BattleBots Makes its Smashing, Chopping, Incinerating Return

Bowtie-bladed Nightmare deals with spinner-bot and fire-breathing nuisance-bot Warrior Clan on the season premiere of BattleBots.
BattleBots (Photo: David Moir / ABC)

You are a connoisseur of fine television. Even you can’t resist the primal joy of robots beating the metallic snot out of each other. BattleBots is back!

No one wants to admit it, but ABC has the best summer competition series. I know I was the only person genuinely interested in last summer’s Rising Star and Ben’s interest in The Quest grew as that series progressed. Whodunnit love is an unofficial prerequisite for WEIO writers while the Glass House showed that strangers living in a house was not an automatic recipe for garbage monsters.

Rather than throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks (or doesn’t), ABC decided resurrecting a show featuring the participants throwing stuff (i.e. robot opponents) into the wall was the way to go. BattleBots is back, y’all!

BattleBots originally aired on Comedy Central back in 2000, before competitive reality shows were a thing.1 Each season featured a tournament of radio-controlled robots designed to destroy other radio-controlled robots within a trap-filled arena. If neither robot annihilates the other within three minutes, a panel of judges would decide the winner. What makes the show awesome is the ingenuity demonstrated in robot designs, the strategy for different weapons within those designs (flames, flipping mechanisms, spinning blades), and the primal satisfaction of things getting SMASHED.

In ABC’s revival, which debuted Sunday, BattleBots expanded to one hour (rather than two half-hour episodes) and fell into the Reality Television Show Generator. The opening took itself way too seriously (though not in a comedic way) which caused me to speculate that we will be hearing a lot of stories about dead relatives from interview segments. Sure enough, the first contestant highlighted mentioned a parent who had passed away.

Perhaps as a sign (or homage?) to the eventual robot uprising that BattleBots may or may not be preparing us for, the show seemed to learn that this was not the way to go as the hour progressed. Though the designers were featured in interviews, a significant amount of attention was given to the robot participants and how they stack up against one another. The actual battles were fascinating to watch, particularly since luck of the draw in some of the matchups may have been the determining factor on which bots survived and which exploded (that happened and it was AWESOME).

Although there are only four battles in an episode, BattleBots was a quick hour of entertainment. The series will run for six episodes, so be sure to add it to your DVR queue.

  1. Survivor debuted at about the same time.  

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About Mike McComb 654 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv