The 90s was a unique time for television, an experimental age where all kinds of new and crazy concepts for TV shows were brought to life. Shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends, the English dub of Dragon Ball Z, Shadow Raiders, The Maxx, and Cybersix populated this era of experimentation. However, there was one show that is often considered to be one of the most revolutionary cartoons to come out in this decade: ReBoot.
Made by the guys who did the CGI for the “Money For Nothing” music video, comes the first fully CGI cartoon ever. ReBoot took place inside a computer and revolved around a program named “Bob”, who was essentially an antivirus known as a “Guardian”. Bob made friends with the spunky young Enzo, and his sister Dot. Along with a stable cast of other likable characters, our heroes went on adventures through cyberspace in order to defend the computer world of “Mainframe” from evil computer viruses.
The show was fun, entertaining, and matured along with its audience. Starting off as a typical kids show, it eventually blossomed into a dark and emotional roller-coaster. While the fourth season dropped the ball a bit, it was still an entertaining experience from start to finish. Unfortunately, the season ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.
People who were enjoying the fourth season were left in the dust, when the planned third TV movie was cancelled. With no continuation from the TV front, the story was continued in comic form. Unfortunately, the comic was very unsatisfying, at least in terms of what it was trying to do with the world and characters. Not even the return of obscure fan-favorite character “Code-Master Lens” could save this comic for me.
The comic ended up being a bland continuation that lacked thrills and was resolved rather haphazardly. There was also a trilogy that was planned to continue the story, but it was ultimately cancelled. Another cancelled project was a planned spin-off, which was to be titled “Binomes”. This spin-off was aimed towards a younger audience, but never made it past early planning stages.
With the exception of a few rather awesome art-books (one of which I’ve reviewed on this very blog), ReBoot remained a dormant franchise… Until just a few years ago. A ReBoot continuation was announced and fans were excited! However, photos emerged from the reboot of ReBoot in late 2017. Suffice to say, fans were not impressed by it. It featured a ton of characters we never saw before, most of whom were generic teenagers and weird Power Ranger-esque superheroes.
When the trailer hit a month ago, fans were “treated” to their first glimpse of “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”. What they got was not what they were expecting at all. Instead of an entertaining kids show about a group of computer programs dealing with a deadly virus, it’s now about teenagers transforming into superheroes and fighting crime in cyberspace.
Yes, this series shifted genres from a fun cartoon filled to the brim with computer lingo, to a poor man’s version of Code Lyoko. Heck, even the creator of Code Lyoko thought they were ripping him off! Now, going off the trailers alone, I assumed this show was going to be terrible. However, I decided to gave the series the benefit of the doubt.
After all, few networks had faith in the original ReBoot back in the 90s. CGI was pretty new at the time, and no one really wanted to invest in a cartoon that had a radically different animation style than more contemporary shows. Still, ReBoot managed to prove itself as a fantastic show all the same.
Despite its generic premise, I went into the new show with the false hope that they would somehow surprise me and create something entertaining. I hate to say this, but I was completely and totally wrong. Before I trash on this show, let’s start off with the good. Most of the original voice cast is back, which is nice.
Some voice actors had to be replaced, such as the late great Tony Jay as Megabyte. His new voice actor Timothy Brummund does a decent job, but you can tell what he wasn’t given a whole lot to work with script-wise. I liked that the designs from returning characters are kept mostly the same, even if they barely appeared. I also dig the virtual form of V.E.R.A., due to it’s simplicity when compared to the designs of the main characters’ virtual avatars.
That’s about all the good I can find, as this show is pretty flawed throughout. The show revolves around these teenagers who accidentally bring V.E.R.A. into the real world, who then recruits them to travel into cyberspace to face Megabyte. Yes, Megabyte is back and he’s been upgraded to look sufficiently ridiculous.
They show his original design, right before turning him into this glowing buff monstrosity. He looks more like Gigabyte than Megabyte, which is a bit disappointing in my opinion. You can tell the redesigned characters just don’t gel well, as a lot of the designs from the original were done by seasoned comic book artists. They knew how to make a design pop, which is something this show has a problem with.
