Let's a take a trip back, way back to the winter of the year 2000. That summer, Comedy Central introduced their televised episodes containing fights from the June 2000 BattleBots tournament. Pretty much immediately after that first season ended, Comedy Central began to air the second season of "BattleBots," shot on location in the All-American Sportpark in Las Vegas, Nevada in November 2000.
And now, a little less than two years later, I discover that I have an episode from this season still on tape! Hooray! This should provide a fascinating contrast between the show then and now. Or at least give me another excuse to ramble on endlessly about fighting robots, some of which are no longer active.
On my tape, the episode cuts in during the introductions of the first fight. It's heavyweights Bigger Brother versus Mauler 51-50. Bigger Brother is the prequel to Little Sister. It looks pretty much like Little Sister, except it's colored black. This is the first time anyone's seen the 51-50 version of Mauler. In the previous tournament, Mauler made an impressive and destructive showing before being taken out by an unlucky killsaw shot.
Sean Salisbury (the guy that was on the show before Tim Green) starts "The box is locked, the lights are on, it's robot fightin' time" early and finishes before the lights turn green. And now it's time to fight.
Mauler spins up really, really quickly. Bigger Brother spins around, wanting to absorb the impact with its backside. It slowly approaches Mauler. The ramps pop up, as Pete is impatient.
Bigger Brother gets off the ramps and starts to go around. Mauler is also slowly approaching (it knew better than to get on the ramps to begin with). The two bots start to charge one another. They meet, and a chunk of something goes flying. And now Mauler is wobbling!
It's wobbling more and more... and now Mauler is out of control! It's up on its side, rolling across the floor. It rolls over one of the spinners in the floor, rolls a little more, then goes up and over onto its back!
You see, that chunk that went flying on that first collision was one of Mauler's bludgeoning pieces. With the piece gone, Mauler was severely unbalanced, and danced its way to being upside-down.
Another point -- people (like Bil and Sean) like to claim that the spinner in the floor helped to flip Mauler over. I've watched this frame by frame, and I still believe that the spinner did nothing to assist Mauler in toppling. Mauler would've gone over even if there was nothing in the floor. They just wanted to make it sound like the floor spinners (new this season) actually could impact a fight.
Anyway, Mauler is now upside-down, unable to move. The body is spinning around inside the shell, causing the robot to move around the floor a bit. Will it wobble over to the nearby sledgehammer?
Bigger Brother looks at Mauler. It turns around again and backs into the inverted lid. Mauler goes sliding under the sledgehammer, which starts pounding away and instantly stops the robot from spinning. Smoke starts to rise from Mauler's body.
Mauler has moved off the yellow dot, so the hammer can't hit it anymore. Bigger Brother cautiously approaches, this time facing Mauler. It nudges up against the seemingly dead bot, then activates the flipper (gutsy move). Mauler doesn't tip over, but the lift does allow Bigger Brother to push it back under the hammer. The hammer starts hitting the rim. The Tilford family is whooping it up.
Mauler is declared knocked out by the referee. Now the Watts family whoops it up.
Replays. Then Mark Beiro starts to officially announce the result. The referee has to break up the handshaking going on between the teams.
They've been doing that annoying "battle stats" thing ever since the series began. For this fight, the stats are, as far as I can tell, completely random. Apparently Mauler got 21 hits in, while Bigger Brother got 3. Mauler also managed to get in a pin. And according to whoever put this screen together, the two bots were tied in hazard damage, 1 to 1. I'm trying to justify where they got these numbers from, but "drugs" is the only explanation that makes sense.
Going to commercial, they have some fun by placing Mauler on a stretcher, loading it into an ambulance, and driving away while the Tilford family weeps melodramatically. Pretty funny.
