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Season three, episode four


You'll have to pardon me if this sounds a bit rushed. I don't have a life every week, you know.

Snapple is made from the best stuff on earth. So Snapple is made from fighting robots? (There, that's your gratuitous fan plug for you.)

They manage to sneak the "only worldwide recognized federation for robotic combat" line into the opening this time. It doesn't stick out like a sore thumb as much this way, partially because nobody listens to what Tim says at the top of the show.

Tonight's first fight is in the lightweights. Rim Tin Tin is a bot made of tire rims. On the front is a deflecting wedge, on the back is a wheel with a lifting arm coming out of it. The wheel turns and the arm can lift opponents or lift Rim Tin Tin if the wheel turns the arm too far down. It doesn't look particularly effective, but you do have to give Dan Watts credit for creativity.

HammerHead is a box with a flat front and some teeth on that flat front. So its goal is to push other robots into things. I don't suppose Battlebots could create a rule that competing robots have to have some kind of weapon.

When HammerHead is introduced, we see a shot of a guy holding a hand-written sign that says, "HAMMER HEAd". Bil asks in voiceover if it's spelled correctly. Um, yes, essentially. I guess it goes by so fast, we're not supposed to actually read the sign and instead assume that Bil is right. Think much of your viewers, Comedy Central?

The fight starts with HammerHead making a quick drive across the box to try to push Rim Tin Tin. But both robots have trouble figuring out how to steer, so little hitting is done by either robot.

HammerHead then gets a good position on Rim Tin Tin and drives it directly into a killsaw. Then tries to push it into a screw it drives next to, but only pushes it into the screw's base. How come whenever Tim makes it sound like the screws are hurting robots, he refers to the one screw involved as "the screws"? It's just "a screw." "The screws" don't come into play unless it's a multibot or something.

Some more driving around, and Rim Tin Tin has trouble getting that lifting arm low enough to go under HammerHead, but not so low as to lift itself. Like I said, creative, but not very efficient.

Rim Tin Tin does manage to get under HammerHead, though, but can't lift the robot onto its side. It drops HammerHead, and both robots drive into one of the sets of killsaws.

Driving. HammerHead is quickly lifted by one of the ramps, tossing it into the air a little bit. A little later, it drives over some killsaws, sending it hurtling through the air a good distance. (As opposed to a bad distance, like 2 inches or something.)

Neither Bil nor Tim really has anything to say as the two robots drive around and not go anywhere near each other, so we just listen to the background music loop itself. Not bad music for fighting robots, I guess.

Rim Tin Tin drives over a piston, the piston pops up, and Rim Tin Tin is pushed onto its side. It kind of rolls there and is unable to use its wheel to right itself. HammerHead taps Rim Tin Tin, then realizes that it would be a good idea to not help its opponent get back on its wheels, so it backs off. Unfortunately for HammerHead, it chose to back off over the killsaw holes. Soon enough, the killsaws pop up and HammerHead is tossed again, doing something to the internal parts so it doesn't work anymore.

So now we've got two motionless robots, which always makes for interesting viewing. Even though it's still turning its lifting arm wheel, Rim Tin Tin was immobilized first, so it gets the countdown and the loss.

After the commercial break, we get the familiar clip of Nightmare flipping Slam Job. If anybody has anything new they've noticed about this clip, PLEASE give me some help here.

The next fight is between the heavyweights Nightmare and Son of Whyachi. We know who Nightmare is, of course, both from its first aired fight of this season and the repeating of that fight twelve thousand times since then. Son of Whyachi is a speedy walker box. Coming out of the top and encircling the box are three large hammers that rotate very rapidly. We're shown clips from Son of Whyachi's first two fights. In its first Battlebots fight, it sent one of Crab Meat's tires clear across the Battlebox. It also gave Kill-O-Amp a hearty smack, KO'ing it. Folks, these are two of the most violent heavyweight spinners, one spinning horizontally and one spinning vertically. This is going to hurt for one of the bots.

Nightmare is starting from the blue square, where it has never won... oh wait, it just did last time. Never mind.

The fight begins. Both robots quickly get their weapons up to speed, then slowly approach each other in the center. Even though these two spinning weapons are going to likely produce a mushroom cloud when the collision occurs, the ramps start popping up and down. Nightmare starts bouncing on the ramps since Son of Whyachi hasn't quite made it that far yet. Son of Whyachi makes the connection with Nightmare, and WHAM! (if I may use comic book-style action words), flips Nightmare and sends pieces of it flying. Specifically, Nightmare gets its wheel knocked off, along with the part the wheel is attached to, spraying a liquid all over the floor. (Remember, I told you that I don't know a thing about how machines work. You should have known this was going to be vague in technical terms when you started reading. Suffice it to say that Nightmare is broken. Badly.)

