This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Tell me where else on television you’re going to hear somebody say, “I’ve certainly got a lot of experience controlling sticks with my thumbs”? That’s why you have to love Robot Wars; there’s nothing else quite like it (unless you count BattleBots, which is quite like it but is also American and therefore twice as noisy with half the charm).
Congratulations this week go to winners Concussion, who did Dorset proud by taking their battle-untested bot all the way to victory in the final. They saw off veteran competitor Thor through a fog of vented CO2 and hasty repairs, a defeat that Thor’s Jason hadn’t seen coming when he explained his strategy with the matter-of-fact conclusion, “and then it’s a case of just bludgeoning him to death”. It wasn’t just a case of that in the end. It was a case of yet another judges’ decision.
(About those—when the judges are shown hastily scribbling on their notepaper after a bout, what do you think they’ve writing? My best guess: doodles of robots with comic book sound effects. BAM! KAPOW! ZAP! PROF. SHARKEY RULEZ.)
Jason clearly doesn’t need them, but it would make me much happier if Thor’s maker took on a couple of teammates just to stop him looking so lonely in the control room. The new recruits needn’t do anything; plenty of teams have members whose contributions are spurious to say the least (cupcake contributor was one, though the more I think about it, the more crucial that sounds). However moody and cool Jason looks angle-grinding things solo in his garage, there’s nothing like the celebratory high-five or commiseratory hug of a fellow human. After all, as Robot Wars reminds us weekly, humanity will soon be at the mercy of these mechanical devils. When the time comes, we’re going to need each other.
The glimpse-into-our-near-and-terrifying-future bit took an unexpected turn towards the utopian this week, with Prof. Sharkey singing the praises of Artificial Intelligence in helping to combat the effects of climate change by repairing coral reefs and pollenating flowers in swarms. Personally, I think the robots have gotten to him. Somewhere in a warehouse off the M8, Sharkey’s loved ones are being held captive by a sentient 3D printer and two Dyson Big Balls, forcing him to do the robots’ bidding. If next week’s educational segment is all about why humanity should all voluntarily plug ourselves into those gloopy cocoons from The Matrix, we’ll know he’s been turned.
Back to the bouts. Thor’s Jason wasn’t the only one confidently predicting his robot’s victory. In his VT, M.R. Speed Squared’s captain promised of his machine, “If you touch it, you’ll be ripped to pieces.” That, it turned out, wasn’t quite the case. Quite a lot of robots touched it and lived to tell the tale. M.R. Speed, on the other hand, spent one bout almost entirely stationery and another spinning like a ten pence piece on a pub table before its eventual elimination. That team do get extra points from me though for keeping their spare bolts in a tub of M&S All Butter Flapjack Mini Bites – there is no finer snack. They should serve them at the wedding.
Dead Metal were another nice bunch who added a bit of theatricality to proceedings with a face mask and some incredibly tiny guitars, about which they looked endearingly embarrassed in every slow-mo shot. We also welcomed Foxic (another lone wolf, sorry, fox), Chimera 2, Tauron and Expulsion, a team who’d, impressively, built a functioning battle robot as part of a school project. The most impressive thing I ever made in my design and technology lessons was a coat hook, but then, we didn’t all pay upwards of thirty grand a year to go to the same school as Jack Straw.
Unfair class prejudice aside, it’s great to see a school team competing. The second series of the revived Robot Wars has improved massively when it comes to the range of ages and genders in the roboteer teams, so kudos for that. May many more kids sat at home watching telly follow in Concussions’ footsteps and take a soldering iron to their Speak and Spells as a result.
Those at home obviously aren’t the only ones inspired by the show—the arena audience is currently outdoing itself when it comes to home-made signs, this week boasting the wittily violent: “Tear ‘em a new serial port’. See? Ingenuity flows out of this programme’s every pore.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.