'Robot Combat League' review: It's robotic
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UNSCRIPTED SERIES "Robot Combat League"
WHEN | WHERE Premieres tomorrow night at 10 on Syfy
REASON TO WATCH Hulking robots smash and crash while humans scream for blood -- uh, hydraulic fluid.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Twelve teams of two people learn to do battle through what the competition's host, WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, calls "giant mechanical wonders." There's more going on down in that heavy-metal pit than vicarious gladiator action -- but watch the bloodlust in the eyes of the "robojockey" swinging his or her control-covered arms above, while their adjacent-seated "robotech" partner moves joysticks to stride robot legs in for the kill.
Syfy's premiere has to spend half its hour just explaining the setup. Even teasing the 24 players takes awhile, although "League" makes sure to insert a shot of MMA fighter Amanda Lucas' daddy, George, into its very first minute. The cast is reality-TV true, also featuring an Olympic hurdler, a guy who builds NASA robots, hot-chick gamers and even father-daughter software engineers.
Best watch this one with the DVR running. The pause button helps with reading all the rules, player bios, and build rundowns on the various sleek/funky robots -- 8-feet tall, half-ton brutes with names like Brimstone, Steel Cyclone and Steampunk.
MY SAY Destructive thrills are the most obvious calling card of "Robot Combat League," summed up early as Lucas nearly drools over her robot's "giant metal fists -- I wanna go in and, like, break stuff." Doesn't take long to Feel the Power, even for viewers delivered lightning edits and tense music.
So, what about the human intrigue of partner interaction, coordination and strategizing? That gets a bit of short shrift in favor of more blood (leaking hydraulic fluid) and guts (flying sparks and parts). Maybe the psychology is yet to come. First time out, at least, "Robot Combat League" is too busy mastering the mechanics to show much personality in its people (who include not only Manhasset-born host Jericho, but also Mineola MMA fighter Andrew Montanez among the competitors).
BOTTOM LINE Robots don't really suck the life out of people. Do they?