Tag Archives: Science Channel

Battlebots 2019 Midseason Review

We’re halfway through the 2019 Battlebots season and man what a trip!   We ended on a high note with the crazy Desperado Tournament with Black Dragon winning against Minotaur in a Brazilian Battle for the ages!  With that said, let’s take a look at this season so far before it resumes tonight.

First, the negative.  This season has been wonderful so far but it’s bogged down by some flaws that I feel should be addressed. The biggest complaint I’m seeing, and I agree with, is the Battlebox’s floor. The infamous gash on the arena floor is so prominent that robots racing at top speed can be stopped dead in their tracks by its protrusion. It can even temporarily wedge a robot onto the ground and even stop it completely like Cobalt who was straight up destroying Duck! before dying to the arena floor. Drivers now have to plan for that dent and wedges are suddenly at a disadvantage.

On the positive side, the move to two hour episodes is very welcome and a smart choice. We now watch a steady stream of battles that give us a whole variety of robots fighting each other. We also saw a full Desperado Tournament episode which was great! They cut some of the Desperado battles from airtime last year so I’m glad they have the whole package this year (and a bonus battle with Deep Six which FINALLY made an appearance after nine episodes).

This additional air time also gives us a lot of clips and interviews on the Builders’ Floor which I always appreciate. Jenny Taft, the interviewer on the Floor, is a great conversationalist and does a good job asking questions and gleaming answers from the builders. These segments also show the work the builders go through to get their robot up and running for the next fight as well as their strategies.  One thing I would like to see more of is builders’ reactions to fights since that scene when Mammoth YEETED Axe Backwards out of the arena was hilarious! I still feel they can cut down on the pre-battle filler where we have to wait for the teams to get in place…press the button…wait some more…and finally start the battle. You could pare a lot of those segments down and squeeze in an extra battle that may not be as stellar as the other fights but still worth the watch.

The stars, the robots of course, this year have been most wonderful giving us a lot of thrilling battles that get my heart racing. While a lot of the new robots are having trouble making an impact (besides Black Dragon, of course), we do see middle-tier robots make a surprise shake up in the arena and suddenly become the buzz of the internet like Rotator and Deathroll. It is equally surprising to see high tier robots like Minotaur struggle to deliver KOs and wins that we come to expect. This gives the show a pulsing excitement that’s satisfying to watch and can keep us guessing what happens next.

We also had some great battles so I’m going to list my top four favorite 2019 battles so far and I’ll update it to a top 10 by the end of the season.

Minotaur vs. Lucky

By itself the match isn’t too special but with the story of Minotaur’s downfall this season there was A LOT hanging in the balance. A Minotaur loss would’ve spelled the end for its 2019 season career. Instead, we saw a return to form for Minotaur as it was aggressive and hit hard. I was still worried though as the smoke coming from Minotaur had me on edge as that’s never a good sign. But Minotaur prevailed and was able to beat Lucky down until it couldn’t move any more. The best match moment was when Lucky flipped itself over immediately preceding Minotaur delivering the knock out blow. Minotaur had won and although he lost the Desperado Tournament, he was back.

Rotator vs Tombstone

The 2019 season has so far, unfortunately, given us fine, but not stellar, Main Event matches as they are usually one sided and end quickly. I thought this match would be the same and boy was I wrong! Lasting 2:58 long by a KO, Rotator defeats Tombstone in a blaze of glory! Every time those bots clashed, shivers would ripple through my body! I could only imagine how much it would hurt if I got hit by one of them.

Anyway, Rotator’s plow-shape design was the surprising key that unlocked Tombstone’s defeat. Tombstone has been defeated before, sure, but not like this! The consistent hit after hit after hit was incredible, especially since Rotator’s blade was basically blown off and Tombstone could drive totally fine excluding weapon malfunctions and all. The thing that just blows me away was how long Tombstone could drive while on fire! Imagine if Rotator suddenly died and Tombstone kept going while on fire! I could honestly see that happen considering Tombstone almost went the full three minutes.