The next fight features super heavyweights. In the blue square is War Machine. If you took Hazard's body (minus the spinner), lengthened it so it had a total of ten wheels (yes, ten wheels), and then stuck a big plow on the front, you'd have War Machine. In the red square is Snake, another huge, out-of-the-ordinary bot by Mark Setrakian, builder of the famous Mechadon. It's... a big snake. It's got four segments of body that help the snake move. On one end of Snake is a big drill-looking thing, on the other end is a jaw with three mandibles.
Bil says that War Machine is a pneumatic lifter. War Machine is simply a pushing bot -- it contains no pneumatics. Honestly.
Bill Nye interviews Mark Setrakian, getting the details on how Snake works and what the strategy is. Then we get a pre-fight interview with the Sklar brothers to find out what the strategy for War Machine is. See, when they wanted to fill time two seasons ago, they actually showed things related to the act of fighting robots.
Fightin' time. War Machine leaves its square, then stops, staring at Snake. Snake is flopping around, trying to move out into the center of the box. It's not having the best of luck doing so, though. It finally rolls over a couple of times and opens its jaws. War Machine advances.
War Machine charges the center of Snake (where the weapons can't reach) and pushes Snake back into the wall. Snake squirms.
War Machine pushes Snake against the wall again. Sparks come out of one of the segments of Snake, followed by smoke. Something just broke in there. And Snake quits moving.
War Machine rams into Snake again. Snake starts to squirm some more. War Machine continues to ram Snake. It looks like it wants to move Snake over to a hammer. Snake opens its jaws really wide and rolls backward onto the spikes.
Looks like some more sparks just came falling out of Snake. War Machine attacks the wounded section. Snake curls out toward the center of the box. War Machine starts pushing Snake toward a sledgehammer. Snake arches its back up off the floor.
War Machine keeps pressing on, and finally gets the corner of Snake's jaws under the hammer. Pete goes to work.
War Machine keeps hitting Snake. The referee starts to count a now-immobile Snake down. Snake is out.
Some replays, then the exit interviews. Heidi Mark is the attractive interviewer for this season. Like all the others, her interviewing skills did not impress the builders. In fact, her interview with Mark Setrakian after this fight is usually the example given when discussing her interviewing capabilities. Here's the exact transcript.
Heidi: Now, do you subscribe to the uh, that you make robots as an extension of yourself?
Mark: Uh, no.
Heidi: (giggling laughter) I had to ask. (laughing)
Mark: Nice try.
Heidi: If so, I'd like to get to know you better.
Mark: Well, uh... (he stares straight ahead with a look of trying to hide annoyance)
(Heidi gives him a playful hit in the arm and starts laughing again. Mark continues to stare straight ahead.)
Okay, so nothing's changed in the exit interviews.
Commercials. Including a promo for "TV Funhouse" and Miss Cleo.
Bil tells us that this next fight will feature the debut of what he calls "a cool addition to Comedy Central Sports coverage -- the Slam Cam." He already sounds in awe of it.
Lightweights this time -- Toe Crusher versus No Tolerance III. Toe Crusher looks pretty much the same as it does today. No Tolerance III is a six-legged walker. On the front is a scoop that can be lifted, and there's also a small saw blade in there. For whatever reason, Bil calls No Tolerance III "No Tolerance II."
No Tolerance III has a message written on the scoop pointing out that it doesn't have any toes. And now it's time to fight.
Both robots head straight out of their squares. No Tolerance III is quite fast for a walker, but Toe Crusher makes it over to No Tolerance's side of the box first. Toe Crusher immediately slams into the front of No Tolerance, swinging the spike. The spike doesn't do any damage to No Tolerance, so Toe Crusher drives around and attacks from different angles.
And there's the first shot from an onboard camera in "BattleBots." From No Tolerance's perspective, we see Toe Crusher briefly get its spike stuck behind the spike strip.
No Tolerance moves in on Toe Crusher, and seemingly pins it against the spike strip. Actually, Toe Crusher has somehow gotten its body to rest on the spikes while its tires touch nothing. No Tolerance lowers the scoop (to which the saw blade is attached) to bring the saw down on Toe Crusher's arm. The saw instantly stops spinning on contact.