It's always interesting to read the builders' web sites. For example, I learned that Crash Test Dummy was supposed to have a weapon, but air bags were considered to be entanglement devices and therefore illegal. Jim Smentowski has written his reflections on this fight, and it makes watching the match (specifically, the tossing of Nightmare) much more interesting. Go there.

While Bill Nye talks about Son of Whyachi's weapon, we see several different angles of the hit in slow-motion. Ouch. Man, I'm glad I'm not competing in Battlebots. I'd probably have to be committed to a mental institution if my robot got wrecked like that. Of course, they're currently deciding in the court if I should be committed to a mental institution for several other reasons, so maybe that doesn't mean too much.

Bil gives the "battle stats" for this fight by holding up an index card on which is written a "1." Interestingly, that number also represents the amount of people that think these battle stats mean anything.

Heidi talks to Jim after the fight. Boy, first his robot gets destroyed, and then that happens. What a crummy day that must have been for him.

Bil, who is standing in the interview area for no reason, gives us this half hour's updates. Towering Inferno chisels Bad Dog. Revision Z puts Gray Matter on the killsaws. And Surgeon General knocks the wheel off of Mjollnir. I'd tell you more, but that's all they told me.

Next up is another heavyweight fight. Omega-13 comes from the same family as T-Wrex. Omega-13 is actually more useless, despite being heavier -- it's just a box with some oddly-shaped spikes pointing out of the front. At least when it goes over the killsaws, the sparks look so good. KillerHurtz comes from England, which means that to be transported across the Atlantic Ocean, it's been cut in half and reassembled more times than a magician's assistant. It sports a big, powerful spike that swings 180 onto its opponents. Omega-13 is a very good shape for being hit by this spike.

They decide to trace the history of KillerHurtz's fights in the past two seasons. They changed the voiceover of Bil when they show its season one fight against Mauler. Instead of the phrase "robot nuts," they use the phrase "robot whammos," which to me sounds equally dirty. Nuts are things used in the construction of robots, but what in the world is a "whammo?" Does KillerHurtz now have Frisbees inside of it or something?

KillerHurtz had a weapon problem in the second season, which of course means that the on-camera talent are all required to assume that the robot would be retired. But no, of course it's back for this season. When the spike works, it's a strong bot.

The lights turn green, and in three seconds, KillerHurtz is over in Omega-13's face. Omega-13 quickly drives onto the killsaws. While the beautiful sparks go flaying, KillerHurtz whacks Omega-13 with the spike. That's the most action-packed first five seconds I've seen in a long time.

But now KillerHurtz's spike is stuck in the corner of Omega-13. KillerHurtz tries to remove the spike, but only succeeds in struggling to lift Omega-13. So KillerHurtz pushes its opponent over various killsaws, sending more sparks flying. Pretty.

There, now the spike is out. But it looks like something (maybe trying to lift Omega-13?) has caused the weapon controls to screw up, because KillerHurtz's axe isn't firing anymore. Just hovering above Omega-13, barely moving. So, sigh, it's down to a pushing match.

Omega-13 drives itself over the killsaws. I don't mind.

There's a miniature camera inside of KillerHurtz, since its Lexan armor is nice and transparent (it almost looks like they cleaned it just for the camera). It provides a really good picture of the sledgehammer hitting the floor half a foot away from KillerHurtz. You know what they should do? Be like auto racing and put a tiny little Snapple sticker on the inside of Killerhurtz, so it appears in the corner of our screen when they give us the mini-cam shot. It's all about the marketing, baby.

KillerHurtz pushes the corner of Omega-13 between two spikes on the spike strip, rendering Omega-13 unable to get away. KillerHurtz's axe is in a prime position to repeatedly whack (whammo?) Omega-13, but it's definitely broken.

So KillerHurtz has to let Omega-13 go, and Omega-13 drives itself over some more killsaws. KillerHurtz follows, and gets stuck on top of the killsaws. Hey, KillerHurtz is producing some nice-looking sparks as well. I think the audience is going to get permanent eye damage if they keep staring at this fight.

KillerHurtz chases Omega-13 some more, and drives around near a piston. Ooh, if that piston flips KillerHurtz, it won't be able to self-right now that its weapon is out. KillerHurtz doesn't seem too concerned, and it keeps plugging away at Omega-13, ignoring the stuff in the floor.

The last minute of the fight gives one little to write about. KillerHurtz gets hit by the pistons a few times (kinda scary) and Omega-13 runs over some more killsaws (kinda pretty). And the fight ends.

In the replay of the first five seconds, you get a feel for how fast KillerHurtz's axe can swing. Too bad it couldn't hang in for the rest of the fight.

The 30-15 decision goes to KillerHurtz, natch. They don't show any exit interviews, because they all look the same (Heidi starts by saying something that vaguely describes the entire fight and the builder is left to provide an answer to a good question that Heidi didn't ask).