This battle shows Battlebots at its greatest. Don’t take everything for granted because the underdog might just topple a giant.

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Mammoth vs. Axe Backwards

Ever since I saw Mammoth on the Battlebots’ website I hoped and prayed that we would see this gorgeous creature launch a small robot out of the arena. And although it was more of a toss than a yeet, we got what we wanted! God, those precious moments when Axe Backwards was on the edge of the arena and barely on the screws while Mammoth was trying to push it off was so tense! And when it finally tossed Axe Backwards over I couldn’t help but cheer and holler!! Seeing this big clunky creature stumble around the arena and go at Axe Backwards was a thing of beauty.

What also makes this battle fantastic was the unique design of both robots. A typical Battlebot has a square design, with a vertical spinner, and four rubber wheels. These two robots threw that design out the window and did their own thing! Axe Backwards with its barrel-shaped design and Mammoth with its weird, Knex-like design of pipes and gears. Variety is the spice of life and this battle was most tasty.

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Deathroll vs End Game

Before this season, Deathroll was your average, middle-of-the-road robot. It was okay. Cool theme and design, but a pretty average track record. But this season has been a blessing for this robot and nowhere did we see this better than when we saw it fight End Game.

The New Zealand robot End Game was the favorite for this battle due to its past record of aggression and KOs. So imagine our surprise when Deathroll defeated it in a KO! But Deathroll winning is only half what makes this battle so entertaining. The two clashed and it was beautiful. So many delicious hits and sparks with both bots flying. Deathroll rolling around in the arena was the funniest thing this season has shown us so far! What’s funnier is that End Game was flipped over once and that was it!! It couldn’t do anything else than sit there! And when parts of the ceiling came crashing down onto the arena due to spray carnage was extra crazy! God that was great, I’m hoping Deathroll is the dark horse for this season because that would be fantastic.

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Son of Whyachi vs Whiplash

The other Main Event match that I really enjoyed was the SOW vs Whiplash battle. I love the angle the battle had; two robots representing the next generation of Battlebot competitors, sons of former builders, go head to head in a terrific clash! SOW’s rise from an okay robot to a powerhouse against relatively new but already great Whiplash made a great matchup. I was honestly torn who I should root for which made this battle extra heart-wrenching.

But man, can Whiplash take a hit! Bits and pieces of it flying over the arena made it a wounded animal desperately trying to stay alive. For a few moments, I thought Whiplash had it because it pinned SOW against the wall and almost flipped it over. But when SOW escaped I thought, man, that was it, they lost! They can’t win! But Whiplash came back and was able to cleanly flip over SOW! That was sooooo good. This was definitely worth of being a Main Event. Well done.

 

That’s all I have for now, looking forward to the rest of the season!

Battlebots 2018 Season Review

The 2019 Battlebots season has just begun but I want to take us back and reflect on the 2018 season and what made it work and what could be improved.  But first, I totally missed watching the 2018 season when it premiered as I was in Wyoming with no TV or internet access.  Thankfully, now back in civilization, I have finished binging all the episodes and I’m ready to dive in.  Let’s take a look!

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Switching networks, switching styles
The transition from ABC to Discovery Channel is a welcome one.  At its core, Battlebots is a reality show focused on engineering and destruction, perfect for the modern Discovery Channel and its programs.  DC understood what makes Battlebots great and modified it to give us quality and substance.  The end result was a whopping 20 episode season, 10 more than the previous ABC season and on par with the Comedy Central-era show.

This was an excellent choice.  With only one weight class, the show could focus entirely on the competing robots and treat the show like a professional sport.  I’m mainly referring to the playoffs which is such a great choice I’m baffled why it wasn’t introduced sooner.  We have so many robots that we love but we don’t see too often given the brutal nature of a KO Tournament.  With playoffs, we see robots get second (and third and fourth) chance of proving they’re the best and they can give us a good show.  That means we can see bots that do average or okay fight each other and not against the brutes that would otherwise dominate them (I’m looking at you, Duck, you magnificent robot!).

