Can anyone help me out here? I'm looking for a lost episode of the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm sure some of you remember; if you're from the northern part of Virginia and watched the show, you may have seen this. Some backstory first, however.
I first recall seeing this episode when I was eight. It was episode 66 of season one (there was only one season) and it was only aired in northern Virginia, as the broadcasting station had ignored the notice not to play the final episode of the bundle due to its extreme adult content.
This was the station's choice, as it had purchased the syndication rights for the area, but concerned parents later sued them after several children came down with light neural hemorrhaging that caused severe nightmares and vomiting.
Viewing this episode killed no one and older viewers seemed immune to the effects of whatever caused the bleeding but, needless to say, a freeze was put on the production and was hushed up on the news. The show was replaced by the series simply named Sonic the Hedgehog.
I started my search for the episode after the nightmares from watching the episode returned after sixteen years. The nightmares were vivid. They contained visions of people in a long line, all of them clutching their faces in despair. The people in this line spread the full length of the street and all had seemingly abandoned their cars to join the others waiting.
Everything had a dark red tone to it, like the sun was burning out the sunset but never fully went down. Those that weren't in the line littered the street, dead. I can't recall much of the dream beyond hints of looting (things like a line of dead riot police, smashed windows, a collapsed skyscraper in the distance, and upturned cars), but no one in the line paid attention to this. They simply sobbed as the line shifted forward.
The nightmare ended with one of the members of the line looking directly at me. He said nothing, but shifted to an unnatural pose; his arms bent at 45-degree angles and his legs spread into a box over the ground, his mouth agape. As he did this, the rest of the people in the line did the same, striking a slightly different twisted pose. All were looking at me. I awoke with tears in my eyes.
My logical step to finding this episode lies with the station that originally aired it. There is nothing odd about the station; its old management has long since moved on...'committed suicide,' as the new manager pointed out to me.
Over a cup of coffee, the new manager and I discussed the station's past. I intentionally eased into the subject of the lost episode and, as it turned out, I was right to do so. When I brought it up, John (as he will now be known) literally spilled his coffee on his lap.
He told me this subject was a personal one to him; as it turns out, John was the original owner's son. He was kind enough to explain to me that the legal fees he was receiving in conjunction with the mail he was receiving from children and parents alike had pushed him too far and he hung himself in the family kitchen.
I was a little taken back by this news, so I figured I was digging too deep and decided to drop this madness, maybe call it a day. Before I could exit John's office, he told me he would send me the mail.
His reasoning? He wanted me to know what happened; his curiosity was almost as deep as mine, which wasn't surprising considering this episode killed his father. I told him I'd take a look deeper into the subject and get back to him on anything I dug up.
The letters were as one would expect: angry mothers asking what kind of station would air such filth, legal fees ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (enough to send any station broke in the 90's) and, of course, drawings from children depicting scenes of the episode. They were thinks like the blood and unusually dull colors that persisted throughout and horrible things, such as Robotnik vomiting blood and Tails crying over the corpse of a feathered headless bird.
One letter, however, caught my attention specifically. It was a letter from the studio that produced the series.
"Thank you for purchasing the rights to air the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog © Sega 1993-1994. All rights reserved. Enclosed is the series list, episode descriptions and episodes 1-66, the entirety of season one, and legal information regarding ratings and air times.”
In poor handwriting at the bottom of the page, a scrawled note was placed with the words, "Episode 66 is not to be aired! This is a database error and contains corrupted material." The initials JS followed.
I set out to find this episode, but to no avail. My second plan was to ask the people who sent the angry letters about the episode about their take on it. Those who had not moved away since then gave me the canned, "I don't know," or, "Not this again," responses, but I did chance upon one man around my age that remembers and taped the episode.
He invited me in and showed me his VHS copy of the episode. It was badly decayed from the years of neglect in his garage, though, and I could only make out a few bits: Tails screaming at sonic, with tears in his eyes.
"How could you, Sonic? What have you done?!" The rest of the episode was static with the occasional scream and twisted figures (not animals or people, but figures staring at the viewer, with their circular mouths and open black eyes emitting a slight screech).
The tape sent chills up my spine and I asked if I could take the tape for research I was doing into the episode. He agreed quite readily and I promised to keep him updated about it. I took the tape back to John and we watched it for about fifteen minutes until John jumped back in his seat.
He told me he saw the figure with black eyes, but it spoke for a brief moment. He claimed he saw its lips move, mouthing a word he thought was 'eternity.' We watched that same one second flash for what must have been thirty times and each time we both attempted to freeze the frame on the figure, it disappeared when the video paused.
I called it a day there; we needed a better copy of the episode if we were to find out why it ended the entire series and caused me nightmares for much of my childhood.
Short of traveling to France and talking to the animation studio, I gave them a call. They bluntly told me there was no episode 66. 65 was the last episode of the season. Knowing this was a dead end, I called again and asked for the contact information of the voice actors.
Most of the information was out of date, it seemed. The information given for the voice actors of Robotnik, Scratch, Grounder, and Sonic all gave "number not in service" errors or people told me I had the wrong number. However, I did manage to contact one person.
Christopher Evan Welch was the voice of Tails. I managed to hook him for a fake interview about his roles in 90's television. As you would expect, Chris turned up wearing casual clothing and a smile on his face. He looked like the average guy in his late 20's.
As he sat down, I asked about some of his roles in bands and television, working my way to Sonic. When I did get there, however, he got really quiet and evasive. I asked him specifically about episode 66 and he froze. His pupils almost retracted to nothing and he looked at me, telling me the episodes only went up to 65.
I knew better, of course, and asked him about his script - where he was talking to Sonic about something he had done. The man grabbed his face - not in frustration, but to wipe his eyes (they were beginning to well up). He took a deep breath.
He told me the episode was written by Jeffrey Scott and the usual spiel that follows; Jeffrey was a nice man and was was very patient with Chris as he read the script (being 11 at the time), but as the first season drew to a close, Jeffrey had become very angry with everyone... even 11 year-old Chris.
The voice actors for Robotnik and Sonic threatened to quit over his behavior, but the executive producer paid them both very large sums of cash in hand right there to read from the script Jeffrey had written. Apparently, Jeffrey had an order from high up - the top of Sega as far as Chris knew at the time - to produce this episode, and it was listed as a business priority.
Chris explained to me how, as they read the script, he felt great sorrow and terror. It was as if they had lost a close friend or family member, even seen those people die before them. He told me of the scarring to his vocal chords from the screaming that was invoked by reading the script, even the extreme exhaustion of the other voice actors involved.
The session ended with the security pulling the voice actors from the studio before things went even worse, even his mother pulled him from the show the next day, fearing for his safety. I stopped the interview there and asked for a copy of the episode, but none were ever sent back to the voice actors.
That is as far as I've come in the search for episode 66. I've heard there may be a copy in the studio in France, but I have no way of getting there on my budget. I KNOW it exists and many more people out there must have a VHS copy, so that's why I ask the internet. Help me in my search. Please.