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Season three, episode one

Whoo! A new season! 'Bout time! And bout time, I suppose.

We open the new season with... a new voice. Apparently there's a new announcer onboard. He talks about how robots are the gladiators of the new millennium. (If you're not sick of that word by now, please raise your hand. I thought so.) Clips from season 2 are shown. The violent clips, I mean. It would be silly to talk about fierce gladiators of the new millennium and then show a wedge wander about aimlessly. New Voice claims that these new warriors will not fatigue, though I think we saw a few matches last season where that certainly wasn't the case. Then he makes sure we know this is a new season. My question is, when they rerun these episodes a few months from now, will he still proclaim that this is a new season? And if not, what will they replace it with? "These are some old episodes of the show while we wait for the next tournament to take place" just doesn't sound right.

Anyway. There's Bill Dwyer's voice. He and New Voice take turns hyping up tonight's matches. We know that there certainly will be robots fighting tonight, but danged if we know what other robots they're fighting yet, as only one bot from each weight class is mentioned.

Over 500 robots, they say as speeded-up video of the pit area rolls by. And it's time for the opening sequence! It's... duller than last season's. We get only two clips of robots, and those clips are decidedly mundane (a shot of Nightmare sitting motionless in the pit area and two bots dully pushing one another). Well, at least they finally remembered to use the current "Battlebots" logo.

Remember, if you like to watch robots fight, you'll like Snapple!

Indeed, we do have a new guy onboard. His name is Tim Green, and presumably he's a sports figure in the same vein the replaced Sean Salisbury was. He lets us know that there are over 500 robots competing, in case we were too mesmerized by that speeded-up pit footage or something. They neglect to mention that they'll only be showing fights of maybe 100 or so of those 500.

Roll call! The Sklar brothers are back, Bill Nye is back, and in the show's ongoing effort to find an attractive female that has some semblance of a clue what she's talking about in interviews, this time around we'll be seeing Traci Bingham.

Ah, good, they're going directly into a fight. Seeing as there are over 500 robots (in case you didn't know), I expect them to be showing a lot of fighting to get all the good stuff in. First off, it's Nightmare vs. Slam Job. Either there's a continuity break or somebody forgot to double-check the teleprompter, as new guy Tim Green tells us that "both bots came out of their squares fast and furious" when all we know is that they're talking about Slam Job. To the scriptwriter's credit, Tim does eventually mention that the defeated opponent was Gangrene Weasel. Now, check out the great transition between these two different thoughts, courtesy of Tim's script:

"A couple whacks from his hammer, and then he takes Gangrene Weasel to the spike strip and hangs him out to dry. (quarter-second pause) What can you tell us about Nightmare, Bill?"


It appears that Comedy Central is trying to make "Battlebots" look more like football, as they now give us Useless Statistics! Bill makes sure to let us know that Nightmare has never won coming out of the blue square. Am I not understanding something, or does that not really matter? "Nightmare has never won when the temperature outside was a cool 62 degrees Fahrenheit." "Nightmare has never won when his opponent is painted lavender." "Nightmare has never won when driver Jim has eaten a spaghetti dinner two days before fighting." Who cares?

Slam Job's statistics are not as interesting, as it's only had two bouts so far. We do learn that it's "never fought from red corner" (corner?). This should be an engaging match, as both robots are unaccustomed to the sides in which they have been placed! I can't wait!

The robots are introduced. Slam Job is shaped sort of like a four-sided pyramid that melted in the microwave. In the front it has a tire iron in it that swings out and onto opponents. If you've forgotten what Nightmare looks like, it's essentially a gigantic spinning wheel with two protruding blades that knock the crap out of opponents.

It's really dark in the Battlebox when they give us the shots of the robots, but if I'm not mistaken, Mark Beiro isn't even in there when we hear his voice. Also in the realm of editing, notice that the shots of the audience are more lit than the audience is when we see the robots.

Time to start the fight! The on-screen timer is much more intrusive this season.

Slam Job comes racing toward Nightmare while Nightmare's big wheel speeds up. Slam Job passes Nightmare, whacks the floor with the tire iron, then turns and faces the full-speed wheel. Thinking better of that, Slam Job drives to face Nightmare's left side, narrowly missing the killsaws. Nightmare turns, approaches the front of Slam Job, and WHAM! (if I may use comic book-style action words), flips Slam Job and sends pieces of armor flying.

