ReBoot was a Canadian animated series that was produced by Mainframe Entertainment, created by Gavin Blair, Ian Pearson, Phil Mitchell and John Grace, with character designed by Brendan McCarthy and Ian Gibson. It was credited with being the first full length, completely computer animated TV series. When the series debuted in 1994, the first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, had not yet been released. Originally made for children, the series attracted many older fans when it became thematically darker partway through its second season. Additionally, throughout its entire run, ReBoot made countless references to computer terms and pop culture that would not be understood by most children. The success of this series helped establish Mainframe Entertainment as one of the preeminent computer animation studios in the world.

Background

The setting is in the inner world of a computer system known by its inhabitants as Mainframe (for which Mainframe Entertainment is named). It was deliberately chosen due to technological constraints at the time, as the fictional computer world allowed for blocky looking models and mechanical animation. Mainframe is divided into six sectors (moving clockwise): Baudway, Kits, Floating Point Park, Beverly Hills, Wall Street, and Ghetty Prime. Mainframe is populated almost entirely by binomes, little creatures that represent either 1s or 0s, as well as a handful of Sprites who are primarily humanoid creatures of more complex design and are the main characters of the series.

ReBoot was first broadcast on Saturday mornings in the United States in 1994 by ABC and in Canada on YTV, and proved to be an instant hit with children and their parents, only to be abruptly cancelled when the Walt Disney Company purchased the network. Episodes from the second season could still be seen in the US when Claster Television distributed them for a short period of time during the 1996-97 season. Although there were many demands for a third season, it would be a year before new episodes aired on YTV due to Mainframe’s involvement in Transformers: Beast Wars (Beasties in Canada) and Shadow Raiders, and the third season aired only on YTV at the time due to the lack of interest in America. In March 1999 – years after Canadian audiences saw the third season – American audiences saw the episodes on Cartoon Network. Again, production on other series delayed the fourth season of ReBoot, and there are no plans to produce a fifth despite a cliffhanger season finale, as two of the show’s creators have since left Mainframe Entertainment. Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson resigned in 2004 to form their own independent studio, The Shop.

The show also aired in the United Kingdom in the mid 1990s, on the ITV children’s strand CITV. However, CITV stopped showing the program half way through season 3, possibly due to increasingly violent and dark themes, and several earlier episodes from that series were also omitted. Today, reruns of ReBoot can be seen occasionally on YTV.

Since 2001, many of the show’s fans have carried out a movement with the hope of convincing Mainframe to produce more ReBoot episodes. These efforts have been unsuccessful up to this point, due to the lack of support from American distributors. A spin-off called Binomes was also planned towards the end of 2004, featuring a family of Binomes who lived on a “chip farm”. The series would have been composed of 52 11-minute episodes and aimed at a pre-school audience, but nothing of this project came to pass after the initial announcement.

In late July 2007, Rainmaker announced plans to create a trilogy of ReBoot films and have specifically stated, “ReBoot’s legions of fans have been incredibly loyal and continue to keep the property alive on dozens of fan sites.” In conjunction with the website Zeroes 2 Heroes, they have announced an intention to allow fans greater access to the development of the movie plans and also in development of a ReBoot webcomic. Fans will be given the chance to make their own ReBoot pitches and serve as artists on the comic.

The show also aired in the United Kingdom in the mid 1990s, on the ITV children’s strand CITV. However, CITV stopped showing the program half way through season 3, possibly due to increasingly violent and dark themes, and several earlier episodes from that series were also omitted. Today, reruns of ReBoot can be seen occasionally on YTV.

History and summary

The main characters included:

  • Bob, the Guardian
  • Dot, who owned a local diner
  • Enzo, Dot’s younger brother who idolized Bob as a hero
  • Frisket, Enzo’s dog
  • AndrAIa, a friend (and later girlfriend) of Enzo introduced in season two
  • Megabyte, a Virus and the series’ main villain.
  • Hexadecimal, Megabyte’s sister, also a computer virus, whose face was always concealed by masks

The first season of ReBoot was highly episodic, with a single two-part episode. Most of the episodes established characters, locations, and story elements, such as the gigantic “Game Cubes” (not to be confused with the Nintendo GameCube, which did not exist at the time the series aired). When “The User” loads a game, a Game Cube drops on a random location in Mainframe, sealing it off from the rest of the system and turning it into a “gamescape”. Bob frequently enters the games, “Reboots” to become a game character, and fights the User’s character to save the sector. If the User wins a game, the sector the Cube fell in is “nullified,” and the Sprites and binomes who were caught within are turned into energy-draining, worm-like parasites called Nulls.

The second season featured an extended story arc that began with the season’s fifth episode, “Painted Windows”. The arc revealed that Hexadecimal and Megabyte are siblings, and that Megabyte’s pet Null, Nibbles, is their “father.” It also introduced an external threat to Mainframe, “the Web”. A creature from the Web infected Megabyte and forced him to merge with Hexadecimal, forming a super-virus called “Gigabyte”. When the Web creature was cornered, it escaped Mainframe and opened a portal to the Web. The protectors of Mainframe had to team up with Megabyte and Hexadecimal to close the portal, but when they defeated the Web creatures that had entered the system, Megabyte betrayed the alliance, crushing Bob’s keytool, Glitch, and sending him into the Web portal before closing it.