Toe Crusher swings its arm enough to free its body from the spikes and drives off, entangled in No Tolerance's scoop. Toe Crusher frees itself, and backs off to position. It looks like it wants to attack No Tolerance from the side, since No Tolerance can only attack from the front. But while driving around, Toe Crusher gets on top of the saws, which pop up and send Toe Crusher spinning through the air. It lands upside-down, though still perfectly functional.
Bill Nye pops up to tell us about the saws. While he does that, Toe Crusher continues to put ineffectual hits on No Tolerance. No Tolerance seems to be having a little trouble walking now, as one of its six legs isn't properly moving. Toe Crusher sits back and watches No Tolerance struggle. Toe Crusher probably shouldn't be watching while on top of the saws.
Toe Crusher attacks No Tolerance from the rear. It gets its spike caught in one of No Tolerance's back legs. It starts to slowly drag No Tolerance backward. Toe Crusher is moving back toward the saws again. It patiently waits for the saws to lower before continuing. It can't get enough power to pull the heavier walker, though, and the saws pop up under Toe Crusher, separating it from No Tolerance.
No Tolerance is having a lot of trouble walking now. Toe Crusher moves around to the front of No Tolerance, wedges under the scoop, and starts pushing No Tolerance (which is a lot easier than pulling). Toe Crusher pushes No Tolerance toward the saws, which cut right through one of the pieces of metal on No Tolerance's legs.
Toe Crusher pushes No Tolerance right up against the spike strip. It then takes a few runs and slams No Tolerance. At least one of No Tolerance's legs is broken right now.
Toe Crusher gets its spike over the "neck" of No Tolerance's scoop, but the attempt to pull doesn't work. Both Bil and Sean are calling the walker "No Tolerance II."
The front left leg is completely dead, though No Tolerance is still trying to move somewhere with the others. The rear left leg moves up and behind the spike strip, where it gets caught (this was before they placed Lexan panels there to prevent these kinds of things from occurring). No Tolerance is stuck.
Toe Crusher drives around, somewhat aimlessly. As time runs out, it makes its way back over to No Tolerance. The buzzer sounds. Toe Crusher is clearly the victor, 42-3.
After the commercials, we see the post-fight interviews. Amazingly, Heidi Mark is the only person to correctly call the loser "No Tolerance III."
Recaps, then plugs for the next half-hour. The shot of Gage Cauchois pushing Vlad the Impaler actually comes from a different fight (look at the self-righting arm).
Commercials, then the start of the second half. Sean assures us that the combatants in this first fight absolutely loathe each other, though there's no actual evidence to show us that.
It's Vlad the Impaler versus Mjollnir. Vlad, of course, is the box with two lifting spikes, defending its championship in this tournament. Mjollnir is kind of similar to OverKill. It attacks with a spiked hammer on the end of a stick by swinging its entire body around and over. It also has spikes coming out of the sides of that hammer in case it wants to be a thwackbot, too.
Time for fightin'. Either both robots decide to wait two seconds after the signal to actually move, or this wasn't put together very well.
Mjollnir takes a couple of swings, but misses. Vlad gets behind Mjollnir, raises the spikes under its body, and takes Mjollnir to a sledgehammer. Vlad tries to pin Mjollnir there, so Vlad takes the first couple of blows, but then the hammer starts falling squarely on Mjollnir's arm. Mjollnir's spike is stuck behind the spike strip, so the sledgehammer gets a few good shots in while Mjollnir tries to escape.
Mjollnir escapes. It then hits the top of Vlad with the spike. Vlad runs into a wall, then reverses over the saws, which toss Vlad a bit.
Vlad gets back behind Mjollnir again, lifts the spikes, and starts shoving Mjollnir around. Mjollnir tries to escape by going over Vlad, so Vlad pops up the self-righting piston to hold Mjollnir for just a tiny bit more. Mjollnir finally drives off Vlad.