I don't know if that tire iron was designed to work as a self-righting mechanism, because Slam Job has clearly been killed. As the ref counts Slam Job down and out, we see Nightmare's wheel power down and Jim Smentowski wiggle his controller to no effect. So technically, both robots were incapacitated at the same time, but the victory goes to Nightmare. Since Jim was on the other side of such an occasion in last season's lightweight finals, I don't think he's going to complain.

Time to see Traci's interviewing skills. Her first question to the fallen Team Black Root -- "You guys... ouch. Ouch." Probing. She then administers hugs.

Jim admits that Nightmare broke after that collision, then it's time for a commercial.

Here's another example of how Tim needs to learn what exactly the punctuation mark "period" means -- "If you're just tuning in, you missed a quick and nasty knockout by Nightmare. (another quarter-second pause) Lightweights Shish-ka-bot 1.1 and Trilobot are going to face off in just a minute."

But now it's time for the season's first filler, though at least this one is interesting. For what I believe is the first time, we're introduced to Peter Lambertson, the man behind the weapons in the Battlebox. They try to make it sound all mysterious by saying the weapons are devised in "a top-secret location in northern California," but I think the blue Battlebots logo on the warehouse might give things away just a bit.

New weapons! First of all, there are two thick pistons situated near the center of the arena, one on each side of the ramps. The pistons pop up and tip robots over, making it incredibly easy for the opponent to win.

There are new saw blades... again. This time the teeth are closer together (didn't they say last season that they deliberately made the teeth farther apart?). If Nightmare has taught us anything, it's that the fewer the teeth the better, but I guess they're not going that route. Just as well, this is supposed to be about the robots fighting, not how exactly they can drive.

The ramrods and spinners are back, which surprises me, as the ramrods weren't working much at all last season (and if you have pistons, why do you need ramrods, too?). The spinners didn't do a blasted thing to affect the outcome of any fight - let's clear up some floor space, huh?

There are several screws located along the walls of the arena. Supposedly these horizontal screws are supposed to catch robots and push them toward the hammers, but I already see two problems. One, the screws aren't all that close to the hammers. Two, of the clips they show of the screws in action, I see no robots being pushed toward anything. Besdies, they won't do diddly against larger bots. I hereby declare the screws the most useless weapon in the Battlebox, which is quite a title when you consider the spinners are still there.

So let's count things up. There are spike strips, hammers, spinners, pistons, ramrods, ramps, at least six screws and about six sets of killsaws. In other words, your average super heavyweight can't drive anywhere in the box without sitting on top of a hazard. I smell a controversial victory or two coming up later this season...

Peter then tells us that he doesn't enjoy destroying robots, just watching them fly through the air. Of course we know he's lying, but even so, it isn't a very good lie. After all, when was the last time you saw a robot be thrown by a sledgehammer?

Let's get on to the fight. In the red square (which it lost from last season when it fought from there!) is Shish-ka-Bot, a flat box with a steep wedge on the front. In the blue square is Trilobot, a flat box with a less steep wedge on the front and spikes on its back. This... is not going to be a good fight.

What's with Mark Beiro during the introductions? He sounds less like an announcer and more like... well, more like a robot. The best part of having an announcer is hearing him say, "Shiiiiiiiiish-ka-booooooooooooot!" Not "Shish-ka-bot," then hearing him doze off from lack of enthusiasm.

Tim Green has been practicing "The box is locked, the lights are on, it's robot fightin' time!" It's the best line he's delivered so far.

Both bots drive to the center of the arena and miss each other. Then Shish-ka-bot drives toward Trilobot and misses again. Finally, Shish-ka-Bot gets under Trilobot and pushes it to the spike strip. (Hey, if Shish-ka-bot is nothing but a wedge, why is it called "Shish-ka-bot"? The name would be much more apt for Trilobot, since it has two spikes.)

Trilobot breaks free and drives over to one of the killsaws. Peter Lambertson has to activate two other sets of saws before he finds the one that Trilobot is on and sends it spinning toward the center.

One of the spinners isn't spinning. Great weapon.

And now that I look, one of the screws isn't rotating, either.