Now, it’s bad enough that Megabyte looks like garbage, but he also comes off way less intimidating than in the original show. By the third season, Megabyte had pretty much won and was only defeated by the show’s heroes coming together to stop. Season 4 ends with Megabyte not only returning, but also winning once more! In this show, Megabyte had already been both deactivated and defeated by the time the hacker found him.
Once brought back online and upgraded to maximum potential, what’s the first thing he does? Blast a few lasers at Frisket, that’s it. He’s then reprogrammed and controlled by some hacker, which means he’s not really a virus anymore. He’s a program, because viruses aren’t directly controlled by users themselves. This show can’t even follow the most basic rules set by the original, can it?
So, this show’s new villain is this generic hacker guy, as opposed to the Megabyte we all know and love. He doesn’t really do anything that interesting, aside from sending other people to do his bidding. Megabyte constantly gets thrashed in almost every episode, which means that he was more of a threat when he was a free agent. This is a guy who brought down an entire system, now he can’t even defeat a few teenagers.
Oh yeah, forgot about those old characters that we grew to know and love. These guys are our new “heroes”, despite the fact they are all very bland. They all have generic suits, generic powers, and generic personalities. You got the smart guy, the leader, the girl, etc. They are much less interesting than the vast cast the show used to have. You can’t tell me that the forgettable protagonist Austin is any better than Bob from the original show, since he lacks all the nuance and interesting characteristics that Bob had.
Now, before I end this off, I’ll go into what I think is the worst part of the show. So far, they’ve put out 10 episodes of the first season on Netflix. I ended up using the American Netflix at a friend’s house to watch the show, since they’re going to air the episodes in Canada last. Why? Since YTV is a Canadian-only network, and they need something to air between episodes of Spongebob. Now, this isn’t what I find to be the worst part.
The worst part is that out of these 10 episodes they put up, the original ReBoot gang only appear in one episode. Can you guess which one? It’s not the first, second, or even the fifth episode. They do not appear at all (aside from Frisket and Megabyte), UNTIL THE TENTH EPISODE. That’s right, this ReBoot show barely shows anything relating to the original series until the halfway point of the first season.
This series also shows us the User for the first time ever, portraying him as a ReBoot fan who lives in his mother’s basement and has no friends. Wow, way to insult your entire fan-base, Mainframe. The worst part isn’t even The User though, it’s Bob and friends. Despite Bob being voiced by his original voice actor, he’s not the same character. The CGI makes me look like a zombie, like a reanimated corpse. His lines are also terrible, forced, and contrived.
One of the first things he says in the series is his speech that he gave in the original show’s intro, to a random group of Guardians that he has never met before. I’m serious, this actually happens. There are many other problems I could go over, such as the bad CGI, bad acting for the human characters, lack of proper continuity with the original show, and many others. I feel if I were to go over every problem, then I’d be writing a book on this show, which is something I don’t really want to do.
I want to conclude by saying to not watch this show. It has little to do with the original and feels like it was only made to sell toys. None of the original staff work on this, aside from a few returning voice actors. I watched this show out of love for the original series, but now I feel I should’ve heeded the lacking quality of the trailers and stayed away.
I know people will enjoy this show, I’m not trying to stop anyone from doing so. If you like Guardian Code and think it’s a great show, then that’s fine. We all have our tastes and interests. The thing is that I can just not get into this series. It fails as a continuation, it fails as its own thing, and it fails at emulating the original ReBoot.
I suggest sticking solely to the original, as I feel there’s not a whole lot on offer in this new series. Watch Tron, Code Lyoko, or Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad if you want a show that does this superhero premise better. As for me, I’ll keep watching this show, mostly out of morbid curiosity. Considering how off-kilter the episode with the original ReBoot cast was, I’m curious to see what they mess up next. In short, this show is like a train-wreck in slow-motion, it’s very hard to look away from.