RollBots Recap: 105 "The Koto Protocol"

MCMSaturday, March 14, 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).

Let's take care of the easy stuff first: this has nothing to do with environmentalism. The reason it's called "The Koto Protocol" is entertaining, though, so I'll spend some time on it.

RollBots is heavily geek-influenced, and I wanted to include as many in-jokes as I could. One of those jokes was going to be that the head of the medical tribe (which "edits" the flawed bots) would be called Pico. Alternative names were "Vi" and "Emacs", but they didn't have the same ring. (actually, one cut line from this ep was Penny saying "Maybe I should find Doctor Emacs, he's more qualified to...")

However, as I've covered in my post about clearances, nothing ever works the way you want it on TV. Although "Pico" was a very common term and in fact a measurement prefix, the clearance folks said we couldn't use it. We had to think of something else. At this point, I was losing my mind over clearances, so I put very little thought into it and started running the dictionary for things that might not sound too bad (but would also not get flagged again, because it costs money each time the clearance gnomes flag you). What I ended up with was Koto. Nobody seemed to mind, so Chief Pico was renamed Chief Koto.

Unfortunately for me, the old title, "The Pico Problem" no longer worked. "The Koto Problem" just sounded strange. There's a lot you can get away with when you use alliteration. So we went on a long journey through the depths of our minds to think of a new title. It was Joyce Adam, our vunderbar design coordinator, who suggested "The Koto Protocol". I think she meant it as a joke. But when your soul is being crushed by clearance gnomes on a daily basis, you find strange things funny. So I signed off on it, and the rest is history.

Not INTERESTING history, but y'know.

The plot of 105 is actually the second half of the original 101. If you recall, I mentioned that Lance was supposed to get badly banged up in 101 and Spin had to get him to the Hub etc. That was removed, and turned into this episode. But without the original bank heist to hold it together, we had to think of a new plot that the henchbots were hatching that would be left unchecked while Spin and Penny dealt with Lance. So we came up with the Mint, because it's fun to break into a Mint, right?

One thing that's interesting about this episode, technically, is that when I wrote "they scale the outside of the Hub", I had no idea how big the thing would be. Apparently building and framing such a large model (with so many intricate parts) was a nightmare... so much so that the shots you see are all painstakingly arranged to NOT destroy the render farm. I am a bad, bad person.

Odd trivia: when Spin and Penny are entering Koto's password to get into the room, the numbers are the digits from my younger daughter's birthday. I put that in so she'd have some stake in the show (because at the time we were doing this stuff, she was 3.5 years old and too small to participate like my older daughter). Turns out she's now my most useful aide on the show, nitpicking inconsistencies every step of the way. But she still hasn't picked up her birthday in that scene :)

Another interesting tidbit was the dynamic of the battle at the end of the episode. For a while, we had a lot of criticism because Lance was leading the charge against the bad guys. The episode was heavily Penny-centric, and then the battle was Lance-centric, and Spin was being left out. I don't know if that really bugs kids as much as everyone thought it would, but in my mind, there's a lot of value to an ensemble dynamic, and giving Penny and Lance some spotlight wasn't going to hurt anything. The end result is still pretty evened out that way, so let me know if it bugged you!

All in all, 105 gives some backstory to Penny, but more than that, it sets her up as one of the more important characters in the show. Her biggest failing is that she's too pro-active, which is a nice failing to have. That'll come into play later in the season, when Spin's faith is tested...

If you've got an questions, drop 'em in the comments or by email!

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