Trilobot allows one of its side flaps to be lifted by the saws, thought no real damage is done. Meanwhile, Shish-ka-bot is driving aimlessly around the floor. After some wandering, it drives under the hammer closest to the blue driver. After the hammer next to the red driver is activated, the correct hammer lands on Shish-ka-bot, instantly rendering it motionless. While we watch Shish-ka-bot become even flatter, Bill Nye appears in the corner to tell us that each hammer lands with a force of 1,570 pounds. Another good reason not to build a lightweight. Or get on Peter Lambertson's enemies list.

By the time Shish-ka-bot is counted out, one of its sides has been reduced in height by half. I'm sure the driver is thinking, "I paid $100 for this?"

As they throw it to commercial, they show us clips of the Leno-faced Chinkilla not fighting another robot this time, but simply beating up a hollow wooden box designed to look like a gas pump. To be specific, Chinkilla simply tips the pump over and pushes it over to a hammer to be destroyed. That wooden, motionless gas pump just never wins when it starts in the blue square.

Back from commercial now. After the usual "don't make a robot unless you know what you're doing" disclaimer, they show Nightmare breaking Slam Job again for no reason other than to remind us that robots get destroyed, I guess.

We get excerpts from an interview with Traci Bingham, who tells us that she likes seeing robots get destroyed and guys making robots bigger and stronger and faster and... well, she almost got to the sexual allusions Comedy Central was hoping for. She comes close again with the last thing we hear her say -- "And what's even more interesting is that the winner gets a big nut." So close, yet so far.

For the next match, it's Minion versus Ogre. We learn that Minion is the #1 ranked super heavyweight, despite being knocked out very early in the tournament last time. If anybody has an explanation of how Minion got that position, I'd like to know. This time around, Minion has its front wedge, and in the back is a spinning disc with two square bumps, very similar to Nightmare's. Minion is now sponsored by "Magic: the Gathering." First of all, that still exists? And they're sponsoring fighting robots? I guess it's a universal geek theory or something.

Ogre is a flat box with four wheels. The front of the box has its corners cut off, and four spikes are placed on the front. There are also some spikes on the back. Apparently boxes with spikes are very popular this time around. Comedy Central has placed a little camera inside Ogre. As long as we're dealing with pointless statistics, I'd like to point out that every time a little camera has been placed on a robot, the robot has lost.

The fight begins, and both bots immediately go for each other. Fourteen seconds in, Minion gets its spinning wheel to connect with Ogre, making some sparks come out of Ogre and making smoke come out of Minion.

Some more driving, and Minion gets the wheel to connect with the small camera. Even more smoke pours out of Minion, but everything keeps working. Tim tells us that the smoke is caused by the belt in Minion spinning uselessly.

Minion attacks the camera again and we get to see what Ogre would see if it had eyes. If you were driving a fighting robot by looking out of a front window, it would be bloody confusing. And you'd have to be really tiny.

Pushing continues. A piston comes up and Minion hits it with its wheel, causing the belt to fall off. A bit early on that call, were we, Tim?

Tim is very good at stating the obvious, I'll give him that. After the piston incident took place, he tells us, "I think Minion hurt itself on the piston." Glad you were there to point that out to us.

After we see Ogre get pushed up by the ramrods, Tim helpfully informs us, "Oh. But Minion drove Ogre onto the spikes." Bill is trying to say something insightful, would you please give him a chance? This ain't on radio, you know.

Since it's now down to a boring ol' pushing match, Peter starts to activate the ramps. Which are equally as useless here as the pushing, but at least they make cool hydraulic noises.

Along the drivers' wall, Minion pushes Ogre, then Ogre pushes Minion. I've got to admit, with the sounds of audience cheering and the announcers saying "Oh!" a lot, they're making this seem more interesting than it really is.

As Ogre pushes Minion, Tim keeps talking, hoping that he'll say something interesting and pertinent. Instead, the best he can do is tell us that Ogre "needs to put him onto a killsaw or back to the pulverizers. Oh, there's the killsaws!"

Ogre finally manages to get its spikes to do something by jamming them under the metal bar covering Minion's tires. It pushes Minion onto a screw, but surprise, that does nothing. It also drags Minion over a killsaw area, but the silly things just don't want to pop up now.

