Category Archives: Television

Robot Wars: What on Earth has happened to you?

Let me preface this by saying that Robot Wars was a huge part of my life in primary school. Hell, I ran the Robot Wars Club in Year 6. I avidly followed the trials and tribulations of all the rubbish robots and also Razer for all seven series. But HOLY HELL WHAT HAPPENED?

I was so excited for the glorious return of my favourite series. I was so excited for Dara O’Briain as host. I was so excited for the fact that every heat featured at least one familiar robot – not just familiar, but legendary. How on Earth did they get it so wrong?

Firstly, the arena. It looks like someone won a fan competition to design it. I get that the old arena was sold on years ago, but there was really no need to change it up. You had twelve years to basically emulate or build upon it and it just looks so…drab. They talked-up the size of the arena, but it looks tiny. In addition to this, there’s been twelve years of evolution in terms of camera angles. Twitter shares my feeling on this – the camerawork was way too choppy and was slightly nauseating at times.

Secondly, the actual format – I get that, to gauge the opinions of the audience, they only invited forty robots to compete, meaning we’d only see eight robots per heat. However, the level of filler in the first episode was deeply worrying. I wholeheartedly approve of having four-robot heats to begin the episode, but turning the second round into basically a football quarter-finals didn’t work for me. It meant that the actual final battle was ridiculously underwhelming, as we watched two knackered robots try not to be destroyed, rather than destroy each other.

Yes, the round featured a shock – overwhelming favourite Razer accidentally pitting itself – but that is also really not good for the overall series. Razer caused so much panic from other roboteers, so much panic for anyone involved in operating the house robots, that it elevated the show immediately. The fact that the new format basically devolved legitimate Robot Wars legend, Behemoth, to a blubbering mess. Seeing new blood dominating is a great thing, but it being a side-effect of two legends basically self-evicting isn’t a fine way for a reboot to begin.

As a result of the arena being tiny, the house robots felt irrelevant, as they really didn’t have anything to do unless they were forced to. In times gone by, we would have seen House Robots actively bait competitors, or be baited (or destroyed, thanks to Razer) by competitors. The new CPZs are probably six feet square, leaving the new ridiculously huge Sir Killalot, Matilda, Shunt or Dead Metal to basically sit there any cash in the pay cheques.

I feel so bad for criticising the new Robot Wars, because I so badly wanted to enjoy it and see badass fighting machines entertain me and make me feel ten years old again, but there’s just so much that they changed for the worse that I just don’t see where they could go from here. Robot Wars did so much good for so many people – showing them careers in STEM and igniting their passions for how stuff works, but the new Robot Wars just limped across the line for me. I hope that the rest of the series is better, because this sort of underwhelming reboot can cease for me.

Advertisements
Tagged ,

Survivor: Blood vs Water – Episode 1 (also known as Survivor: Amazing Race edition)

Time to start a new era in my blogging and cover one of my favourite shows – Survivor. Returning for its 27th season, the Reality juggernaut is bringing back ten former castaways (they’re not technically favourites, but probably moreso than last season’s cast) as well as ten people related to them, whether it be by blood or water, and then throws a boatload of twists at them. Those twists are:

  1. Day Zero – The ten pairs will be split up along the beach, and camp out the night before to prepare the loved one for their time in the game. It also gives the producers the ability to split them up cruelly the morning after.
  2. Redemption Island is back! – Immediately after creating the tribes, one person from each tribe will be voted out and sent immediately to Redemption Island to await the first actual boot on Day 3. I don’t hate Redemption Island as much as some people, but I would much prefer it if we could either get ninety-minute episodes every week (meaning we could keep reward challenges) or they’d shift Redemption to the end of the episode, allowing someone to actually leave the show every week.
  3. Tribe Switches – I’ve long said I’d like Redemption to appear on a season with tribe switches happening, so it wouldn’t be as predictable, but I didn’t expect it to be done in this way – if your loved one is on Redemption, for whatever reason, you can take their place before the duel happens. In that case, they will join your tribe, meaning that tribe will have a mix of returning and new castaways.
  4. Redemption Island Truels – Following the model of South Pacific, three people will compete in each “duel” – loser goes home, first and second place stay. However, the winner will be able to hand out a clue to the immunity idol, which is actually hidden this season, to whomever they want on either tribe. This gives the winner a little bit of power and/or revenge over their former tribemates or loved ones’ tribemates, if they so choose.

