As i mentioned in part one ReBoot started as a fairly innocuous episodic children’s show. The entirety of the season (apart from the last three episodes) can be watched in any order, and frankly that was the point. I doubt when the first episode aired in September of ’94 that the producers had a concrete idea as to where they wanted to take the series and as a result made the first season to gather viewers and show off technology.
With that in mind season one takes a long time to get going, being episodic the show doesn’t have a beginning so to speak. The Tearing the show’s first episode just starts with Bob already in Mainframe (although he is newly arrived) and the show establishing the personalities of the series’ key personal of Bob, Dot, Enzo, Phong, and Megabyte. It also sets up the show’s light tone, by getting in pop culture references and while it establishes that Megabyte is a threat the interactions between him and Bob are far lighter in tone than anything that would come later.
The show waits for the introductions to be out of the way before giving the darkest episode in the season with ep. 4 The Medusa Bug. In it a viral bug created by Hexadecimal infects all of Mainframe by turning it and everybody it touches into stone; the horrified frozen expressions of the sprites and bleakness of the situation serves to foreshadow the series’ later tone. Season One ultimately takes a little bit to get going, as its first seven or so episodes while filled with some memorable moments feel mostly like filler. It’s only with Episode 8: Enzo the Smart do i feel the series really takes off in an interesting direction that uses its setting of being in a computer to its maximum advantage.
My pick for ReBoot’s first great episode would be with Episode 9: Wizards, Warriors, and a Word From our Sponsor. Where a game that replicates a Dungeons & Dragons quest forces Bob, Dot, Enzo, and Mike the TV to work together to beat the user. The episode managed to find just the right mix of using the setting to create an interesting situation, silly humour, character interaction, and conveyance of a simple moral (importance of working together) that made it memorable for me years after i had watched it, and years since i was able to watch it again.
Season One is also home to another of the series’ best moments with Episode 11: Talent Night, where Dot auditions various performers and Bob conspires to keep Enzo’s first birthday a secret. Subversive jabs at censorship and more great odd ball humour all lead up to the crowning moment of the first season: Megabyte crashes the party only to shred away on his guitar! Which of course leads to a battle with Bob on who can play the best. The episode is so good it unfortunately takes away a bit of the luster of the two part season finale.
Identity Crisis pts. 1&2 is a bit of an enigma, it’s the first and only two parter in the series and it almost telegraphs the state of Mainframe in season 3. The biggest problem it has however is plain old bad writing, while the episode’s narrative is expanded to fit the greater time it ultimately doesn’t make the best use of it. It starts with how it fails to set up any stakes until just about the end of the episode, as we’re told that when Dot collects the PiD’s of the Mainframers in Megabyte’s sector its left for us watching to figure out why she needs them in the first place.
Also the much touted game The Funhouse isn’t any harder to beat than the military game they played at the beginning of the episode, but this is only natural as most of the episode is deals with its trying to get its ham fisted “you gotta believe in yourself” message across. Throw in the fact that Megabyte’s scheme is foiled off camera and you got a recipe for a mediocre episode.
The bad writing coupled with the really dark tone of the episode make it stick out like a sore thumb as Talent Night is the episode the season should have closed off with, as it sums up and celebrates the innocuous early adventures of Bob and friends. Identity Crisis on the other hand with the concentration camp imagery of Megaframe coming so soon from Megabyte playing at Enzo’s birthday, makes me think it would be better suited to being placed somewhere in Season Two than as the finisher for the light hearted Season One. I think the problems that surface however would have been fixed had the season’s episodes been serialised instead of episodic, as this two parter would have felt more like a pay off if Dot’s plans and a bit more exposition was placed throughout the season instead of coming out of the blue as it does at present.
There is also the overhanging fact that this is a CGI series from the year 1994 to deal with when watching this season. While it blew my mind when i was a young child of seven, now it’s almost laughably primitive. The dated nature of the show is most apparent when anyone is shown doing anything other than simple gestures or even just walking. There’s no weight to anyone’s motions, and much of the characters seem like marionettes dangling on their strings. Thankfully the show’s creators must have wanted to stay within the limits of computer generated imagery, and used a colourful abstract art style helps mitigate the dated animation to a degree. So while the show does look dated it isn’t as severe as looking back on Final Fantasy VII and wondering what all the hub bub was about.
It’s really easy to write off Season One of ReBoot, after all the series had its best moments yet to come. But i think the value of these first adventures lies in the fact that many of them don’t have any lasting impact at all. After all things get really rough for all of the principle players even as soon as Season Two. Days where things were simple enough that once Bob beat the user at a game, or stopped one of Megabyte’s plans Bob, Dot, and Enzo were free to just get an energy shake at the diner. Indeed these are the days that they think of when they’re torn apart by the conflict that would shape their lives in the future, and are the days i hoped they could get back to when i was watching it as a young kid. Season One represents the good times, the times that were lost and add weight to the conflict further in the show’s run.
TOP 3 EPISODES
It’s pretty easy to pick the best episodes in this season, as again they’re episodic in nature and are all self contained. So, if you are curious to get the most out of Season One’s breezy tone these are the episodes i suggest:
Episode 8: Enzo the Smart
This is my pick for the best of the filler episodes as the humour is quirky and genuinely funny, and having Enzo dick around with the clock speed of Mainframe in an attempt to make himself smarter is an ingenious way of using the setting to tell unique stories.
Episode 9: Wizards, Warriors, and a Word From our Sponsor
What makes this episode great is that it lacks Megabyte completely and is entirely spent trying to beat a game, while it isn’t the only episode in the season (or series) to do so what sets it apart from others is its genuinely funny humour. I laugh throughout the entire episode to this day, and i quoted and remembered it accurately throughout my childhood for many years after i had first seen it.
Episode 11: Talent Night
This episode represents the epitome of Season One’s lighthearted nature. Dot and Bob are free from Megabyte’s unrelenting assault on the city long enough to plan a birthday party for Enzo. Coupled with the fact that Megabyte himself isn’t so evil that he could show up out of nowhere, start shredding on a guitar, and it not seeming out of place further cements how much the show would change in tone as it went along. By far the best episode the season has to offer, and a stand out in the show’s entire run.