So perhaps you have a friend who plays it cool most of the time — dresses well, is really passionate about his or her career, can talk about American Idol if the subject comes up. But something about this person seems off to you, and you suspect that deep within, a secret nerd lurks. So here’s what you should do: you should sit them down with a few episodes of My Roommate The Cylon, a new web series that debuted this Monday. And the moment they laugh, you’ve nailed them.
Created by Alec McNayr and Robert Gustafson, Roommate is an eerily dead-on riff on the critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica, which is just two weeks away from the end of its epic four-season run. Cylon‘s premise is simple: Three roommates receive a letter indicating that one of them is a Cylon (meaning that they are, unawares, a murderous cyborg who is part of a plan to exterminate the human race). But these guys don’t have a scientific genius like Gaius Baltar around to create a Cylon test, so they have to use cruder methods to figure out who the rat — um, robot — is.
What we have here is the dudes-sitting-around-an-apartment format combined with a flat-out sci-fi parody, and while there’s something decidedly familiar about the overall concept, the combination of the two genres gives the series a fresh, irreverent feeling. Its only major flaw? While each actor is engaging and fun, in the two episodes currently released there’s nothing to distinguish one from the other: each falls into the typical dude prototype (Alex Enriquez, who plays Bennett Jacobs, is just barely an exception as “the one who’s wearing a button down shirt”).
BSG is no stranger to the web and is frequently the subject of parody by sci-fi fans, and so the challenge McNayr and Gustafson face here is being the best of the parodies out there. And on a beat-by-beat level, the creators have managed to capture the rhythm of the show they are spoofing, right down to the introductory sequence, handheld camera work, and credits which, just like the original show, provide a fast-forward look at the upcoming episode. Even the music, composed by Adam Blau, is a very recognizable riff on series composer Bear McCreary’s score for the show. All of it adds an extra bit of polish to the show’s low-fi aesthetic.
All of those touches are things that only true fans of the series would pick up on, limiting the series’ appeal to pure Battlestar dorks. If they were aiming this series at a general audience, this would be a problem. But on the Internet, populated as it is by the sci-fi savvy, it fits in nicely. The one tragedy is that Cylon will wrap up its run just a few weeks after the final episodes of Battlestar air — so those hoping to use it as methadone will have to find something else instead. I hear Eureka‘s pretty fun?