So Kevin picked up the boxed set of the kid’s show Reboot a few months back, and we finally sat down and have systematically gone through the main story arc. (We still have season 4, which neither of us have seen, so don’t spoiler it, I beg of you!)
Reboot is significant for being the first all-CGI kid’s cartoon, and I won’t lie—the early episodes are eye-searingly dreadful. You can actually track the budget of the show and the pace of the technology across the seasons, from really crude beginnings to some surprisingly advanced graphics by the end, based on things like the heroine getting two boobs instead of Generic Uniboob. (There’s a few scenes later on where you can practically hear an animator screaming “POLYS! LOOK AT ALL THE POLYS I GET NOW!” and then bursting into maniacal laughter in the background.)
And the humanoid heroes, against all odds, generally stay out of the uncanny valley. Being bright green probably helps. Most of the rest of the populace is made of stacked cubes with single eyes, but even they get astoundingly expressive by the end of the show.
The writing on the first few episodes is also laughably bad, generally falling into the obnoxious-young-boy-does-stupid-crap-and-learns-valuable-life-lesson genre, with some really heroically bad puns thrown in. And you have to deal with the fact that the heroine is named Dot Matrix and the villains are Megabyte and Hexadecimal. (On the bright side, the hero is named Bob. I approve of this.)
Kevin kept swearing up and down that it got better, so I soldiered on.
And you know what? He was absolutely right. Somewhere in there it goes from bad-kid’s-show to sprawling science-fiction epic, probably because the show got canceled in the US. (You can also track this exact point too, where suddenly the bodycount triples and the villain gets to crack at least one bondage joke.) The villain Megabyte gets some of the best dialog in the place and is really quite horribly villainous–I mean, he kills the civilians and enslaves the populace and you BELIEVE those stacks of cubes are being enslaved. Hexadecimal, a kind of demented harlequin, Loses Her Shit Big Time, and Bob embodies the true paladinly ideals of being well-meaning, brave, compassionate, and not all that bright. (Plus there’s a bad-ass operative named Mouse. Mouse is awesome. I would like to be Mouse when I grow up.) The pop culture jokes fly thick and fast—they did an entire show based on “The Prisoner” and at one point Mulder and Scully from the X-files show up. As stacks of cubes with hairpieces.
Then they do this sudden slew to one side long about Season Three, and the show gets insanely grim and Bob vanishes and you spend the rest of the season following the little kid who suddenly turns into a hulking, sulking brute with a nice gun and no other redeeming qualities. He does not do a single intelligent thing at any point in the entire show. I spent a lot of time screaming at the TV for the heroine to take the dog and leave his ass to rot in the Web.
Right about the Epic Showdown with the villain, I turned to Kevin and said “That’s it! I am DONE with the bit where the hero finally gets to the bad guy and says “You’re not worth it!” and DOESN’T kill him. That needs to stop. Sooner or later, you HAVE to kill virtual Hitler!” Seriously. By this point in the show, Megabyte has ruined this guy’s life, exiled his hero, devastated his homeland, left his sister a bleak PTSD-rattled general of a refugee force, keeps a three-cube version of Dr. Mengele around at all times, and has turned his lovable mentor into a head in a jar and proceeded to torture the head. I am sorry, but if you don’t kill him now, he deserves to win because you are a MORON.
“…It’s a hero thing,” said Kevin.
“Digger wouldn’t do it.”
“Digger’s not that kind of hero.”
“Granny Weatherwax wouldn’t do it.”
“…it’s a male hero thing?”
“Indiana Jones wouldn’t have done it.”
“It’s a young stupid male hero thing!”
I cannot necessarily argue this point. However, I would like that to end. (Also, Captain Carrot totally would do it, damnit.)
As always happens in this case, someone smarter and more ruthless (and in this case female) snuffed the villain, just as he was about the destroy the world, although he sorta did that anyway, so y’know. But the show totally redeemed itself with a hysterical musical recap of the entire third season which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the writers knew exactly what the flaws in their characters were, so I forgive them this.
But I am still sick of this trope, damnit. Good needs to stop dithering. Good is being awfully selfish if it says “I’m not going to kill you, even though you always totally escape and conquer us YET AGAIN and also torture heads in jars, because my personal growth is more important than the TWENTY MILLION CIVILIANS YOU SLAUGHTERED.” That is not Good. That is Self-Help Stupid. Just kill his ass already. If you tell us that it was justice, not vengeance, I, for one, will be too busy passing out food to hordes of refugees to argue with you.
And on that note, I’m goin’ to Disneyworld.