Time! Finally. We see some clips of what we just saw. Basically, the clips point out that Minion took some chunks out of Ogre, Ogre pushed Minion, and Minion tried to beat up a piston (not a bad idea, in my opinion). When they get the shot of everybody standing in the center waiting for the decision, the camera is positioned in such a way that there appears to be a blue light shining from the referee's crotch.

Mark Beiro announces that it's a split decision. The crowd moans, apparently unaware that since there's an odd number of points, there will still be a winner. And the winner is Minion! Immediately, a guy runs up and sticks a video camera about three inches away from the driver's face.

Commercial time. Coming back from the ads, they show us the clip of Nightmare destroying Slam Job again, only this time, it's played at a slower speed. Ah, see, it's different!

Over in the interview area (they now have an interview area), Tim Green sits with Jim Smentowski. It would appear that the talent for this show are not allowed to actually ask questions to people. Here's the transcript of the entire interview.

Tim: Jim, congratulations. That was the most devastating hit I've ever seen.

Jim: Thanks, Tim. Yeah, that was definitely the hit that I designed Nightmare to dish out.

Tim: Well, that was a considerably easier fight than the one we saw between Minion and Ogre.

Jim: Yeah, that was kind of a tough match there, wasn't it? I don't know if the judges were watching the same fight that I was.

Tim: Well, listen, congratulations. Good luck the rest of the season. And now we're going to go to Bill, who's got the battle stats for Minion and Ogre.

Somehow I get the feeling that Jim was told to say something to that effect. I also get the feeling that Jim probably doesn't remember what exactly Tim was referring to, given that these segments are taped after all is said and done.

They then go over to Bill Nye, who now has his own little video lead-in. In it, we see his head spinning around in one place. If that looks familiar to you, don't worry. The same thing was done with Bill Nye's head for "Bill Nye the Science Guy." Hey, Comedy Central was too busy colorizing pictures of robots and putting them on walls to think of original segues.

Nye explains how the scoring system works (about time, eh?). Each of the three judges gives out five points for aggression, five points for damage, and five points for strategy. Minion got 8 points for aggression, 8 points for damage, and 7 points for strategy, hence the close score. I'm not going to argue the aggression and strategy categories, but why was the decision so close on damage? Minion made things fall off of Ogre, while all Ogre did was sit and watch Minion knock its belt off. So technically, Minion caused almost all of the damage in the fight.

But enough about that. We've still got half an hour to go, and I've already written over 3,000 words on this episode. San Francisco mayor Willie Brown visited Treasure Island, and declared the time period to be Battle Weekend in San Francisco. There must not have been any issues of city management that needed to be taken care of.

Now this is nice. Since there are lots of fights that will be too dull to air, the show is going to just give us little updates to let us know how some other bots are doing. (Reading over this narrative, I've realized that there's no way of knowing if I'm still being sarcastic here. With this paragraph, I'm not. I really do like the idea. This would be sarcasm: "I'm sooooooo thrilled by the inclusion of useless, unnecessary screws to every square inch of free space in the Battlebox!")

Once again there are Scrap Daddy robots in all weight classes, and once again, they're off to their usual start. Scrap Daddy Surplus, a thin pointy cone with wheels, lost to Herr Gepounden (German for "Sir Difficult-to-Pronounce Name"). There's another spin-really-fast bot in the heavyweight division called Son of Whyachi, and it defeated a bot called Crab Meat that kind of reminds me of a dune buggy. And Diesector beat up on Scrap Daddy Turbulence (a big wedge). Diesector has thicker pickaxes now. I can't imagine why they were made thicker. For the record, Diesector has the coolest victory dance of any robot.

As they go to the commercial at the halfway point, we see that there are some cheerleaders that are out to entertain the audience during all the breaks in action. They say "Battle" and the audience says "Bots." The audience seems about as enthusiastic as you are reading about it.

A couple Comedy Central promos, and we're back to the show. Recap recap recap. Then it's time for an educational film strip about Treasure Island. Trust me, nothing interesting is revealed here. While this is playing, I think I'll go find out who in the world Tim Green is.

(does a quick search)

(looks at one page)

Assuming this is the right guy, Tim Green played for the Atlanta Falcons for eight seasons. And like all retired football players, he now commentates on the game, appearing on Fox News and writing articles for USA Today. He also has written a bunch of books. I hope he's not the one writing his copy for these segments.

