For the record, "dastardly Injuns" is not a favorable comment on the original series. But this is a good point to remark that the Cylons are not really necessary to the premise...
With regard to execution of TOS, this would be a correct statement. With regard to original intent, it would not. The Cylons were known to originally be a warlike reptilian race who claimed fealty to Count Iblis, the "fallen angel" - hence, the voice of Iblis being imprinted in the Imperious Leader for over 1000 yahrens. They made a point of Baltar noticing that during "War of the Gods". The goal of the series was to portray a massive galactic and ethereal chess game being played between Iblis and the Beings of Light, using the Cylons and Colonials in the struggle as pawns - possibly indirectly assisting them in "ascension" to a higher level of being. For Cylons by Iblis through the use of highly advanced technology. For the humans by the Light Beings through spiritualism and self-awareness, as exemplified in-dialog to Apollo by one of the Seraphs, "As you now are, we once were
; as we
now are you may yet become". Unlike RDM's version, Larson & co. were never ashamed to attribute much of the goings-on in-series to "higher powers", beyond the self-serving ramblings of NuBaltar or the artificial Cylon piety in RDM's show. Don't get me wrong, I love NuBSG for what it was, but I will always prefer TOS' original concept. RDM's equivocation about "blaming it all on God" backfired on him in the finale, when that was the only thing he could fall back on when it was all said & done, instead of weaving it into the script much earlier - and more substantially - to make it more believable. I lost count of all the people on this board alone, screaming about how much of a cop-out it was. Anyways, back to TOS...
In TOS, the Cylons were ALWAYS contingent to the greater plot-line. The show just started running out of money and couldn't support Cylon-heavy shows and they were relegated to background noise and kitschy mindless bad-guy action. Had TOS gotten the budget it deserved and a team of writers who could actually write
, it would have turned into one hell of an epic show (arguably more so than RDM's version on many levels) and likely lasted several seasons.
Like with Roddenberry, I don't put Larson on a pedestal when it comes to his creation. Like Roddenberry, he had a fantastic idea and was the only one who could have put it into motion - at the right place at the right time. However, there were more talented writers and producers that could have taken the baton and done far more with it once the track had been laid. And anyone who still thinks that TOS was a bad rip-off of Star Wars hasn't been paying attention.