of the first draft script.
I have no way of knowing how long this will take. I might get all charged up and write it in a few weeks. Or I might get bogged down and take a few years.
My style of writing might confuse you at first. I often write as though I’m narrating action – and I also sometimes write as though I’m talking to myself. It’s a tangled web, but I think this is going to be fun. And having an audience will be a first for me. Sometimes, I’ll be adding little messages (always in Italics) to you guys to clarify what I’m doing – other times, when I’m jamming and just getting thoughts down, you’ll just have to read between the lines.
The first document will be Sonic Movie001.doc – and each time I add, I’ll simply rename to 002, 003, etc. This will allow you to quickly pick up where I left off – and will also provide a record of all the stuff I’ve done so I can go back and retrieve things I might later modify or cut out.
And the journey begins!
In fantasy, heroes encounter situations that provide opportunities for them to become heroes. And this has already happened to Sonic.
But what happens to a hero who finds himself in peaceful times?
I think it’s time to let Sonic grow a little. His heroics will still rest on his ability to act fast in a crisis – and for the most part, to instinctively do the right thing because his heart really is pure. But now Sonic will have to learn how to be part of a team.
But, that won’t rest well with Sonic. You see, no matter how sophisticated he becomes, no matter how angry he gets, no matter how involved, bored or distracted he becomes – Sonic’s pure heart is still, in many ways, that of a big overgrown (but loveable) kid. Kids need attention and everyone is very busy –so Sonic will wind up developing new friendships, deepening existing friendships and generally make a nuisance of himself until some action comes his way. One of his new friends (and confidant) will be Nicole.
One of the big character arcs for the movie will be Nicole’s story. A relationship will develop between Sonic and Nicole. And through a series of circumstances and events, her real story comes out. At first, she will confide this story only to Sonic. It becomes the bond between them – and gives Sonic a noble quest.
Nicole’s story: She was just a little girl. She was a good friend of Princess Sally. In fact, she was her best friend. And a child genius. Both girls were highly intelligent and this was part of the reason for the bond between the two.
One day, Bots intercepted Nicole when she was leaving the palace and took her to Julian. He told her she had been selected to participate in a research project. He needs to give her some forms for her parents to sign. Trusting, she follows him to his lab, where he asks to connect her to a machine he intends to test. He “just wants to see how it fits.” She lets him, not knowing that he is going to take the knowledge from her brain and place it in a vast computer aboard a satellite. It’s a horrifying process with Nicole eerily calm as her mind is transferred. She mutters “No…I..uh..” Then suddenly, her body is dead.
Robotnik crosses to a panel and extracts a hand-held unit which we recognize as the present-day Nicole.
Robotnik informs Nicole that her body is gone and he can make her mind go away if she disobeys an order from him. He demonstrates by shutting off access to her brain, a section at a time. Like when her body was on the table, we hear her mutter “No…I..uh.” But this time, the “uh” repeats in a monotone.
Robotnik pushes another button and there’s a hollow sound. A moment later, in a hollow voice, Nicole whispers, “I died. I was gone.”
Robotnik remarks sympathetically, “Oh. That must have been terrible.” Suddenly his face turns to a cruel sneer. He holds her close to his face, “Serve me well, you live. Fail me, you will die a thousand such deaths.”
He straps her to his belt and exits.
Bear with me, this will get a little complex, since it is backstory – but my gut tells me it will have a wonderful payoff in the end
But what Robotnik doesn’t realize, is that he has created his own monster. Nicole has gained unsuspected awareness and abilities. She has become a being with perfect and total awareness and the ability to telepathically control anyone.
With her vastly expanded reasoning powers, Nicole instantly realized what Robotnik had done to her. He had combined the ability to reason and have emotions with the light speed processing power of a super computer. And with all of the devices she can control, she has the powers of a god.
Thoughts flash through Nicole’s mind at light speed. Her first inclination is to force Robotnik to destroy himself. But with her heightened awareness, she can instantly extrapolate her actions into the future
She can see a future where she controls everything. No one would have free will. In effect, she would have done Robotnik’s work for him by “robotocizing” everyone’s brains. Her emotional side realizes that she would be creating a scenario where she would have no one to confide in or interact with – she would be locked into a world of complete and utter loneliness.
