As a sci-fi fanatic, nothing gets me more psyched than a good robot. People have an endless fascination with the human-like machine. It’s so awesome watching them scoot around on their little treads! Of course, not all T.V. robots are cute and cuddly—some are so human they make us question our own humanity, while others strike terror in the hearts of Time Lords. Here are some of my favorite television robots for your reading pleasure.
Rosey the Robot Maid
Apparently, in the future, we can dispense with that pesky paying-a-fair-wage-for-an-honest-day’s-work thing. No smoke breaks. No lunch. Just a sweet robot named Rosey to take your coat, discipline your children, and give you advice about being a good Spacely Sprockets employee.
Vicki the Small Wonder
V.I.C.I., or Voice Input Child Identicant, is the robot daughter of Ted Lawson, a robotics engineer who’s attempt at building a domestic servant backfired when his creation turned out to be a super-intelligent, self-improving “real” girl. Along with his family, Ted creepily decides to pretend Vicki is their actual human daughter. Never mind that Vicki was the object of many a real young boy’s affections (or because of it) the writers decided the family would keep Vicki in their 12-year-old son’s bedroom cabinet. Somehow this didn’t bother the censors.
Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander Data: Technically an Android
I won’t lie: Data is my favorite mechanical creature on television, hands down. Created by Dr. Noonien Soong on the planet Omichron Theta, Data is a sentient android serving as Chief Operations Officer on the Starship Enterprise. Data is thoroughly loveable as he strives for his own humanity—struggling nobly to understand humor and human emotion, learning to whistle, satisfying a woman, and, in the season 2 episode “Measure of a Man,” proving his autonomy and civil rights under Starfleet law. Emotion chip or no emotion chip, the Data-Geordi bromance never stops.
Gypsy, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot
Joel Hodgson’s wacky robot friends man-up to do battle with the worst movies ever made in the beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000. No peanut gallery is complete without their shadowy little heads. Gypsy is just in here because I felt bad leaving her out. Cambot, well, we hardly knew ye.
Dr. Who’s Cybermen
Technically cyborgs, this race of mechanical men use spinning metal torture chairs to transform human beings (and other humanoid aliens, of which there are inexplicably many in the Dr. Who canon) into more of themselves. It’s kind of like the Borg if the Borg were completely incased in metal and had funny little rectangle mouths.
Battlestar Gallactica (the college years) hit a home run with their totally human-like Cylons (Cybernetic Lifeform Node). Unlike other robotic incarnations on television, the Cylons have emotions, they bleed, they plot… they do all the messed up bologna humans do. You know you’ve come a long way when you don’t even need albino makeup for your robot actors. Also, Battlestar Gallactica seems to understand something fundamental about my people: N.L.L.L. (nerds love Lucy Lawless).