Original text is at http://www.tcp.ca/Mar95/Reboot.html

Reboot Combines Dazzling Effects, Engaging Tales

I come from the Net. From systems, peoples and cities to this place: Mainframe. My format: Guardian, to mend and to defend my newfound friends, their hopes and dreams, from their enemies.

-- Bob's opening lines from Reboot

Bob Remember Tron, the Disney movie made back in 1982, which boasted state-of-the-art computer animation? It features Jeff Bridges as a computer whiz who got sucked into his computer. In the course of the movie, he meets and interacts with various other characters inside the computer. He spends his whole time trying to escape from the confines of the computer. The special effects were great, but the flimsy story and the robotic-acting made many people want to escape from the confines of the movie theatre before the show was over. The problem with many "effects" movies is that, while the effects are great, the characters and plot typically are not.

Enter Reboot, the first wholly computer-generated television show. The show is all effects, and while it shares the idea of beings living inside your computer, the stories, rather than the breath-taking visuals, are what keep you interested. However, you can also expect to be blown away by the quality of the computer graphics.

Bob is the main character; a Guardian who has traveled across the Net to settle down in Mainframe. His primary role is to fix and repair the tears that appear in the reality of this digital world and protect it against invasions such as computer viruses. His girlfriend, Dot, is a computer sprite, a consummate entrepreneur who owns and runs Dot's Diner. Dot's "little brother format" is Enzo, a real scene-stealer who wants to become as successful as his big sister, but also wants to be able to do the "fun stuff" that Bob does. There are several other minor characters, including: Enzo's horse-sized dog Frisket, a wise old program called Phong, and Cecil the Server, the tip-calculating maitre'd at Dot's Diner. They peacefully inhabit Mainframe with the other main inhabitants, the "Binomes" -- characters who take the shape of the numbers zero and one, and who do most of the real work in Mainframe.

Viruses and Villains

But all is not well in Mainframe. Reboot comes bundled with its cast of nasty characters as well. Chief amongst these is Megabyte, the smooth-talking, charismatic computer virus who inhabits a cobra-shaped building at the bad end of town. His deep English accent and outward politeness barely conceal his vicious nature. His goal is to increase his powers by infecting the Supercomputer that's only a short hop away on the Net.

The adjoining town of Lost Angles is the home for Hexadecimal, a masked, and possibly mad, digital witch who is a nemesis to both Megabyte and the citizens of Mainframe.

Each villain has their respective side-kicks. In addition to a legion of binome followers, Megabyte's muscle is provided by Hack and Slash, two incompetent enforcers who have the combined IQ of a toaster-oven. Hexadecimal's sole companion is an extremely loyal, computerized floating cat-like creature named Scuzzy. Then there are the Nulls, are small, worm-like creatures who survive by feeding off the energy of others. Life in Mainframe is never dull.

When not dealing with the likes of Megabyte and Hexadecimal, Bob and friends also have to deal with the hazards posed by games being dropped onto their world by the user, who lives in the mysterious world beyond the computer screen. Games always transform the landscape of Mainframe, along with the hapless Mainframer's who get caught within the boundaries of the game. To participate in the game, the characters have to "Reboot" into their new roles for the duration of the game.

Rendering Reboot

The developers of the series have a well-known track record when it comes to computer animation. Directors Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair created the Dire Straits video "Money for Nothing" several years ago, in which two computer-generated characters move TVS and large household appliances while commenting on the lives of do-nothing rock stars. Their company, BLT Productions, produces Reboot in conjunction with Alliance Distribution in Vancouver.

What makes the series stand out from the rest of the Saturday morning cartoon-fodder is the quality of the stories and the characters, not just the stunning visuals. The character of Dot is self-possessed, intelligent and a real "go-getter" -- don't expect to see her appear as the "helpless damsel-in-distress" in a game anytime soon. Bob has come to Mainframe from somewhere on the Net (exactly where has never been revealed, though there are hints that it was a supercomputer) and brings a worldliness of life beyond Mainframe. Reboot not only manages to convey a sense of what life inside a computer might be like, but also fleshes out its characters in non-stereotypical ways.


There's plenty for the kids as well. The constant scene-stealer in the show is Enzo, the little brother of Dot that many younger viewers will readily identify with. He yearns for the interesting life of his older friends, and tries to emulate both his sister's and Bob's actions. He always gets the best compu-savvy lines to say. If you start hearing the kids on your street start to come up with exclamations like "alphanumeric!" and "we're talking high-density here!", you now know where they came from.

While aimed primarily at the "tween-age" (10-14 year old) market, Reboot has also been attracting older viewers as well. At least part of the reason is the countless references and bad puns relating to computer and pop culture: as the "camera" passes a billboard in Mainframe you might see an ad for "Calvin Spline" Jeans, or for "Dee-Cee's Powerbars".