Robot Wars Returns

It was my favourite show and also yours; but what a disappointment this is, new Robot Wars…

It was a staple of my Friday nights as a child, and even now there would be excitement coming across a rerun on Challenge; so unsurprisingly, I was feeling pretty giddy when I heard they were bringing back Robot Wars.

Two shows into the new series and that joy has turned into huge disappointment. It’s been 12 years since the show was last on and things do have to change. There’s been a new presenting duo introduced, an updated bulletproof arena and a whole new bunch of new teams and robots to do battles. There is the return of the house robots; Matilda, Shunt, Dead Metal and Sir Killalot and Jonathan Pearce is back in the commentary booth. Yet there is just something that feels as though it’s missing, and I’m not just talking about the absence of Sgt Bash.

In my opinion, these are the problems:

Number 1: Bored Dara

First of all…the presenters. I think Angela Scanlon is really good and fits the show well. Dara however, well, he’s no Craig Charles. Craig brought a sense of madness and insanity without it ever be patronising or condescending. Dara doesn’t really seem overly fussed by any of it. It’s all rather monotone.

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Number 2: It’s the pits

The old Robot Wars would go back to the pits, otherwise known as the lair of Philippa Forrester/Jayne Middlemiss/Julia Reed panicking nerds at having to speak to a woman about their “ginormous axe”. It was kept fairly brief as none of the competitors were particular over-charismatic enough to warrant a long interview.

The new Robot Wars seems to spend the majority of the time in the pits. We have long conversations about the robot, what they do for a job, what’s going on, how do they do feel, etc. In the first episode, we kept hearing about Team Razer’s sausage rolls.

The current thing with programmes, is the audience needs to know everything about the person they are watching. Like X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, where we will be taken to the contestants’ home, seeing them chat to their families or getting the bus to work; Robot Wars is now interviewing some of the contestants in their homes and trying to recreate the “connection” for the audience.

It’s very nice to know a bit about the contestants but really, I don’t care about the people. I’m watching for the robots, for which there is a distinct lack of time given to. So much so, I ended up timing how long of the 60 minutes we actually got to watch the fights. It was just over 18 minutes. Not even a third of the show devoted to robots fighting, were actually of robots fighting. If we were to apply that to the name of the show, we would end up with just Rob. The only other time Robot Wars was an hour long, was when it was on Channel 5 and that was because 15 minutes of that were adverts.

I rather have it go back to 45 minutes and have more of the programme focusing on the fights.

Number 3: Where’s the house robots?

In the opening matches, there’s only one house robot present and they’re stuck in the corner completely redundant not doing anything as the robots won’t go anywhere near the corner.

At least in the later rounds, there’s two but they still don’t seem to be able to do much. There’s very little carnage and rampaging going on and more posturing. If Sir Killalot could shrug his shoulders at the little action he’s getting, he would. Instead he gets to move up and down his little corner patrol zone remembering days gone by where he would get to destroy robots because they had a stupid name/made out of wood/had tyres or whatever problem he saw fit with them.

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Number 4: Camera work

Camera angles everywhere! Cameras above the arena, in the control booths, in the house robots, over the audience, behind the pit release, in the pit….

Yes it’s good to be able to cover every angle in case something happens, but the problem is, the editing of the battles seem to be jumping all over the place and it’s very hard to keep up with what is actually happening.

Secondly, there is no need to watch the pit descend every time it is released rather than what is actually going on. Show us once a show. I trust the BBC enough that if someone has pressed the pit release, it has actually gone down. Basically, less random stuff and more focus on the robots.

Number 5: The information

When a robot was introduced, you get a little graphic that would tell you all the important statistics. We’d know the height, weight, weapon, strengths and weaknesses of the robot. Now we get a couple of facts and then supposed to work out the information in the head to heads where we get presented with some bar graphs with no numbers or anything to reference them to. Not helpful.

Number 6: The goodbye poems

I want rhyming couplets to finish a programme. Not just a flat goodbye. Sort it out!

Wishful thinking

I want to love the new reboot but I’m finding it so hard. It feels much more like a documentary about robot fighting than a programme consisting of robot fighting.

I hope to see another series commissioned but hope they fix a lot of the issues. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a lot more robots and Craig Charles returning to present whilst riding on the back of Sgt Bash.







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