Nicole continues, analyzing billions of future scenarios. Every one leads to the same conclusion. She is the smartest and best-equipped entity in the cosmos – and that her heart, human emotions and compassion would lead her to make all living creatures live in harmony. She could cure all problems, everywhere!
Simultaneously, she again realized that her cure was no cure at all, it was only ultimately making everyone do what she said. She was like a human computer virus that could destroy all free will in the world. If taken to her logical conclusion, she would be like an “ultimate solution.” The world she could create would have no conflict, no pain, no death, no destruction ----- and no free will, no creativity, no real love, no adventure and no drama.
She would be creating a giant hive society where all creatures obey the queen.
Then in an intuitive flash, she sees the one course of action that can prevent her interfering with the destiny of the world. Nicole realizes she must alter herself.
Billions more scenarios based on this idea flash through her mind and now the plan arrives, elegantly simple. She creates a program to execute on herself. Once executed, it can not be stopped. It would
- First make her alter Robotnik’s mind so he forgets she was ever created and make him give her portable unit to the King.
- Then, she would command the King to give her to Princess Sally.
- Once she belongs to Sally, the second part of the program activates, sealing away the human and emotional portions of her psyche – and removing the knowledge that she can control others telepathically. In this noble act of quasi-suicide, Nicole ensures that the world will continue to have free will, if they are willing to fight for it.
- One final note – the only thing that can bring her back is a threat to her satellite. And Nicole has created the program to pull her out with a built in mechanism to automatically turn her back to “computer” mode after the crisis has passed.
When little Sally learns that her best friend Nicole has died, she is inconsolable. But the King holds her and when the sobs subside, Nicole uses her telepathic powers to make him give Sally the portable computer unit given him by Robotnik.
Later, in her room, Sally tests her new computer, asking it to create three-dimensional images in the room. In a twist of irony, she decides to name her new computer, “Nicole” after the memory of her departed best friend. She sets the computer down and leaves the room. After she is gone, the computer glows, then says, “I love you, Sally.” A flash of effects and the hand-held unit is now just a computer. For all practical purposes, the human part of Nicole is dead.
But in this movie, at some point, the real Nicole will be jostled “awake” by Sonic’s irreverent and ignorant questions. Her program to seal away her human mind is whacked around and will finally surface, brought to life by Sonic’s persistence. (see setup in scene a few pages from here) She is aware again – and she shares the fact with Sonic – and tells her tragic story. In a comedic sequence, she tells him why she can’t simply “fix” everything – that once she starts tampering, she would have to “create the hive.” Sonic’s head is fit to bust over this one, but he tells her if she’s so messed up over being aware, “Why don’t you just shut yourself off again?” She admits it is the best idea and tells Sonic she’ll wipe the memory of this event from his mind before she seals herself off again.
Sonic wigs out and tells her “No way!” That’s messing with his free will. He wants to remember. Nicole reluctantly agrees, then seals her brain off again. This time, as the effects flash around her, we hear the pathetic, “I…uh..” before she simply becomes the computer Nicole again.
Gotta work out the details for the rest of this story arc, but I want to somehow have Nicole restored to herself again. (Maybe Robotnik preserved her body in a special hidden vault where he had hoped to gloat over it – Nicole never extracted this information from his mind) She returns as a little girl without any extra powers – except that she’s a genius. (Although, there could be flashes of extra powers from her experience of being a computer – definitely something to be explored) And who becomes Sally’s “daughter/best friend.” This can happen from Sonic confiding in Sal about what Nicole told him – or by Sonic enlisting Rotor’s aid to surprise Sally at the very end – or…something else again. And gotta have a point where it looks like we’ve lost Nicole forever – or, (I hate when these kinda dramatic ideas occur to me) maybe we actually lose Nicole forever.
I’m lovin’ this character arc. It will be interwoven into the plot in one form or another.
All right, me buckos, let’s look at the world after the destruction of the Doomsday Machine.
