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Season three, episode five

Welcome to this week's summary of this week's "Battlebots" episode, where, try as I might, I just can't figure out how to work the word "titular" in.

As Tim tells us that a rookie named I-Beam will be shown fighting later in the episode, we see its builders taking it out of its crate and placing it in the blue square. They shot the builders putting their robots in the Battlebox? They must have had just gobs of videotape lying around that they didn't know what to do with.

"Battlebots" is sponsored by Snapple, made from the best stuff on earth, they say as we see the smoke-filled sky of San Francisco in the evening. It's now also sponsored by Keystone Light (it wasn't before?), which isn't made from the best stuff on earth. But it's smooth. Smooth like motor oil.

Tonight's first fight is between super heavyweights The Judge and Rammstein. Tim says "Rammsteen," Bil says "Rammstine." Curse you, Mel Brooks!

Rammstein is a parallelogram with a pneumatic spike coming out of its front. The Judge is a box with a really fast hammer spike that it hits opponents with. It also leaves holes in the Battlebox floor. I'll bet Carlo Bertocchini is lobbying to have the Battlebox floor strengthened more than any other builder.

Mark Beiro suddenly becomes German when pronouncing Rammstein ("stine")'s name. Unlike his Spanish "Toro" accent, I like his German accent. If Rammstein wins, the next introduction should just be, "Ach! Rammstein!" Ha ha ha... um... I guess you have to hear it.

Now Tim says "Rammstine." Next he'll call it "Rams-tee-in."

Nope, I lied. Now Tim goes back to "Rammsteen." Make up your mind! Nobody cares which, but make up your mind!

Begin combat! After a lot of circling around and no contact, Rammstein pierces the front of The Judge with its spike. The Judge retaliates with a quick smack of the hammer.

About another minute goes by, and nothing much happens except for The Judge putting some new holes in the floor. There's a weird rattling sound that keeps popping up at unexpected times. Neither of the robots is malfunctioning, and there are no hazards being deployed, so what the heck is that? Did the sound effects guy start leaning on a button or something? Is there a woodpecker next to somebody's mic?

Rammstein backs onto a killsaw. As the killsaw rises, The Judge's hammer hits one of Rammstein's wheels. One or both of these things causes the tread to come off the center wheel of Rammstein.

Maybe that weird sniffling sound is one of the killsaws malfunctioning. There's a set that should be popping up, but isn't. Or maybe there's a woodpecker pecking on the killsaws. Or the killsaws are tearing up a woodpecker, I don't know.

The Judge drives under one of the sledgehammers. The sledgehammer instantly falls, and The Judge instantly stops moving. Rammstein positions itself behind the Judge to keep it from escaping. But The Judge isn't moving at all, so Rammstein turns around and wedges The Judge in further.

The buzzer sounds. Team Loki celebrates by crushing each other in a gigantic, violent bear hug. At least two injuries were reported.

Bil gives us the Comedy Central battle stats for the fight. It ended in a knockout, who cares?

The reason The Judge lost? Upon receiving the first sledgehammer blow, the on-off key fell out. That's not the way we prove ourselves to the safety inspectors, Jascha.

Commercials, then the obligatory Nightmare versus Slam Job clip. If you want to learn how to build a fighting robot, visit Then Nightmare can do this to you!

Time for a middleweight fight between Deadblow and Twin Paradox. Twin Paradox has the same weapon design as MechaVore, a small, embedded horizontal spinning disc. Deadblow is the same robot as before, with a couple additions. It now has skirts on the side to keep Bad Attitude away, plus it has a flipping arm over the hammer head. It can still use the hammer as a hammer, or it can keep the arm low to the ground and try to flip opponents.

The fight begins. Deadblow rushes toward Twin Paradox with its hammer down. Looks like the strategy is to flip Twin Paradox instead of hammer it, even though Twin Paradox's wheels are big enough to make it invertable. Twin Paradox's strategy is to push Deadblow with its flat front, not use the spinning disc. Not the strategy I would have chosen for either robot.

As we know, Deadblow is notorious for coming at its opponents and wailing away until something breaks. But this time, Deadblow is just hanging around in one of the corners, yards away from Twin Paradox. Looks like it might be having some steering problems. It drives over some killsaws, then backs over another set of killsaws. A skirt goes flying across the arena, and Deadblow rolls to a stop.

Twin Paradox comes after Deadblow with its blade, and... oh, I see why they installed a plow on the front. Twin Paradox's blade is too high, and goes spinning over Deadblow's body. So they turn around and try to push Deadblow into something.

Deadblow is just sitting on a spinner. Its hammer is still trying to hit Twin Paradox, but it doesn't seem to be driving anywhere. It tries to move itself via hammer whacks, but that only succeeds in pushing Deadblow backward about an inch.

