Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ReBoot: The Guardian Code. ReBoot's... Reboot Reimagined

ReBoot was an animated show that aired in the mid- to late- '90s that had the distinction of being a) the first fully CGI animated show and b) Canadian. Not only was it groundbreaking technologically, it was also made in the best country in the world (of course, as a Canadian, I may be slightly biased.) It expanded quite a bit narratively in later seasons, but the basic premise was simple: a bunch of digital sentient beings living in the city of Mainframe were protected by a Guardian named Bob and his companions Enzo and Dot Matrix from a multitude of threats in the form of anthropomorphized computer viruses like Megabyte and Hexadecimal as well as games being played by the user, which manifested as giant glowing cubes of energy that would engulf and endanger huge swaths of the digital city and its inhabitants.

In short, it was sheer awesomeness.

It came out during my teenage years, and even though the first couple of seasons were likely aimed at a younger audience, it still captured my imagination. The later seasons were a little darker, which is probably why I enjoyed them a little more. I am also not alone in my love of ReBoot. As will happen, the little CGI show that could developed a cult following and is still beloved by many people whose childhoods were tempered into adulthood throughout that sorta-turbulent period known as the 1990s.

So of course, as is the style these days, even this (I assume?) quasi-esoteric Canadian-crafted cult hit is getting the reimaginging/reboot treatment. If you've never seen ReBoot, you can check it out on YouTube. The video below is a compilation of all of the openings of the different seasons to give you a quick flavour of the show:

The original ReBoot is a neat little cultural artifact from the '90s that was groundbreaking technologically, engaging narratively, and had a devoted cult following.

So, of course, it stands to reason that the new iteration, ReBoot: The Guardian Code, is an utter abomination that chooses to honour none of that. Behold, the ninth shitty wonder of the modern TV world:

It seems that somebody, somewhere was wronged by a fan or fans of the original ReBoot, and vowed revenge. This individual then scoured the Earth searching for people who utterly loathed and despised the original series, and hired them all for a TV production of a sequel series. They then proceeded to go about systematically researching and compiling data on what fans loved about the original, and the fundamental components that made ReBoot ReBoot, and then produced a television show based on the ReBoot brand that embodied that exact opposite of all of that.

ReBoot: The Guardian Code seems like the television equivalent of the serpent eating its own tail: it seeks to capitalize on an existing fan base while simultaneously doing everything in its power to disrespect the original property.

This new show seems specifically designed to piss off the very fans it seems designed for. First of all, what the fuck is with the live action bullshit? ReBoot followed the lives and adventures of purely digital creatures in an underworld that ran parallel to ours but that could only be bridged momentarily on a digital battlefield where the consequences were catastrophic for them but would only result in the loss of an extra life for a human user. The entire reason ReBoot was so interesting was because it was this beautiful alien world populated by strange creatures that were potentially going on crazy adventures right behind the computer screen you're using right now! There was this interesting dichotomy where situations and struggles that were life and death for these beings were matters beneath our interest or attention.

So of course, The Guardian Code completely ignores the entire fucking premise of the original show and inserts humans into the digital world as they suit up like goddamn Power Rangers. Poorly animated Power Rangers no less. Which would be fine, if Power Rangers was your thing. But Power Rangers has literally fuck all to do with ReBoot. And to make it even worse, when the humans are transported to the digital world, they are still their regular live action selves, and they're portrayed with fucking Iron Man vision, with their holographic HUDs floating in front of their faces. It all feels like a second rate rip-off of better (and more successful) ideas.

The four disparate teens staring out as strangers at (sigh) Alan Turing High School seem to have magical super powers when in the digital realm. They also seem to be actively narrating their attacks, like they're Pokemon battling themselves. The protagonists in the original ReBoot weren't a bunch of super heroes; they were, for all intents and purposes, bipedal computer programs who had to rely on their wits and technology to outsmart villains who did possess powers. On top of that, the "four strangers who otherwise wouldn't get along but are brought together by fate and learn a valuable lesson" trope is obviously going to be roundly abused by this series.

Also, of course there's no connection to any of the original characters or settings. Except for the villain Megabyte, who seems to be controlled by some terrorist hacker (hacker terrorist?) and voiced by somebody who was clearly instructed never to watch the original series. If I were trying to hire a voice actor who was specifically trained for years to do the exact opposite of Megabyte's voice I couldn't have succeeded more fully than the minds behind The Guardian Code.

Also, what the fuck is with that hacker terrorist (terrorist hacker?)? Part of the charm of the original, as I've already pointed out, is that the consequences between the world of ReBoot and our world are inconsequential. Now shit going on in the digital world can directly cause World War Fucking III in our world?

Also, to really nerd out, characters in the original ReBoot used colloquialisms like "Give me a nano" as in "Give me a second/minute." Even assuming the best case scenario of a nanosecond in their timeframe being roughly equivalent to a second to human beings, that means everything that happens in the digital world of Mainframe and the web in ReBoot is happening at a billion times the speed it would at a human scale. That would mean entire civilizations rise and fall in the time it takes just for your computer to boot up. The original series was little more than the single flap of a digital fly's wings in terms of galactic time. So if the human characters in The Guardian Code are moving between these two worlds that are clearly moving and perceiving time differently, as soon as our four protagonists left the digital world to return to ours, that specific adventure would be over, because even if they returned in one minute, that would be the equivalent of nearly two thousand years in ReBoot world time. Whatever problems the guardians were trying to solve would have sorted themselves out long ago based on the natural evolution of that society and anybody they had met being long-since dead and fragged.

The point is, none of anything in the ReBoot: The Guardian Code trailer has anything to do with ReBoot. I know there are remakes and reboots and reimaginings all the time, but this one seems particularly egregious in that it looks like somebody wanted to simply slap an existing brand on completely unrelated property. It would be like the producers of Game of Thrones changing the name of the show to Golden Girls: Born in Blood. These two properties literally have nothing to do with each other. It makes no sense at all to try and connect them.

The only saving grace seems to be the inclusion of Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) from X-Files. Other than that, ReBoot: The Guardian Code seems to have been designed specifically to anger and insult fans of the original ReBoot. Well, mission accomplished, assholes. Mission accomplished.


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