Commentator: Paul Dickenson
Ricochet for BBC3 (repeated on BBC2), 13 October to 10 November 2003 (20 episodes)
FightBox is the BBC's latest attempt to replace Robot Wars after stupidly letting it go to Five. It works on the ever-popular concept that anyone aged 18+ can enter and appear on the show. This is achieved by creating a warrior via the (admittedly awesome) Fightkit, training it up and then entering it into the qualification contests. The top ranking qualifiers get their warriors into the Fightbox, a slightly understated gladiatorial arena. The audience stand on the top tier holding the clearly BBC-created banners for the sentients. The warriors enter the arena in a dramatic manner to stand next to their creators and their stats appear next to them so every watching Fightkit owner can blatantly rip them off. These warriors have been given suitably bad names which are supposed to be threatening. In general the crappiest warriors have the best names. The game itself starts with the eliminators. The 2 warriors controlled by their creators in a pair of nifty looking pods at each end of the arena each take part in 2 eliminators to score points. These eliminators are very good to watch and do seem to be quite well thought out. They are:
The best one of the lot. The helix is a giant spiral in the arena with 2 sentients on it as well as numerous energy sapping traps. The likes of flame jets and drills aim to knock warriors down and off the helix. 1 point is awarded for every metre travelled (the helix is 45 metres long) with a bonus 5 for collecting the cube at the top (guarded by a sentinal). The other sentient is half way up and usually kicks the crap out of the warrior.
Chaos this one. Blocks appear throughout the arena which are worth 5 points each. They also serve to slow down the platforms which carry the sentients down to the arena floor. When they do get down all hell breaks loose as the contestants' warriors get beaten to a pulp while still trying to get points. Good fun but tires after a bit.
2 sentients (spotting a pattern here?) stand in two force fields on the giant wheel. The warriors' job is to grab the blue cubes for 5 points or the red cube in the centre for 10. After 30 seconds the sentients come out of their confinement and all hell breaks loose (again).
Concrete blocks drop into the arena and are worth 5 points each. They either contain a power-up (1st block), a sentient (2nd block) or a zombie (3rd block and worth 10 points). Quite boring and predictable.
2 sentients (again) vs 2 warriors who are trying to change squares above the arena floor to their colour (blue or red). If they get knocked off the board then they lose all their squares. While a square is lit it's worth 5 points, points are collected quickly here. Also the squares change formation every now and then. Good to watch as it's usually very fast moving.
After 2 of these the highest scorer goes to the showdown where they're joined by the winner of the next 2 warriors. The losers get an ego crushing send off down a line of 6 cheerleaders all yelling "LOSER!". Nothing like a good ego crush to send off a contestant. As well as that they have to stand by while one of the 5 sentients smash their warrior to pieces. Nice. The winners/survivors go on to the showdown, a one on one fight between the two. At knockout the loser goes to pieces (literally) and the winner is proclaimed to have gone through to the quarters/semis/final. The concept works well to start with but grates after a while. More than 5 eliminators must be possible but with the restraints of those 5 it gets boring very quickly. After a short while the BBC realised that it wasn't working in the 6pm slot so moved it to the ever accessible 9am slot. As the show is aimed at the cool, mature, geek (if such a thing exists) that move didn't work and it died a horrible death on BBC3 (like so many other shows). There is one reason why it doesn't work and that's on channel five. Still the Fightkit's good fun to play about with if you've got a few minutes to spare. Another failing point is that Trevor Nelson and Lisa Snowdon are just plain bad hosts.