Reboots and revivals are television’s new niche these days, resurrecting old fan favorites for new audiences. It’s only natural, then, that the the classic CGI series Reboot would get a reboot of its very own.
Reboot: The Guardian Code tells the story of four teenagers who discover a gateway to cyberspace in their high school basement and are given a mission to protect it from a mysterious hacker named the Sourceror (Bob Frazer). It’s a stark contrast to the plot of the original series, mixing elements of CGI animation with live action scenes. “It’s paying homage to the old show, and it’s expanding that universe,” star Hannah Vandenbygaart, who plays a living AI named VERA, told The TV Junkies. “In the original show with Bob, Dot, and Enzo, they were in the mainframe computer and we’re living in that same universe, we’re just living in all of cyberspace.”
It’s a new story for a new generation, but it includes a number of elements from the original, largely in the roles of villains Megabyte (Timothy E. Brummund) and Hexadecimal (Shirley Millner), along with cameos from past characters. Gabriel Darku, who plays Guardian and star athlete Trey, says that the animation style is also an homage to the original. “They definitely amped up the animation, but they still animated the movements in such a way that is that it still feels very tech-y and very Reboot-y,” he says. “It looks crisp and clean, but the movements aren’t as crisp and clean as you would think a smooth animation would be. I think they did that on purpose to make it seem more like the original show.”
Reboot: The Guardian Code was filmed in Vancouver over a month-and-a-half period, so the stars had to work fast to create a strong rapport. After all, the success of the series–and the fate of cyberspace–now falls on the shoulders of the new Guardians. Luckily, Vandenbygaart says the cast got along better than anyone expected. “We got to really implement more of our off-screen chemistry to onscreen because all of us got along so well, right off the bat,” she says. “You get to see how well we get along on camera, because at the beginning we had to hide it. Towards the end we actually get to show how well we work together.”
“[The producers] kept saying they’d never seen chemistry amongst a group of actors as they did with us,” adds Darku. “We’ve never experienced that–we connected from literally day one.”
An additional challenge for Vandenbygaart was learning how to realistically embody an AI to portray VERA. Once she was cast in the role, Vandenbygaart enrolled herself in an online course on AI and computers so she could better understand the mentality of a computer. It was from that baseline where she continued to develop VERA throughout the series. “I had to set out my different versions of the character because she does evolve,” says Vandenbygaart. “So [I created a] different physicality, different vocals, different mentality. Everything.”
VERA’s growth comes to a head in this week’s upcoming finale, when cyberspace meets its greatest threat yet. “She learns what it means to be a part of something, to feel accepted to be a part of a family,” teases Vandenbygaart. “When it gets more and more pressing and dangerous, which it does as the finale approaches, it gets tough for her and [she becomes] more emotionally unstable.”
The same can be said for the human characters, especially for Trey, according to Darku. “He’s finally feeling a real urge of importance because, while he’s great at basketball, he doesn’t really feel like he wants to take it anywhere,” he says. “It’s going from feeling very lost and not knowing what to do to finally finding a comfortable place where he feels he belongs”
“I think that’s with every character,” adds Vandenbygaart. “They didn’t really feel like they had a place.”
Darku agrees. “That’s the whole story: four teenagers trying to find where they belong,” he says. “It’s very relatable.”
There’s no official word on a Season 2 for Reboot: The Guardian Code, but the stars say the season finale won’t leave viewers with a cruel cliffhanger. “I think they did a really good job with the ending in terms of wrapping up the first season’s story, as a season on its own,” says Darku. “Should everything be great and we get a season two, it leaves the perfect amount of story and room to make a whole ‘nother season.”
Have you been watching Reboot: The Guardian Code? What are your expectations for the finale? Sound off in the comments below.
Reboot: The Guardian Code finale airs Thursday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.