Welcome back to BattleBots Update. If you’re just joining us you missed a lot of action last week, and by “a lot of action” I mean Pressure Drop whacking its opponent 10 seconds after the buzzer and still winning while the driver of that robot lost his shit and exploded into a swarm of bees. Mouser Mecha Catbot advanced onward in the lightweight division after proving that as long as you have a nice paint job you can spend three minutes getting punched in the face and still impress the judges. Finally, reigning heavyweight champion Vlad the Impaler put Tazbot in the trash where goofy cartoon shit like it belongs. This week we have a miniature version of Nightmare, a robot built by your grandpa, and yet another goddamned robot from the Tazbot guy.
This episode also has one of its fights spoiled in the opening credits in the event that you were curious about it. That’s 4/4 now.
Just in case you needed a reason to be amped up, Sean Salisbury basically screams at you that BattleBots is “the sport of the future”. Welcome to the year 2000 everyone, where everything ended in “2K” and people painted shit silver because they thought it made things look futuristic. Trying to get a response out of Bil Dwyer, Sean introduces him as “the neutron blonde”. Bil must have taken his Ritalin before the show because he reads his cue in response card and that’s it. He doesn’t even try to play off of Sean’s words. Sean talks like a cowboy and that’s really the end of it.
Bil introduces the first two robots in this episode, which includes Backlash, and says that “smen-COW-ski” thing again. Sean repeats this.
Smencowski Smentowski gets his own builder segment just in case you wanted to hear Bil Dwyer say his name wrong about a dozen more times. Jim is more well known for his heavyweight robot Nightmare, the one seen in all the shots for this segment, but because Nightmare got its ass turned inside out by Mauler a few episodes ago the producers had to recycle this segment for Backlash instead. Keep that in mind while they show footage of Nightmare in the garage, because Jim isn’t even talking about that robot. To help illustrate their point, the editors include some battle footage of Backlash destroying what appears to be some parts from an Erector set named “The Disposable Hero”.
Jim tries talking about sportsmanship but gets cut off by his wife and by his neighbors who aimlessly talk about Jim working in the garage naked in front of their fucking daughter. Shoutouts to the neighbor guy awkwardly waving the American flag around. Erica Smentowski complains about being “the weird neighbor” but I bet after 9/11 that dude had a goddamned flagpole installed in his yard. Who’s the weird one now?
Erica says it’s her dream to have a three car garage, one for each of her and JIm’s cars plus an empty one for Jim to tinker in. Three car garage. I hate money. There’s not even a fucking one car garage where I currently live, but the upside is that I live in a workshop… so how about them apples? The downside, of course, is that I live in a goddamned workshop. Let’s just get back to this show before this gets any more real than it already is.
Someone on the production team noticed that former NBA player Tom Tolbert was sitting in the stands with his kid so they sent both Sklars after him. Tom Tolbert, who bears eerily passing resemblance to Jesse James of Monster Garage fame, starts praising “organized mayhem” and says everyone loves to see “a good ass kicking”. Left Sklar asks if that’s something he can say in front of his kid, and Tom says he doesn’t care because the kid is wearing ear plugs. It’s literally that fucking scene from that shitty college bro movie Old School except this was a full three years before that movie even came out.
Earplugs or not, Tom’s kid seems to be unhappy about all the goddamned noise and attention and starts acting up and putting his fingers in his ears and shit. Meanwhile, Tom goes on to compare all of the competitors to raging hobos and says it’s good that these people aren’t on the streets freaking out on people. Bro, you’re from fucking Long Beach. In 2001 that city had a crime rate higher than the US national average, and has almost every year for the past 16 years, don’t tell me you don’t know a thing or two about the street people whom you just compared the BattleBots participants to. That’s fucked up. Also, when’s the last time you saw a hobo with an engineering degree?
…not in the context of today, I mean, because that’s entirely plausible in 2016. I meant in 2001 back before the world’s economy went straight in the shitter. Fucking hell, I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I’d be researching historical crime rates in Long Beach for a shitty punchline. How is it that I haven’t started drinking yet?
BACKLASH vs. CRUSHER
Jim Smentowski, one of the pioneers of the vertical spinner, has already struck out with his heavyweight robot Nightmare. In quite possibly the best example of counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, he’s gone ahead and made a “mini Nightmare” named Backlash. While Nightmare at least looked moderately sturdy, Backlash is the ricketiest fucking thing we’ve seen on the show since Knome II. The front little rolly wheels on Backlash aren’t lined up and its rear wedge is held in place with two strips of aluminum. Hell, even the weapon motor is visibly cockeyed. If Backlash hadn’t previously obliterated two robots before this match (note the “WINNER” medals) I’d venture a guess that the thing itself would self-destruct upon impact. Despite this, I’m still not entirely convinced this machine isn’t running on borrowed time.