After the commercial, we visit the (a) U.S. Air Force academy to meet some builders. They try to recreate what might have happened in an electrical engineering class if one of the projects was to build a battlebot. Like all builder profiles, very little is told to the viewer. There's got to be a better way to fill time on this show.

The half hour isn't over, but we're going to see a fourth fight! Granted, it's just an exhibition fight that has no effect on the tournament, but it's better than the usual fare that fills out the half hour. It's the Jay Leno-faced ChinKilla versus six small robots in various weight categories. We get to see Nibbler and General Gau, the two robots that were profiled in previous episodes, yet knocked out in qualifying matches.

Jay Leno didn't even bother to show up at this tournament. Wouldn't it make more sense for him to drive his own self-portrait robot?

Man, rumbles are hard to chronicle. At the start, about half of the lightweights drive off in random directions. General Gau gets one of its spinning chains taken off by one of ChinKilla's blades while the chin flips Something Must Die. Reactore scratches some of the face drawing. ChinKilla wanders around.

Gungnire runs into one of ChinKilla's spinning blades, disabling all of the blades. Reactore is the most violent robot among the smaller robots team, popping ChinKilla pretty hard given the weight difference. Nibbler has died for some unknown reason. ChinKilla gets the chin stuck on top of Nibbler, lifting ChinKilla's wheels off the ground. Reactore comes over and whacks ChinKilla loose.

ChinKilla takes on Reactore, since the other robots are either not moving or without working weapons. ChinKilla tries to flip Reactore, but Reactore gets the better of the collisions, bending the drawing portion of the chin up from the metal base. Now the chin wedge has essentially become useless for flipping because it can't get under anything lower than three inches off the ground.

Something Must Die feebly pushes itself into ChinKilla, then dies after touching Reactore. Gungnire suddenly springs to life from the middle of the floor and tries to ram into ChinKilla, but misses and hits an up-to-speed Reactore instead.

Reactore hits ChinKilla a couple more times. As Something Must Die and General Gau scamper about near the front of ChinKilla, ChinKilla backs into Reactore, knocking it onto its side. Reactore gets back up, and time runs out. Reactore was definitely the winner of this fight.

We start the second half of the show with another lightweight bout. Sallad has an arm that swings from front to back to hit and lift opponents. Carnage Raptor is a two-wheeler with a miniature battleaxe on a pole. We all know how the two-wheelers work by now. Personally, I'm sick of 'em. (Yeah, I know that statement wasn't funny, but it's true.)

Okay, the fight starts. There's precious little to write about here, and I'm kind of pressed for time, so I'm just going to cover the highlights. About halfway through the fight, Sallad drives over the killsaws. The killsaws lift, and Sallad is caught on top of the spinning blades. The saws slice through one of Sallad's wheel treads and severely beat up the frame, causing Sallad to be a much more rickety bot than before.

Soon after, Carnage Raptor drives its axe under the screws. The axe gets caught between the screw and the floor, stopping the screw from moving and pinning Carnage Raptor down. Carnage Raptor tries to free itself, but can't. As the ref counts Carnage Raptor down, Sallad hobbles over and starts tapping Carnage Raptor with its arm. Carnage Raptor is counted out. Well, I'll be danged, the screws actually DID cause a robot to lose! I now owe several people money.

One of the members of the Carnage Raptor team boos the end of the fight. Later, when Traci Bingham interviews the losing team, she delights in the phrase "You got screwed." "You got screwed!" Look, I'm clever! "You got screwed!"

But it's not time for a commercial yet. Now they show us the builder profile of Arndt Anderson, the creator of Shark Byte. He uses robot building as a way to bond with his son. See, now this is what I need. Somebody who will build the fighting robot I've had in mind and then let me drive it in combat.

We see snippets of Shark Byte's battles. It knocked the snot out of Heart of Darkness, let Punjar enjoy the killsaws, and got flipped and killed by Hexadecimator. Then we see some other battle snippets. Rammstein allows Half-Gassed to feel the love of the hammers. And Dawn of Destruction shoved Eradicator around the arena. Dang, Eradicator is gigantic. I could probably fit inside it.

As they go to commercial, Tim and Bil do the required "One bad mother..." "Shut your mouth!" when talking about the robot Shaft. If they didn't, I was going to.

Next, we visit Plymouth High School, home of Reactore and Gungnire from the ChinKilla rumble. See, my high school wouldn't let a group of students exercise their intelligence and creativity by building a fighting robot. Heck, they won't even let you carry a Swiss Army Knife.

Okay, time for something that isn't a lightweight or heavyweight fight (shocking, I know). Middleweights this time, Ankle Biter versus F5. Ankle Biter is a wedge. In the wedge are two saw blades. F5 is another spinning cylinder. Bil lets us know that it's named after the most powerful type of tornado there is. Glad to know the builder didn't name his robot after his favorite button on a computer keyboard.