Vlad seems to be having trouble getting its lifting spikes to come back down. It drives to the center of the box to inspect. Meanwhile, Mjollnir is getting hit by some saws.
Vlad is starting to take runs at Mjollnir using its rear, so it looks like the spikes are stuck. Vlad drives onto an entrance ramp, then attacks Mjollnir with its front. After the impact, Vlad's spikes drop back to the floor. A quick test -- yep, they're working again -- and Vlad is attacking with the front.
Mjollnir is spending some time over by the ramrods, which apparently are on strike, as they never pop up. Mjollnir charges Vlad. Neither is able to push or hammer the other.
Mjollnir decides to have a go at thwackbot mode, spinning in place. Of course, Vlad doesn't drive into that.
The two bots continue to joust. The ramps pop up, just to make something happen.
More swinging by Mjollnir and more runs by Vlad, neither doing all that much to the other bot. Twenty seconds to go. Vlad lifts Mjollnir, but Mjollnir escapes. A couple of swings by Mjollnir... and Mjollnir's arm breaks off! Mjollnir is now nothing more than a small box between two large wheels.
Mjollnir swings its offense-less body around. One of its tires is going flat, too. At the buzzer, Vlad pushes Mjollnir across the floor.
A 34-11 judges' decision says that Vlad wins this fight. An interview, a lengthy tease of the remaining two fights, then commercials.
The next match is between two middleweights. Heh heh, here we go. It's Buddy Lee Don't Play in the Street versus Turbo. Turbo is a spinner. And then there's Buddy Lee.
Buddy Lee Don't Play in the Street is... a large toy fire truck. Really. High ground clearance and all. To make things look all pretty, there's a My Buddy doll attached to the driver's seat of the fire truck (the only seat in the fire truck), a couple of ladders hung on the sides, and four plush Dalmatian toys riding in the back. It had a spike sticking out of the front and riding the floor, but they removed it because Turbo would've torn it off otherwise. This is a pushing bot. Shaped like a fire truck. What in the world?
Time for a segment on Team Fembot, the creators of Buddy Lee. When they're not working in the shop, they like to be pampered with makeup and have their hair done. Way to not advance gender stereotypes.
Then it's time for a segment on how Team Loki uses Turbo to attract women, at least when Comedy Central is there to make it look like that's what happens. When they drive it down the sidewalks while spinning the shell, they responsibly remove the swinging blades. Aw.
Every single person watching this is expecting Turbo to annihilate Buddy Lee. So let's get it on.
Turbo spins up and leaves its square. Buddy Lee also leaves its square. Buddy Lee slowly spins in place for whatever reason. Turbo advances, and Buddy Lee just kind of goes back and forth, ringing the bell on the fire truck (yes, there's a bell on the fire truck). Turbo smacks into the front of Buddy Lee. No damage is done.
Buddy Lee drives around. As it turns, it deposits two Dalmatian toys on the floor. Having successfully done that, it again turns to face Turbo. Turbo hits Buddy Lee again. Buddy Lee decides to drive into the dropped Dalmatian toys.
Turbo drives into Buddy Lee for two more hits. On the next hit, pieces of Buddy Lee's right front wheel go flying. More hits.
Buddy Lee continues to wander aimlessly. Turbo keeps hitting Buddy Lee. Buddy Lee drops a toy ladder, which is quickly flung by Turbo. I am this close to calling Buddy Lee on releasing entanglement devices.
Turbo continues to hit Buddy Lee in the front. Buddy Lee releases another toy Dalmatian. Then Buddy Lee decides to make the bold offensive maneuver of actually charging toward Turbo. The hit pushes Turbo back, but it's still spinning.
The final Dalmatian toy is out of the fire truck now. Buddy Lee starts pushing one of the plush toys toward Turbo. Okay, I'm officially calling Buddy Lee on using the dogs as an entanglement device.
The toy slips away, and Turbo gets another shot on Buddy Lee's front. The front of the fire truck is very crumpled by this point. And that right front tire is starting to wobble.