On the other end of the arena is Crusher, a robot with the interesting feature of having a name that suggests a lot more than the robot actually delivers. I see they’ve gone the “Prince of Darkness” route and painted their wedge red as well. Joy. I can’t shit on Crusher too much because the kid who built it with his grandfather is literally ten years old and I think that’s pretty rad. Rad grand dad.
Backlash gets a false start, but I guess no one cares because Crusher is like three times faster than its opponent. Crusher speeds around Backlash and for the first 20-30 seconds of this fight there’s barely just a glancing blow Crusher deals out. In order to fill time, Sean mentions the speed of Backlash’s weapon and pluralizes “RPM”. God damn it, Sean. Finally Backlash lands a hit but for some reason the editors cut away and instead show Jim giggling while Crusher rolls over just barely in frame. Understandably, Bil and Sean don’t notice this until the camera cuts back where Crusher spends the next several moments doing donuts around the arena while Sean tries to make sense of the robot’s design with a half-question that he doesn’t seem to finish. With all the finesse of a Bumble Ball toy, Crusher plants itself on the arena spike strip and knocks itself out.
Backlash comes in for an easy kill and that hilarious “THUNK” its disc makes against the arena wall confirms that it’s completely missed its target. Backlash lines up a second shot and lands it, fucking up the armor next to Crusher’s right wheel and bending it inward. The hit frees Crusher, however Gus Steyer can’t seem to do anything other than hold his transmitter stick to the left so Crusher continues to spin around right onto the Killsaws which spectacularly throw the wedge through the air. Crusher continues to do donuts. Sean says this is a “great use” of the saws by Backlash, ignoring the fact that Backlash literally played no role in Crusher’s high flying adventure whatsoever. Backlash takes a few more pops at Crusher who then gets itself stuck in the same goddamned place on the arena wall again.
The sound effects guy is on the ready as Backlash comes in and chews up Crusher’s ass. None of that damage matched the sound effect at all. Someone needs to fire that foley “artist”. Sean finally realizes Crusher is stuck as Backlash comes in for round two and misses, throwing a spark off of the spike strip instead. Foley guy gets right back on the horse playing a terrible sound effect while the referee counts out Crusher. During the recap, we get to see a better shot of Backlash tossing Crusher onto its back which begs the question of why they didn’t just cut to that shot in the first place when we now know they clearly had it. Whatever.
Also, Gus is apparently one of “those kids” who wears a fucking parka with shorts.
WINNER: Backlash, KO
Donna D’Errico meets up with both teams in the pits after the match for her first segment of the season that doesn’t involve some shitty lewd joke. Jim, being the good sport he is, gives a special trophy to Gus Steyer in the form of the driveshaft to Backlash’s weapon which broke during their match, probably because he couldn’t stop hitting the fucking wall with its disc. Moments like this are exactly why you won’t find a single person on the planet saying anything legitimately nasty about Jim or his robots. He’s the realest nigga in the BattleBox. Word.
After the break Bil makes inappropriate jokes about suicide while Sean talks over a shot of Ilya Polyakov working on his robot Blade Runner moments before his upcoming match. Bil continues with a horrible anecdote about robot combat where he rhymes “saws” with the onomatopoeia “zzzzt” before introducing the next pair of bots. Sean uses his booming voice to proclaim the aforementioned Polyakov is “a long way from Dix Hills tonight” and Bil finally takes him down a peg.
Thus far, Sean has used a different send off to Bill Nye’s segments in every episode. Even though we’re only on episode four of this season I think I can safely claim that this one is my absolute favorite. Watch Sean’s eyebrows as he says “Billy Nye”. Out of the next two robots — Blade Runner and Bad Attitude — Nye gives us a breakdown on fucking Bad Attitude. Just a refresher, up until this point Bill Nye has done segments on two spinners (Bender and Nightmare) plus a pneumatic walking robot (Pressure Drop). I guess when you’re a goddamned genius sometimes you get a little bit cocky and over-explain a fucking wedge to laymen. There’s a reason it’s called a “simple machine”, Billy.
BLADE RUNNER vs. BAD ATTITUDE
Blade Runner is a two-wheeled “thwack” bot built by Ilya Polyakov, a man who has the hardest name to spell since Gage Cauchois in last week’s article. Out of the two robots in this match, Blade Runner’s opponent ended up getting the Bill Nye breakdown even though there’s a hell of a lot more math that goes into a robot of this design than there is behind a fucking wedge. The concept behind a thwack-bot is pretty basic, the robot just spins around in place and swings its weapon, but the physics behind it are absolutely ridiculous. When Blade Runner is spinning at full speed the tips of its spikes are moving as fast as fucking bullets. That’s some serious goddamned firepower.