This also means we have a excellently seeded 16 bracket that give us, without a doubt, the best robots of the season by win record.  We can eliminate the duds (like veterans SubZero, Overhaul, and Chomp) and give us the robots that pack a mean wallop (like newcomers Whiplash and Monsoon)!  The bracket gave us a few 4-0s and a lot of 3-1s, most of whom got their seed based on satisfying KOs.

Most of the episodes are focused on the playoffs with each episode ending with an Event Match, a fight that gives us something to look forward to.  This was another smart choice as it gave us really great robots that have done well in previous seasons but who never fought each other (like Tombstone vs Minotaur).  The event match also gave a chance to newcomers who were doing well like Whiplash and Duck who both did incredibly well given they were facing against Tombstone.  Playoffs were great as it helped cement in our hearts bots that we grew to love.

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Duck!  was one of my favorite new Battlebots.  I honestly thought it was robbed from appearing in the sweet sixteen but it did tremendous.  Excellent ram/lift bot!

Pad for Time
Unfortunately, this season was the worst example of filler content as almost every episode had only five battles.  The previous seasons crammed more in there with the trade off that we saw highlights for the battles that were slow or inconsequential.  This…I’m okay with, if a battle isn’t exciting then it’s not exciting; probably a quarter of battles in Battlebot history end with two robots barely functioning with both weapons nonfunctional.  As long as we see a good clip here or there, I’m cool.

The Discovery Place network, however, did not do this.  Now, I’m one of those fans that doesn’t mind filler but a good chunk of the episode is basically me waiting for a battle to happen without a lot of fulfilling content.  The filler is basically Faruq announces the first bot, the builders wave to the audience, Faruq announces the second bot, the builders wave to the audience, the builders are interviewed, once in position the first builder punches the button, the second builder punches the button, some more waiting, the lights go on, and FINALLY the match begins.

Previous seasons, most of the time, had a quick introduction by the announcers for each robot and they jumped right in to the battle.  That’s it!  And that was all I needed.  To have the above formula repeat five times for 20 episodes got tiring after awhile.  You could’ve definitely made it six battles per episode and cut out all that filler.

Now, I definitely don’t mind the filler for the actual tournament itself, that is great!  Really gets you hype up for the tournament.  You can play that out because these are robots that actually deserve to be introduced with some spotlight treatment.  You could also use filler for behind the scenes action.  What are the builders doing?  How are they recovering from the match?  What damage did their robot sustain?  How are they fixing it?  I would love to get into the nitty gritty of that.  It would really show the teams’ comradery and intelligence in working together to get their precious bot up and running.  Thankfully, the 2019 season looks to be doing this more and cutting down on the intro filler.

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My other new favorite from the season.  HUGE was so hilarious but the height advantage and those weird wheels made it an unlikely, fantastic foe.  Too bad it fell apart in the Sweet Sixteen otherwise I think it could’ve beaten Bite Force!

An Experienced Crew, a Thoughtful Show
By now, the people who have worked on Battlebots these past few seasons have a lot of passion, love, and experience with the sport.  You can tell they have a lot of fun doing what they do and I don’t blame them!  I remember how I was initially critical of our hosts, Kenny and Chris, but I now think they are great.  They know the bots very well, they have seen many battles, and they know how to comment and keep the battle entertaining even when it may be slow.  Seeing Kenny being outspoken against some of the judges’ decisions was something I could appreciate deeply.  I think Kenny may come off as apathetic when next to the hyperactive Chris, but when you see him defend bots and disagree with the judges it really shows he cares for about the sport.

I also like the intro skits, silly they may be, I find them quite entertaining!  My favorite was Warhead lighting the birthday cake on fire though the staring contest with Huge got a good chuckle out of me.

Overall, Battlebots returned from a two year hiatus but it was worth the wait.   My only complaint left is that I wish Battlebots would show the best fights on Youtube!  That would further spread the love for the show I think.  Looking forward to what the rest of 2019 has to bring for us!