Those who tuned into BBC2’s mechanical warfare reboot Robot Wars last Sunday got a welcome surprise
Viewers probably weren’t expecting much – and like countless resurrections of beloved classics from the days of yore, no doubt steeled themselves for the worst.
But as soon as the first few ’bouts’ had kicked off, it was clear that this robotic demolition derby had recaptured something truly special.
Here’s why you too should check out the telly comeback of the year.
It remembers what made Robot Wars great
Anyone who recalls the sheer joy of seeing a bot eat the blades of a circular saw, disintegrating in a spray of sparks, would have felt a nostalgic buzz last Sunday.
The Robot Wars of 2016 is essentially the same as the show that left out screens in 2004.
Sure there are a few changes: Dara Ó Briain takes Craig Charles’ role as robo overlord and hype man, and newcomer Angela Scanlon is the behind-the-scenes reporter, a medium through which we can understand the geeks’ talk of crankshafts and flywheels.
But aside from that it’s essentially the same, knowingly ridiculous show, both in terms of format and atmosphere.
It’s gloriously campy and nerdy
The opening shot of last week’s episode featured a fan made sign that read: “Sir Killallot is bae!”
Oh yes, the fans take this thing very seriously.
In fact, the whole show takes itself so knowingly seriously it’s hilarious and irresistable in equal measure.
Teams get their own entrances and hype packages, there’s backstage drama, and it’s full of nerds in silly costumes.
It could almost be something from the WWE…
It hasn’t been overhyped
We all knew the Robot Wars reboot was coming, but you’d be forgiven for not hearing too much about it before the initial broadcast. There was a refreshing lack of OTT buzz.
It’s this kind of low-profile promotional approach which has meant that the show hasn’t become too weighted down with expectation.
On the other end of the spectrum you’d have Top Gear (more on that later), a show which had its every facet poured over in the weeks before its return, and failed spectacularly as a consequence.
Jonathan Pearce still loves it
Jonathan Pearce’s footballing commentary is known to get a little exciteable, but you’ve heard nothing until you’ve heard his ecstatic cackles on Robot Wars.
Presumably he’s been told to ramp it up a notch by producers who don’t realise he has a serious sports career to keep afloat too, but the hysteric giggles he gave at one robot’s chain-flail weapon getting caught under an arena trap was beautifully outrageous.
It could teach Top Gear a thing or two
The Robot Wars premiere attracted two-million viewers, more than the final instalment of the new Top Gear, which had been struggling with ailing figures.
Robot Wars seems to have got the reboot blueprint right, where Top Gear failed in so many ways. Long may it continue.
Robot Wars is on Sundays at 8pm on BBC2
[Main image: BBC]