Well, back to the fighting. It's time to watch Double Agent battle Turbo. Double Agent is a black and green parallelogram. Turbo is a metallic shell with two blades that spins around really fast. Turbo is also one of the 350 or so robots in this competition with the C2 logo on it.

Okay. This is the second time I've heard Bill Dwyer say, "Battlebots: The only worldwide recognized federation for robotic combat." I do hope we don't have to hear that every half hour. I mean, I can only think of two robotic combat federations off the top of my head, and it's rather obvious that Battlebots is the most popular. And exactly how does one achieve such a title? Is it invented, or merely made up?

Time for the fight to begin. Double Agent cautiously wanders toward the center while Turbo gets up to full speed. Then Turbo wanders on top of some yellow outlines that I would assume are killsaws, but never activate. Finally, Turbo connects with Double Agent, and the appropriate paint flecks come off.

Some more driving. Turbo goes over to a piston, and ricochets off of it. Double Agent wants to play with the piston as well, so it gets its rear end lifted.

Turbo hits Double Agent a couple more times, doing some impressive-looking damage, but nothing that really hurts Double Agent. Then Double Agent realizes that it needs to stop Turbo from spinning, so it pushes Turbo into a wall and slows it down.

Another line from Tim Green. Turbo and Double Agent drive past the yellow dot on the floor, and the hammer comes down, not coming close to hitting either robot. Still, Tim finds it necessary to say, "Ooh. There's the pulverizer."

The pulverizer that Tim is so awed by then gets stuck in the up position and can't hit the floor. Man, we're only in the qualifying fights and they're already doing that?

Turbo heads back to its square. Double Agent follows and gives it a little nudge into the killsaws, which do pop up at the right moment this time. Turbo goes flying into the air, and when it lands, we see that the metallic case with the blades has been ripped clean off. Turbo is now a bowl with a whole bunch of exposed wires. And it's about half as big as it was before.

But Turbo can still move. So after Double Agent is flung by the saws, it pushes Turbo over to one of the functional hammers, which falls squarely onto what I assume are important robotic parts. When Double Agent can no longer position Turbo under the hammer, it simply gouges the open sides into the spike strip. Turbo is counted out and Double Agent spins.

The Sklar brothers are good interviewers, actually asking questions to Team Loki, even if they are just things like, "What happened specifically to your bot?" But Traci's question to Team Diginati is, "You did an amazing job out there. You cut him in half, you pulverized him, and I thought I saw some smoke. That's got to make you feel confident." When they fail to answer with anything more than "Absolutely," Traci decides to ask (actually ask!) if that final spin was the spin of victory. No, the driver accidentally pressed his thumb against the lever while congratulating his teammate. Of course it was the spin of victory.

Commercials, then it's time for another super heavyweight bout. We've got Toro, a bot with a foot that lifts rapidly into the air to flip opponents, versus World Peace, a bot with a grabbing claw. Toro's a crowd favorite (and my vote to win the whole thing, so don't go dissin' him!). World Peace is low to the ground, so Toro will have to work for this one.

Mark introduces Toro with a Spanish accent. Having studied Spanish off and on for school requirements, I can tell you, there's not much to do an accent with in the word. Besides, if a real Spanish announcer was doing this, we all know he'd call the robot "Torooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Then probably take a deep breath and continue.

Heaven help us, there are four bare-chested men in the audience, each with a letter painted on their stomachs to spell "TORO." If we later see a fat guy with no shirt and each half of his body painted Diesector's colors, I might have to excuse myself and never come back.

The fight starts off with a lot of driving and very little offensive action. Toro tries to find a spot to get under World Peace, but just lifts itself in the air. World Peace is just driving around, not even trying to do anything with its weapon. I'm not sure what exactly its strategy is.

Toro drives over some saws, then barely misses nailing World Peace. But Toro then gets the position it was looking for, and, oompah! World Peace does a complete flip in the air and lands right-side-up.

With the way it landed, one of the corners of World Peace's skirt has been flipped up, leaving it open to attack. But Toro chooses to ignore that corner and instead goes under the side, where World Peace is still low to the ground. Oompah! World Peace does another complete flip, and now quits moving. Oompah! One last flip, and World Peace is now on its back.

