So... looks like we got derailed with the whole Matrix discussion last week. That's all right. It's probably an important movie in a lot of ways, and the discussion it engenders is probably a sign of the movie being better than I give it credit for.
But we're not here to talk about the Matrix today. We're here to puzzle over that oddest of topics: The Robot Ladies of Interest
Alice Krig as the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact
I'm sort of on the fence with this one. ST; First Contact isn't one of my favorite movies, and I think Krig's character was more interesting as a special effect than as an actual character. But if you were a fan of the Trek series, her character added a new dimension to both The Borg and Data.
Technically, Borg aren't really robots. They're organic beings being piloted by robotic intelligence in a hive mind. I figure there's enough intersection on the mental Venn-Diagram that it's okay to cover our friends, The Borg.
But, really, if we want to talk Borg, we want to talk Seven of Nine.
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine on Star Trek, Voyager
ST: Voyager was struggling in the ratings on the fledgling UPN network (now defunct). The show was a bit dull, from some perspectives (mine), as its primary conceit was leaving behind the very rich environment of the Star Trek corner of the galaxy. This was problematic. Star Trek: The Next Generation was the best rated syndicated show in history, and UPN executives had expected their new show to carry their network until other shows caught on.
Producers seemed to have decided that the primary reason the show wasn't doing well was that the show was missing a certain element.
Three guesses what they thought the show was missing prior to Ryan's arrival.
I can't talk too much about Voyager, Ryan, Seven of Nine, etc... I didn't watch the show and saw the move to drop in a character in a shiny, skin tight suit as suspect at best (no, seriously). But Ryan's arrival on the show did, in fact, boost ratings. So say what you want about Sci-Fi audiences, I guess. They're an easy enough read.
Battlestar Galactica Reboot
In college I became nostalgic for a show I remember watching as a very young kid, Battlestar Galactica. For its time, and certainly for 1970's TV, it was a pretty awesome show. However, by 1997, when I watched it again... not so much.
After decades of attempted reboots, about five years ago someone finally re-did BSG and added what the original had been sorely lacking: really attractive Cylons.
Enter: Tricia Helfer as "Six". A robot seductress who tricks a top earth scientist into helping the Cylons wipe out the outerspace colonies.
an understandable error
Well, apparently that wasn't enough.
The show went on to introduce several models of humanoid Cylons, including Grace Park as Sharon, and Lucy Lawless as D'Anna.
If this is the doom that awaits me by steely, robot hearts... I am okay with that.
BSG is a surprisingly smart show, and unlike your average syndicated sci-fi program, there's a point to the Cylons' human appearance. I came in to the show too late to keep up, but what I have seen, I've really liked.
Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell
Yes, she's animated, but Motoko Kusanagi is a terrific character in a phenomenal movie. Just don't ask me what the hell's up with the ending.
It's a dark future in Japan (is there any other kind?) and the Japanese military/ police force has created a cyborg unit to keep up with the level of crime their having to deal with.
I saw this one on my own in the theater one night in college at The Dobie. It's a hell of a movie, visually, if the story is a bit muddy. I guess they've turned it into a whole franchise, but I haven't kept up.
The manga and anime of Ghost in the Shell would go on to be highly influential to the genre. It's tough to point to specific examples in American film where they've managed to evoke the same design, exploration of AI, etc... If anything, I'd say Blade Runner had a huge impact on the look, tone and issues of this movie.
Here's some music video that used Ghost in the Shell animation. Beware, non-sexual nudity is included.
Terminator 3 and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I'm, like, legally obligated to mention Terminator 3, because it did star a woman as the base form for one of the shape-shifting sort of Terminators you saw in T2. But I really didn't like T3, so I don't want to talk about it (can you tell I was a little disappointed?).
I don't care
The lady Terminator was played by... you know what? It doesn't matter. She's gone on to be in a bunch of really goofy and forgettable stuff I hope you haven't seen. The producers felt T3 was so irrelevant that they used a neat narrative trick in the pilot of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to render T3 completely irrelevant.
Speaking of T:tSCC, remember 90's band Garbage? No? Well, you guys missed out. They had some good tunes. Anyway, their singer, Shirley Manson, has hung up her mic and moved on to play Catherine Weaver, a cyborg who has taken the place of a millionaire industrialist in order to further the evil, robot agenda.
Only happy when it rains...
The Sarah Connor Chronicles demonstrates the richness of the Terminator franchise once its been divorced from the star wattage of Governor Arnie. Look, I love Arnie as much as the next child of the 80's, but if he was attached to the franchise, the promise of time travel + robots just wasn't going to be fully achieved.
And now, we have Shirley Manson creeping me out.
PLUS, we have Summer Glau as Cameron Phillips/ Baum, a Terminator unit reprogrammed by future John Connor to go back in time and protect modern-day John Connor. Glau might be recognized from her work in Whedon's Firefly series where she played "River Tam". She was also in a spectacularly bad Sci-Fi original movie "Mammoth".
Wouldn't be Terminator without a steely stare and a messed up face
The show is using the long format of a weekly series to look into the actual character of a Terminator as it continues to learn as it lives among humans. The cast is very good, even the younger players.
Plus, the show features lots of robot fights. Nigh weekly. And, also, Glau is foxy.
That's it for this post.
If you guys have any robots I might have missed, pipe up. We'll do a Leaguer special!