Robot Wars, the cult British TV show that alongside Scrapheap Challenge encapsulated the ‘man and his shed’ amateur engineering spirit, returned tonight in a much anticipated reboot and unlike Top Gear it didn’t disappoint.
The contestant robots themselves ranged from killing machines, like the old favourite Razor, to bumbling jokers, like the new robot Nuts, while on the house robot side they’ve received a modern sleek reworking, though sadly missing Sgt. Bash from the lineup. This episode, despite starting with eight teams, was a tale of four in particular, all for very different reasons.
First up we have the old boys up top, Razor, who really do look like it’s been 12 years since the last series, came back as grizzled veterans of the old wars, this time with one of them bringing his wife (who, stereotypically British, was offering the host sausage rolls while they were trying to do interviews) and daughter. They then, in true Robot Wars fuck up fashion, promptly drove straight into the pit and were the first to be eliminated on the show.
Next we had team Nuts, whose machine was clearly something dreamed up in a nightmare, quickly became the crowdpleaser and joke act in the same vein as the old robot Diotoir (you know, the one that kept being set alight (see below)) as its unfortunate antics and lack of defences made it everyone’s main target and ended up getting a mauling in the head to heads, with the fight against other newcomer Carbide seeing it losing the protective ring and a wheel (with the other barely attached). By the end of the head to heads there was little left but they clearly had a good time and so did the crowd. Here’s hoping they come back next year.
The other veteran on the field, and the one that did well, was the classic Behemoth. Despite doing well throughout the episode it was clearly showing its age compared to the new boys on the field, in particular when it went toe-to-toe with Carbide which cut out a large chunk of the front-flipper, and suffered at the hands of Matilda which damaged its drive mechanism. Those signs of age came back to haunt it as it accidentally reversed directly into the pit after suffering issues during the final.
And that brings us to the last of the four and tonight’s winner, newcomer Carbide. Many fans of the original show will probably remember the runaway success that was Chaos 2, the small flipping machine that punched above its weight and won 2 seasons as a result, and from tonight’s show I’d say Carbide has the ability and skilled team to do the same. It quite literally destroyed anything it came up against and managed to recover despite suffering major issues in one of the head to heads that saw it unable to move. At one point its spinning blade launched a piece of shrapnel off of Nuts that smashed straight into the protective glass around the arena, clearly displaying its power, before crippling Behemoth in the final before the latter accidentally reversed into the pit.
Despite the sheer quality of the fights and robots, along with the increase in pit area reporting, the only real weakness of the show was new host Dara O’Briain. Despite showing his comedic talents in the conversations with the teams he was noticeably bored-sounding during the announcements and his speeches to camera fell flat compared to previous host Craig Charles, who perfectly embodied the almost punk spirit the old show had.
Overall the show was a great start to a new series of the classic show that saw the old gods dethroned by the upstarts and a new generation of competitors to brave the arena. Can’t wait for next Sunday to come.