So having re-watched the first ever episode of this classic series, it is with great reluctance that I carry on with episode 2, in the vague hopes that things will be better than the previous episode (they won’t), and safe in the knowledge that once we escape this, we’ll be on to bigger and better horizons that your humble narrator won’t be constantly questioning the nature of his existence while puts himself through this torture.
I don’t much feel like giving another half hour of backstory to this episode, mostly because the last review was about 3,000 words long, and if every review ends up in that sort of state then we’re going to be in for a very long few weeks. So without further ado, Ulrika greets us with her flaming horns of death again, but this time she’s wearing a colourful blue jumper in a vague attempt to look happier while she waits for her pay cheque. She tells us there’s a lot to look forward to, especially the new-fangled ‘robot rope climb’ event. Noel says he’s particularly looking forward to seeing Skeletor compete in that event, and as much as I’d hate to burst his bubble, the iconic He-Man villain will not be taking part in the Techno Games rope climb. Maybe next year.
Before we get to witness the nitty-gritty of competitive robot rope climbing, we’ll be bearing witness to the shot putt. Much like yesterday’s long jump, this event is apparently too dangerous to be held indoors, and will instead be held on a small stretch of grass with the risk of the putt being launched into the Thames. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. Noel says that he saw some ‘very interesting weapons’ down at this event, but if he’s seen anything beyond a half-arsed catapult I would be concerned for his, and the rest of the crowd’s safety.
The shapely guise of Ed Hall begins to erotically permeate our screens, describing the event as “the housewife’s favourite”, and I’m not sure whether or not to call him out on the joke being outdated, because I’m not entirely sure what the joke he’s trying to make is. He thenexplains that the shot putts being used are of Olympic regulation, and that each robot will get three goes each, meaning that this event is going to be three times as painful as it f*cking needs to be. Hooray.
Sophie (a.k.a. Not-Philippa) makes her triumphant return and begins introducing us to the event’s rag-tag band of misfits. First up is Warrior, a device that couldn’t be more inappropriately named. I don’t really see how four bars of metal and two springs can warrant it the name ‘Warrior’, especially since it’s sole purpose in life is to launch a metal ball a few feet into the air. It doesn’t exude any form of warrior-type character features, and I personally think the trio of nerds behind this contraption should be ashamed of themselves for taking a name that belongs totally in another realm and tacking it onto their piece of sh*te DT project.
Moving swiftly on to a contraption that has a name that suits its look, it’s the legendary Vomit. Vomit is essentially a cylinder painted as a frog, and the shot putt is launched out of its mouth in a devilish display of wit and cunning. In a further display of technological ingenuity, the shot putt is launched through compressed energy and activated by one of the team hitting the back end of it with a hammer. I sh*t you not, this is what passed as “techno” in the year 2000. The final contestant is Kluk, which actually looks half impressive considering that they appear to have stolen the four bits of metal used to hold Warrior together, bound them up with elastic bands and calledit their own. Thankfully, one of the team members points us in the direction of a motor being used to power the contraption, so we at least have some semblance of something actually “techno” in this event. This is also the perfect time to point out that we have another event in which only three teams are competing, meaning that any of these robots could theoretically do nothing and still win a medal. I love democracy.
Now, of course we can’t just have the technical experts give us their technical expertise on these things, so much to my disdain the production team have brought in another real-world athlete to give us the ‘human’ perspective on how these machines will perform. I’m beginning to wonder why Noel and Martin were hired for this show. Anyway, today’s uninformative sack of flesh and bone in a white tracksuit is professional shot putt champion Judy Oakes. Ulrika does her best to avoid innuendo with Judy after yesterday’s debacle with Mark Foster that made her so horny she went and f*cked a robot, but she does get noticeably excited at Judy talking about her muscles and legs. I’m just annoyed I’m not learning anything informative about the technology.
We’re finally taken back to the shot putt action, where Ed tells the Warrior team that their machine has a fantastic name. And I really hope he’s being sarcastic when he says that. Barry takes over before Ed can spout any more nonsense, and the team wind back their robotic throwing arm, and, living up to their uninspired and disappointing name, Warrior throws an uninspired and disappointing 3.34 metres.
