"Now with 75% more spinners!"
This opening beats the pants off of last season's "Bil gathers people to watch BattleBots" intro, putting me in a great mood for season five. Has Comedy Central finally found the appropriate mix of comedy and robotic combat?
Three fights are teased. Lots of flashy graphics and quick cuts in the opening. Since some of the shots are spoilers, it's just as well that things aren't on the screen long enough for me to absorb them.
Bil and Tim get a new desk and a re-colored set. Lots of gray and blue. Imagine what it would look like if "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" took place inside of the men's room of a football stadium. That has nothing to do with the new set, but I thought you'd enjoy trying to imagine that.
The season begins with a heavyweight fight. Warhead comes from the people who built the successful British bot Razer (I wish Razer could come back to "BattleBots"). It has a spinning disk mounted in the front (picture a round, spinning shield). Coming off of the sides of its body is a pair of wing/claw appendages. And in the back is a scorpion-like tail, just because it looks cool. Warhead's opponent is Darkstar-2J, a low box with a lifting arm.
Warhead is allowed to showboat by spinning in place and rotating its disk before the fight begins. Aw, it looks like it wants to give its opponent a big, friendly hug!
Once again, it's robot fightin' time. The two robots collide in the center. Warhead hits Darkstar-2J with the disk, and Darkstar-2J raises the lifting bar about a full second too late. As Darkstar-2J drives to the back to think about maybe putting the lifting arm back in its body, Warhead comes over and attacks it in the side. Pieces of Darkstar-2J's black plastic armor go flying, spinning Darkstar-2J around. Warhead gets tipped over by the collision.
Warhead's wings serve as a self-righting mechanism, so the robot just has to extend them to get back on its wheels. Remember, as it's doing this, the disk is spinning at full speed. And Warhead is trying to right itself right next to a set of saws. The wings push Warhead right side up. As Warhead bounces back to life, the spinning disk comes in contact with the Lexan covering the holes in the floor for the saws to pop up through. The Lexan shatters, and now there are two sizeable gaps in the floor. Whoa.
Warhead turns to face Darkstar-2J, but physics from the spinning disk make the robot bounce around. Darkstar-2J comes forward and makes contact with Warhead. Its lifting bar is still in the air.
Warhead attacks the front of Darkstar-2J, and more of Darkstar-2J's armor goes flying. Every time Warhead gets a big hit like that in, it goes bouncing out of control.
Darkstar-2J, its arm now kind of retracted into its body, drives into Warhead's disk. The hit sends Darkstar-2J over toward the wall.
The two robots drive directly toward each other. Again, both robots are bounced around from the impact. But now Darkstar-2J isn't moving.
Warhead drives toward Darkstar-2J, looks at it, and tears off more armor with the spinning disk. Warhead goes spinning around toward a wall. Man, look at all of the tiny pieces of metal torn off in previous fights that they've swept under the spike strip.
Warhead decides it's had enough fighting, so it goes to the center of the box to look pretty. It flaps its wings and spins in place. As it spins in place, the spinning disk causes the entire body to bounce up and down. Actually, that makes it look like the robot is bowing.
Darkstar-2J is counted out. Um, I think Warhead just lost a wheel from all that bowing.
Time for replays, with their "new feature, Botvision." I'm not sure what Botvision is supposed to be, exactly. The only difference between this Botvision and ordinary replays is that between clips, they show sped-up footage of what took place between those clips. Whoop-de-do. Though we do get to see the saws pop up without their protective Lexan cover. Which I guess isn't as interesting as I thought it would be.
Time for a builder profile. Since we've seen Jonathan Ridder frequently over the course of two years, they're going to pretend that he has this whole yoga thing going where he becomes one with Ziggo. Jonathan lets them dress him up in sumo garb, then pretends he's a spinner against a human opponent. Truth be told, the funniest part of the segment is at the end, where Jonathan is pretending to operate his transmitter while standing on one foot.
Here comes a lightweight bout, Code:BLACK versus Ziggo. Code:BLACK is a box with a blade mounted on its very bottom. The idea is to get the blade spinning very quickly, barely hovering above the floor, and attack the wheels of opponents. I trust you know which robot Ziggo is. It's got a new coat of paint on its shell.
I guess they believe that a two-second shot of the countdown lights won't hold the viewers' interest, because this season they now cram shots of both drivers' faces into that time period. It's really fast and disorienting.
Robot smitin' time. Code:BLACK quickly brings its blade up to speed and heads toward Ziggo. Ziggo takes a moment before it begins spinning its shell, so it starts the fight by dodging Code:BLACK. Code:BLACK turns and heads right up Ziggo's entrance ramp. Ziggo approaches from the side and rams into Code:BLACK. Sparks fly. Ziggo is thrown back toward the center of the arena while Code:BLACK is thrown against the door.
