Roy F. Mason

Who doesn't love robots? They're scary, they're powerful, and they're intelligent. They're frickin' cool, is the long and short of it. And robots fighting?! That's off the charts, as they say.

Or so I thought. Lo and behold, last night, as I was watching the Eviscerator's rusty-steel jaws demolish Dr. Clomp's titanium shell on Battlebots, I dozed off.


Roy F. Mason? Dozing off during a flurry of sparks and shrieking metal as robots used their mechanized strength to pulverize each other? What's wrong with this picture?

Could I be the same person who once came to blows with Steve Olsen during a late-night debate over who'd triumph in a battle between Tornado and Gort? (My position, of course: Gort in a walk.) Well, I can only say that I saw a 30-pound, two-part robot armed with only a circular saw stave off relentless attacks from a pit of MIT AI robots and it left me cold. Some things cannot be explained.

If you had told me when I was 8 years old that there would one day be TV shows featuring nothing but robots fighting each other, I probably would have flipped out. I would have counted down the days to that glorious, unimaginable future. But now, watching those little toaster ovens roll around and bump into each other just makes me want to change the channel.

When I first heard about Battlebots and Robot Wars, I was ecstatic. I stayed up all night for weeks imagining my own attack robot, "The Cybernihilator." He had whirling tentacles with electrodes and spot welders on alternating ends, giving him the ability to short-circuit robot opponents and weld them to the floor. But now, the sight of dueling robots—not fake cartoon robots, not guys in robot costumes, but actual robots in an actual Robot War!—makes me sleepy.


Maybe the producers of these shows are at fault. I mean, how about giving these robots a little personality? You can't just slap a remote device on a lawn mower and call it a robot. Give it a synthesized voice, something deep and sinister. A woman's voice might be a nice touch, too. Add some motorized eyes, or make them sexy, like in I, Robot… Aw, will you listen to me? What am I saying? I'm talking about an arena battle of fighting robots, for Pete's sake. Who am I to look that kind of gift horse in the mouth?

How about this: Let's eliminate the featherweight-bots category. I'm sorry, but watching a slightly modified dustbuster fight for its existence is about as interesting as a walk in the park. How about pitting two mechanized tanks against each other for a change?! It would be like "MrooooooooW! Pow pow pow! Ker-BLOOM!"


Also, maybe it's that these contests lack a human element. No humans are ever in danger. How about upping the ante for the robot teams, maybe strap the programmers' infant children onto the robots so each battle has some real stakes? Now, that's a Robot War!

In fact, why are these robots being contained at all? They should loom over our streets and our homes, hunting down hobos, sick children, and the elderly. That way, we could all be part of the action…


Oh, who'm I kidding? It's not the show's fault, it's mine. The whole sky could be black with invading flying robot drones, and I'd slip into a nap. Something's seriously wrong with me.