RollBots Recap: 107 "House Call"

MCMSaturday, March 28, 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).

Ah, House Call. This episode is a great mix of one-off silliness and story arc goodness. I'm kinda conflicted about how much to describe in these recaps from now on, because while it's all in sync for Canadian viewers, these end up being major spoilers for Americans. So I guess if you're American, stop reading now. Unless you're watching the torrents, in which case carry on.

107 brings us back to Koto and the Hub. There was a lot of debate about where this episode should go (initially we wanted it back-to-back with "Koto Protocol", but a Kuzuri double-bill seemed a bit wrong). A story element we'd been avoiding was Spin getting checked by the Kuzuri (at least onscreen), because Koto was supposed to be the one who first discovers that Spin's built different than any bot he's ever seen.

This connects to what we like to call "Hyper Mode". What is it? Why does it happen? Is it a flaw in Spin's design, or something else? I can't tell you how hard it was to put off this kind of revelation until the seventh episode. It's one of those things that you just NEED to share, and we were intentionally delaying its reveal for this much time. It's was very, very hard. But we wanted to make sure we sold the series on the basis of a bot with no tribe making his way in the FCPD, fighting crime. The story arc (at least Spin's side of it) was deferred so it wouldn't muddy the waters up front. I hope the gamble worked. It pays off in the end, trust me :)

The effect for Spin triggering his Hyper Mode is apparently stupidly hard to apply: putting that much of an overlay on top of his eyes is time-consuming and easy to get wrong. You probably won't see the eye effect very often from now on, because I hear two of our animators were put in straightjackets because of it. The fiery flare around Spin, on the other hand, came as a big shock to the non-3D people on the show... we didn't really know what we were expecting, but when we saw it, it was a moment of pure joy. Nothing says "cool oddity" like a pinky/purply shockwave.

My favourite moment of the episode is Manx saying "I'll be back in a flash" and throwing her pulse flare off-screen, and Vertex saying "Was that really necessary?" In the board, it played a bit better, with a bigger flashier explosion, and Vertex's slightly more cartoony face deadpanning the line. But still, random silliness is always fun. I have no idea where the line came from (it may not have been scripted), but it was the highlight of the episode for me, at least.

My favourite dumb line was Penny saying "I can't get to the Boot Sector that fast! Nobody can!" I mean seriously, Penny. Spin's right there. You're so obviously setting up his next line :P

Here's something unrelated that I find interesting: based on anecdotal evidence, it appears that MACRO is the most popular character in the show right now. Now, I like Macro. I fought for him to stay as dumb as he is, because it makes him cute and cuddly (despite his giant spiky mace)... but seriously? HIM? The kids of today, they scare me.

Back to 107, I think I should take this moment to single out our composer, Serge Cote, for some praise. Serge has done some amazing work in this show, but the sequence with Spin racing to save Tinny (while the poor kid is dying in a hallway of the Hub... sniffle) is just amazing scoring. When you consider that Serge gets about 16.5 minutes to score each episode (between the final cut and doing sound effects), it's truly astounding he can make them sound as incredible as they do. [note: I may be exaggerating his timeframe just a touch]

One final note: starting this weekend, those of you in Toronto will be able to watch the RollBots trailer I made. It plays in front of "Monsters vs Aliens", or any other G-rated movies. It's a fun 30 seconds. If you can't get to a Toronto theatre, you can check it out below (courtesy of YouTube).

Stay tuned for next week, where we'll go back in time for the first RollBots episode ever rendered!

All content released under a Creative Commons BY-NC license except the contents of "TV" section, which belong to their respective owners.