Hi all!

Over here in Canada, the full Robot Combat League season has finished airing. So, I'm going to avoid spoilers, but I figured some of the people here might be interested in how it came out...

As a show, it really was a mixed bag. It would have been an amazing program overall, if only it hadn't kept shooting itself in the proverbial foot with bad editing decisions. Otherwise, all the parts were good. The host was enthusiastic and engaging, the robots were close to a revelation, and Mark Setrakian championed them very well indeed, so viewers knew what they were seeing. And, the contestants were well-chosen and engaging. All the parts for a wonderful series was there.

As for the robot fights - any doubts about whether boxing robots are worth it pretty much disappear the minute one robot cuts another in half. This happens more than once throughout the show. The robots take serious and impressive damage. Sparks are used to mark body hits, and that can be seen as a bit of trickery, but frankly, it doesn't matter. The first robot bisection really does take care of any doubts about what these robots are doing to each other.

And yet...the editing. The dreadful, dreadful editing.

Now, in some ways it isn't really fair in some ways to compare Robot Combat League to Robot Wars - they're different kinds of contest, with different kinds of Robots. But, one thing Robot Wars got REALLY right was general presentation. If you watched it on a station with commercials, the commercials appeared in locations that made sense - you never saw a commercial take place in the middle of a melee. The general pacing was also dead-on. The show never felt as though something had been added as filler.

Unfortunately, Robot Combat League gets general presentation wrong on both of these counts. Not only do commercials appear in the middle of two minute boxing rounds, but at least two episodes end DURING the first round of fighting of a match. Interviews with contestants and footage of repairs can be used as filler, but it has to be used competently - and this show just doesn't do that. The show should be creating the illusion that we are seeing a boxing night broadcast. However, that illusion is shattered the moment the presenter declares "Tonight begins our [insert variety of finals here] bout" with under ten minutes to go in the episode. This bad editing and pacing utterly destroys the feeling of seeing a tournament, and reminds us that we are really just watching a reality TV show (albeit one with giant boxing robots).

One other minor quibble: the rules the judges work by never do become quite clear throughout the run of the series. I say that's minor because ultimately while they have the power to stop a round if a robot becomes too damaged to continue - and they do exercise this power - they don't seem to have that much impact on the fight as a whole. It makes sense to stop a round when both robots are effectively disabled and neither side can continue, but the difference between a round-stopper and a knockout is never really made clear.

So, I'd give the show a 3/5 - it could have been great, and it is definitely worth watching for the robots alone, if nothing else, but you have to grit your teeth and just endure the dreadful editing, which just wrecks the show.