The next hit from Turbo knocks the tire off the wheel of Buddy Lee. But now Turbo is sitting in one place. Buddy Lee comes over and starts to kind of try to push Turbo around a little. Turbo's shell is still spinning perfectly fine.
Buddy Lee pushes Turbo some more, and gets Turbo's shell to stop spinning. As Buddy Lee runs into the saws, Turbo starts to spin up again. Buddy Lee pushes Turbo, and gets the shell to stop spinning again.
The remainder of the fight consists of Turbo trying to spin up and Buddy Lee pushing into it so it can't. Time runs out.
It's a 28-17 decision. The winner is... listen up... Buddy Lee Don't Play in the Street. Team Fembot seems the most surprised of anybody. Sean Salisbury starts foaming at the mouth, absolutely infuriated at the fact that Buddy Lee won. He claims that Buddy Lee won the judges over with cuteness.
Okay, here's the deal. For the last minute of that fight, Turbo had no power to its wheels. It couldn't drive anywhere, and if the ref had been paying attention, Turbo should've been counted out long before the three minutes were up. So yes, Buddy Lee should've won, simply because Turbo was incapacitated. I'm guessing that when the decision went to the judges, Aggression and Damage mostly went to Buddy Lee, giving it the 28-17 victory.
But that still doesn't change the fact that it's a pokey robot that has no strategy other than to drop stuffed animals on the floor and bump into its opponent.
Anyway, exit interviews. Heidi Mark advances the "it must have been the doll that won the decision" theory. And here's a real quote from Team Fembot: "Girls rule, guys drool." Yes, they referenced freakin' "Homeward Bound" on national television.
Commercials. I'm going to go punch something.
For the final fight of the night, it's an exhibition bout. It's the debut of Jay Leno's ChinKilla, a big robot with a big caricature of Jay Leno's face on the front. The chin of the Leno face curves down to serve as a scoop. It also has four spinning blades, two on each side. Jay Leno's a fan of BattleBots, but he had some other people build this for him.
ChinKilla will face Ginsu. You know Ginsu as the robot that uses saw blades for wheels. For this bout, Ginsu has stacked two sets of saws on top of the ones touching the ground, forming a big cube of a robot with saws on it. It can be tipped on four of its six sides and still run.
Quote from Sean Salisbury: "You are looking live at the All-American Sportpark in Las Vegas, Nevada." This was taped months in advance. Dirty liar.
It's robot exhibition time. The two robots meet in the center of the box. ChinKilla turns to attack with the side blades. Ginsu doesn't hit ChinKilla, and runs away. ChinKilla follows, sticks its chin under Ginsu, and tips the robot onto a different set of saw wheels. ChinKilla pushes Ginsu toward some killsaws.
They go to a shot of the red driver's platform, where we see that Jay Leno is too busy narrating the fight to actually drive his self-modeled robot.
The killsaws hit Ginsu. ChinKilla lifts its chin scoop and gets the chin in the side of Ginsu, in between two wheels. It pushes the robot toward the center. It's trying to tip Ginsu onto its side, but it's having trouble doing so.
Finally, after much pushing, Ginsu falls onto its side, where the saw wheels don't touch the floor. ChinKilla hits Ginsu with some side blades, then does a victory spin. The ramps raise to try to put Ginsu back on its wheels.
ChinKilla comes over and helps the ramps finish the job. Ginsu is mobile again. It pushes toward the face of ChinKilla and starts shoving it around. ChinKilla backs away to escape.
Ginsu tries to figure out how to turn with those weird saw wheels. ChinKilla moves toward Ginsu. The spinning blades nearest to ChinKilla's face aren't working. ChinKilla pushes Ginsu toward a hammer. Unfortunately, the hammer is broken, just lying on the ground. So ChinKilla just flips Ginsu onto a different set of wheels.