Meanwhile its opponent, Bad Attitude, is just a wedge. Bad Attitude was built by the same grandpa who helped put together Crusher, which makes since because these robots are pretty much near-identical for the most part. Fans of The Update may recall from our coverage of BattleBots’ ABC reboot I mentioned Thomas Petruccelli, Bad Attitude’s builder and driver, passed away in 2010. Since he’s not here to laugh off any jokes and jabs I’ll abstain from making personal quips about him out of respect. That said, his robot looks like crap. Shoutouts to the guy with the upside-down Bad Attitude sign.
For some reason the editors don’t zoom in on the lights and do that ear-splitting chord wail before the match starts. Instead, Blade Runner and Bad Attitude just kinda lurch out of their starting squares and awkwardly brofist in the center of the Battlebox. Blade Runner begins spinning and in the process reveals the one true weakness of thwack-bot designs: they can’t move and attack at the same goddamned time. Figuring this out in all of about two seconds, Thomas Petruccelli just kinda lets Bad Attitude sit there until Blade Runner calms down and follows up with a glancing blow. Then in the course of about a second and a half Bad Attitude runs into the arena wall, Blade Runner starts spinning around again, and Bad Attitude backs into its opponent’s weapon right as Sean utters the word “damage”. For that split second the planets aligned in universal harmony to fuck up Bad Attitude’s rear right drive wheel.
Understandably, this has pretty much sealed the envelope on this match. Bad Attitude has fallen and it can’t get up, and Blade Runner continues to spin around like an idiot. This has brought the match to an impasse; Bad Attitude is now incapable of proper translational movement and Blade Runner can’t move and attack at the same time. This combination of a bad design versus an even worse design means that unless the referees count out Bad Attitude we’re in for a long fucking match. Just in case you don’t believe me, Blade Runner derps and gets its weapon stuck in one of the Hellraisers. Sensing trouble, Sean slams the panic button and the editors bring in the little driver bubble in the upper left corner of the screen while Blade Runner is spinning around repeatedly punching Bad Attitude in the face.
For some reason they got one of the support engineers from Team Carnivore and not Ilya Polyakov himself. This fucking guy is supposed to talk about the force behind Blade Runner’s weapon and he literally says “Ilya can do the math, I can’t, but like that translates to a buncha like pounds per square inch, and when it hits stuff, stuff breaks”. The inset disappears but I’ll bet good money that he reached for a bottle of fucking Faygo after that abysmal explanation. Bil wins back my complete respect by snarking that he hopes said explanation wasn’t “too technical” for the viewers. Just to recap here, the editors were presented with not one but two opportunities to give a pop science explanation behind the spiked hammer that literally ended this match in a single fucking blow and instead we get Bill Nye explaining how a wedge works and the valedictorian from Team Carnivore who always puts his Game Boy batteries in backwards on the first try.
WINNER: Blade Runner, KO
THE BATTLE OF SAN DIEGO
Up next is a match between two robots that just so happen to hail from the same city: San Diego. Whereas in most cases this would just be an amusing coincidence that gets mentioned once during the match, the writers behind BattleBots decided this stupid piece of trivia needed it’s own fucking segment. The Sklar Brothers prime us for what’s to come by giving us the whole “this was once a peaceful town” routine, Donald Hutson pronounces the name of his robot weirdly, and the other guy doesn’t say anything and instead just sits on a bench.
Donald Hutson starts talking some mad shit while manspreading to an alarming degree. Diesector shows off its prowess by breaking a cinder block because that’s the BattleBots equivalent of a WWF wrestler ripping a phone book in half. The other guy doesn’t say anything. Hopefully by this point you’re beginning to understand the gag behind this stupid bit, and make no mistake it’s a “gag” alright because I’m about to fucking throw up. Grendel’s driver continues to stare at the Sklar like he’s some kind of fucking middle schooler with progeria while Donald does that side-to-side swaying thing that people with awkward camera presences usually do.
After using his robot’s weapon to lift a lightweight aluminum picnic table, Grendel’s builder finally opens his mouth and says his goal is world domination. Cool dude, that’s what the Mauler team said in their segment like three weeks ago. Real original.