For the show’s third season, there was a marked improvement in model and animation quality due to the advancement of Mainframe’s software capabilities during the time between seasons. Subtle details, such as eyelashes and shadow, as well as generally more lifelike sprite characters, were among several visual improvements compared to previous ReBoot episodes. In addition, the show shifted their target audience to children 12 and older, resulting in a darker and more mature storyline. After severing ties with ABC following the second season, the show actually reached a greater number of households through syndication.

The season started with Enzo, freshly upgraded into a Guardian candidate by Bob during the Web incursion, defending Mainframe from Megabyte and Hexadecimal with Dot and AndrAIa at his side. When Enzo entered a game he could not win, he, AndrAIa and Frisket changed their icons to game sprite mode and rode the game out of Mainframe. The accelerated game time matured Enzo and AndrAIa far faster than the denizens of Mainframe. The following episodes follow adult versions of Enzo and AndrAIa as they travel from system to system in search of Mainframe. The older Enzo adopts the name “Matrix,” (previously his and Dot’s surname) carrying an eponymously named weapon “Gun” and Bob’s damaged Glitch. The time spent in games and away from Mainframe has hardened both Matrix and AndrAIa; Matrix has developed a pathological hatred of Megabyte, and has grown physically into a stereotypical, over-muscled FPS hero.

Matrix and AndrAIa are also shown to have developed a romantic relationship by this time. As the season progresses, Matrix and AndrAIa are reunited with Bob and the crew of the Saucy Mare and returned to Mainframe. Upon return, the heroes fought a final battle for control of Mainframe. Hexadecimal and Megabyte were defeated in confrontations with Bob and Matrix, respectively. All final problems in Mainframe were dealt with by The User restarting the system, setting everything right and restoring everything as it was again for our heroes, with one major exception: Younger and older Enzo now exist simultaneously, as Matrix’s icon was still set to “Game Sprite” mode. Because of this mishap, he wasn’t recognized by the system when it rebooted, so it created a replacement of his younger self.

After the end of the third season, two TV movies were produced in 2001 as a sort of “fourth season,” Daemon Rising, which addressed the problem the Guardians were facing in season three, and My Two Bobs, which brings back Megabyte in a cliffhanger ending that has yet to be resolved. The two movies, broken up into eight episodes in its U.S. ran on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and revealed much of Mainframe’s history, including the creation of Lost Angles, Bob’s arrival in the system, and the creation of Megabyte and Hexadecimal. Initial plans for the fourth season included for 12 episodes broken into three films, followed by a 13th musical special episode, although the final five were never produced.

Revival

Following its acquisition by the Rainmaker Income Fund in 2006 Mainframe Entertainment was renamed Rainmaker Animation. In 2007, Rainmaker then announced plans to create a trilogy of ReBoot films with illustrator/animator Daniel Allen as the lead character designer. Rainmaker Animation executive vice president Paul Gertz stated, ReBoot’s legions of fans have been incredibly loyal and continue to keep the property alive on dozens of fan sites.” In conjunction with the website Zeros 2 Heroes, Rainmaker announced an intention to allow fans greater access to the development of the movie plans and also in development of a ReBoot webcomic. Fans were given the chance to submit their own art and designs, with the potential to end up as an artist on the project, and their feedback ensured which one of five ReBoot pitches won.

The winning pitch was ReBoot: Arrival. Rainmaker will monitor feedback for the comic but may not use it as the basis for their movie plans. Four ReBoot fans have been chosen to work as artists on the Arrival comic. According to the pitch at the Zeroes2Heroes website, Megabyte’s Hunt has developed into a Net-wide war so pervasive even other Viruses are united against it. The Users have gone, spending their time in an unending MMORPG. A sentient System named Gnosis is created as a way to stop Megabyte, but goes rogue and begins enslaving Systems in its attempt to gain User-like powers. Two teams of heroes are assembled to stop Gnosis and bring back the Users, which will include new characters and Lens the Codemaster, who appeared for one episode in Season 2.

The official ReBoot website was updated with a countdown, which ended on May 30, 2008, at 12:00am EST. At 12:00am PST, the site was updated to include information about the first webcomic to be created created by the Arrival team, and continuing the community input initiated during the “voting phase”. The comic, now named Code of Honor, was viewable after signing up for an account, or using an existing Zeros 2 Heroes account.