Ginsu escapes the corner and drives away. ChinKilla follows it. Ginsu starts to approach ChinKilla. ChinKilla again lifts its chin to tip Ginsu onto a new set of wheels. Ginsu, now sort of disoriented, drives around ChinKilla, toward the wall, into the spike strip, and flips itself around and around, landing on the dead hammer. Ginsu can't move.
Jay Leno continues to talk as ChinKilla shoves itself into Ginsu a few times. ChinKilla's chin gets under Ginsu again, pulls Ginsu off the hammer, and drags it across the floor, including over some killsaws. Then ChinKilla pushes it into a wall, letting Ginsu escape. Ginsu lands on its side, but it spins the saw wheels, which knock the robot off its side. Ginsu rolls into the dead hammer, and time is up.
Supposedly it's a 45-0 decision for ChinKilla. Yuh-huh. Anyway, Jay Leno still has a microphone in his hand, and after being announced the winner, tells us that "big chin beats no chin." Ha ha ha... wait, there's no humor in that at all.
Commercials. The "hit of the week" shows Ginsu running itself into the wall. Yes, ChinKilla directly made that happen.
An exit interview, where we see that ChinKilla's cartoon face got scratched up pretty badly in the fight. Man, it looks smug.
Recaps of the half hour. The show ends rather quietly.
During the credits they show shots of the on-camera talent, along with lots of shots of neon signs in Las Vegas. For example, "STRIPPERS." I must've missed that episode of "BattleBots."
If you haven't seen the first two seasons of "BattleBots," you're probably wondering who this Sean Salisbury guy is that used to be on. Well, to help you out, here's a brief and wildly inaccurate account of The Sean Salisbury Story.
When Comedy Central was first looking for on-camera talent for their new show featuring fighting robots, they had to make some important decisions. For example, they needed a hot babe to help meet the requirement that 90% of their original programming must feature a hot babe. After that casting call was made, they decided to get some other folks, too, to hide the fact that the hot babe couldn't carry the show on her own. They got some stand-up comedians, using the logic (and this is fascinating, given that Comedy Central often doesn't use logic) that the show would be appearing on a channel frequently devoted to comedy. So the Sklar brothers were introduced because they were twins and could confuse the stoners, and Bil Dwyer was brought on because he could make appropriate reaction noises during the fights (and he would work cheap, of course). Bill Nye was hired as a familiar face to calm the stoners frightened by the Sklars. But what to do about a play-by-play commentator?
Initially, Comedy Central wanted to continue along the stand-up route and get world-famous announcer Dennis Miller. But during the auditions, he kept peppering his play-by-play with statements like, "Watching Alpha Raptor fight Backlash is like getting involved in a deadly game of Tri-Ominoes featuring Hosni Mubarak and Funshine Bear while Tony Randall is playing 'Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)' on the guzheng." So instead, Comedy Central decided to just get a former football player who had retired from the game and turned to announcing. But which one of the 487 people who fit this description should they choose?
Keeping up with the current trends of the time, Comedy Central noted the success of child star Jonathan Taylor Thomas, fresh off the hit sitcom "Home Improvement" and star of spectacular, high-grossing movies. They couldn't get JTT, of course, but they could get the next best thing -- a guy with a raspy voice. When that criterion was added to the pool of available announcers, the choice became clear. Sean Salisbury would be their man.
Sean brought many things to the world of "BattleBots" announcing. For example... um... well, he told us things that were happening. He also explained that the robots needed to be repaired between fights. And he most certainly told us about upcoming fights, too. If you listened to him long enough, his voice didn't bother you.
After season two, though, Comedy Central decided that they wanted the show to go in a new direction. They needed a man who initially didn't understand "BattleBots," but who could still shout over-enthusiastic statements about things vaguely related to the fights and who could make numerous comparisons between the robots and animals. So Sean was unceremoniously dropped from the show (the process involved Traci Bingham calling Sean, telling him the news, and then quickly hanging up).
So even though he is no longer on "BattleBots," Sean will always be remembered as "that guy that used to do what that other guy is doing now." It's a title he most certainly has earned.