I still wish I was an engineer

My first AOV post ever was concerning how I wished I was an engineer so I could take my monstrous robot onto television and beat on other robots. Nothing has changed, except for now people out there are living the dream.

There are now about three shows that deal with his, and I want to tell you why they suck and how they can be improved.

First I’ll deal with Robotica. I have many issues with this. But I’ll start with the positive. I like the short history of each competitor showing the construction process. Even though they all say “My robot will win because it’s powerful enough to pull my minivan in neutral”.

The problem is that people are treating this new type of competition as a novelty and have whacky commentators, flashy high-tech lights, and stat-screens that are useless. That Zappa guy bugs me, he’s too “Whacky and off the wall”. I’ve watched Robotica a few times and I’ve learned that there are a few reoccuring factors. There is maybe 10-15 minutes of moving robots. Maybe less. What there is no shortage of is awkward robots beached, stuck, or otherwise motionless. Wabbling or bumping awkwardly and jerkily about. Then the announcer always says “Whack! That robots seems to have a tran-tran- transmission problem! That’s noooooo good!” in a whacky and off the wall voice. It’s frustrating to watch toasters jiggle all that time in their little post-apocalyptic-esque gauntlets.

Just when I was about to give up on fighting robots for a few more months, I caught two or three episodes of Battlebots. That was more entertaining, but still has some rough edges. For example, there are no little cutesy competitions because they never work. It’s all robots beating eachother. I saw an amazing robot that did suck as far as what a BattleBot should do, but made up for all that by not looking remotely like any other robot. I can’t find a picture of it, but it was a 2 meter robotic snake. It was cool. The other robots actually worked. I saw strategy instead of wounded manatees. The commenting people were less whacky, they have BILL NYE as a scientific consultant. And Jay Leno competes with his robot too. I’m not saying you need celebrities to have a good show, but, in this case it works.

I’ve caught an episode of Robot Wars once. It was like 3am on PBS. It seemed like a less-exciting BattleBots. It had the Red Dwarf guy as host. I don’t know much more about it other than it was better than that Robotica crap with the sleeping robots.

Thank you for your attention.


16 thoughts on “I still wish I was an engineer

  1. TV Announcer 1: Plus the amazing…
    TV Announcer 2: The outstanding…
    TV Announcer 3: The unbelievable…
    All 3: Truckasaurus!!
    TV Announcer 2: Twenty tons and four stories of car-crunching, fire-breathing prehistoric insanity!
    TV Announcer 1: One night only!
    TV Announcer 2: One night only!
    TV Announcer 3: One night only at the Springfield Speedway this Saturday
    TV Announcer 1: If you miss this, you better be dead or in jail.
    TV Announcer 2: And if you’re in jail, break out!
    TV Announcer 3: Be there!

  2. Robot Wars is the only real one. All others are false idols. There is a US version on a Turner station that has a WWF wrassler as the host but oddly an all UK audience. I find it fascinating that entire suburbs appear to be filled with guys – indeed multi-generational families – who all look like Bart’s school bus driver who spend all spare cash and a bit of the rent on this.

  3. Robot Wars is actually hosted by an ex-wrestler, Joanie Laurer (the freakishly manish woman formerly known as Chyna). It used to be hosted by Mick Foley but he’s too busy pretending to be a full time authour to host it. The WWF now has nothing to do with the show so it doesn’t get much of a push on TNN, which is not a Turner station. It’s a CBS/Viacom station.

  4. To me, the whole fighting robot thing seems too pointless. I mean, if people are smart enough to build fully functional robots, shouldn’t they be saving people from burning buildings or something, instead of destroying each other? And let’s not forget the fact that someday – when A.I. comes into play – the robots might not like fighting each other, and turn against their masters. Then we’d all be imprisoned by big scary robots, who we used to watch and chuckle at as they fought like little toys. And the fatcats from CBS wouldn’t be rolling in their piles of money then, would they? No! They’d be the head slaves for the robots, waiting on them hand and foot, bringing them bolts to eat, and oiling their joints. Is that the kind of world you want? Where big scary robots boss us around, and make us mine for coal or something? Do the right thing. Boycott the robot-fighting. Think about it.

    [side note: Bill Nye has many followers]

  5. …”too pointless”? I think it is just sufficiently pointless to yet entertain. Given the apparently divergence between the creators of the robots and “I” (“AI” or otherwise) your domino theory of resulting mechanical domination is sadly bound to fail.

  6. Now that’s what those shows are missing, robots that run on coal! Each robot can have 1 team member in the arena running behind him with a bucket and gardening spade, shoveling coal. Attacking a “shoveler” would of course be fair play as having your “shoveler” disabled would adversely affect your chances of winning.

  7. Every time I’ve watched robots fighting each other – I have no idea what specific show or shows I’ve seen – there’s one impressive looking robot, and one wedge shaped robot. The wedge shaped robot flips the other one over eventually, and the fight ends. Let’s just skip ahead ten to twenty years and have people murdering each other live on TV. No wedge shaped murderers allowed.

  8. Matt: you mustn’t watch TV much. People murder people at a rate of about one every four minutes in the 200 channel range of Bell ExpressVu every night. What we need are wedgie robots to clean the whole thing up. I wish the wedgies robot would get loose on the Compass set some night around 6:17 as well. I’d like to see Boomer and Roger tag team the old wedge.

  9. Matt doesn’t have cable. Unlike me though, he’s cool enough that he doesn’t go around saying loudly I don’t have cable. I don’t watch much TV. I can’t help it. I am genuinely proud.

    I did have a positive encounter with cable recently. The Discovery Channel series Walking with Prehistoric was fantasic. I’ve been meaning to make a full-blow aov post about it, but I’ve been very busy/lazy lately (a killer combination).

  10. I meant that people should be murdering each other – on FOX probably – on game shows, not the news. Yes, Running Man was fucking awful, but the awfulness would be more than mitigated by removing Arnold and having real people killing each other.

  11. Not just the news but on what is presented as drama but what is more realisitically fear porn. One of the best things about the dish is that there are as many channels without that US trash drama – “Oooo, what’s on JAG/24/Allie this week?” – so you can watch TV with your inquisitive three year old with out having to explain all the sleepy people with srawberry jam dripping from their mouths/chests. TV should be worth watching – as is obvious when it is.

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