Now to those pairs. In no particular order, they are:

Gervase and Marissa – “Original OG” and student, from Philadelphia and North Carolina

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-1

Gervase & Marissa are Uncle and Niece, and probably the most volatile pairing out there – they’re the only pair who openly admit being willing to vote each other out, and are very very competitive, which could be their downfall. He played in the original season, Borneo, when she was just nine – can he learn from his mistakes, and correct his laziness and weakness in swimming? Coincidentally, the above picture is the first and only time she smiles.

Kat and Hayden – Former Survivor loser and Big Brother winner, from Florida and Arizona

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-2

She is a former Survivor castaway who was blindsided, he is a former Big Brother winner who is possibly the most boring winner of that show for a long time. She was screwed by her alliance, he screwed one of the most popular people ever to play the game. In short, he’ll do well, she really won’t.

Laura M. and Ciera – Mother and Daughter, from Oregonsurvivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-3

I’m glad Laura’s back. If it wasn’t for Russhell in Samoa, she would have done very well and probably been a much more fun and over the top villain than the little we saw of her. Ciera struck me initially as probably a very early boot for the loved ones’ tribe – she’s small, she doesn’t look very strong, and her mother is the sort of player you would want to weaken as soon as is physically possible. Can she overcome the troubles she might very well have?

Rupert and Laura B. – Will keep returning to Survivor until he wins and Merchandiser, from Indiana.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-4

ROOOOOOOOOAR! The call of the Rupert means he’s back. Again. For a fourth time. He’s already won $1,000,000 thanks to America, but surely everyone is tired of him. Well, unless you’re on a tribe with him. He and Boston Rob don’t just share the fact they’ve both played four times, but also the fact that they are the two most well-respected camp builders in Survivor history. She has been his loved one in the annual visits twice now, and was probably the most obvious choice when the season was announced, but this will almost certainly be Rupert’s last appearance (hopefully).

Colton and Caleb Former(?) racist and outdoorsman, from Alabama

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-5

Colton previously abused his tribemates on Survivor: One World, and describes his fiancé as his rock. It’s ironic that in the first Survivor season with a former Big Brother player, and after such a dire season in terms of hatred from nearly all those players, that they would invite such a hateful former castaway back. For all his protestations that he has changed, I doubt it.

Candice and John – Replacement Pair, from Washington D.C.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-6

Candice and John weren’t even supposed to be on this season. For a girl whose major claim to fame is being the one who mutinied and wasn’t Penner, she’s getting a lot of mileage. Last we heard from her, she’d postponed her wedding to Mr Candice (aka John) to come back for Heroes vs Villains, and was one of the questionable choices. Both times she’s played, she known for being disloyal to any and all alliances or tribes. Should be fun for her with the immediate vote-off.

Monica and Brad (For that is his name) – NFL wife and Attorney, from Florida

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-7

She was a workhorse non-entity in One World, he was her dutiful former-NFL playing husband, who is now an attorney. Also, if he is not the villain this season, something has gone majorly wrong. He is by far the cockiest person out there, and I just hope he gets blindsided fast, because it will be a glorious piece of television.

Tina and Katie – mother and daughter, from Tennessee (where the whiskey flows like wine)

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-8

The winner of the Survivor season with the most watched episode ever – Tina Wesson – is back for a third time. In All-Stars, she was an immediate target, for being a smiling assassin. Tina & Katie are also the only pair to explicitly mention that it’s okay for them to vote each other out, although I doubt they’d ever go through with it.