Twin Paradox finally hits Deadblow's hammer with the spinning blade (took it long enough), pushing Deadblow's rear end into the sledgehammer. A few hits, no damage done to Deadblow, and Deadblow is counted out. Man, I'm bummed, all of my favorite robots are being eliminated early in the tournament. C'mon Toro, Hexadecimator, you can't let me down now!

Yes, I can whine. It's my summary.

Randy and Jason Sklar talk to Michael Neese, Twin Paradox's builder. They don't show us Traci's interview with Grant Imahara, but we can assume how it went. She started off with a question like, "Those killsaws sure took you for a ride." Then she asked if Grant was planning on retiring Deadblow, followed by a big hug.

Huh, suddenly I'm happy to see the commercials instead of more show.

Next, it's time for a heavyweight fight. Greenspan is a box with a vertical spinning wheel. I-Beam is an I-beam sticking out of a robot body.

It's robot fightin' time. I-Beam makes it a point to drive around the ramps. Greenspan gets its wheel right into I-Beam, sending sparks flying. I-Beam retreats. Greenspan... turns around? Greenspan turns its rear wedge toward I-Beam. Odd.

I-Beam gets a running start at Greenspan. Ah, I see Greenspan's strategy. As I-Beam approaches, Greenspan swings around and plants its wheel right in I-Beam's face (if I-Beam has a face... incidentally, how does the driver know which end of I-Beam is the front?).

Man, they've been feeding Bil a lot of technical specs on the robots this week. Now he's explaining how the fact that the weapons hang off of Greenspan's disc helps distribute the impact. Bill Nye sues Bil Dwyer for taking away his part of the show.

Greenspan gets I-Beam near one of the walls and starts whacking away with its weapon. Lots of sparks, and Greenspan needs to keep restarting its wheel. I-Beam quits moving.

Greenspan pushes I-Beam under a sledgehammer, and lets Peter Lambertson do the rest. I-Beam is down and out. Bil calls Tim by his full name in an awkward sentence -- "Tim Green, you've gotta love Greenspan." So they share the same last name. So do Tom Green, Red Green, and Mr. Green from the board game "Clue." Big deal.

Coming back from this commercial, we're shown a clip of Backlash disassembling Disposable Hero all the way back in season one. They were going to show the Nightmare vs. Slam Job clip again, but they thought it might be overkill.

From a fight you didn't see: Dr. Inferno Jr. defeats Bad Habit. It's always fun to see a wedge get just its corner hit by a pulverizer, causing the wedge to go twirling merrily in the air.

Check it out, we get a real fourth fight in this half hour! Sisyphus is a long, flat wedge. Death by Monkeys is a box with some spikes and a "creepy monkey skull." In other words, just the spikes. You know, I'm glad we get to see four fights in the half hour, but is this the best they could come up with?

Tim mentions that these are both rookies. Bil later mentions that Sisyphus is undefeated. That rather goes without saying, doesn't it?

As the robots are introduced, Tim tells us that Sisyphus sounds like an exotic disease, but it's not. Um, yeah. I guess they expect the viewers to think of syphilis over Sisyphus. Although your average Comedy Central viewer hasn't had the opportunity to be exposed to either.

This fight isn't very compelling. I'm just going to give the highlights in list form.

Death by Monkeys drives over Sisyphus's wedge.
Sisyphus gets thrown by a killsaw.
Death by Monkeys rams Sisyphus.
Death by Monkeys rams Sisyphus.
Sisyphus gets thrown by a killsaw.
Sisyphus gets thrown by a killsaw.
Death by Monkeys drives over Sisyphus's wedge.
Death by Monkeys rams Sisyphus.
Sisyphus gets thrown by a killsaw.
Death by Monkeys rams Sisyphus.
Sisyphus gets thrown by a killsaw.
Death by Monkeys gets thrown by a killsaw.
Sisyphus quits moving.
Death by Monkeys rams Sisyphus.
Time expires.

(Note: I had originally typed that last statement as "Tim expires," which would have made the fight a lot more interesting.)

Twice Tim tells us that death by monkeys is "a horrible way to go." Yeah, but it would be cute.

Hey, Bil actually makes a cryptic reference to what the name Sisyphus actually refers to. And nobody other than Mark Beiro called it "Sissy-phus." There's hope for this show yet.

Now it's time to visit Rob Farrow, builder of Death by Monkeys and studier of monkeys as a profession. There's a lot of explanation of how monkeys will fight in a ferocious manner, along with lots of shots of monkeys just hanging around, not doing any of the violent things being described. Why we're learning about monkeys on a show about fighting robots is anybody's guess. But hey, it's already more educational than "Robotica" was.