Code:BLACK drives toward Ziggo again. Its blade has been stopped from that first collision, and it hasn't tried to spin it again. Code:BLACK runs into Ziggo, but doesn't stop Ziggo's shell from spinning.
Code:BLACK gets its blade back up to speed. It starts to chase Ziggo around the box. As it does so, its blade keeps hitting the floor (or the underbelly of the robot itself), producing a fairly steady stream of sparks coming from below the robot. Code:BLACK catches up to Ziggo and initiates a big hit. Sparks go flying from under Ziggo, who ricochets toward a sledgehammer. Ziggo is able to avoid being pounded, though.
Ziggo quits spinning to drive away. Code:BLACK approaches and continues to hit Ziggo with its blade. Smoke begins to pour out from underneath Ziggo's shell.
Ziggo tries to dodge, but Code:BLACK is all over the robot, hit after hit. Finally, Ziggo stops moving, and more smoke escapes. Code:BLACK puts some more hits on the shell.
Since Ziggo is motionless, Code:BLACK lays off. Ziggo emits more smoke. It briefly lurches forward, then stops again.
Since Ziggo moved, Code:BLACK comes back over, waiting to attack again. But all further attempts by Ziggo to move now result in more smoke escaping. Ziggo is counted out. Wow.
After this commercial break, we're told we'll get replays and post-fight interviews.
But instead, the first thing we see is Carmen Electra, being the spokesperson for a fictional song collection called "BattleBots Greatest Hits." It's really just a poor excuse to get Carmen to gyrate in front of the camera. As video from fights that will air in the future plays in the background, a long list of punny song titles are presented, such as "Papa's Got a Brand Pneumatic Bag" and "Never Felk Like This Before." Dang, there goes another idea for my summary-ending lists.
Okay, now they have replays of the previous fight. And here's our first chance to see the new interviewer, Tony "Not Chris" Rock. Hey... he did a good job! My goodness, I think I need to lie down.
Adam Baxter shows us his new Ziggo souvenir -- a wheel that Code:BLACK's blade tore off. Oh yeah? I'll just build a robot that doesn't have any wheels! Then we'll see who wins!
Time for a super heavyweight fight. Steel Reign is a sturdy box. In the back are some thresher-like blades (not unlike FrostBite's weapon). Son of Whyachi has ditched its shuffling walking system for wheels, since it can't get the weight bonus anyway.
Robot writin' time. Son of Whyachi begins to spin up, causing its base to spin around on the floor. Not again...
But this time Son of Whyachi doesn't go bouncing away. Steel Reign attacks Son of Whyachi with its solid, weaponless end. The two bounce off one another, but Son of Whyachi keeps spinning.
Steel Reign tries to drive into Son of Whyachi again to stop those spinning hammers, but is having steering problems. Son of Whyachi hits Steel Reign in the sides a couple of times.
Steel Reign brushes up against Son of Whyachi with its side, allowing small pieces of armor to be tossed about the box. Then a big collision sends Steel Reign over to some saws and Son of Whyachi to go sliding into the base of a screw on the other side of the Box. Those new wheels don't appear to be helping Son of Whyachi's traction at all.
Steel Reign comes back over to try to finish the job the screw base started of slowing Son of Whyachi's hammers down. Son of Whyachi tries to escape, looking for a chance to gets the hammers to spin faster. As it retreats, it takes a hit from the killsaws.
Steel Reign comes close to stopping the hammers, but as Steel Reign is knocked back by a blow, Son of Whyachi brings them back up to speed. Steel Reign keeps trying, though, and with one of the collisions, pushes Son of Whyachi into the other base of the same screw. Yes! A dent! Glad to see that the proud tradition of BattleBots harming the screws continues.
Steel Reign drives into Son of Whyachi again (Son of Whyachi is still very passive in its driving), and gets knocked into the screw itself. Big cracks in the Lexan from a previous fight obscure the view. Big cracks in the surface designed to protect the audience from injury always frighten me.
Absent-mindedly (at least I hope it was absent-mindedly, because it certainly was not a smart move), Steel Reign attacks Son of Whyachi with its weapon side (the weapon has not been spinning for the entire fight). Son of Whyachi's hammers instantly snap the thresher in half, throwing a big chunk into the corner.
Steel Reign chases after Son of Whyachi, which appears to gently slide away after every collision. Two more hits, and now pieces of Steel Reign's armor are breaking off. Another hit, and a side panel is thrown.
Then, in an amazing change of pace, Son of Whyachi actually makes an aggressive move and rams into Steel Reign. This sends Son of Whyachi sliding across the box, but also appears to have disabled Steel Reign. Also uncharacteristically, Tim starts cracking jokes -- "Steel Reign raining steel."
The reason Steel Reign is no longer moving properly is because in the hit that came immediately before the one initiated by Son of Whyachi, Steel Reign's frame got broken and bent into its tire, making it very difficult to move that side of the bot.
