The Guardian Code reveal disappoints ReBoot fans
With shooting in Vancouver and Victoria set to wrap up this week, Corus Entertainment and Mainframe Studios (a unit of Rainmaker Animation, which in turn is a division of WOW! Unlimited Media) have officially announced new details and have shared the first production stills from their reboot of the classic 1994 Canadian animated series, ReBoot. The live-action/CG-animated hybrid, titled ReBoot: The Guardian Code, is set to air on YTV in Canada in 2018. Confirming some things we already knew, the first season will run for 20 episodes (down from its initial 26 episode order in 2015) and will be an action-comedy about four teens becoming Guardians of cyberspace.
After playing the multiplayer Cyber Guardians video game together, four teenagers are recruited by V.E.R.A (Hannah Vandenbygaart, Bruno & Boots: Go Jump in the Pool!), the Virtual Evolutionary Recombinant Avatar, to fulfill their mandate to mend and defend cyberspace. Austin (Ty Wood, The Haunting in Connecticut), Tamra (Sydney Scotia, Some Assembly Required), Parker (Ajay Parikh-Friese, Mr. Young), and Trey (Gabriel Darku, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments) now must protect cyberspace from threats that pose true consequences to both the virtual and real world. It’s more than these kids expected when they started at Alan Turing High. Way more.
In addition to the cast, it’s been confirmed the show’s animated sequences will be done with Epic’s Unreal 4 video game engine. ReBoot: The Guardian Code will also have mobile games, including a digital TCG app (possibly called Code Hacker), as well as a virtual reality experience. This multiplatform approach was originally schemed up back in 2013. Michael Hefferon is acting as the producer and executive producer, Larry Raskin is the showrunner and another E.P., Matt Sheppo will act as the producer for Corus, with another co-E.P., Pat Williams, handling series direction. Michael Dowding, a veteran from the tail end of the Mainframe Entertainment days (you know, the era they actually created Beasties/Beast Wars, ReBoot, Shadow Raiders, Spiderman, etc.), will be the Supervising Director of Animation. Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana will represent the series’ worldwide distribution, licensing, and merchandising rights.
I don’t think I need to tell you that fans are less than impressed. I’d usually pull up links to comment sections and share some choice quotes, but really, it’s on every story about The Guardian Code. Fifteen years after an excruciating cliffhanger and this is what fans get? A take on the Tron, VR Troopers, Code Lyoko, Zixx, Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad, Spy Kids 3, etc. formula with essentially none of the original’s creative leads? It certainly doesn’t help prevent comparisons when this company has been involved with at least two of those franchises in the past. Rainmaker is currently producing an animated Spy Kids series for Netflix called Spy Kids: Mission Critical (seriously) and created the animation for the second and third seasons of Zixx, after the first season was animated using Monolith Productions’ LithTech game engine.
It’s hard for me to get too worked up. We’ve known about the concept shift for years (I guess this show might touch on the users loading the games in the original series?) and when Rainmaker initially announced a new ReBoot series back in 2013, I figured there’s no way it wouldn’t be a reboot/re-imagining/relaunch. No one was going to fund a direct continuation to an obscure kids cartoon cancelled 15 years ago. In fact, back in 2015, Hefferon said as much in an interview with The Verge. “I talked with broadcasters around the world. The one [resounding] thing — and I hate to break it to the fans — was nobody wanted the reboot of what [the show originally] was. Nobody was willing to buy it.” It’s difficult to know if plans from 2015 are still relevant to today’s show, but in that same interview, Hefferon claimed the average 22-minute episode of The Guardian Code would consist of about two-thirds, or 14-15 minutes, of animation. Yes, I know I just said no one would greenlight a new season to an old obscure kids cartoon while Samurai Jack’s revival is delighting American animations fans (and Canadians with the [adult swim] app), but that’s an extreme outlier produced as a vanity project from a creator who’s expressed vocal interest in a return for years. The Canadian television industry isn’t doing something like that.
Speaking of, isn’t this show the perfect poster child for the current YTV? The channel’s dumped all action-adventure programming for kid sitcoms and comedic cartoons and this seems to be some kind of amalgamation of the two. Heck, a good chunk of the main cast has been on YTV’s various recent kidcoms. I guess that’s the point. This is ReBoot for today’s kids. The bitterness stems from the fact that yesterday’s kids didn’t get a conclusion to their ReBoot and those involved do want to court that audience somewhat. Again, assuming the show hasn’t changed entirely while in development, major characters from the original series are meant to have some presence in this one.
I do feel sorry for whoever runs YTV’s social media accounts. Their average engagement is usually pretty minimal and most comments amount to a basic, “Wow, I like this show” – expected for a channel aimed at kids, so hundreds of angry Tweets and Facebook replies are out of the norm. I’m kind of at a loss for suggestions here. The person handling those feeds obviously isn’t responsible for ReBoot: The Guardian Code, but who am I to say fans shouldn’t express their thoughts? Then again, it’s kind of too late to change anything. The show is way too far in production for an overhaul.
Update (04/01): ReBoot Revival spotted two more images in the Corus media library. They’re totally original and don’t evoke imagery from any other works of fiction.
No, this isn’t an April Fools joke. You can check out all four images in 4K (so you can see the bottle of hand sanitizer in the first pic, DVD drives being used as an accessory for lighting fixtures, and, you know, the guardians) hosted on Corus’ site.
Going from a show people are enraged isn’t fully animated to an entrancing feature fully animated by one person, I present you Gorgon Pictures’ debut release, Nova Seed. The film’s production is as much a wonder as the story being told, having been drawn solely by the hand of Hamilton, Ontario native Nick DiLiberto over a period of four years while living in Japan. Prior to creating his own epic, DiLeberto previously worked at the video game developers CyberConnect2 (.hack, Naruto Ultimate Ninja, Asura’s Wrath) and Bioware (Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Jade Empire).
In an age of men and beasts, centuries of war have left much of the world toxic, sick and uninhabitable. Mutants and half-men wander the globe. Civilization has crumbled and the survival of the human race is uncertain.
In an attempt to seize control of the planet, the evil Mad Doctor Mindskull lays plans to acquire the Nova Seed and harness the earth’s very life essence to turn himself into the ultimate weapon.
With nowhere left to turn, a fading humanity places it’s last hopes of defeating Doctor Mindskull in a genetically modified NAC (Neo-Animal Combatant).
Nova Seed was released on digital platforms on March 28th.