Robot Wars – TV Review

I distinctly remember sitting in a friend’s bedroom designing a robot we thought would work well on Robot Wars. We would watch the show and critique the designs we saw whilst marvelling at the power of the house robots and rolling our eyes at Craig Charles’s poems. We never got past scraps of paper but apart from being entertaining the show got us thinking about something we’d never have considered before. Sadly once the show moved to Channel 5 it disappeared from view.

Roll on a few years (quite a few), and my wife and I bagged ourselves tickets to go see Robot Wars Live at a local sports centre. It was a fantastic night out as we were allowed backstage to see the competitors machines as well as some of the house robots. You don’t really understand how big they are until you’re standing next to one. Overall it gave us a great appreciation for the work that goes into it; we lamented it not being on TV anymore.

So with much anticipation, and some trepidation, we watched the first episode of the new series.

It was good! Phew.

It was not perfect though. The camera was extremely busy, almost frantic at times. We want to see the arena and the robots but they seemed intent on showing us views of the pit and a camera angle that included part of a tyre. It did seem to settle down a bit as the show went on, or perhaps we got used to it. Either way a bit more time using the overhead cameras and a bit less time trying to liven it up wouldn’t go amiss.

On the plus side we I enjoyed the new presenting team. It’s a shame Charles isn’t back but I think Dara and Angela will be good replacements. There is more of a focus on the teams themselves this time around too.

Then there are the robots. The house robots are similar, based on the old models, so it’s good to see Matilda back. The competitors robots  have made some huge jumps however. More powerful/smaller batteries, and lighter materials these amateur builders have made some fantastic machines with which to knock seven bells out of each other. It culminates in Carbide, a frankly terrifyingly well put together machine.

Fighting wise the series has started fantastically. Sparks and parts fly as the machines went for it. It was thrilling to watch. Getting to know the teams a little in-between rounds was nice too. It led to me supporting certain robots more.

In addition the format worked well. I really enjoyed the league section in particular. There were tactics and teams helping each other out.

Battling robots isn’t limited to these shores, but there’s something about it that feels distinctly British to me. Plucky underdogs taking on professionals. Axes that only work half the time. One team who really didn’t know what they were up to but carried on regardless. Essentially, Robot Wars feels right and it’s good to have it back.

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