The Bots on the Menu

The Bots are as much of the show as the Hosts or the Experiments. What separates them from each other? Sarcasm, Singing, Nerdiness, devotion to Richard Basehart? They each dance to their own music. Crow is cynical. Tom oblivious away from what interests him. Not one of them is the same. How would you describe Tom, Crow, M. Waverly, Growler, or GPC? Anything stand them alone as who they are? Or is it more than one thing?

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For me, there’s a childlike innocence about them that is forever endearing.

Obviously this was very prevalent in the Joel years as he was their father, but it does remain throughout.

Crow is the impish, chaotic type. A good natured Loki if you will.

Tom has always been a bit of the blowhard, more serious of the two.

Each and every bot is of importance and has character, but to single those two out is important because they are so front and center.

They’re very much an Abbot and Costello, or Laurel and Hardy- the strengths and weaknesses plays off each other perfectly so that they always have their own “voice” and character.

That said, separately, neither is as strong.

Just my thoughts!

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I love how Crow changed when Bill Corbett took over. He became slightly deranged and unhinged. Just check him out as a Solarite or when he rushed the Halloween season with Mike.

I’ve always loved how Servo is more emotional and apt to burst into tears like when he got stuck in the ductwork or when Mike mentions Burt and Loni’s divorce.

Don’t get me wrong, Trace’s Crow was terrific but being an East Coast guy myself (like Bill) I just got his humor more.

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If one were to go further with the Abbot and Costello, or Laurel and Hardy comparisons, Tom is more of the straight man of the two, so would compare more favorably with Abbot and Hardy. Of course the real straight man is the test subject, so both bots are able to fulfill the comedian role from time to time.

The change from Trace to Bill does lend a bit of a schizophrenic quality to Crow in the later Mike seasons. With Kevin having the Tom Servo role for so long, and his persisting between test subjects, he has a bit more comforting presence. Tom is also much more likely to burst into song, or have an emotional breakdown.

I am still getting used to Baron and Hampton’s takes on the bots, and need to binge their seasons a few more times before I can weigh in more on the new qualities they bring to the table. I do think that Hampton’s Crow seems a bit toned down from Bill’s rendition, while Baron’s Tom Servo still feels a lot like when Kevin was portraying him.

I was only able to get to the live show once, so Nate and Conner are total wildcards for me. Looking forward to seeing more of their takes in season 13.

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In an episode of the Reels of Justice podcast from a few weeks back, Conor prosecuted and Emily defended Leprechaun in the Hood. As befits someone who voices Servo, Conor is a magnificent orator.

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My favorite description of the bots’ personalities comes from Kevin Murphy himself “they can be real savants or just plain morons.” Which is such a wonderful way to describe them… They bounce between sophisticated and stupid with such comic ease.
Tom is the easiest to get his personality since it’s the most consistent across the performers… Josh made him the smooth-talking wannabe ladies man, Kevin added his insecurity so he talks (and sings) real big but will devolve into a sobbing mess if someone bursts his bubble. Baron and Connor mostly maintain the Kevin version, although Baron’s seems to have regained the Josh versions confidence.
As neurotic as Tom can be, I think Trace once described Crow as neuroses incarnate, which has been the trait he’s maintained. Crow, of all the bots, has always had the loosest grip on reality, which has always been both an aid and a hindrance to his creative pursuits. Trace plays Crow as though the Great Gonzo had Groucho Marx’s wit, but with ADHD. Bill’s Crow is more cynical and quicker to anger, but lest we forget that Trace’s Crow had some truly epic freakouts too. Hampton and Nate’s Crows are closer to Trace’s, but they cranked the neuroses up to 11, and they lean more into just utter silliness a bit more (shockingly, have yet to hear Nate’s Crow do an Ed Wynne impression, despite it being perfectly in keeping with Crow’s skills as an impressionist).
GPC is the hardest to pin down because really she had so few lines over the course of the ten seasons of the original run, and her personality might vary wildly each time she was on screen depending on how it would serve the joke: is she the Bot Maternal? Was being a lounge singer one of her desires? We know she cared enough about Joel to rescue him when she thought the Mads were going to kill him, but had no problem beating the sh*t out of him when she thought he was being too rough with the boys. Rebecca (and by extension Yvonne)'s GPC was such a radical change from the old character, and after only twenty episodes I still don’t feel like I know her well enough to put her personality in a box, which is a good thing, she has more room to grow than Tom and Crow do because we expect them to behave a certain way after the last 33 years.

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I think the change wasn’t as drastic as you make it out as. Much of the dialogue of the current version of the character would have fit with Jim Mallon’s take. I believe it’s the voice that is really at issue. Certain lines of dialogue come across differently between Jim’s falsetto and an actual female performer.

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Well it’s more that she HAS LINES now which is the big change… Pat’s version of the character tended to speak in longer sentences than Jim’s, I guess Jim just didn’t like having a lot of lines. And now Rebecca (and Yvonne)'s version is an honest to goodness main character!

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