Okay, time for the second half of the show. Some recaps of the first half hour, then it's time for a fight. This half hour's going to be all heavyweights. Right now it's Tazbot against Golddigger. Golddigger is a hexagonal box with a pickaxe in the front. Tazbot is... beyond description. Its main weapon is a lifting arm attached to a rotating head. I'll bet Donald Hutson had a small party after Vlad got knocked out earlier.

The green lights light up green. The two robots immediately go after one another. Ten seconds in, Bill Nye pops up to explain why Tazbot's tires are tilted. Then we get to actually watch the fight.

Tazbot gets its lifting arm under Golddigger's rear and lifts. No flip, but a good drop. While Bil explains the 51 uses of Tazbot (plus it makes julienne fries!), Tazbot lifts Golddigger again. Golddigger's strategy is to spin around really fast and hit Tazbot with the pickaxe. It's a strategy that would probably work better if Golddigger was actually spinning.

Tazbot lifts, lifts... and flips Golddigger onto its back. No biggie for Golddigger, as it looks exactly the same that way. Too bad Tazbot couldn't balance Golddigger on one of its rear panels.

Golddigger runs into a saw. Tazbot elevates it again. Smoke is really starting to pour out of Golddigger now. Golddigger's pickaxe gets caught on Tazbot's lifting arm. Tazbot tries to spin its head to fling Golddigger away, but Tazbot's head only remains stationary while its entire body spins underneath. But hey, there are some killsaws nearby. Tazbot places Golddigger on them, which results in damage and frees the two.

Golddigger's going more slowly now, and continues to be chewed by the saws. It slowly moves. Golddigger keeps trying to go in a slow circle -- I think one of its wheels quit responding.

Tazbot pushes Golddigger toward a hammer. Golddigger drives around in a large circle -- it's definitely only got one wheel working. Golddigger actually manages to get its pickaxe under Tazbot's head and pins it against the wall, but with some lifting arm and driving, Tazbot gains control once again. With six seconds left on the clock, Tazbot maneuvers Golddigger under the hammer to clinch its victory in this fight. A 38-7 victory, to be exact.

It's not worth paying attention to Traci interviewing Randy Eubanks after the fight. It only makes you sad.

Coming out of the commercial, we get another encore of the Nightmare vs. Slam Job hit. That makes this the seventeenth time we've seen Nightmare come into contact with Slam Job. No kidding. In only five episodes. I wonder if the builders get royalties for that, too?

We're shown some robots that Los Angeles is using to do various things, such as approach armed criminals or encounter bombs. One of the officers shows us objects that we should be suspicious of, as they can be used to build bombs. Comedy Central wisely edits out the part where we can visually identify the objects. The network has lots of viewers that are living by themselves in dark basements. Don't want to give them any ideas.

Our next fight is Overkill versus M.O.E. (Marvel of Engineering). Overkill is a gigantic blade that swings onto its opponents and does nothing. M.O.E. has a horizontal spinning ditch cutter that comes into contact with its opponents and does nothing.

The robots are introduced. Mark Beiro doesn't pre-read his copy for Overkill. M.O.E. has a voodoo Overkill on its spinning disc, made from a silver piece of cardboard or plastic and two big rollerblade wheels. Don't they know that they need a hair from Overkill for that to work?

Okay, I've watched the fight for a full minute and haven't thought of anything to type. Overkill seems to prefer pushing M.O.E. with its wedge over hitting it with the big blade (probably a better strategy, too). M.O.E.'s not having much luck with the ditch cutter, as it keeps stopping when it touches Overkill. I guess they didn't anticipate Overkill not being made of earth.

M.O.E. has a mini-cam inside of it, and we get a lot of good shots from it. Shots like Overkill running on top of M.O.E.'s disc, and M.O.E.'s disc stopping the second it happens.

Overkill, being a two-wheeled bot, is really hard to drive, and gets whacked by more killsaws than M.O.E. But I see no signs of damage on either robot at this halfway point.

Now here's a nifty little shot. One of the cameramen on the floor is shooting through a transparent piece of Lexan. Overkill drives up, swings its blade, and the Lexan now has a big scratch running down it. You've got to have some cameraman whammos to be unflinching when something like that happens.

Overkill gets its big blade stuck in the seam between two pieces of Lexan wall. It wobbles the blade and frees itself, no worse for the wear. The audience in the background applauds when Overkill gets stuck. "Whoo! There's half a chance Overkill could tear a hole in the wall, putting our lives in danger! Yahoo!"

The fight ends, and Overkill gets 28 points, sending it further in the tournament. M.O.E. goes looking for a better weapon.

As the Sklar brothers interview Christian Carlberg, one of the brothers (who can tell which) describes Overkill's weapon as "a big-[bleep] knife." With the bleep added in post-production. Bil repeats the statement, "a big-[bleep] knife." This really isn't like Comedy Central at all. It's almost as if they're trying to make this program, airing at 10:00 p.m. at night, family-friendly. I guess when you've got a line of toys trickling out, you do whatever you can.

