On Sunday night came the moment that I’ve been looking forward to eagerly for months: the return of Robot Wars! Few shows have inspired such excitement and enthusiasm in me, and by the end of the first heat, I was very satisfied.
Presenting the show now are Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon, who were both perfectly fine – apart from Dara pronouncing ‘Behemoth’ differently to everybody else. Jonathan Pearce was as good as ever in the commentary box. I was a bit disappointed by the classic theme tune not making a reappearance, but I quite like the re-designs of the House Robots – they were given more compact, futuristic, and certainly spiky appearances.
This heat structure was different from previous series: after two four-robot melees, with two robots qualifying from each, the four survivors then had a round robin series of battles. They would score 2 points for a win by judges’ decision, and 3 for a knockout, and the top two would fight each other again in the heat final. While this isn’t as neat as the single elimination format, it does at least mean even more fighting! Some of the sequences with the builders in-between fights were a little too long, but there was more of a sense of real time, and exactly how the teams needed to repair their robots, than in previous series.
As the fights kicked off, it wasn’t long before I was shouting at the TV like the good old days, telling Terrorhurtz “Smash it!” when an opponent came within range of its axe. Some of the camera angles used were questionable, not providing the best views, but all the fights were worth watching.
The aforementioned Terrorhurtz – which came fourth in Series 6 – was in the first melee, along with Kill-E-Crank-E, Nuts, and the dreaded Razer. The Series 5 and double world champion was back, looking as sleek as ever, now with an amusing family dynamic in its team as Ian Lewis and Simon Scott were accompanied by Ian’s wife and daughter. Sadly, we wouldn’t get to see much of them, or witness Razer extending its wings in a victory pose. With Razer clawing and pinning Kill-E-Crank-E, and Terrorhurtz battering Nuts, it looked like the two veterans were dividing the work to ensure their progression. But instead, as Razer went to dump Kill-E-Crank-E in the pit, it fell in itself – and unthinkably, the former champion was out in the first round!
The second melee provided a little more destruction as Carbide, armed with a dangerous-looking spinning bar, sent one of The General’s exposed wheels flying across the arena. Behemoth, another veteran of the old series, disposed of Bonk, and progressed to the second round with Carbide, Nuts and Terrorhurtz.
In the round robin, Nuts – which had the most limited offensive capabilities, with a couple of flails and mini-bots – lost all three of its matches, but both the robot and the team had a lot of heart: it went the full three minutes against Behemoth (which had some fun by tossing Nuts’s mini-bots several feet into the air!), and after getting ripped apart by Carbide, was somehow put back together again and once more survived a whole fight against Terrorhurtz. Meanwhile, Terrorhurtz dumped Carbide in the pit but found itself unable to self-right when flipped by Behemoth – then Carbide produced a surprise by throwing Behemoth onto its side with its spinning weapon, before pitting it.
With two knockouts, Carbide topped the table, while Behemoth finished above Terrorhurtz based on their head-to-head record. The final saw Behemoth unable to resist Carbide’s spinning weapon again, and ending up in the pit once more – thus, instead of any of the three veterans, a newbie was through to the grand final!
I already can’t wait for next Sunday.