When I set out to write the episode that would reboot Mainframe on ReBoot: The Guardian Code, the biggest challenge was finding an incoming game that would allow Bob and the new Guardians to fight together.
I binged every episode of ReBoot — and confirmed that my personal fave is still Lane Raichert’s Talent Night… Megabyte guitar solo!
I scoped the look and feel of every game Bob had ever been in to find something that was classic old school ReBoot, allowed multiple players to do battle, would look as stylistically retro as possible and could be easily recreated by the new animation team.
After watching/rewatching every episode from all four seasons I fixated on “Starship Alcatraz” from season 1 (The Tiff by Lane Raichert) because I loved the idea that The User had an on-screen avatar. And the idea that the avatar was a buff, square-jawed, pony-tailed, Thor-wannabe (not an evil clown, which was one of the other contenders) meant that whoever “The User” (aka a gamer) was in the real world he or she had to look, well, not like that.
The most meta moment in the script for me was writing The User declaring, ”Mainframe is finally back online” because I couldn’t believe that after over twenty years I was writing another episode of the series that launched my TV career.
Since I wasn’t just a writer for the original ReBoot, I was a fan, I wanted to make sure there was an Easter Egg in almost every second of screen time I could wrangle for Bob, Dot and Enzo – since this might be the only time they ever appeared on ReBoot: The Guardian Code.
So I wanted Bob to recite his opening riff and finally get closure when the new Guardians answered his existential question: “They say The User lives outside the net and inputs games for pleasure. No one knows for sure, but I intend to find out.”
I hoped to sneak in a signature “this is bad,” an “I don’t think so” and a “stay frosty.”
Bob had to reboot inside a game. And he had to get Glitch to do the heavy lifting that would save the day.
Enzo had to tackle Bob and I wanted him say “alphanumeric,” and “coolness” (less of a signature line, but one I’ve used since writing for the show) and call Megabyte “Megabreath” and Hex “random.”
Dot had to mention “a plan.” Dot always wanted a plan (and frequently devised one). She also often had a weapon, but those were usually at the Principal Office which would mean building another set.
And I wanted Dot and Bob to kiss.
After reviewing every episode it appeared to me that Dot kissed Glitch-Bob and swapped spit with Megabyte disguised as Bob, but unless I missed it (in which case Mainframe culpa), I don’t think she ever smooched the real Bob.
Bob had, however, lip-locked with Mouse (in Trust No One — the first original ReBoot I wrote). Although I can’t recall if I scripted the kiss or it was added in revisions, apparently, it’s my destiny to be involved with Bob’s romantic life.
The warning voice would warn: “Incoming game.”
And Hexadecimal… my first true love as a TV writer… she just had to be Hexadecimal, change faces, flirt with Bob, disrespect Megabyte and wreak havoc.
I also wanted one of the new Guardians to pick up the line, “mend and defend.”
In order to deliver a full carton of Easter Eggs there was even a sequence in the first draft where the Sourcerer was deciphering Guardian Code to scout potential allies that snuck in more shout outs to the original series.
Here’s a scene that was cut to make room for more time in Mainframe:
“The Sourcerer swipes through old images of Mainframe’s rogue’s gallery: CODEMASTER LENS, MOUSE (maybe sharpening her sword from Web World Wars), CAPTAIN CAPACITOR, THE NUMERAL SEVEN, FAX MODEM & DATA NULLY and THE SENSOR (from Talent Night) holding her clipboard. He’s annoyed, this is not what he’s looking for.”
For anyone who doesn’t know why Seven is a legendary ReBoot bad-ass, it’s because… seven ate nine… Like I said, this was originally a kid’s show.
Then, as the ultimate inside joke – a joke I assumed only showrunner Larry Raskin and I would ever get (which would make it an epically inside even by the in-joke standards of the original ReBoot) I described the character of The User so he looked like me (or at least like the aging hippie I played when I performed with my comedy duo, Local Anxiety).
After Larry read the script I asked if I could audition for the part. I was shocked when he said, “sure.”
To be continued…
NEXT: The User