Five thoughts on the Robot Combat League

This weekend G4 aired the complete season of Syfy’s Robot Combat League, which is essentially the movie Real Steel remade as a weekly reality show, with 8 nerd/jock pairs filling in the role of Hugh Jackman.

Here are five thoughts about the show, in no particular order.

  1. A typical episode usually involves a bunch of quick preview clips of giant robots fighting, followed by an insufferable 40 minutes of “human antics” — arguing, mostly — before ending with 10 minutes of robots fighting in which (a) it is impossible to tell the two battling ‘bots apart and (b) things explode frequently for not readily identifiable reason… so it’s pretty much the movie Transformers over and over again.   So perhaps a better description of Robot Combat Leaguewould be “Rock-em Sock-em Robots as directed by Michael Bay.”
  2. The robots themselves range from the cool — such as AXE (whose face is, well, an axe) or Brimstone (who looks like a leather-clad Juggernaut) — to the familiar — like the Rock-em-Sock-em-inspired Commander or the Robotech-inspired Robo Hammer — to the weird — such as Steel Cyclone, a cross between a Roomba and a WWII-era submarine, or Scorpio, a cross between an Invid and a Cenobite.   It’s a pity, then, the the grand finale was between the two goofiest robots of the bunch: Crash, which looks like a cross between Johnny 5 from Short Circuit and a grade school jungle gym, and Steampunk, which is apparently the bastard cybernetic offspring of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star.   Or to put it another way:
  3. Technically speaking, the combatants aren’t even robots, at least in the sense of being semi-autonomous with any form of internal programming.   Instead, they’re really just ornate hydraulic and mechanical linkages designed to mimic the arm movements of its human operator… that is to say, they’re really just waldos.   Hence, the show should really be called Waldo Combat League, although in hindsight I can see how that might be confusing…
  4. The show is hosted by wrestling star Chris Jericho, presumably because of his familiarity with fake sporting franchises.   He does his best to get the crowd pumped up by looking grizzled and macho, although I suspect he would do a much better job if he didn’t use the Something About Mary approach to his hair:
  5. I sure miss Battlebots.
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