The first Paradigms Lost issue (Paradigms Lost) opens with the aftermath of the Hunt – Mainframe is devastated and overrun with Zombinomes, the User is missing, and the entire population is being evacuated to the Super Computer. Worse still, the weakened Guardian Collective is facing viral attacks and uprisings across the entire Net. Turbo blames Bob for this, saying his views on viruses has become widespread and left them weakened. Enzo Matrix, meanwhile, is a star pupil in the Guardian Academy. The viral threat is ended when the Codemasters – first introduced in the episode High Code – pledge their help, offering a firmware named Gnosis. Gnosis is uploaded to every System on the Net, erasing all viruses and ending the crisis. The first issue ends with the Codemasters’ Guildmaster activating a “Phase Two” for the implemented Gnosis.

A new countdown appeared on the official ReBoot website on August 18, 2008 to launch the second installment of the comic. Updates to the comic will appear every Monday, with 2 pages each update. The Comic ended shortly after Christmas, and Surveys for users to fill in are on the site.

The Art of ReBoot, a 104 page hardcover artbook was published in February 2007 by Beach Studios containing various rare and never before seen conceptual artwork. Brendan McCarthy’s artwork was the major focus of that book.

VHS and DVD release

In the U.S., four VHS tapes were released in 1995 with individual episodes from the first season through Polygram Video. Each release contained a single episode: “The Medusa Bug”, “Wizards, Warriors, and a Word from Our Sponsor”, “The Great Brain Robbery” and “Talent Night”. The UK received two VHS releases, but with two episodes each: Volume 1 contained “The Tearing” and “Racing the Clock”, while Volume 2 had “The Quick and the Fed” and “Medusa Bug”. In Australia there were four VHS releases with each containing two episodes, comprising the first eight episodes of season 1. However, all the VHS tapes have long gone out of print.

The second season was never released, even though Polygram retained the rights to publish the episodes on home video with their deal for the first season. Despite this, in 2000 Mainframe struck a deal with A.D. Vision to release the third season on DVD. Spanning four volumes, all 16 episodes were published, separated by each story arc of four episodes: “To Mend and Defend”, “The Net”, “The Web”, and “The Viral Wars”. ADV planned to re-release these DVDs are a lower price in 2005, but changed their plans as they decided to cancel several of their titles at the time. Some time afterward, the company lost the publishing rights. Much like the first season VHS tapes, the third season ReBoot DVDs are now out of print and considered rare.

Anchor Bay Entertainment published the fourth season in its original form as two films (Daemon Rising and My Two Bobs) on one DVD as “ReBoot v4.0”. This DVD went out of print in early 2007, but can still be found at many online retailers, however it was improperly mastered as the 25fps source material was treated as 24fps film speed material, meaning 3:2 pulldown flags were encoded into the mpeg stream which results in the video playing back 4.096% slower and all the voices sound deeper. Anchor Bay have corrected and re-mastered the fourth season disc but it is only available by contacting them for a replacement. The Fourth season has also been released in Australia in its native PAL video format. Germany has DVD releases of all of season 2, while Russia has DVD releases for the first three seasons (though the first few season 3 episodes are counted as season 2), both also in ReBoot’s native PAL format (however the Russian DVD’s do not have any other audio selection then Russian, which is poorly dubbed over the original audio).

Universal still owns the rights to publish the first and second seasons on home video and will maintain those rights until 2009. Universal has not yet, and most likely will never, release the first and second seasons on DVD.

Cast

  • Bob (seasons one, two, and four) — Michael Benyaer
  • Bob (season three and four), Glitch-Bob — Ian James Corlett
  • Dot Matrix, Princess Bula — Kathleen Barr
  • Enzo Matrix (young) — Jesse Moss (season one), Matthew Sinclair (seasons one and two), Christopher Gray (season three), Giacomo Baessato (season four)
  • Matrix (adult Enzo Matrix) — Paul Dobson
  • Megabyte — Tony Jay
  • Hexadecimal — Shirley Millner
  • AndrAIa (young) — Andrea Libman
  • AndrAIa (adult) — Sharon Alexander
  • Phong, Mike the TV, Cecil, Al — Michael Donovan
  • Mouse, Rocky the Raccoon — Louise Vallance
  • Ray Tracer — Donal Gibson
  • Captain Capacitor, Old Man Pearson — Long John Baldry
  • Slash, Turbo, Herr Doktor, Cyrus, Al’s Waiter (front counter) — Gary Chalk
  • Hack (seasons 1 to 2) — Phil Hayes
  • Hack (seasons 2 to 4), Specky — Scott McNeil
  • Daemon — Colombe Demers
  • Daecon — Richard Newman
  • Welman Matrix — Dale Wilson
  • Gigabyte — Blu Mankuma

Awards

ReBoot has been the recipient of several awards. The show received Gemini Awards for Best Animated Program Series for three straight years between 1995 and 1997, as well as a 1996 Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. Other honors include the 1995 Award of Excellence and Best Animated Program from the Alliance for Children and Television and an Aurora Award in 1996.

Other Gemini Award nominations include “Best Children’s or Youth Program or Series” in 1998, and “Best Sound – Comedy, Variety, or Performing Arts Program or Series” for My Two Bobs and “Best Sound – Dramatic Program” for Daemon Rising, both in 2002.

History summary from Wikipedia’s ReBoot Article, with minor additions made by GlitchBob.