To start the next segment of show, it's Bil interviewing Tazbot's Donald Hutson. At least, it was an interview before it got edited down to one question. Donald explains what Tazbot's little feet are for, then they're done. I feel empty. Just like most of the filler segments on this show.

I haven't pointed this out yet, but they finally ditched the green screen behind Bil and the Sportscaster this season and replaced it with a big screen showing the Battlebox in motion. As Tim talks, we see the Rammstein versus The Judge fight. Dang, they cut away before I could see who won!

Tonight's final fight is between Voltronic and Bacchus. Bacchus, Bacchus... their robot was named after the man that played Thurston Howell III? Or maybe it's just a play on words, the team asking for money from potential sponsors. Yeah, one of those two. At least they didn't name their robot after the Greek god of wine or anything. That'd be a silly thing to do.

Voltronic's a wedge. Embedded in the wedge is a lifting arm with three teeth on its edge. The teeth rise up and then the lifting arm lifts. Kinda slow. Bacchus has a lifting arm for a weapon as well. It's not really a wedge, kind of a malformed pyramid shape. It's also got enough ground clearance for Voltronic to easily get underneath.

The box is locked and the lights are on. Voltronic immediately gets beneath Bacchus, but Voltronic is the one that ends up driving over the killsaws. Voltronic gets below Bacchus again and pushes it over the saws. Then Bacchus gets Voltronic to go over the saws. Then Bacchus drives over the saws.

Of all of the builders in Battlebots (the sport), the one that makes for the best television is Stephen Felk. And this season "Battlebots" (the show) has taken advantage of it. They've made sure to get a nice clear mic on Stephen so we can hear all of his rantings as he drives. Here's a sample as he tries to lift Bacchus.

"Eh-beh-beh-beh-beh-beh, oh, okay, that's good, lift, oh, there we go! Oh, let's see if we can't ride this guy around a little bit here! I am having traction troubles!"

He sounds like me when I play video games. Maybe he should replace Tim in the announcer's booth.

Bacchus gets a tiny lift on Voltronic, forcing Voltronic to drive under a hammer. One hit, no damage. Voltronic gets under Bacchus, but Bacchus drives right over. Bacchus then gets Voltronic against a wall, lifts, and pins it there. Voltronic tries to escape, but Bacchus pins it again. Stephen Felk continues to narrate his fight in sentence-resembling structures.

Voltronic escapes and gets under Bacchus. Voltronic's arm goes up and Bacchus's wheels are off the ground, but when Voltronic tries to move, the robot simply shakes in a decidedly abnormal manner. But that might be because it's on a spinner.

Voltronic backs off the spinner, taking Bacchus with it. It tries to back Bacchus under the hammer... it's close... but Voltronic is indeed having traction troubles. All it can do is move an inch forward or backward. So it settles for lifting Bacchus higher up. Tim compares the scene to turtles mating. So much for that "family-friendly" theory I had.

You wanna know who won? You've got to wait until the commercial is over. No trying to avoid that umpteenth "Daily Show" ad, they're using all of the segments of the show tonight.

As Mark Beiro tells us it was a 25-20 decision, Stephen Felk is busy chatting with his opponent. But he looks forward long enough to learn that his is the arm that's raised in victory. Whew. Don't want him to snap and go ballistic or anything. You're a great guy, Stephen! Notice that I haven't said anything bad about you!

To round off the episode, here are some more results. Vladiator wins over Revision Z in what I'm sure was a non-knockout fight. Mecha Tentoumushi wins (go figure) over The Archduke. And Backlash lashes Matts Bammer.

Hey! The episode's completely over, and not once did anybody mention that Battlebots is the only worldwide-recognized federation for robotic combat! Which means, sadly, that it must no longer be the only worldwide-recognized federation for robotic combat. I feel their pain.

To end this week's summary, please enjoy these fictional facts and statistics:

"Battlebots" was started in 1976 to help boost American morale after the Vietnam War. The first champion was DiscoBot, a 75-pound wedge with a tethered projectile of a mirrored ball.

The screws were originally employed as openers for really large bottles of wine.

In a fight between a wedge and a box with spikes on it, the winner will always be the more interesting television channel the viewer turns to.

There is only one Sklar brother. The visual effect of two Sklar brothers is created using a very expensive digital insertion.

The pistons are actually just containers of Quaker Oats covered with aluminum foil.

Over 90% of all fights are won by robots that start from either the red square or the blue square.

More than 50% of the robots in this competition have names containing words that are purposely misspelled (for example, "Krusher" instead of "Crusher," or "Buddy Lee Don't Play in the Street" instead of "Lame Pushing Robot").

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