Warning: Spoilered Review. If you've not seen the episode yet, hang back.
IF THERE was any doubt that the reawakening of the Robot Wars franchise has been anything other than a huge success for Auntie Beeb, then you only have to look at the third revived series in the space of just over year which launched last night.
The return features some rather cool new additions - a camera to show that Dara and Angela do pay attention during the fights, the decision to move all the roboteers to a single room so you can see how they really get on, and then there are the fights themselves.
New this year, the Fog of War, a new triggerable hazard which sees the arena filled with dry ice for ten seconds meaning the roboteers can't see what they're doing. Now, We were a bit concerned that might mean that the cameras couldn't either and we'd end up with something akin to watching snooker in black and white, but it worked surprisingly well and it certainly got the roboteers rattled.
The groupings have changed so losers of the first battles go into a "Robot Redemption" to earn their right to continue. In reality, how they do it is neither here nor there, what everyone is really waiting for is the third-place playoff in the final, billed as a ten-way battle royale between the losing robots.
As for this heat, we had satire, courtesy of the hilarious but not-that-good Donald Thump, and drama as the arena spikes shot up, didn't stop and flew into the air. Maybe this should become a regular thing. There aren't enough projectiles in robot fighting.
We also learnt that, in case anyone is still labouring under the misapprehension that clusterbots (multiple small bots instead of a single large one) like The Swarm are a good idea, we can now say categorically that actually, they're a bit rubbish.
But of course the big shock of the night was Apollo, the winner of Series 8 (1 in the relaunch) and runner-up in Series 9 (2) was knocked out by perpetual bridesmaid Behemoth in a fight that, whilst resulting in a well-deserved win for a stalwart of series old and new, should never have happened this early in the competition.
So whilst yes, it's great to see Behemoth finally get through, it's a bittersweet early bath for one of the most consistently hardcore bots in the relaunched series, and we'd like to have seen some seeding to prevent it.
Team Apollo has said that it isn't the last we'll see of them this year, which could mean an appearance in the Battle Royale or perhaps more likely a Christmas Special.
Oh - one more thing. Did you notice in the fluff piece about the Iron Man suit, Angela Scanlon made a passing reference to Refbot, last seen in the Craig Charles era? Was she making a joke or dropping a hint? µ
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