That clamping claw doesn't have the power to right World Peace, so while it can bob up and down, it's out of the fight. Toro gives it a little shove, then just sits and watches as World Peace struggles. As World Peace is counted down, Toro turns its back on the fallen bot. Hey, at least they were nice enough not to push World Peace toward a hammer. Or the dreaded screws!

In World Peace's exit interview, Randy and Jason Sklar use about every dove and world peace joke they've saved up from last season, when none of World Peace's fights aired. Traci asks Team Inertia Labs, "Okay guys, you have quickly become one of the most feared battlebots in the competition."

While Reason Bradley talks about strategy, we hear Mark introduce a robot called Fear in the red square. Note that the lights aren't all down and spooky.

There's still a whole segment of show left to go, and notice that they're not advertising any more matches to take place. This can't be good.

After the break, Bill talks about some of the robots that we should watch in the tournament. I would think that as long as Comedy Central aired the matches, we'd watch, but okay.

In the lightweights, there's a robot called Wacker that has two spinning blades in the front. We also get a peak at Gamma Raptor (I can't wait until season five, when they have to call it Epsilon Raptor). We're told that it features a lifting arm, and... Téa Leoni? Is that what he said? Hold on, let me check the closed captioning. Yeah, Téa Leoni. The heck?

In the middleweights, I'm looking forward to seeing T-Minus, a miniature Toro. It's got all the lifting power, plus it emits a cool-looking burst of steam/smoke when it activates its arm. The big Toro does that too, but it looks more like a bull exhaling through its nose when T-Minus does it. There's also a robot called Sunshine Lollibot, which follows the Backlash/Nightmare design, except its big wheel has lots of blades on it.

Oh wait, there's yet another spin-fast robot in the heavyweights. This one's called Shark Bite, and it follows the same design as Son of Whyachi, except it has a shark jawbone on its top. We're shown a bot called Mechavore, which is a flat box with a saw blade sticking out of the front. I guess these are only new robots that we should watch for.

In the super heavyweights, we'll see Techno Destructo, a sturdy-looking lifter. There's also a hammerbot with a name I can't spell from hearing the pronunciation. It's got a strong hammer. That is all. Finally, they show us Whyachi. It's got hammers, the hammers spin, it's getting pretty common.

Ah. Now I see what they're planning on filling the rest of the show with. Bill Dwyer takes a trip to his alma mater to meet some college kids that have built a robot. It's your standard "meet the bot builder" segment, and I really don't feel like describing it. Suffice it to say the builders talk about their inspiration for Nibbler and how they built it. The segment ends with some students lifting a standing Bill Dwyer into the air, cheerleader-style. The tape is paused right before Bill presumably falls backward, lands on a student, and injures him.

Tim asks Bill when we'll be seeing Nibbler, and Bill tells us that Nibbler lost in its first fight. In other words, the last minute and a half was a complete waste of your time. Ha ha! But Comedy Central had to pay good money to tape Bill doing stuff at college, and dang it, they're going to air it anyway!

We go to commercial with the pom-pom girls (did I call them cheerleaders before? I don't care) reciting something about us watching "Battlebots," then shaking their pom-poms in a decidedly weak and stupid manner.

As the show ends, Bill and Tim summarize what we've already seen, then give us some more clips from fights unaired. T-Minus defeats Bumper Bawt by getting it to land on its side. Twin Paradox defeats Thwack, but danged if I know which one is which. And Dr. Inferno Jr. defeats Blood Dragon, though it looked like the doctor might have been missing its head.

Bill says good-bye, and as the credits appear on the screen, he and Tim take turns hitting each other's knees. I don't want to know why.

If you pause the tape right after that, you get a nifty shot of what it looks like when the killsaws are lifted into position from below.

There's also a new sequence for the split-screen credits, and it's completely shameless in how many times they show Traci Bingham in various skin-hugging outfits. Next thing you know, every robot fighting match will include a box in the lower left-hand corner of your screen showing Traci dancing.

Well, the new season looks like it's going to be an exciting one, even when you factor in the pistons and screws. So remember to watch every Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern to catch all of the bot-breaking action. Let's just hope Comedy Central doesn't move it to a new night or anything. After all, we all know that "Battlebots" has never won good ratings when starting from Friday nights at 9:00.

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