Return of the BattleBots

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Popular Mechanics is reporting that BattleBots will be returning to ESPN, or at least to ESPN2 and ESPNU, which I don’t even know what that is — presumably it covers sports events taking place in the Underverse.

The piece has a good summary of what made the original show a beguiling but also a frustrating watch — basically the problems were the annoyingly non-technical hosts (Carmen Electra et al.), and the culture clash between them and the engineers they were interviewing, plus the inherent paradox of robotic combat, which is that the most spectacular, dangerous-looking weaponry (flamethrowers, etc.) always ended up being the least effective when metal actually hit metal in the arena, to the point where the finals tended to be two featureless steel cheese wedges head-butting each other till time ran down.

The new show is going to focus more on following and explaining the technical drama behind the scenes, and the battle arena is actually going to be modified to take away the advantage of wedge attacks. I’ll watch, though I don’t know that I’ll really feel the sport has reached maturity until the competitors are fully autonomous rather than remote-controlled. And of course at the end the winning bot should be rewarded with the privilege of vivisecting the yapping human announcer.

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