Tyson and Rachel – Survivor badass and Graphic Designer, from Utah

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-9

Tyson is one of the funniest people ever to play Survivor. I am a huge fan of Tyson, purely because he is able to be a competition bad-ass, whilst distracting everyone by his antics including his frequent nudity. Rachel has to be strong-willed just to be with someone as relentless brilliant and silly as Tyson. If Tyson doesn’t go far, I will be sorely disappointed.

Aras & Vytas – Former winner and former heroin addict/maths teacher, from California

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-10

Aras is one of the most underrated winners of Survivor. His brother is a former heroin addict and was horrible to him growing up. This is only going to end well.

Which of these pairs of people will have the right mix of brains, brawn and luck to make it to the finish line and win $1,000,000 and the Amazing Race Survivor: Blood vs Water? Thirty-nine (and a half) days, twenty people, ONE Survivor!

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-11

Once Day 1 finally begins, Jeff has everyone who’s looking forward to competing against their loved one raise their hands. Monica, Aras, Vytas, Katie, Candice, John, Laura B, Marissa and Kat all raise their hands – a fact that means Jeff claims “over half” put their hands up. Not for the first time this episode, maths is not someone’s strong point. Brad also makes an instant mistake and admits he’d let Monica win a tarp regardless of his team’s reaction. Marissa in particular was not a fan of this tactic. Returning Players and Loved Ones then split into Galang and Tadhana respectively.

When the instant vote twist was announced, my prediction was Colton and Ciera being the first people voted out. The votes were as follows:

Tadhana:

  • Vytas – Laura B
  • Brad – Laura B
  • Hayden – Laura B
  • Laura B – Marissa
  • Caleb – Laura B
  • Marissa – ?
  • Ciera – Laura B

Rupert, of course, thought it was a slight upon him. He is of course, wrong – she stuck out like a sore thumb in her tribe, being middle-aged.

Galang:

  • Candice – Laura M
  • Tyson – Laura M
  • Tina – Candice
  • Kat – Candice
  • Colton – Candice
  • Rupert – Laura M
  • Monica – Candice
  • Aras – Gervase (having crossed out Candice’s name)
  • Laura M – Candice

Mr Candice vowed to vote out everyone who voted out his missus. Good luck with that one.

Jeff then floated the idea of the loved ones’ switch to Rupert.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-12

Face of an idiot.

So much has been made of Rupert’s decision, but here’s my opinion – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?! Rupert has never not made the Jury, and for a very good reason – he’s safe in the tribal phase of the game. Nobody is going to vote him out first, ever! His wife, on the other hand, was singled out by her tribe for being the weakest one. If he thinks logically, all he wants is one of them to win the million, so why not give yourself the best chance and let her duel it out with Candice, who’s never been brilliant at individual challenges? All he’s done is given Galang an easy first boot, unless something catastrophic happens. The best tactic would be to go back to your beach, make an alliance and then discuss it on Day 4 with her – it’s ridiculous to give up so easily!

Mr Candice is then given the same option, and decides against it. The irony of Candice and Rupert being together on Redemption after her backstabbing attitude with him in Heroes vs Villains is amazing. Rupert also claims that he and Laura are blood, which I sincerely hope they are not, because it would be creepy as hell.

Once they’re back at camp, Galang discovered their supplies. Gervase correctly spots that he’s had the longest lay-off in Survivor history. Surely, that’s obvious – he was in the first season, this is the newest season, dumbass! Monica also has a discussion with Colton over his behaviour in One World and warns him not to be a nuisance. I suspect this won’t last, purely because he’s a professional nuisance, and has never given us any reason to not say that.

Brad immediately brings Tadhana round to apologise for his statement about the tarp – all this did was rehash old feelings and bring animosity. He then starts an alliance, between “four guys and a gay guy” to rule Tadhana with an iron fist. He claimed to Caleb that he’d be “number one” in the five-man alliance, his first bit of lacklustre maths. Could Vytas please give him some tutoring? Because “Four with nine equals out, but five with nine equals in” – the basis of Survivor alliances.