Dan Bovinich, F5's builder, only has had three hours practicing driving his robot. It's a spinbot, you can't steer those things anyway.

It's robot fightin' time. F5 drives out of its square, then spins up to full speed. Ankle Biter approaches and hits F5 with its wedge. The collision is not good for Ankle Biter, creating a lot of sparks inside the robot. But it keeps going, getting under F5 and pushing it into the wall, stopping the spinning for a moment or two.

Bill Nye gives specs on F5. Somewhere along the line, Ankle Biter appears to swallow its saws, as at least one of the two is missing and if there is another one still there, it ain't moving. Ankle Biter keeps ramming into F5, stopping the spinning again. As Ankle Biter drives around, it drops a couple of parts. Soon it shall be a lightweight.

Ankle Biter drives over a set of killsaws, which flip it onto its back. This renders Ankle Biter immobile. (Bil says that despite this happening before, Ankle Biter still doesn't have a piece of metal back there in a curved shape to prevent Ankle Biter from staying on its back. Am I thinking of a different robot, or didn't Ankle Biter have that type of protection when it fought El Diablo last season?) F5 starts to drive toward Ankle Biter to hit it, but then realizes that that would be a very foolish thing to do, so it just hangs near its unmoving foe. Buzzer.

When Randy and Jason Sklar bring up the subject of F5 not hitting Ankle Biter after it landed on its back, Dan Bovinich claims that he didn't do it because he didn't want to damage Ankle Biter any more than he had to. Uh-huh. Whatever you say.

Another commercial, and Bil talks to Greg Behrendt, the man that interviews the builders for comedycentral.com. I'm not paying attention to the interview, instead, I'm trying to figure out what division that fight grid in the background refers to. I think I saw the words "Complete Control" in the second column, so I'll guess middleweights. There, now I can finally sleep at night.

Tim talks about the next fight, between lightweights Blood Moon and Shaft. When he asks Bil to give us the stats on the robots, he turns to look at the seat at the desk Bil usually sits in. But whoops, we just saw Bil in the interview area talking to Greg Behrendt. I guess it's an understandable continuity mistake, but I'm still going to point it out and laugh at it.

Blood Moon is a wedge on one side and a spinning square blade on the other. Shaft's weapon is what could vaguely be described as an elongated pitchfork. Its wheels stick out from the body -- does that make it a better pusher?

I'm not sure if Shaft's introduction is supposed to be a reference or lyrics or what, but I do assume that Mark Beiro gave a really weird reading of it. Here's what he said.

"Whoa-uh! Whoa-uh! Whoa! Yeah yeah yeah! His game's hardcore, he leaves dead robots on the floor. Run for your lives -- it's Shaft!"

I don't get it. Though "Whoa-uh!" is pretty funny.

Blood Moon makes the first successful hit, getting its wedge underneath Shaft. When Shaft reaches its weapon, the square immediately stops spinning. Heaven help us, it's another pushing match. What's with this show giving us the really dull fights at the end lately?

Shaft gets off, and the square starts spinning again, but we know it's not going to do any damage to anything, including probably my arm if I stuck it in there.

Blood Moon then proceeds to get itself stuck under the spike strip. Shaft randomly drives around. Blood Moon escapes from the spike strip after seemingly little struggling, despite the length of time it was under there. Blood Moon drives into Shaft's short pitchfork, but what good does that do Shaft? Then Shaft goes up Blood Moon's wedge again. And gets off. Is this even considered battle?

Both robots drive around, and nothing continues to happen. And I mean nothing in the strongest sense -- neither drives over an active hazard and neither comes close to making contact with the other one. Then Blood Moon drives face-first into the spike strip again. D'oh...

Shaft gets moved by the killsaws. Blood Moon drives away from the spike strip. Shaft tries to hit Blood Moon, then backs into a spike strip. Things like this keep happening. I'm going to go get something to eat.

...

Okay, I'm back. What'd I miss? Judging by the narration, Shaft kept running into various hazards. I'll admit, Shaft does look kind of rickety now. Then again, it looked pretty rickety before the fight started, too.

Oh no! It's a split decision, 15-15! The third judge fell asleep in the middle of the fight!

I'm kidding, of course. In reality, it's a 26-19 decision. I pause the tape, and try to guess who won. Um, I'll say Shaft, 'cause Blood Moon couldn't drive correctly. Unpause. Huh, Blood Moon is the winner. Go figure. I'd complain, but it's pretty hard to make a case for either robot.

There's a commercial, and the show kind of peters out. Much like this summary. Write your own funny list this week. Sorry.


All bizarrely-spelled robot names verified either onscreen or at robotcombat.com.

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