To Mend and Defend!

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.

12 thoughts on “To Mend and Defend!

  1. TanitIsis says:

    You just named most of my favourite heroes :) Sam Vimes, also, would totally have done it.

    A few episodes of Reboot have been cropping up here recently… I must admit I can’t get past the graphics. But then, I didn’t play video games before PS2, largely because I couldn’t stand the graphics. I am a graphics whore. Now watching our way through Avatar the Last Airbender (anime, not movie), that was true awesome.

  2. raven_feathers says:

    carrot wouldn’t have to do it; he’d have already shamed and/or arrested the villain.

    also, i think basing my entire life on what granny weatherwax would do is probably an incredibly useful self-help project.

  3. ShinyHappyGoth says:

    Gleeeeeee ReBoot! (I used to host the entire series on YouTube before it was taken down due to the impending DVDs. I just wish they’d ASKED me to take it down myself, seeing as how they’d approved of it before.)

    While I do not agree with the general dislike of Matrix, I DO agree, completely and wholeheartedly, with the “you’re not worth it” bit. I mean, I understand the desire to leave the villain alive for future comebacks, but if you’re doing that, come up with a more plausible reason! I’d allow it if Matrix decided that humiliation and captivity would be far worse to Megabyte than mere death, but YES HE IS WORTH IT FOR CODE’S SAKE.

    By the way, Dot’s switch from monoboob to stereo? That had nothing to do with the improved animation (even though it was itself an improvement). That was ALSO because ABC dumped them and they were no longer under the thumb of their Broadcast Standards and Practices unit. BSnP were the ones who had ruled that the heroine must be so unsexual a character that she couldn’t even have separate breasts. Hex, on the other hand, has cleavage for the whole run of the show, because, you know, sex is evil. Mouse, with her morally ambiguous beginning, had sort of half-depth cleavage. Seriously, you can tell where a female sprite lies on the moral spectrum in the early seasons just by looking at her chest.

  4. Chris says:

    okay, in terms of “would have” versus “wouldn’t have” –
    so, “wouldn’t have” is the “kills the bastard” and would have is “you’re not worth it”

    in the “wouldn’t have” camp – Vimes wouldn’t have killed him, but would’ve dragged his ass off to prison and personally sat on his ass until he was executed.

    CARROT would’ve killed him – or, more likely, managed to put him in a situation where he offed himself in some spectacular way.
    no…actually…I remember a situation where he did *actually*take someone out because they were too dangerous to allow to live…
    I recall it being in the book where they were trying to get Carrot to take the throne and he made the point about a “just” king being a far more terrible thing than a bad king. or something.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Off Topic:
    You have totally made it!
    In my local Safeway grocery store they a display of “Ursula Veron’s Dragonbreath books! Now 25% on retail price!”
    Most authors are lucky to make into bookstores! You make it into grocery stores.
    Just thought you would like to know. :)

  6. Moth says:

    Matrix never really bothered me. He’s hot. I’m shallow.

    I LOVE the musical recap episode. So GOOD. I watched this as a kid when it first came out and was such a big deal for being all cutting edge. And I remember I then squeed like a crazy person several years later in junior high (?) when I discovered there were more Reboot episodes to be had by idly flipping to Cartoon Network one fated afternoon.

    Another excellent kid’s show from around the same period (ie my misspent youth) is Disney’s Gargoyles. The first two seasons are brilliant and the third season is so bad the creator himself went on record to say it wasn’t canon. Check it out if you guys haven’t.

    Fun fact: A lot of the voice actors on Gargoyles were from Star Trek : TNG.

  7. Korbl says:

    Vimes kills the villains when necessary. He killed Wolf, or whatever Angua’s brother’s name was, because it was necessary. He usually doesn’t kill, because he’s in Ankh Morpork, and the criminals can be arrested and tried, and executed civilly. Carrot has personally executed at least one person while in Ankh Mopork, the former Assassin’s Guild Chairman, I believe, in SPOILERmen at arms./SPOILER.

    It has to do with personal ethics. Some heroes have the luxury of being able to have ethics that say “I don’t kill, it would be murder.” and sometimes even they have to kill.

    But basically it’s a holdover from the Silver Age of comics. Imagine Superman as a murderer. Sure, he kills the bad guys. But who’s making the decision who is bad? Superman. Who can stop Superman from killing? Maybe Batman, not many other people. The simple fact is that the modern hero is very much informed by silver age comics, where the heros were shining paladins who beat the crap out of their villains, then made a citizen’s arrest and brought them into the nearest police station, because anything else is pure vigilanteism.

    Mind you, I like my heros able and willing to kill when the situation calls for it…

  8. Jenn says:

    Hi there! I’ve loved Digger ever since I stumbled upon it about a year ago. I’m kinda sad to see it end, but as I can;t even make myself write anything original I can hardly complain. Still and all, it was great. When I grow up I wanna be as strong as Digger :)
    The interesting thing about this post, is of course, that the US has just done exactly what you were describing. And now, well, hopefully thats the end of bin Laden’s direct influence on terrorism….I so hope there are no more videos out there. And I contend: Granny Weatherwax would not have killed the bad guy. She would have simply influenced anything else out there to go after him. Something along the lines of ‘witches (by convention must) tell the truth, not be *honest*.’

  9. Li says:

    Not to jump in completely out of the blue, here (well, yes, actually, that is what I’m doing), but omg THIS. I have delivered this rant *so* many times. My friends and family are sick of it. BUT REALLY.

    What gets me the most is that the uncounted minions (who, really, are just doing their job) never get these kind of second chances. The hero has no moral quandaries over these guys. They get their butts whooped. But the evil mastermind *behind* all the pain and suffering… he gets second chances piled on second chances.

    But of course it’s always all okay because he conveniently trips and falls off a balcony when he tries to shoot the hero in the back THREE SECONDS LATER. Or one of the other bad guys caps him in a redemption moment seconds before dying himself. The heroes never have to face the potential consequences (murder of everyone they hold dear, destruction of the universe, etc) of their actions.

    I remember first noticing this trope while watching the Secret of Nimh as a kid. Great movie! But really, Justin. Just kill the evil rat.

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