Kluk takes to the platform next, and Ed notices that it’s basically “scrap metal with a bit of rubber on the front, but it’s technical”. It’s times like these I think Ed would be a welcome addition to this website. We then also learn of the tale about the giant chickens that were meant to accompany Kluk at this event, but were too big to fit in the teams’ minivan. I suggest we all put an “F” in the comments section for the giant chickens. To make up for the lack of giant chickens, when the time comes for Kluk to yeet the shot putt as far as it can, it instead decides to throw it at itself, thus breaking its front panels. And no, I didn’t just make that up, it genuinely threw the shot putt at itself and broke. That’s a ‘no throw’ for Kluk, and that’s the most entertaining this show has been so far.
So with that debacle out of the way, Vomit basically just needs to work to be in contention of getting the gold medal. One of the lads on the Vomit team begins stumbling his way through an anecdote about how confident they are their contraption is going to win the event,before being abruptly cut off by Ed, because clearly he wants this to be over as much as the rest of us do. So the team ready their frog, the same guy readies his hammer and… nothing happens. He stands there smashing the frog’s arse with his mighty weapon, but the frog remains unmoved. That means another ‘no throw’, and that also means that Warrior is unfortunately the only robot to have actually worked thus far. If the universe was a kind and caring place, that would mean the event is over and that Warrior (which I’m going to henceforth refer to as ‘Civilian’, since it’s a much more fitting name) would be the gold medal winner on the basis of it being vaguely competent. But the universe doesn’t work that way, and we have another two rounds of this sh*te to deal with.
But wait – a plot twist! Civilian, the only working robot so far, has broken something or other and has been forced to retire! Maybe there’s some hope for the universe after all. Anyway, that leaves Kluk and Vomit with the chance to steal Civilian’s gold medal from right under its nose, despite neither of them actually working. However, Kluk has clearly got its sh*t together off camera, launching the putt a mighty 6.05 metres. Vomit too has got its act together, but not as much as Kluk, managing 3.82 metres, which still puts it in second place and sends Civilian straight to the bottom of the pile, just like that. Next time don’t make me name your robots.
Throw number three now looks a formality, and Kluk decides to set the bar even higher for next year’s competitors, throwing an impressive 6.18 metres to secure gold. Apologies to those who thought that Vomit still had a chance in this, but despite bashing the frog’s arse in with extra vigour, they come up just short of their last shot, sealing themselves second place. Civilian is left to wonder what might have been, both in terms of name and performance.
Since we’re nearly halfway through the show and only one event has been covered thus far, Ulrika promptly moves us on to the sprinting. She shows us a recap of what happened yesterday, the iconic shot of Scuttle imploding and Waddle meandering its way into the final. Only it turns out this is completely irrelevant, since we’re not watching the second heat at all, and instead are being taken back to the great outdoors for the petrol driven sprint, which is basically the exact same as the regular sprint, but with petrol and it’s outside, because petrol was quite the hazard back in the day. And yes, it really is as exciting as it sounds.
The first possible explosive we’re introduced to is Tina Treks, built by the Inglis family. And yes, that’s the very same Inglis family that entered such legendary Robot Wars contestants as Miss Struts and Arnold, Arnold Terminegger. For their latest abomination, the Ingli have basically taken Miss Struts and dialed everything up to eleven, meaning it’s feckin’ huge and it also wears sunglasses. Noel even thinks that Miss Struts is the robot that’s competing. Silly goose, copyright laws mean crossover events can’t happen! Up against this monstrosity is the skeletal figure of Tucumseh, which, for all you non-northern readers out there, issupposedlyhow northern people pronounce “to come see”, because everybody in their school wanted “to come see” it. And why wouldn’t they? Bits of welded lead piping is certainly a sight to behold, up there with Aurora Borealis and Coldplay live in concert, to name but two things.
Ulrika promises us that the race really is quite exciting, and to be honest, for once she isn’t entirely wrong. Before now I’d say that Calypso is the only genuinely impressive machine we’ve seen so far on the show, but Tucumseh surpasses all expectations to waltz down the track and cross the line in 54 seconds. No, it isn’t the quickest thing in the world, yes it doesn’t have the best grip, but the way it swaggers down the track and it’s little victory jig are truly iconic. So that’s two on the actual good robot count so far. And I can’t really include the hulking beast that is Tina Treks in that equation, because whilst it does finish the race, it does so in three minutes and five seconds, and also does it facing the wrong direction. And it also didn’t break, so that’s better than nothing I guess.
Robot Gardening (yes, really)
We then have another technological exhibition feature that no-one asked for, firstly because the production team needed more filler material, and secondly because Not-Philippa needs to be given things to do so her life force isn’t entirely sucked from her by the doing things police. Today, instead of the bloke from the Top Gear knock-off battling it out against a ten-year-old boy, we have Tottenham Hotspur’s chief groundsman Darren “Daz” Baldwin racing against a robot lawnmower to see who can cut the grass quicker. Yes, this really is the best they could think of.