Within fifteen minutes, Galang has fire. Tadhana, however just has secrets to divulge, thanks to Vytas (heroin addict) and Ciera (double teen mother). Mr Candice also seems to know that Brad played in the NFL, but it’s not known if he admitted it or not. At Galang, Colton also tries to apologise for his racism from One World. Whilst he’s crying, Monica sympathises with him, so obviously forgives him for what he’s done.

At Redemption Island, Candice is out for revenge on all the people who voted for her, whilst Rupert sits back and tries to retain strength for the duel. Neither Candice nor Rupert have won an individual immunity before, so it’s a level playing field.

At the first challenge, six people from each tribe race over a series of obstacles, racing to untie a boat containing three bags of puzzle pieces. The remaining three people use the puzzle pieces to create a wheel and raise a flag. After the boat portion, Tadhana have a huge lead, mainly thanks to Gervase’s lack of swimming ability and Tadhana’s teamwork. Galang also struggled with the paddling aspect, veering off course twice. The battle of mothers vs daughters in the puzzle levelled up the playing field, with the mothers annihilating their daughters (and Caleb) to win immunity for Galang.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-13

An idiot being restrained by a legend.

Thank the Lord that Gervase hasn’t played in thirteen years. His behaviour as a sore winner, especially on a season where your win jeopardises your loved one’s safety is idiotic. Tadhana is a tribe ruled by men, and his niece has gone from being safe to being very much on the block thanks to his actions.

When they get back to camp, the five men of Tadhana decide upon their first target. Thanks to Gervase’s actions, Marissa is one of the targets, as well as Katie for being a third wheel on the puzzle in the challenge. Vytas also keeps his side alliances open, being the conduit between the girls and guys.

Tribal Council centres on the tribe’s relationships with members of the other tribe, whether that be Mr Candice’s choice not to swap with his wife, or Ciera’s comparison between her mother’s stories and reality. Marissa also realises she’s guilty by association, thanks to Gervase’s actions at the challenge.

Katie and Marissa are shown voting for each other, but no-one else’s votes are shown.

By a vote of 9-1, Marissa, you have been evicted from the Survivor House.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-14*smuff*

Parks and WHAT THE HECK?! #parksandrec #nbc

Good news! NBC finally decided to show a little of its hand and announced five pick-ups for 2013-14. Good news! Revolution was one of them! Bad news (and pardon the Irish)! WHERE THE FECK WAS PARKS AND RECREATION?! I’ve come to terms with Community probably not being picked up this year, given the lack of support it has received from the network (although a surprise fifth season, then a sixth, and a movie would be greatly appreciated), but a double blow?! Dear God, NBC.

Revolution – “Ghosts”, or Crossbows, Flash Drives, Swords and Machine Guns #revolution

“Ghosts”

Revolution for me is generally the equivalent of theme week on a singing show, only instead of bad versions of Bon Jovi, Motown or classic rock songs, it’s always the scumbags-being-murdered-in-gruesome-ways theme week! So far in 11 episodes, we’ve had branding, stabbing through the heart (with both sword and screwdriver!) and, who can forget all the samurai swords?!

