RollBots Recap: 101 "Training Day"

MCMSaturday, February 7, 2009

Every week, I'm going to try and give you some inside information about episodes of RollBots, so you can see the things that went into producing each story. You should probably watch the episode first (probably won't have a choice, since these posts won't go live until after the episode airs).

So, "Training Day". Not surprisingly, this is the first story I came up with for the series. Structurally-speaking, the first draft of 101 (I use production numbers, sorry... 101 means "season 1, episode 01") was a lot longer than what you saw on air. There was an entire B plot with Lance getting badly injured and having to go to the Hub to get repaired, and the drama of that. It became a Spin/Penny split and was way too long to produce, so we cut out the Lance side story and moved it into its own episode (now 105). So more on that later. But you can see the remnants of it, where Lance is falling and Spin catches him in mid-air.

The other element that was edited out was an extended action sequence with Spin battling Botch, which I had had in my mind since before I even knew Botch's name. That sequence has been moved into a much later episode, but I won't say which one. It is probably my favourite battle sequence in the entire series.

There are some subtle things in the episode you may have noticed. I'm a web developer, so there are a lot web terms in there, like a "301 Redirect" or the names of various trax systems throughout the city. Vertex's hideout has a joke to it that you probably don't get because the final version of Zetag doesn't have broken windows clearly visible like I intended :)

Oh, and for those who remember the old Mac OS X development layers, the top and bottom-most areas of Flip City are called "Quartz Sector" and "Boot Sector".

Oops: there is one glitch to do with things underfoot that doubles as a hint. I won't say what the glitch is, or what the hint is.

The part where Vertex transforms from his rolling mode to his spider mode, when we saw it in leica (moving storyboards), was the first moment I really thought: "Yeah, this show is going to kick ass". I thought that at various stages along the way, but it wasn't until that shot that it really clicked for me.

The speech that Vertex does to the henchbots is overly-long, and I apologize for that. We'd just settled on Vertex's voice and his design was looking cool and I just kept re-writing that block so I could have a little more "evil villain" time. Luckily, Vertex doesn't do that ever again.

Interesting trivia: Spin was originally blue. He went through a lot of design variations to arrive at where he is. He had to lose his blue body because it reminded us too much of Sonic the Hedgehog. We also nixed some white racing stripes down the front of his face (if you google image search, you can still find some of the old pics) because they conflicted too much with his eyes when he animated. Oh, and Penny used to be pink, but we had to switch her for Toy Reasons (girls won't shop in the boy toy aisle, and boys won't buy pink toys).

To wrap up 101, a final note: when we started writing this episode, we were trying to decide whether we'd actively promote the idea that there was a continuing story to this series. Ending like we did with Pounder chewing out Spin, and Spin being defiant... that was a long and complicated discussion amongst the producers. In the end, I think it was a good choice... it warns the audience that we're not just making a fluffy kids show here... there's going to be some twists along the way.

If there was anything in 101 that you wanted to ask about, feel free to do so in the comments. I can't guarantee I'll answer all questions, but I'll do my best to shed light where it won't conflict with the major plot points of season 1.

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