As we remember, the disruption caused by the release of all that energy opened the Void up for a moment. Robotnik thinks he's gotten away, but no. He be in the void. He's the new floor show for Naugus. The wizard will fill many days making up new ways to rearrange Robotnik. Those eyes are Naugus peering out at the world as the Void slowly closes. And the laugh is his anticipation of the big fun to come.
Snively takes over and becomes quite full of himself. He easily assembles an armada of old, regular bots stockpiled in remote hangars. Snively knows where all the skeletons are buried. Especially the biggest skeleton of them all. Robotnik's self-recorded journal. We listen as Robotnik’s horrid whispers recount terrible things he has both done and enjoyed. Now, we're starting to learn more about Robotnik. He's not just bad. He's disgustingly bad. He’s nasty and sadistic. This was foreshadowed when he tortured Dulcy's Mom.
The more Snively listens, the more he wants to be big and bad like Robotnik. I was planning on having a little fun with Snively. Here's what I like. He's not stupid. He's just been forced to watch his every step. But now he can be himself.
When the freedom fighters start taking over and repairing sections of Robotropolis. Snively uses secret passageways and remote bunkers to watch and plot the demise of knothole and all its residents. The twist: Snively's a better general than Robotnik. He sets better traps. He plays with 3-dimensional designs like Sally and studies surveillance footage of Sonic battles. He’s a real player.
Now, let’s see how the whole movie starts. I think something like this:
As the sun rises in Knothole, a group of Freedom Fighters-now-Freedom Builders watch as Rotor demonstrates how the machines he has invented will work in synchrony to restore one city block a day. Mobotropolis will live again.
They all move into an indoor amphitheater where Sally (with Nicole docked with the AV system) projects three-dimensional city block environments into the center of the room. One Freedom Builder (a new character – TBD - Shhhh. Don't tell anyone but he's gonna be a rival for Sally's affection.) suggests changes and as he does, the transparent projections reshape themselves. Everyone quickly agrees to the modifed design and Sally singles the handsome Freedom Builder out for praise. She announces the plan: Rotor will lead the airlift of his machines (using confiscated cargo ships) into the city after breakfast.
As they return to their homes to eat, we hear footsteps behind one of Rotor's monstrous machines. Sonic rounds the corner, staring up at it, squinting against the sun. He stares a second, then mutters, "Boring." He looks at another one with a series of mechanical arms tucked away like a Swiss Army knife. “Cool!” He races up a ladder and enters the control area. He pushes a start button, turns a dial to full and the machine shudders. A rising whine and suddenly the machine kicks into gear. At about 120th of a mile an hour. Close on Sonic's disgusted face as he mutters, "Boring." He shuts the machine down, races down the ladder and into the amphitheater where Nicole still projects the city block. Sonic is underwhelmed and sarcastically "praises" it, "Oh, how beautiful." Nicole asks, "How about this one, Sonic?" She projects a beautiful fountain, like seen in Blast to the Past. Sonic clutches both hands to his breath in mock-admiration, "It's so beautiful" Then, he quickly shakes his head and adds, "...and boring!"
Sonic goes on a rant. "Monday. Planning meetings. Boring. Tuesday. Review the planning meetings, look at boring pictures. Wednsday, boring, Thursday boring, Friday boring. Every day is booooooooooooring!" Nicole asks, "But isn't this what you were fighting for Sonic? A time to rebuild? To live in peace?" He tells her, "Yeah, yeah. You sound like Sal." Nicole replies, "We spend a lot of time together."
Sonic zips around the room, comes to a twanging halt in front of Nicole. "So what do I do?" Disgusted, he gestures toward the machines outside then at the projections of the fountain. "I can't do that!" He revs up to leave. "Heck with it, I'm outta here."
'Wait, Sonic, "implores Nicole. Sonic unrevs, stares at Nicole, tapping his foot impatiently. "What?"
"You're filled with kinetic energy, Sonic."
"Ki-what? Speak English."
After she explains that it’s stored energy and encourages him to get a power ring and go on a speed blast, Sonic finds himself becoming curious about Nicole.
