Robot Wars is most definitely back! 12 years since it last aired, the destruction and mayhem is back, with new presenters, new robots and a few familiar faces. In this Robot Wars Review, I’m going to reveal what I thought of the opening episode of the new series.
To start off with, we have the new logo that kind of sets the tone for what’s to come. It’s the same show we know and love, but a bit slicker and with a few slight tweaks.
When news broke that the show was coming back, the first thing on everyone’s mind was who would present it. For the majority of its original run, Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester were the faces of the programme and both had a certain enthusiasm for the show that helped make it so popular. The new lead presenter is Dara Ó Briain. This seemed like an odd choice and that’s still my view after watching his first episode. Whereas Craig was more of a ‘working class bloke’ who was very excitable and shouted a lot (the sort of thing you’d expect in a robot fighting arena), Dara has a more ‘professional’ look in his suit, conducting the interviews and making the odd witty remark. Strangely, he doesn’t introduce each match as Craig used to.
Angela Scanlon is the new lady. I can’t help notice that both presenters are both Irish – not that there’s anything wrong with that (I love the accent) but it might’ve been nice to have a co-presenter with not so quite a similar accent. However, Angela does her interviewing duties and again there is less of the enthusiasm and that… spark that Philippa Forrester had. I also noticed that she did interviews with the contestants after the battles – and similarly Dara did interviews in the pit before the battles – so it kind of spoilt the dynamic, as the co-host was usually only in the pit. Anyway, they both did a decent job of presenting and held up fairly well considering how much they had to live up to.
The show is generally quieter as well. As Mike pointed out, “When Craig Charles spoke to the roboteers there was always an echo in the arena and you could hear the crowd and kids were banging on the walls and such, it was so loud!” but now things are more subdued, especially backstage in the pit.
Although, there is one loud voice that we were both very happy to hear the return of: Jonathan Pearce, the commentator from the original series. His voice was always legendary, with tons of excitement and a great enthusiasm, so I’m very glad he’s back.
More exciting news came when they revealed that they were using the same house robots, albeit with a few minor updates. Sadly we didn’t really get to see much of them in the first episode of this new series. There was also an update to the arena.
The new arena is slightly bigger and looks great. However, I do have a slight issue in that it’s a bit too polished. I don’t mean it’s shiny, I mean it’s too symmetrical and thought out. If you take a look at the layout of the original arena above, the hazards ( flipper, drop zone, pit etc.) were all ‘randomly’ laid out with the ‘corner patrol zones’ in the corners. However, in the new arena, the four hazards (pit, spikes, flames and flipper) are in equal positions by the corners. As with Dara’s suit, this kind of takes away from the style of it just a little.
So, moving onto the robots themselves and Mike and I were both pleased to see some former robots return, namely Terrohurtz, Razer and Behemoth. I think this was good thinking on their part, as it not only pleased the nostalgic fans, but also provided some consistency for anyone in any doubt that this was the same show. It was passing the baton if you will.
The new robots were pretty impressive and still contained that mix of well engineered weapons and slightly crazy designs. Kill-E Krankie was quite a unique design, with a long body and overly confident operators. Bonk was made of HARDOX but didn’t really make much of an impact. The General looked impressive but had the fundamental flaw of using tyres, which were quickly disposed of.
Nuts was Mike’s favourite, with its ‘crazy’ operators and unique design. The main weapon appeared to be some chains attached to the ‘protective ring’, but twice the ring was broken off by other robots, leaving the body (especially the wheels) vulnerable. In the end Nuts lost all its matches and won no points. Behemoth vs Nuts was probably the best battle of the show though.
The winner of the show was Carbide, with its bar weapon spinning at 2300RPM (the most powerful spinning weapon in Robot Wars history) it was a clear favourite from the start.
There were also profiles of the robots and their creators before the head-to-heads, which I enjoyed because you saw the robot’s history and also some very nice close up shots of the robots in all their glory. Mike didn’t really like them though as they detracted from the main part of the show. There were also a few interviews with the judges, one of which gave a bit of insight into the developments in the technology world (including a drone that serves drinks and robotic limbs) which I thought was interesting and a good bit of educational content for the show that wasn’t too crowbarred in.
Overall, the show is still as entertaining as it ever was and Mike and I will both be tuning in next week for more fun.
Our rating: (4 / 5)