The robot lawnmower is driven by Tim “Mad Mitch” Mitchell, a man who certainly lives up to a cool nickname if ever one could. The man’s designed a lawnmower which you can automatically run at night, which is not only reckless because of all the noise complaints it would garner, but it also runs the risk of leaving the lawnmower unmanned, resulting in it running away and gaining sentience, and thus begins the start of the hit film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. “Mad Mitch” indeed. “Daz” seems unfazed by this, believing this moving doorstop is no threat to his job or any other garden-related work. This appears to change when it’s revealed he won’t be using an actual lawnmower, but rather a solitary pair of garden shears, and upon hearing this revelation it would appear he’d like to ram said shears into a nearby spinal cord. Fortunately for everyone involved, he resists his inner demons, and the challenge begins.
As you would expect, the machine beats the man with a pair of shears, and not-Philippa declares this a victory for machinekind, seemingly neglecting the existence of the regular lawnmower, which let’s be honest, would have made this a much more interesting and accurate experiment. That being said, as irrelevant as this segment is, I do get a kick out of having another excuse to mock Spurs about something, regardless of how petty it is. Ulrika suggests that robot lawnmowing could be a television show all on its own, but it’s been twenty years and thankfully it still isn’t one.
Rope Climb: Heat One
And with that, we’re moved swiftly on to the final event of the episode, the much-anticipated rope climb. It’s pretty self-explanatory in the sense that two robots start at the bottom of a ten metre rope, and the first one up the rope is the winner. There’ll be three heats (lawd help us all), and the four fastest qualifiers go through to the next round, and after that there’s a final. If the events prior to this are anything to go by, this is probably going to be the longest and most arduous event of them all.
Not-Philippa goes about her usual introducing duties, and my suspicions are confirmed that beloved He-Man villain Skeletor is sadly not due to be taking part. However, a machine called Skeleton is confirmed for the event and it looks stunning. Basically it’s as if a T-800 had been repurposed as a… well, a machine that climbs ropes. It’s all the more impressive considering it’s built by the same lad who gave us Centurion for Robot Wars, showing us that this mechanical marvel was where his focus and attention were really at. A true beauty. It’ll be going head-to-head with Simian, a device that looks less impressive than Skeletron in pretty much every way, shape and form, as it’s basically a small, wooden triangle with a battery attached to it. What sets it apart from its opponent, however, is that while Skeletron is going with the classic human-style push-your-way-up-the-rope technique, the Simian team have found a way to hack the system, and they’re going to drive their way up the rope. With wheels. Boy, these guys sure are crafty.
With that in mind, it’s little surprise that Simian breezes its way to victory, flying up the rope in three and a half seconds. That leaves us to watch the metal man Skeletron power its way up the rope, but it’s a pretty cool sight. It’s about as close to replicating human movement as could possibly be done, and it’s easily the most innovative thing we’ve seen on the show so far. But these two in the official list of actually good contraptions. Skeletron hits the top in 31 seconds, much to the delight of all those watching. It may have lost the battle, but it won the war, or something like that.
The episode now winds down to a steady close, and Martin makes an astute observation that “the one that looks like a human lost”. Geez, it turns out the actual experts are as bad as the fake ones, it’s no wonder they’ve not been allowed to say anything so far. Ulrika seems impressed by this incredible fact, and believes that the rope climbing is going to be a real highlight of the Games. It’s nice she’s found something she’s interested in, and it’s nice she’s not f*cking the robots anymore (that we know of), it’s just a shame she put all her faith in that particular event.
And with that, we get another little reminder to go and buy our own robot starter kits, and day two of Techno Games 2000 comes to an end. For those of you wondering why it’s such a bad idea for poor Ulrika to put all her faith in the rope climbing, if you keep following this website you’ll understand soon enough. These reviews will be posted every weekday for the next few weeks, and tomorrow’s episode promises to be a true test of character. These first two episodes had the decency to only go on for half an hour, but starting from tomorrow I’ve got forty-five minutes of this contrived bullsh*t to sit through and comment on. I seriously hope all you folks out there reading this get at least some sort of kick from my misery.
That’s all from me for today. Hopefully see y’all tomorrow, and remember kids, don’t leave your lawnmowers on at night. Skynet is always watching.