Ro Ro Ro Your Robot

19 Mar

Robots have filled the imagination of humans for decades, and they have slowly become reality. We have machines that can work for us and build other machines. However, when most people imagine robots they don’t think about an arm programmed to put a part on a car. They think about something that walks, talks, thinks, and, on some level, can be our personal helper and companion. It is something like us but not like us.

As scientists and engineers have developed robots for the real world, writers and filmmakers have developed the robots of our imagination. With that in mind, I have put together a list of five robots from sci-fi and popular culture that were memorable to me. You won’t find anything from Star Trek or Star Wars (I know. They are androids and droids. In my mind, Data, C-3PO, R2-D2 and any other form of moving around intelligence is a robot.), but you will find some creations that are memorable and some that are obscure.

GunslingerWestworld is part of an adult-oriented theme park where people can live out their fantasies. There are areas based on the Roman Empire, a medieval castle and an Old West town. Robots populate the parks and guests can interact with them as if they were human. Believe me, when I used the terms “adult-oriented” and “fantasies” I mean it. Anyway, Gunslinger operates in Westworld and is the fastest draw in the West. Played by Yul Brenner and based on his character in The Magnificent Seven, he faces off against park guest Richard Benjamin.

When a malfunction strikes the theme park, the robots go out of control, and Gunslinger tries to really kill Benjamin. The robot chases the human through each historical era, and Benjamin knows he’s in trouble as he sees the bodies of other guests. He eventually defeats Gunslinger and escapes back into the real world.

Robot – A simple name for a great character. Lost in Space is one of my favorite shows, and Robot is my all-time favorite, uh, robot.

People remember Robot as the best friend of Will Robinson; as the hero of many episodes; and as the nemesis of Dr. Zachary Smith. As time passed, the show focused less on the rest of the Robinson clan and more on the relationship of these three characters. However, people may not remember that Robot started out as a bad guy working with Smith to destroy the mission. That’s why they ended up “lost in space”. Robot soon redeemed himself, but those early dark episodes remain my favorite.

Robby the Robot – Built in 1955, Robby the Robot is the first in a long line of robotic characters and may be the most recognizable.

Billed as himself, Robby starred alongside a pre-comedic Leslie Nielsen in Forbidden Planet, the sci-fi classic. In subsequent years, he appeared in Lost in Space to battle with Robot; in television shows such as Hazel, Twilight ZoneThe Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Mork & Mindy; and in movies like Gremlins. Through this time and through the creation of new and more stylistic robots, Robby remains the king of them all.

TwikiBuck Rogers in the 25th Century was one of television’s many attempts to build upon the success of Star Wars. It starred Gil Gerard and Erin Gray. However, the light-hearted aspect of the show (actually, there were a lot of light things about it) came from Twiki.

Admittedly, I didn’t watch this show very much and looked at Erin Gray a lot when I did. However, this little dude entertained me. Played by Felix Villa and voiced by Mel Blanc, this guy was always getting into trouble but also helped Buck get out of trouble. He was the perfect companion in the tradition of old western stars, Gabby Hayes and Andy Devine.

Al Gore – I know it’s an old joke. But, his family comes from a town not far from here, and he is a distant relative of mine. Also, he works out of Nashville, and one of my good friends is his personal assistant. I think that gives me a break on using a tired joke. Besides, he looks kind of like a robot.

Despite the look of a robot, there are other clues to his robot self as well.

1. He invented the internet and is an expert in global warming despite the fact that he has no known scientific training. He has also gone from being almost bankrupt after the 2000 election to being a millionaire hundreds of times over. These have to be signs of immense artificial intelligence.

2. He shows no emotion unless someone disagrees with his stance or he is in a massage parlor.

3. He claims to be from Carthage, Tennessee, but no one can remember his childhood in that town. It’s like he was suddenly created. Of course, that could be a sign that he is not from Tennessee at all but is actually a product of Washington, D.C.

That, my friends, is a list of five famous and not so famous robots. Are there any robots out there that you would consider your favorites?

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One Response to “Ro Ro Ro Your Robot”

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  1. Alterations « surroundedbyimbeciles - April 10, 2012

    […] As I flew home, I couldn’t wait to open up the Surrounded by Imbeciles portal and see what I have been missing. Imagine my surprise to see a big red/yellow/orange map on a new look Site Stats page. It is a really cool addition, and it was interesting to see not only how many people have been looking in but also where they are located when they look. All this time, I have been thinking that a people in a few states have been checking out the blog. In actuality, these blogs go all over the world. Imagine that! It makes me realize how big and impactful the Internet really is. Thank you, fellow Tennessean Al Gore! I know, an old joke that I have used before. […]

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