Sonic asks what Nicole thinks about when she’s not tied up with an assigned task. She tells him that she doesn’t think at all. “I store, process and extrapolate data.” With crossed arms, Sonic taps his foot impatiently and demands, “Where are your eyes? She tells him she doesn’t have eyes. Sonic makes an anguished sound, then, like a person talking to someone very slow, he asks, “How do you see me?” She replies, “I can use any viewing device within range. Sonic explodes, “Choose one!” Nicole calmly tells him, “Directly behind the console. The one that doesn’t glow.” Sonic zips up and sticks his face close. Fish-eye angle from Nicole’s POV as he firmly exclaims, “Speak English.” Almost adopting a “Hal” attitude, Nicole informs him, “That’s precisely what I’m doing.” Sonic blasts, “Then how come I don’t always understand you?”
“Because you don’t know all the words.”
“No biggie. Use words I know.”
That was pretty convoluted – but it’s a piece that I’ll rework soon into something that serves as the kickoff scene of Nicole’s story arc. Now, back to Snively and his explorations of Robotnik’s secrets. If it appears as though I’m leaping around a lot – it’s because I am. :)
Snively continues to go through Robotnik’s secrets and he finds a portable unit (identical to Nicole – Robotnik made two) and discovers it is linked to a satellite containing a huge computer. When Snively powers up the handheld, this triggers the program that lets the full Nicole surface. She stops the computer circuitry from responding to Snively. He shrugs. It doesn’t work. He tosses the portable unit aside. After he leaves, we hear Nicole execute a destroy command. The portable unit glows with effects, then melts into a blob of plastic and circuit boards.
Back with Sonic, Nicole falters in her speech. Sonic peppers her with questions but she asks him to give her a moment, she has to take care of something.
On the satellite, we show her executing commands to seal her human brain away again.
Back with Sonic, he asks what she was taking care of. Having eliminated all pathways to those memories, she honestly answers, “I don’t know.” Sonic is blown away. Nicole knows everything. This is the little tip that makes him start hammering away at her throughout the movie – and eventually brings her to full awareness again – to the point where she tells Sonic her story.
Now, next will be the rough stuff. Breaking out the acts. Gotta do this so I know how to build the action, but it’s brain-buster stuff. So, maybe I’ll do it next or maybe I’ll explore one of the other character arcs. Or maybe I’ll see if I can write the ending so I can work backwards. That would take some of the fun out of it for you guys so maybe I’ll hold off, though it’s frequently how I construct. I can always do it in another file and add it later.
Anyway, that’s all for now.
April 17, 2004
Well, I have to do at least a little writing today. I’ve had lots of thoughts bubbling to the top of my noggin – so better get them down, right or wrong. As a Tom Clancy character said, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.” So starts the next little chapter.
Thoughts have been blasting through my head on the Nicole/Sonic storyline. It’s such a great character arc for both of them – and if Nicole restores to an adult body, she loses all computer abilities, but she’s still a genius. Sonic and Nicole make the decision to destroy her satellite. Nicole’s power as a computer being was too dangerous. He and Nicole team up, but as they issue the command that will irretrievably Nicole’s cyber-brain, they hear the fading memory utter, “I...uh…” Good poignant moment and as they move closer together, they hug. They hold for a moment, both savoring it, then break apart, embarrassed.
So, how this arc works in the development phases: An earlier scene where Sonic goes looking for items for Rotor’s latest contraption. He has a page with four items pictured. Sonic persuades Sally to let him use Nicole on his search. Sally reluctantly agrees and off they go. He gets to a rubble-strew city area, and plops Nicole on a rock. He asks her a question and blurs out of shot for a millisecond then blurs back holding one of the items, which he places nearby. He arrives in time for Nicole’s answer. Then, he asks another question and stops short when he suddenly realizes he’s hearing her crystal clear from a considerable distance. She’s communicating in his mind. He zips back to her and demands to know how she did that.
A long pause. Finally she says, “My programming does not allow me to tell you.”
Sonic, “What? Well, excuuuuuse me!” He consults his list, then blurs out of shot on another search, then we hear him hit the brakes and , (os) (That means off shot) we hear him say “Wait a second,” and a millisecond later he’s back, putting his face in one of Nicole’s monitors, “Who programmed you?”
- ↑ http://www.saturdaymorningsonic.com/features/bens_notes/ (Wayback Machine: 2022-03-16 21:57)
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