RollBots Recap: 108 "Crontab Trouble"

MCMSaturday, April 4, 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).

Those of you know know what a cron job is will probably get the meaning of this episode right away. For those of you who don't I'll refer to the Wikipedia definition...

cron is a time-based job scheduler in Unix-like computer operating systems. 'cron' is short for 'chronograph'.

In other words, it has to do with scheduling and time. You can have certain tasks repeat themselves. You see where this is going.

Now, granted, when we started work on this episode, nobody but me really understood what the hell I was talking about. For the longest time, everyone was calling it "contrab" instead of "crontab". At first, you try your best to explain the mechanics of crontab files and how they work in a Unix environment... but after a few weeks of that, you say "screw it" and just shorthand it to: "It's a time travel episode". Everybody loves time travel.

This is the first episode that was rendered in any way, so the earliest teasers and rough renders you may have seen on the web in years past all seem to feature the inside-the-Hub battle sequence from the second act. This was the first time we saw any of the characters in action... Pounder doing his punch, Spin and the cuffs, Manx's flares... all brand new when this ep was done. We were all so giddy that we had the best ep ever, we wanted to show it to anyone who we could pin down for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, this episode isn't really a good representation of the series. For one, it's a time travel episode, which immediately gives the wrong impression. What's worse, because of a lot of exuberant cutting at various stages of production, the storyline doesn't entirely hold together. There are moments where Spin refers to remembering something from a previous go-through... except we'd never seen that go-through at all. It moves quickly enough to distract you, but WOW... if you really try and map it out, it's utterly loony.

That's not to say that Mark Leiren-Young's script isn't amazing. Best line of the season, I think, is "we'll be changing your name from Spin to Spun". Captain Pounder is teh funny. Again, Mark did an incredible job. And while this isn't quite a story arc episode, there is one sequence that gives you a major hint about the future of the series. I won't say where, but it gives a lot away once you know to look for it.

(You may also notice the exterior shots have a very dark and moody sky to them, because this ep, again, was done early in the production, before we'd really figured out exterior shots. If you're following at home, it's basically 101, 107, 103, 104, 102... I think, anyway. The order isn't as linear as you'd expect.)

We've only got a few more episodes to go before things start to unravel a bit for Spin and the FCPD, so be sure to keep watching. And tell your friends to watch too. I just saw a rough cut of the last episode, and trust me... you're going to want to see a second season after this ending :)

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