Saturday morning cartoons were painted by human hands for decades. No matter whether they were hands in America, Mexico or Asia, there was a person holding the brush. But in 1994 that all changed when computers took over the image with ReBoot. There had been little CGI moments in traditional animated Saturday morning shows like Beetlejuice, but nobody thought they could provide this format at the right price. Saturday morning shows were all about low budgets and limited runs. Their directive was to get kids hooked on the latest cereal and hottest Christmas toy without breaking the bank. Using computer technology to create 23 minutes of original animation didn’t seem feasible. But somehow a group of folks up in Canada devised a cost effective way to make 3-D characters in a computer generated world. ReBoot: Seasons 1 & 2 have the first 23 episodes of the series that entertained a generation of geeks that would revolutionize the internet.
The action takes place inside a computer although the characters don’t completely comprehend their role in life. They live in Mainframe and test out various video games sent to them by The User. Mainframe is a hard drive with sectors devoted to various activities. Oddly enough, not one of them is adult material. But this is a kid show. The User is the guy on the other side of the keyboard. This wouldn’t be a Saturday morning cartoon without villains or viruses. Megabyte and Hexadecimal want to destroy the programming and take over the harddrive universe. Luckily there is Bob, a Guardian to hold off their evil plans. Dot and Enzo assist him in defeating the new games and the viruses. It’s a normal kid show on that level.
The series does a good job of explaining the inner workings of a 1994 computer. Of course in the world of the iPad, this computer business has slightly changed. Nowadays there would at least be a Steve Jobs clone preventing unlicensed programming from being downloaded. The issues brought up by the characters does a fine educational job. This was a period when cartoons merely explained that if you don’t look down, you’ll avoid the consequences of gravity. Even now, this is a competent understanding of elements in your family computer.
It is strange thinking that ReBoot is 17 years old. The show does represent that time when networks still cared a little bit about Saturday mornings before that sacred time was completely taken over by news shows and reruns from cable networks. The computer graphics are more appealing than recent kid shows like House of Mouse so this isn’t Pong primitive. ReBoot: Seasons 1 & 2 is worth loading up on your DVD player.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers look good since they came off the computer and don’t have dust smashed between the cells. The audio is 2.0 stereo. The mix is about as dynamic as a videogame from ’94.
Audio Commentary is on the first three episodes. Director Zeke Norton, producer Chris Brough, and designer Blair Peters discuss what it took to create the series for Saturday mornings.
ReBoot: Seasons 1 & 2 is a computer nerd’s Saturday morning nostalgia fest. The series does its best to show the active side of programming videogames. There’s a constant battle of good and evil on the harddrive. The CGI effects are still fun with their outdated characters designs. Strange to think that today’s young internet programmer really did have an inspirational series to devour with their bowl of Trix.
Shout! Factory presents ReBoot: Seasons 1 & 2. Starring the voices of Sharon Alexander, Kathleen Barr, Paul Dobson and Tony Jay. Boxset Contents: 23 Episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 1, 2011.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.