Syfy’s “Robot Combat League,” Was It As Painful To Watch As I Think It Was?

by on February 28, 2013

in Entertainment, tv reviews

Syfy’s newest and latest “reality” TV program, called Robot Combat League came and went. So what did you think???

Syfy has managed to recruit a few folk from different types of backgrounds, like an MMA fighter, an “Olympian,” a “NASA” scientist and other such personalities. And of course, the prerequisite eye-candy is also there on a few of the teams. (Not a complaint… an observation.)

Premiering on Feb 26th, the marketing promised much as they teased about the teams, the personalities and the action. But did it hold up to expectations? Meh. But I have to say that the robot looked pretty cool!

Sadly, you know some folks were expecting something like the Hugh Jackman starrer, Real Steel, but from what I saw, it’s not going to be quite like that. At least not yet. If Robot fighting takes off on TV in the future though, you know that Syfy’s Robot Combat League will be heralded as the precursor to everything that it becomes. Or, totally forgotten. But as time and tech evolves, this probably won’t be the last time we see this premise. And it can only get better from here.

And I’d look forward to that.

Quick Observations:

The motion of the robots was confounding as the camera edits were quick, snappy looks from the ground up, avoiding the huge racks that the monster bots were rolled/pushed out on into the fighting arena. Though inevitably, it was hard to avoid them.

The “fights” were, well, to put it mildly, hokey. It was like the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot toys, but NOT AS FLUID as the toys. It looked what the toy would look like if they had stiff joints.

The effects that were applied to the robots when they got hit seemed unnecessary and were distracting. Even if you wanted to get into the premise, the flying sparks seemed over-the-top.

The personalities of the human pilots, I think, was the equivalent of being jacked up on coffee. When they were introduced to their robots, they seemed extremely excited… almost too excited. I am not sure how an ex-MMA fighter could be jazzed about this. Now a NASA “scientist,” I think I get. But not real-world people.

Then there were the bouts and the “crowd” that was going crazy in the background. At first I wasn’t paying attention, but then I realized the only “crowd that was going crazy” over the fights seemed to be the competitive robot pilots.

The bots were stiff and plastic-like, the participant exuberance seemed over-inflated and to be honest, I drifted off to zzzzz during the middle of the first bout, so I can’t tell you how the show finished out.

While I was wondering if this show will even make it through its first season, I was surprised by some stats I came across:

Robot Combat League TV ratings for the premiere episode was much stronger than I anticipated… pulling in almost 1.4 million viewers. And the target demographic chimed in with almost 750,000 viewers, setting a two-year record for the Syfy ntework.

The true test of time will be if most of the demographic comes back in subsequent weeks or not.

Syfy Press Release:

NEW YORK – February 27, 2013 – Last night’s 10 p.m. (ET/PT) premiere of Syfy’s new competition series, Robot Combat League, geared up more than 1.3 million total viewers and 748,000 Adults 18-49 for a season of non-stop mechanical carnage. This marks Syfy’s best unscripted series premiere in over two years among viewers 18-49. The episode also had an additional 200,000 views pre-premiere on multiple platforms including, VOD, Xbox 360, Roku and Hulu.

The premiere, in which 24 contestants and 12 state-of-the-art robots were introduced and ranked for the season’s fight tournament, also scored for as the site’s best unscripted series premiere ever across all key traffic metrics and as Syfy’s best unscripted series premiere day ever for Twitter activity.

Robot Combat League continues with an all-new, one-hour episode next Tuesday, March 5 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. The episode features preliminary Fights 2 and 3 in the Robot Combat League tournament. The first battle will pit second-ranked Team Commander, piloted by Apache helicopter pilot Jeffrey Fellin and NASA/JPL engineer Paulo Younse, against 11th-ranked Team Scorpio, controlled by college student Diana Yang and toymaker Chris Hadouin. In the second fight of the episode, former All-American athlete Devonric Johnson and mechanical engineer Russell Tait lead third-ranked Team Brimstone against tenth-ranked Team Thunder Skull, made up of race car driver Heather Williams and I.T. specialist Brandon Lewis.

Each week Robot Combat League, hosted by Chris Jericho, the wildly popular WWE superstar, features tournament-style battles between eight-foot tall humanoid robots controlled by a human fighter (“robo-jockey”) and an engineer (“robo-tech”). The robots were designed and created by robotics expert, Mark Setrakian (Hellboy, Men in Black), a leader in the sport of robotic combat.

Robot Combat League is produced by Smart Dog Media, with Craig Plestis serving as executive producer.

Please follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @RobotCombatSyfy.

Here’s some extra bits I’ve collected in case you had not seen the show yet:

Background vid:

On Board Fight Preview:

Meet One of the Fighters

” A professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter known as “The Squid,” Andrew is proud to claim that the only jobs he’s ever had have involved fighting and teaching martial arts. A veteran of 25 professional bouts, he was undefeated in 14 no-rules Vale Tudo contests and in 2010 won National Fighting Championship’s Middleweight Title. He is originally from Mineola, N.Y. Meet the Robo-Jockey of Team A.X.E. “

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