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(Photo used with permission from Eric Robles and Dan Milano)
What happens when there’s a glitch in your game and the augmented reality monster becomes a reality-reality monster? According to the new Nickelodeon animated series Glitch Tech, you’ll need the intervention of some heroic tech support.
Nick announced the new series in 2016, with a target release date of 20 episodes in 2018. The hiccupy production process kept fans waiting, and 2018 came and went. Then late last year, Nick partnered with Netflix for a “multi-year output deal” centered around new kids’ series and feature length films. Glitch Techs would be part of the package, and in February it finally arrived. Just in time, it turns out, for us all to be holed up and binge watching everything we can possibly get our hands on during social isolation.
From the outset, the partnership looks like a win for both companies. Nick, the studio that’s home to Rocko, Doug, Invader Zim, the Rugrats, and of course, Spongebob Squarepants, gets the distribution reach of the world’s number one streaming service. And Netflix gets the chance to develop its original content production strategy with the legends of animated kids’ programming.
“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” says Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Original Animation at Netflix. “We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix.”
“The ideas and work at our Studio are flowing,” says Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins, promising “a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world.”
From a business standpoint, Netflix just scooped up a gem by facilitating the launch of Glitch Techs. From an audience standpoint, the wait is over for what might be Nick’s best series in years. The show follows two tech support heroes, Miko and High Five, who battle video game baddies come to life.
“Glitch Techs is so fun to write, because it’s a classic monster series setup,” says writer Sandeep Parikh, who also voices the character Haneesh. “
Like The X-Files or Buffy, each episode introduces a new mystery or some monster from the otherworld that the good guys have to investigate and conquer.”
Watching the show, it’s clear that the creators are having fun. From the retro arcade music to the 90s cyberpunk aesthetic, each episode pops with playful homages to the early video game era. But is that enough to make a lasting series?
It’s easy for a series to bank on millennial nostalgia, but that usually won’t carry it through multiple seasons. Stranger Things has managed to cruise through three satisfying seasons by keeping the horror sci-fi gripping, and by evolving the retro kitsch in step with the maturing of the central characters. On the other hand, HBO’s Red Oaks, which had loads of panache and potential during season one, faltered when it came time to genuinely explore the lives of its characters. Glitch Techs is only one season in, but it seems in this case the nostalgic panache is the icing, and not the cake. With strong talent in the writing room, a diverse cast that supports positive representation, and the time-tested monster du jour formula, it will---probably, hopefully---be sustainable over the course of subsequent seasons.
As for season one, fans and critics are more or less unanimous in their enthusiasm. The fast pace, crisp aesthetic, and upbeat sense of fun make it easy to palate. Like Ghostbusters, it’s the rare kid’s fare that adults can enjoy equally, together with their children, because the writing works on multiple levels. Mercifully, the characters aren’t snarky or obnoxious.
And if you’re a parent who’s slogged through the Netflix kids’ catalog before, you know how much that matters. Children’s programming doesn’t need to be irritating or cheap. It can be witty, stylish, and culturally informed. Glitch Techs is a refreshing reminder of that.
“It has a fresh, fast paced energy that’s very contemporary, and the characters are all likable and diverse, so it makes my job easier,” Parikh laughs.
It seems the show’s creators are enjoying it as much as the fans. All nine episodes of season one are now streaming on Netflix. This one was worth the wait.