Rebels

  • I’d say they want to cheer us up – within 20 seconds, they’re showing Danny dying again!
  • They obviously can’t be bothered bringing Graham Rogers back to take part in the grave scene though.
  • There’s a lot of talk of increasing resistance – Charlie’s resistance to her mother’s sudden reappearance, Miles’ desire to build up the resistance to Monroe – but it’s more the lack o
  • Hey, Rachel – Charlie’s not trying to go out meeting boys, or selling her body (although to be fair, she has tried!) – I’d try a bit harder if I were you to stop her fighting those bastards!
  • “It’s a frigging flash drive?!” – well, yes Aaron, keep up! We knew that 11 episodes ago! It’s the question of what was on that flash drive that’s the important bit.
  • And finally, 28 minutes in, we find out the theme of the week – CROSSBOWS! Straight through the chest! TWICE!
  • Seriously, Charlie – why bother blocking the door with a table? It’s as useless as your lack of character development.
  • I love how Miles’ resolution to every situation is basically just out-samurai the shit out of them. If he didn’t have insane fight skills, he would just be a complete snarky bastard version of Aaron.
  • “Good to see you, Rachel” – something tells me that he won’t be seeing her for much longer.
  • “The way to protect the many is to keep the power in the hands of the few” – that’s one way to keep the series moving!
  • Surprise! We’re machine gunning you! And as expected, Rachel escapes! And Colm Feore gets to have a look of “I’LL GET YOU HARRY POTTER, YOU SEE IF I DON’T!”
  • There’s a mighty load of machine gunning, crossbows, and a good deal of hacking with a sword, just for all fans of brutal deaths in this episode.
  • The rebels seem to be forgetting the old adage – never bring a knife to a gun fight! You’ve got to find some fun guns to actually combat Monroe.
  • Miles is a damn wrecking ball. I expect to see him knock down some walls with the sheer force of his snark.
  • Seriously, I get that Charlie’s emotional apology to Rachel is supposed to be emotional, but could someone tell that to the muscles in her face?
  • “There’s this place. It’s called The Tower.” Huge revelation there.

Militia

  • Oh good – Colm Feore can track pendants. That’s a nice convenient plot twist. Something tells me that Randall won’t be able to give Monroe everything. A son would be a good suggestion of a thing he couldn’t provide.
  • You really really have to be stupid to have an evil scar and look sinister into the camera – obviously you’re gonna be backstabbed and forced to give the diamonds back – just be glad this isn’t the molten gold week, or disembowelment week.
  • So Monroe doesn’t trust Randall. There’s a surprise.

Flashbacks

  • FINALLY! We learn about Randall! Neville was an insurance broker (turned batshit insane guy when a guy broke into his house), Rachel was a scientist taking an opportunity to save her (ultimately useless and annoying, but quite handy with a rocket launcher) son, and now we find out Randall was an army dad. And former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defense. And Rachel’s old boss. And evil bastard.
  • It seems Mr Flynn was a bit of a prick to Rachel even before the lights went off (I refuse to call it a blackout, cause that just reminds me how much I miss FlashForward!), forcing her and Ben to work harder and ignore their reservations with this mysterious massive weapon they’re creating (I sadly suspect it’s going to be a power bomb or something stupid). They’re not the only eggheads who work for him.
  • And there’s another reference to that mysterious Tower. Who let Randall give orders when his son just died? Obviously his decisions are going to be motivated by fury! He shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a position of power without a clear head!

Another good, if flawed episode there. Like I said last week, if you don’t take it seriously, it’s one of the best shows on network television. Sadly there are so so so many holes to pick! Also, next week looks like it has one of my favourite parts of Revolution – a shit-ton of Giancarlo Esposito being evil!

Tagged ,

Revolution, and the problem of “V”

Let’s get this out of the way – I was a huge, massive fan of V. I thought it was such a brilliantly bonkers weekly drama, and as long as you didn’t take it too seriously, it was enjoyable. It was disappointing then, that ABC cancelled it just as it got awesome by cutting out the main issue – the whiny, annoying sonofabitch character of Tyler, the human Romeo to Lisa’s alien Juliet.

Fast-forward eighteen months to the premiere of NBC’s Revolution, starring amongst others, Elizabeth Mitchell, the lead actress from the V-boot! And just like V, it suffered whiny, annoying, sons of bitches in its teenage characters, the main offender being Danny Matheson. Revolution, unlike V, has been a ratings juggernaut, helping NBC to a rare victory, but for the first half of its season, struggled with its teenage characters, reunited with their mother in the midseason finale.
However, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Revolution learnt from its mistakes and cut the problem of V out just eleven episodes in.

Congrats to all involved in Revolution for actually learning from Mitchell’s past and killing off one of the only negatives in its production – my next step would be simply letting Giancarlo Esposito and Colm Feore just be evil evil bastards – that’d be enough.

Tagged , ,