I’m not that smart of a guy. I can’t tell you what a categorical imperative is, or how to hot-wire a motorcycle, or what the Singularity is going to look like. But I can guarantee you one thing: If we ever face a real Robot Threat and I have anything to say about it, I will not put Edward James Olmos in charge of dealing with it. How did I reach this admittedly controversial conclusion? It all started back in April, when I asked you, my fellow io9ers, about Netflixing the new Battlestar Galactica. I took your advice and, when the DVDs came in the mail, the missus and I watched up until almost the end of the second season - and then I had to quit. I’ll explain why.One of the rules of writing good fiction is that you don’t have to be true to how things work in the real world -you can have teleportation and lightsabers and horses with beaks (well, if you’re a mok, anyway) - as long as your story is internally consistent: If your character can teleport, you can’t trap him on Rikers Island, unless Rikers Island has been lined with some kind of teleportation-stopper. It’s a good rule, and from what I saw, BSG abides by it. But I think there's another rule, and that is that even if they’re internally consistent, the things that happen in your story have to correspond to a certain degree with what makes sense in real life. A lot of people knocked The Deathly Hallows because Harry Potter spent so much time wandering around the forest, but I have to say that if I were seventeen and the fate of the world rested on my shoulders and all of my dads were dead, I’d probably wander around the forest for a while myself, and I hope no one would hold it against me. So while it may have made for a boring story in parts, at least you couldn’t say it was totally unbelievable. Whereas, on the other hand, HOW THE HELL DO YOU NOT KNOW WHO IS A ROBOT? I’m sorry. That was what killed BSG for me, and I think that’s fair. I’ll explain why.
Basically, the BSG universe is just like ours, including the fact that they wear neckties, except that they also have faster-than-light travel. Now, I hope you will pardon me for saying so, but I assume that because they have neckties and faster-than-light travel, they also have, like, CAT scans or MRIs (I know they only have one doctor, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need to go medical school to learn to operate either of those). And if you’re going to tell me that you can’t use a CAT scan or an MRI to identify robots - robots whose lower backs glow red during sex, so it’s not like there’s nothing robotty going on there close to the surface - I’m going to tell you you’re a delusional fanboy who needs to stop hating on Star Trek: The Next Generation, because while that show certainly stretched the limits of credulity, it never pulled this kind of pivotal-plot-point bullshit. Captain Jean-Luc Picard wouldn’t have stood for it. Commander William Adama - i.e., Edward James Olmos - on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. If it were a first offense, I’d probably let it slide. But it’s not. I recently watched Blade Runner: The Absolute Fucking Director’s Cut, For Real This Time. While that film has its merits (most of them aesthetic), it too suffers from the problem noted above. You can’t expect me to believe that the only way to peg a robot strong enough to throw Harrison Ford across a street is by looking in its eyes and asking it questions. Actually, Blade Runner does BSG one better, or worse - I’m supposed to accept that Dr. Eldon Tyrell is a genius, but it never occurred to him that making robots that look just like humans was a bad idea? At least the human-looking Cylons built themselves. If I’m ever in charge of building robots, I’ll tell you what: They won’t look just like humans. They won’t even have skin. I won’t explain why. I think it’s pretty obvious. Anyhoo, who was in Blade Runner? That’s right: Edward James Olmos. So I think it’s fair to say that he unequivocally sucks at handling Robot Threats. If I ever have to appoint a robot czar, it won’t be him. I’ll probably make him Secretary of Education, and charge him with repairing our troubled high schools. That seems to be where his strengths lie. Josh Wimmer is better known here as commenter Moff, and can often be found at scribblescribblescribble.com/blog. Top image courtesy Ken Conley/kwc.org