In the days when computers were still new and scary without the internet, Tron could get away with almost anything in creating a world within the computer. It gets tougher now as computers become less “magical” and more a part of our lives we didn’t know we needed. (Some would say too much but that’s more a case-by-case individual problem than a group whole.) In 1991 Mainframe Entertainment (now I don’t know what they go by as they’ve changed names a few times recently) decided to get one last shot in by creating Reboot, which is also the first all-computer animated TV series. Not the first attempt. That’s at least as far back as Computer Warriors and I’ll tell you that story someday, but the first series to make it on TV, on YTV in Canada and ABC in the United States.
The show follows Bob, a Guardian–a program whose job is to protect the local computer, in this case the city of Mainframe (I don’t know if the production company name came first or not, but I’m sure it’s not a coincidence), from being deleted by games, imputed allegedly from outside the net by a user. While the intro claims that Bob’s personal goal was to find out if that was true this never comes up in the show itself. Instead Bob deals with viruses like Megabyte and Hexadecimal and their various forces, as well as other threats to Mainframe. Joining him are Dot, a business program who runs the diner as well as appearing to having a lot of influence in the city, and her little brother Enzo. Together they travel into games and deal with non-game threats.
The first episode is the only one that shows what happens to the city when the user wins. I wonder if this scared some kid out of playing games again? Megabyte wants Bob to do a mysterious favor for him and he’ll cause trouble until he does. Can Bob learn to rely on the help of others before the city is deleted?
Later seasons and a series of TV movies would take the show into a darker turn as Megabyte becomes a serious threat and characters’ lives are upended. It’s personal preference that I liked it better as a comedy action show because they’ve become harder to find nowadays. It’s either wacky comedy, subversive “adult” fare, or anime. A few serious but fun action shows still exist and unlike comics the more grittier stories are still saved for Japanese animation, but outside of Disney XD there aren’t many left.
Reboot is available in the US through Shout Factory and can be seen on Shout Factory TV. And no, I’m not going back to flooding Saturday Night Showcase with Shout Factory posts. It’s just something to ease us in after Christmas, and I will be adding to the Christmas specials playlist for next Christmas. We’re just rebooting the year. No, I’m not sorry.