Alphanumeric!

16-May-07 6:43 PM by
Filed under Television; 2 comments.

Courtesy reader GeneD comes news of a new $23.99 hardcover book: The Art of ReBoot. The book presents the sketches, development, and profiles of the cast of ReBoot, a Saturday morning CGI cartoon produced by Mainframe, an animation studio that went on to create several other well-known shows, including Beast Wars, a spin-off of the classic Transformers series. The book is available from the site and not via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders/Waldenbooks, either online or in person.

Regardless, it's encouraging to see a new product from the line of one of my favoritest cartoons ever. Sure, CGI has come a long way since ReBoot premiered in 1994, but it was such a clever and rollicking program that played to the geek in me. In the spirit of TRON (which turns 25 this July), ReBoot is set inside a computer, with anthropomorphic representations of software and hardware: the protagonist is a "Guardian" program, defending the sectors of the hard disk-shaped city of Mainframe from the viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal. When the unseen "user" inputs a game, the set morphs into the setting for that game, with our heroes fighting the human's avatar for control of the system.

The first two seasons were fun, lighthearted action-adventures. Though the series never lost that sense of humor, the third season ushered a major transition to season-long, story-arc-based plots with a darker theme. This season is available on DVD, as are two 2001 made-for-TV movies that constitute a fourth season. But that's only half the series, and due to licensing and distribution rights, my DVD collection will likely never be complete. (Thank goodness for VHS!) When I reviewed the Season 3 DVD releases, I was in contact with a friendly PR person at Mainframe who indicated, if I recall correctly, "rights for the first two seasons are currently sitting in a vault in Germany."

But there are other venues in which ReBoot lives on. Aside from the new art book, there's also a "Making of ReBoot" special that was never aired or released, but is available on YouTube. And a Web site, ReBoot Revival, keeps constant tabs on any news related to the show, including the book, new DVD releases, and new seasons.

But despite the fourth season ending in a cliffhanger, a continuation of the series is unlikely, as the main villain, Megabyte, was voiced by Tony Jay, who passed away last August. I didn't learn this sad news until recently and was depressed that one of my favorite voice actors had passed away. Tony Jay, a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, had lent his distinctive voice to everything from cartoons to movies to video games, all of the highest quality. He'd even stepped in front of the camera for a few minor roles — Star Trek: The Next Generation and Lois & Clark among them. (Unfortunately, he didn't pass his audition for Obi-Wan. Seriously.)

So, wherever ReBoot is going, it seems to still be with us, popping up every now and then to remind us of the first fully CGI television cartoon and its legacy. No "game over" here!

2 Responses to “Alphanumeric!”

  1. GeneD adds:

    Ken, thanks for helping to spread the news of the ReBoot book! Before Shrek or the new TMNT on the big screen, and before Jimmy Neutron or Tripping the Rift, ReBoot demonstrated that a computer-animated television series was not only technically possible, but could also be entertaining! Like Disney's Gargoyles, I have a slight preference for the lighter-toned early seasons, but ReBoot never got the recognition it deserved.

    I'll let you know when and if I get that book…

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  2. Ken Gagne adds:

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – ReBoot, one of the earliest computer-animated episodic TV series, will be redeveloped as a trilogy of feature-length films by Rainmaker Animation.

    Story continues at Reuters.

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