GRENDEL vs. DIESECTOR
Grendel is a behemoth of a robot built by Daniel Rupert that weighs over 300 pounds. To provide some additional perspective on the sheer size of this thing, the red and blue squares in the BattleBox are eight feet on all sides. On the off chance that you were actually paying attention during the “Battle of Spam Dorito” segment you would’ve already seen Grendel in close proximity to a picnic table so I guess that’s a moot point on my end. Anyways, the robot’s weapon is a giant spike powered by a garage door spring. Daniel can do the math, I can’t, but like that translates to a bunch of like pounds per square inch, and when it hits stuff, stuff breaks. I’m also beginning to think all of these goofy ass signs that people in the audience are holding up were printed off by someone at the event because they all seem to have that weird “Microsoft Office WordArt” feel to them.
Mark Beiro cautions us not to stare directly at this next robot because just look at this fucking thing. What the hell is Diesector even trying to be? It’s got a ton of wheels, this ridiculous set of clamping jaws, and hammers on either side of it that look like they could be replaced with even more wheels in the event Donald Hutson felt like going overboard on this robot in a way he somehow hasn’t already. Donald also built Tazbot from last week, so I guess that explains a lot about Diesector. Tazbot was the heavyweight with the goofy rotating bug head with the lifting arm on it. You know, the robot that broke down because it probably had too many moving parts. Diesector just looks like a sack of money with spikes coming out of it.
There’s about eight seconds of dead air at the beginning of this fight because for all the playing up the commentators have done about this being “The Battle of Sand Eggo” neither of them can be bothered to even pretend to be the least bit excited. Because of this, the editors splice in some weird pre-recorded VO of Bil Dwyer stating the fucking obvious about the robots’ transmitter frequencies when we’re already four episodes in and this is something we’ve kind of already assumed ourselves.
Grendel takes an early hit from the Killsaws which looks like a glancing blow, but this actually fucks up the tread on its right wheel. Meanwhile, Diesector gets stuck on the Ramrods and even though it has four tires, some of them still on the ground, it can’t get off of the hazard and has to wait for it to reset before it can move again. Keep your eyes on Grendel’s wheels while this is happening and you’ll see its tire tread flop around like it’s trying to get your attention outside of a car dealership. Diesector frees itself from the Ramrods, crashes into the wall, and stops working. So far, “The Battle of Saint Dodongo” is about as enthralling as watching paint dry and less fun than awkward conversations with your barber.
Grendel finally starts retracting its weapon, a process which feels like it takes long enough that Sean and Bil might run out of things to say and the editors will have to splice in Bil reading some more unrelated boilerplate about how to plug in a fucking toaster or something. The dragon finally lets loose with its spike and anally wrecks Diesector in a single blow, piercing its armor and punching it right in the kidneys. Diesector responds to this attack by aimlessly flailing its left hammer back and forth to swat at Grendel’s neck. Grendel retracts its weapon with a fucking hellacious ripping sound while its opponent continues to do fuck all with its hammer which is literally bending from just swatting around. Man, if only Diesector had a swiveling head with a lifting arm maybe it could turn this fight around.
One more blow is dealt by Grendel because that’s all the team can get in before the fight ends thanks to their weapon taking a week and a half to recharge. With that, The Battle of San Jacinto is over; it ends not with a bang, but with a fart that requires you to check your pants afterward.
WINNER: Grendel, KO
Before the break the editors cut to footage of some guy surfing while Bil cracks that the surfer probably thinks he’s cooler than the BattleBots crew. I don’t know man, I’ve never been surfing but I’m pretty sure you tend to think about other stuff like sharks and shit when you’re out in the ocean, not whether or not you’re cooler than a guy who dresses like the awkward oldest member of a boy band. After the break is some bizarre stock B-roll of the cameraman harassing a tourist with a live fucking crab. That’s some left field shit considering that up to this point their commercial send offs have just been shots of various landmarks, has BattleBots finally gone full-on pretentious avant garde art show?
Bil goes over the made-up fight stats while Sean provides the consolation remark that Diesector was the more “technologically savvy” robot. Yeah man, it was so technologically advanced that it fucking lost. The Hit of the Week as you probably guessed is Crusher being thrown out like an old catalog by the Killsaws because in order to show Grendel hitting Diesector they’d either need to speed up the footage or run the credits three goddamned times.
Well, that’s another Update and another notch on my bedpost because since this autistic mess of a website has ensured I will remain single for the rest of my life these are the accomplishments I’ve decided to keep track of instead. I hope everyone has had a fantastic 4-day Memorial Day weekend. I know I did, I was out of town and all hell broke loose on some projects I’ve been working on and I was unable to do anything remotely using my phone. (That’s why today’s article is going up at like 7:30 PM instead of in the afternoon like it normally does. If you follow this website on Facebook though, this isn’t a problem since you’ll get notified when new stuff is up instead of sitting on the front page hitting F5.)
Join us next week when I post another article that I’m not saying anything about ahead of time because I don’t know who’s in it off the top of my head. More fires to put out!