Monday, October 20, 2014

Terminator Week: Cult-TV Theme Watch: Cyborgs

A cyborg or cybernetic organism is a being that is composed of both organic and mechanical parts.  

The term cyborg was coined in 1960, and has become permanent part of the pop culture. Cyborgs of all allegiances have appeared, for decades, in cult television programming.

For instance, the two most famous and beloved “aliens” of Doctor Who (1961 – 1989) are both cyborgs. 

The Daleks are small squid-like organic beings encased in a metallic travel suit. Similarly, the Cybermen are humanoid beings up-fitted into metallic suits. Sometimes, all that remains of the human biology in the Cybermen is the human brain.

Two of the greatest 1970s superheroes -- The Six Million Dollar Man (or Colonel Steve Austin) and The Bionic Woman (or Jaime Sommers) -- are both actually cyborgs. That is, their damaged limbs and organs have been replaced with bionic or mechanical implants. Steve has a bionic eye as well as a bionic arm and bionic legs. Jaime has a bionic ear, in addition to her arm and both legs. In the course of their series, these heroes sometimes combat cyborg villains, like Sasquatch, the cybernetic being created by an alien race.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994), the Borg (a shortening of the word cyborg) are cybernetic organisms that assimilate biological races and mate them with mechanical parts or implants. In the riveting two-part episode "The Best of Both Worlds," Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is abducted by the Borg and converted into the cyborg mouthpiece, Locutus.

In Star Trek: Voyager (1995 – 2001), Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and her crew rescue a human woman from the Borg Collective, 7 of 9 (Jeri Ryan), and she joins the starship crew.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003) features a cyborg as its "big bad" during the fourth season, the Iniative’s Frankenstein Monster: Adam. And on The X-Files (1993 – 2002), the alien super soldiers are seen to possess metallic, regenerating spines in "Existence," a fact which renders these “human replacements,” technically, cyborgs.

Other cult-TV cyborgs include the villainous Lord Dread from Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Murphy from RoboCop: The Series (1994) and Cameron (Summer Glau) from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. 

Smallville (2001 – 2011) also features good and bad cyborgs, Cyborg and Metallo, respectively.

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