In this week’s adaptation news, the long-running comic series Archie will get its first-ever feature treatment, that may or may not have something to do with zombies. Denzel Washington is set to star in an adaptation of debut novel Shovel Ready, DC Comics will see its Fables run get a movie makeover and Star Wars producer Rick McCallum is on board to produce a feature-length version of the short film R’Ha. While these properties are busy entering various stages of production in the real world, today’s trip into my ideal reality centers on an 90s-00s series that takes place inside a computer. No it’s not TRON, Digimon or even Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, although I love them all. Hit the jump and say it with me. Hollywood! Adapt this: ReBoot!
Let me first thank Canada for producing one of my favorite series growing up. This ambitious 3D CG-animated series actually began in concept during the 80s but had to wait until the early 90s for technology to catch up to the vision. (It sounds kind of silly today since everything under the sun is being force-converted into 3D.) ReBoot followed the adventures of Bob, a mild-mannered Guardian program who protects the citizens of Mainframe from the evil viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal, while keeping the city safe from the damaging games played by the User. Mainframe is populated mostly by binomes – creatures in the shape of 1s and 0s – but there are also humanoid sprites like Bob, local diner owner Dot Matrix and her younger brother Enzo.
The first season and a fair bit of the second season of ReBoot was a light-hearted and episodic series that featured humorous exchanges between the cartoonish heroes and villains, along with a themed User game. The citizens of Mainframe were expected to participate in any game the User happened to be playing: racing, adventure, puzzle-solving, etc. Bob would often “reboot” into the game character and was, more times than not, the last sprite standing. If they lost the game, Mainframe citizens were turned into energy-draining worms called nulls and that particular sector became blacked out.
The show took a turn for the better part way through the second season when a threat from “the Web” was introduced. After a series of events that are better left unsaid (mostly so you can watch the show on Netflix if you’re not familiar with it), a great threat to Mainframe was averted but a huge change to our cast of characters came about as a result. Once you’ve spent one-and-a-half seasons with Bob, Dot, Enzo and the gang and then you see what happens to them at the outset of season three…whoa. It wasn’t only a leap forward in graphics technology, but a step in the right direction of bringing darker and more mature storylines to an animated “kids” show.
As cutting edge as ReBoot was for its time, visually it pales in comparison to modern shows. With advances in computer technology in the real world over the last 10-20 years, the fictional world within the computer itself also deserves a fresh look. Obviously, it’s not just the hardware that’s been upgraded but the software as well. The look of Mainframe should reflect those updates and so should its citizens, but it should be done in a way that pays homage to the original vision. In my mind, I see a new episode that looks exactly like it did when last we left them. When the User upgrades his system, Mainframe gets a 21st century overhaul. Disney’s TRON: Uprising, the animated series that serves as a link between the original TRON and the recently-released TRON: Legacy movies, is a great example of how a show can evolve and change over the years while keeping true to the core of its original concept.
Now why should ReBoot be adapted? Well there are still legions of fans of the original series, so many that not just one film but a film trilogy has been promised and promised for years and years. Rainmaker Animation, previously Mainframe Entertainment, had plans to finish up the series with the fourth season in a breakdown of three films/12 episodes, with a special 13th musical episode (as you do) but the final shows were never finished. If nothing else, I’d love to see an ending to the original run if we won’t be getting a fresh look any time soon.
ReBoot was one of those shows that may actually define its generation. It sounds a bit too dramatic for an animated series to do just that, especially one that ended without a satisfying resolution, but as important as TRON was to the 80s, I’d say ReBoot was to the 90s … at least for me and those who think like me. It was a hint at the power of computer-generated images, just a glimpse of how far they could go in the future. It showed that mature stories with strong characters could exist in a world of computer game sprites and pixelated worlds. It even hinted at the looming existence of “the Web,” which was just snaking its way into households across the world at the time ReBoot was on the air. Older generations may have overlooked it; today’s generation will probably turn their noses up at it for appearing primitive and out-dated. For me, ReBoot landed right in that nostalgic sweetspot and I’d love for another generation of kids to get the same reaction from a ReBoot reboot.
Make sure to tune in next week when Hollywood! Adapt This dabbles in some more surprise nostalgia!