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Is C3PO the coolest robot of the '80s?



C3PO As much as we love the '80s, it wasn't really THE decade of the great movie robots. Not that this is an important distinction, but give me a moment to explain.

Today, Sean Daly and I get to interview Anthony Daniels, the voice and actor behind Star Wars' C3PO. Daniels is touring the U.S. as the "narrator" of Star Wars in Concert, a huge multimedia orchestral salute to the music behind the trilogy. (No, we're not counting those three "crimes against humanity" they call a prequel.)

We have a ton of nerd questions lined up for him. A few he's probably heard a thousand times; others that he hopefully never thought about. (No, not the "how did you use the bathroom" question.)

But it got me thinking: Where does C3PO rank in the pantheon of great robots of the '80s? I thought C3PO went from wise but jittery to totally wussy in the span of the three flicks. Sorta like Han Solo. 

Really, most of the movie and TV robots of the '80s were annoying at best. Where were the menacing robots we grew on with, like "Gunslinger" in Westworld or HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

They were long gone by the '80s. But here are some memorable C3PO's peers during our golden decade:

Johnny5-short-circuit JOHNNY FIVE (Short Circuit): In case you're wonder, it's Tim Blaney (aka Singing Goofy Goober in the SpongeBob Square Pants movie) as the voice of the wayward robot.

DATA (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Brent Spiner is one of the most underrated actors of his generation. He continued the trend of making the least-human of Star Trek characters seem most human of all.

CROW T. ROBOT and TOM SERVO (Mystery Science Theatre 3000): Yes, the wisecracking comedy-bots barely make it into the list, with their show starting in 1988.

Twiki4 TWIKI and DR. THEOPOLIS (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century): By the time the show went off the air, we were all really to strange Twiki (voiced by Mel Blanc) and his Flavor Flav companion Dr. Theopolis.

R2-D2 (Star Wars): Am I the only one who thought this entire galactic civil war might be the fault of this dippy little 'bot?

Spacecamp JINX (Space Camp): "Max and Jinx ... friends forever!"

THE TERMINATOR (The Terminator): I used to stalk nightclubs looking for Sarah Connor too, until they slapped a restraining order on me.

OPTIMUS PRIME (Transformers): Is he a robot? Or a truck? Either way I guess you could put advertisements for him on commercial breaks during football games.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:52pm]


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