For the Netflix faithful and avid fans of social media, you may have heard of heard the word “Reboot” tossed around at an increasing rate. Of course, yes, we have heard of the term” reboot” which is to take an dormant property, bring new talent, and restart it using modern tools and directions. In the past few years, many reboots have fundamentally failed, from the Paul Feig directed Ghostbusters to Terminator: Genysis. Some reboots, have been successful such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Netflix’s Fuller House. Reboots are everywhere, and despite the potential disappointment they bring, they catch us in an heir of excitement and possibility. Among them, is the reboot of a show appropriately called ReBoot. Of course, as you just saw, the difference is in the letter B of that word.
On Wednesday, February 21st, Netflix, along with animation studio Rainmaker, introduced ReBoot: The Guardian Code, a reboot of the classic animated series which ran from 1994-2002. The new trailer clearly showcases a sharp departure from the fully-animated series, instead, trading for a combination of live-action teenage drama and animation. It’s a sharp departure for sure, and many fans that have been waiting over a decade for a proper update are left between disappointment and scratching their heads. For long-time fans like myself, I have mixed feelings about the update, but it has left me reminiscing about the wonders of the world’s very first computer-generated animated series.
In 2018, fully computer-generated shows are an everyday occurrence from Star Wars Rebels to Tron Uprising. Today, computer animation doesn’t get too much though. But in the 1990s, things were a lot different. Basic animation programs did not exist and required both keen skills and sharp computation to fully use. Animating anything in 3D was a long, painstaking task that
The show took strong inspiration from the 80’s fantasy movies and, most particularly, the Disney sci-fi cult-classic Tron, a movie which has a computer engineer being teleported into the very computer system he created. At the time of the show, computers, as well as the internet, truly felt like an unknown frontier within our culture. Engineers and scientist were constantly building and experimenting with the idea of a world wide web. Streaming, social media, none of that existed yet. The ability to be able to have a growing universe of information and knowledge, as well as use this across the world, was ripe with unlimited possibility. This was a time before shows, like Sword Art Online, really leaped into the idea of being transported into the world of a video game.
For ReBoot there came the idea of taking the inner world of computers and interpreting it into a universe that mirrors our own. The characters would be living beings, tied to the existing computer system. Sprites, viruses, binomes, security programs, rogue pirates, all took shape and form. The computer system they all lived in represented a living city, with each section having a particular style and role. The way the characters spoke would also represent computer language and communication. For example “ Over my dead body!” in the real world would be “ Over my deleted bitmap!” in the world of ReBoot.
The premise of ReBoot is simple. A young warrior, Bob, is a guardian that has come from the net, through systems, peoples, and cities, to the system of Mainframe. It’s a new computer system, constantly sprawling and building itself. Bob’s chief directive is to mend and defend. He has been sent to help build their hopes and dreams and to defend the people from their enemies. In this universe, the user, which means humans like us, live outside the net, and constantly input games for pleasure. Bob is to fight in the games and win, or risk an entire sector of a game being nullified. Facing a constant onslaught of threats, such as games and viruses, it’s up to Bob, and his newfound friends, to protect the system.
Throughout the four-season run, ReBoot ran the line between enjoyable, family fun and a dark maturity that made a fun show ascended into levels of epic action and wonder. Initially, episodes were self-contained experiences, showcasing the ensemble of characters on their misadventures within mainframe. The CGI animation, and the world the show was set in made it ripe for ReBoot to go in a variety of directions. The characters would embark on games, nodding to existing PC games. Whether they were flying starships, infiltrating a base, or plundering a dungeon, there was no shortage of what the characters would encounter.
Later seasons would feature the same clever writing and takes on computer culture, but allow the character to mature. Without spoiling anything, the situation turns into more of a war, and our main characters must adapt to the ever-changing environment as their actions could determine the fate of the entire system. Despite the darker tone, there was still space to for humor and general enjoyment.
ReBoot also sported a fantastic voice cast, such as Michael Benyear, Ian James Corlett, Kathleen Barr, Paul Dobson, Adrea Libman, Sharon Alexander, and the late, great Tony Jay. Many of these actors and actress got their start on ReBoot, lending their talents to Disney classics, TV shows, and anime, such as Dragon Ball Z, MLP: Friendship Is Magic.
ReBoot ran for four seasons, garnering awards and critical acclaim. A video game arrived on the PS one, and the show benefited from a solid stream of merchandise. This all continued until its abrupt cancellation in 2002, which led to a cliffhanger ending. While a webcomic arrived sometime later to amend the cliffhanger, the series has essentially been dormant until now, with the release of the upcoming TV series, ReBoot: The Guardian Code.
ReBoot The Guardian Code pits a group of teens at an elite highschool, when suddenly their talents are needed to defend the system. In the style of Power Rangers and Superhuman Samurai, they are beamed into the computer system to fight against a variety of threats, which include viruses and rogue programs. Megabyte makes a return and it’s likely that other familiar character will return. While the show seems to have taken a radically different approach, I’m hopeful that the new show will tie loose ends, explore the lore further, and may even spark a resurgence in the franchise.
If you want to catch up on the original series, the episodes are available through Amazon Instant video and YouTube. Even more than twenty years later, the animations is fantastic, and the story is still very strong. For your convenienc,e the first episode few episodes are on Yotube for free, including a video I linked below. Whatever the Guardian Code holds is a mystery until March 30th, but until then, it’s a good time to feel “alphanumeric” again.