Son of Whyachi comes over and starts to attack Steel Reign. Steel Reign, however, refuses to die. Finally, after several additional blows, Steel Reign shuts itself off. Son of Whyachi plays around with its victory spin. Steel Reign is counted out.
And for the third time, we're told that this was Steel Reign's first television appearance. No explanation of why this is significant for Steel Reign and not, say, Moebius. Maybe they need to distinguish its first TV appearance from its first appearance in a Broadway musical or something.
A guy in the audience has a Whyachi beanie hat. From the designer that brought you The Master earmuffs.
Instead of having Carmen Electra do exit interviews, they've placed her on a platform above the pits where she prepares us for the exit interviews. Very slowly.
And here's Arj, holding the chunk of Steel Reign's weapon that was broken off -- "Logan, I hold I my hand what appears to be a piece of robotic spinal cord, but it's going to take more than a good chiropractor to fix Steel Reign up."
"Yes, it is," replies Logan, clearly confused about what in the world that was supposed to mean.
"Ripped to shreds by Son of Whyachi, but, to your credit, you never gave up, your robot kept going."
"Yeah," Logan answers sadly, because, as we saw during the fight, his robot didn't keep going.
With that interview faring successfully, it's time for a commercial.
And now, the most colorful team since the Tilford family -- Team DaVinci. With their black robes and coffin-shaped robot carrier, you can't ignore them. Comedy Central unleashed them at horror attraction Skull Kingdom to interact with the costumed employees. Not half bad. I think the writers may have found their groove with the filler this season.
Moebius is a middleweight spinner. It's painted neon green and has lots of pointy blades on its shell to damage opponents. It will face Ankle Biter. This season, Ankle Biter has removed its wedge in exchange for a larger spinning blade-like weapon. But it still has that big honkin' panel on the back that it can be rendered immobile upon.
Line of the night: Upon being asked if the red driver is ready, Brett "Buzz" Dawson replies with a simple, deep-voiced, "Indeed." You have to hear it to appreciate it.
Robot bitin' time. Both robots quickly get their weapons up to speed. Ankle Biter and Moebius meet head-to-head, and after a burst of sparks, we see that Ankle Biter's weapon is no longer moving. Moebius continues to spin at full speed.
Moebius attacks Ankle Biter in the weapon. Ankle Biter decides it had better leave. It drives behind some saws to get its bearings.
Ankle Biter drives back out toward Moebius. It then starts turning in place near Moebius, allowing Moebius to whack it in the rear armor a couple of times. Ankle Biter slides across the floor and drives up an entrance ramp. Moebius holds its ground to watch Ankle Biter stumble on the ramp.
Ankle Biter gets off the ramp. Moebius drives over to where Ankle Biter is. But then Moebius drives itself over the killsaws, which pop up and chew on the bottom of Moebius, sending bright titanium sparks flying.
Ankle Biter dodges a sledgehammer. It appears to be having trouble with its right wheel. It works its way toward Moebius, which still has its shell spinning at top speed, but isn't driving anywhere. Ankle Biter decides to attack with the rear armor. Moebius merely bounces off, no damage done to either robot. But Moebius still isn't driving.
Ankle Biter uses this time to show mobility and figure out how to drive with the damage it's received. The countdown starts on Moebius. Then the countdown ends, because Moebius is out.
Again, Carmen summarizes the fight. Then they go to commercial as we see Moebius being placed back in its coffin. The robot is already stiff from rigor mortis.
In the post-fight interview, it's confirmed that the killsaw hit is what took Moebius out (broke a sprocket/chain). Note to self -- don't use any sprockets or chains when building my robot, either. I'm going to be invincible!
Then, in case you missed part of the episode and don't want to be bothered in finding a repeat of it to watch, they summarize all of the fights we just saw. Good, because I forgot what had happened all the way back at the beginning of the half-hour.
As always, Bil ends the show with a joke. Here's tonight's: "Yeah, there's nothing like the sound of two robots crashing together. Except the sound of my wife when she makes sweet... [bleep]... for me." The censored word? "Waffles." Yes, they bleeped the word "waffles." Apparently it's funnier if you think he said what you thought he was going to say.
Well, that's it -- only a half-hour episode. Of the eight robots we saw tonight, seven of them had some kind of spinning weapon. What does it mean? Did the success of Hazard and Ziggo last season convince the majority of builders to create new spinners? Does Comedy Central simply prefer to air fights where damage is caused by spinners? Did Brian Nave become the new producer of "BattleBots"? Only one thing is certain -- with a high percentage of knockouts coming from spinners (either by destroying their opponent or destroying themselves), if this trend keeps up, we'll be seeing a lot of filler in the show. Well, look at it this way -- they'll have to try really, really hard to do worse than the tarot card reader from last season. For example, a segment where a dog chooses between two food dishes to determine the winners of upcoming fights.
I hope nobody from the show reads this site...