Thoughts on ReBoot …

So, I had bought this series years ago, and remembered watching it at some point, and also remembered it disappointing me, even though I couldn’t remember why. And I know that it wasn’t because the series ended on a cliffhanger, because I had completely forgotten that it ended on a cliffhanger. So what was it that disappointed me? After watching it this time … I can’t remember. I definitely feel that I enjoyed it far more this time around than the last time.

Like with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think being in the right mindset is important here. This is not a standard action cartoon about what might happen inside a computer, with computer-type naming and events and things happening based on that. This is, instead, a parody cartoon that uses the setting of inside a computer and playing games to parody and reference everything that they can possibly reference. The games, obviously, are generally direct parodies of something, and not always games (they do movies and cartoons a couple of times as well), but they also do parodies inside the actual world, creating binomes that reference Star Trek, for example, and even having a sitcom parody in one episode. The whole point of the series is to parody these things and to have a reasonably interesting plot, but again focusing more on the parody and less on the plots will work out far better for you.

This is especially true since ReBoot suffers the same problem that Beast Wars and Beast Machines suffered from: the seasons were too short to really do a lot of character and plot development. ReBoot had generally shorter seasons than even Beast Machines, and also tried to run a couple of complete arcs back-to-back — rather than at the same time — in a season. This often left little time to develop the new arc before it was sprung upon the viewer. There were a number of occasions where I started watching an episode and had to check to see if I had missed some episodes or something, because the main plot of the episode seemed to come out of nowhere and yet was presented as if we should all pretty much know what was going on. The worst of this was with Daemon, the supervirus. While looking it up on TV Tropes revealed that she had been hinted at earlier, we do pretty much go from the end of one arc to, in the next episode, being fully engaged with Daemon in battle, which was jarring.

It didn’t help that I didn’t care for her as a villain. I found her French accent to be annoying, and really, really wanted someone to resist the “Word” simply because they found her voice so annoying that they couldn’t stand listening to it long enough to actually get converted. And while the conversion story arc could work if it was longer, that no one — or almost no one, perhaps — could resist it made it far too powerful and turned the good guys to her side far, far too easily. It wasn’t even insidious. She didn’t even really have to have great plans or anything, since the power was so overwhelming. She was essentially a villain with an overwhelming power that can eventually be resisted but who ends up getting defeated by a bigger plot contrivance than her original power, and only after Daemon has put herself out of play with the self-destruct/destroy the Net gambit. And since that wasn’t built to that well in the arc, it comes out of nowhere and is resolved in one or two short episodes, which is hardly fitting for a threat of that magnitude.

That being said, the regular villains were interesting. Megabyte was an excellent “manipulative yet powerful” opponent, while Hexadecimal did a good job as the “extremely powerful yet crazy” alternate villain. I think her conversion and heroic sacrifice for the love of Bob was way too quick, and think it would have gone better if it had played off of the time she almost won and yet bailed on her plan because it would leave everything locked in order and have her realize, at the end, that everyone wants to live and that’s worth sacrificing even herself for, seeing the artistry in everyone and wanting to preserve that. And about the only other thing I can say about Megabyte is that there should have been even more of him than there was.

The same thing, interestingly, applies to Bob. Despite him getting to do the main voiceover in the first season or seasons, he really isn’t the main driving force in the series. That’s generally Dot. He basically is the person who is supposed to go in and play games, but Dot and Enzo are there almost as often as he is and play as big a role — if not a bigger one — than he does. And in the direct confrontations with Megabyte, Dot is definitely in the lead, as seen in the episode where she convinces Megabyte’s subjects to give her their PIDs so that they can be freed, and the whole arc there is about her having to overcome her fugue when those PIDs are stolen by Megabyte. Bob does little for the early seasons, disappears in the middle, and then has a bit of an arc at the end, but it would be safe to say that Dot is more the main character of the series than Bob is. And this impression is only heightened by the fact that Dot, in general, is and is animated as more attractive/sexy than Mouse, whose characterization is based around the flirty and free female archetype.

Enzo/Matrix is, generally, an annoying character. As a young sprite, he had the whole “annoying young character who bugs all of them and keeps getting into trouble” archetype down flat, which was, well, annoying. The best time for him was when Bob was fired into the Web by Megabyte right after making Enzo a Guardian recruit, and Enzo had to defend the system from games. At that point, he finally realized that these things weren’t just fun and were serious business, and had to drop his Scrappy-like confidence that he could beat any user that came along. And then he lost a game, and ended up as the grimdark Matrix. Which would have been less annoying, except that Matrix was too grimdark and distrusting, and so he went around annoying people with that and, thus, ended up being annoying himself. To the show’s credit, it called him out on that on a number of occasions, with an arc about him being afraid that he’d be no better than Megabyte, and with AndrAIa constantly calling him out when he was being an unreasonable jerk, which made him tolerable, at least.

And I think Adult AndrAIa is my favourite character, and not because of her outfit. She was a genuinely nice and caring person who still didn’t take crap from people, and was competent and tough as well (sometimes too much, like Dot). That’s how she can get away with calling Matrix out for being a jerk, because in general she still was far more considerate of others than Matrix, but wasn’t willing to let niceness get in the way of doing what needed to be done. Her child version had far too much hero worship of Enzo, and so was just annoying.

Hack and Slash were really annoying when they worked for Megabyte, because their silliness clashed with his urbane menace. When they converted to working for Dot and Bob, they worked so much better. The mad scientist who worked for Megabyte worked better as a henchman, able to keep the menace while still allowing opportunities for comic relief.

The show was done by the same people who did Beast Wars/Beast Machines, and it shows. Megatron in Beast Wars is far closer to Megabyte than he is to G1 Megatron, and voice actors get reused for various parts. Also, a lot of the episode structure and musical stings get reused, so I couldn’t help but be reminded of Beast Wars while watching it. I wonder if people who saw ReBoot first felt the same way about Beast Wars.

At the end of the day, the series is entertaining but, in general, is just too short. Things keep ending far before you think they should, and that includes the series, since it ends up a major cliffhanger. But it’s still worth watching if you can get into the right mindset. I’m almost certainly going to watch this again at some point.

4 Responses to “Thoughts on ReBoot …”

  1. natewinchester Says:

    Now you know why the fandom cried out in horror when Netflix “relaunched” the series.

    Megabyte is awesome. I still love the Battle of the Bands he did with Bob.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      Yeah, I heard about that one. I don’t have Netflix so didn’t see it, but from what I heard it was nothing like the actual series and so was ReBoot in name only. I doubt I’d ever want to watch it.

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