10) The Galaxy Being
Our first stop will be the pilot episode.
In this episode, Cliff Robertson plays an obsessed scientist who has constructed a machine capable of transmitting and receiving radio transmissions and, as he comes to find out, matter itself, from the far flung reaches of deep space. Tuning his machine to the Andromeda galaxy, he comes into contact with a strange alien being of vast intelligence and utterly different physical constitution (the Galaxy Being is “nitrogen cycle” as opposed to our “carbon cycle”). In contrast to most contemporary cinematic and televised sci-fi, the interest here is not in fashionable ideological trends in the larger society but in the perennial questions of human existence.
Robertson asks the alien some of the greatest questions of that can be asked, those about death and God. While the alien hardly gives specifically Judeo-Christian answers to these questions, the answers he does give bespeak writers who took their material and their audiences seriously (again, a large contrast to much contemporary screenwriting).
This constitutes a great deal of philosophical food for thought. What it patently is not is the standard pop neo-Pantheism one normally encounters in many modern science fiction and fantasy films, or the cynical secularist atheism (see 1990’s Flatliners for a classic example of this approach) so common in Hollywood’s treatment of religion (save to two noticeable exceptions over time, American Indian beliefs, and Islam).
Finally, the Galaxy being accidentally comes materially into our world (and his highly energized body does not react well with our physical environment) and is confronted by (useless) military force. Before departing, he gives the puny humans a lecture on their very real present puniness, warning them that “There are powers in the universe beyond anything you know.” He then invites them to return to their homes to “give thought to the mysteries of the universe.”
Yes, not a big budget lesson in post-colonial theory (Avatar), eco-feminism (Jurassic Park), or capitalist generated global ecological collapse (Silent Running), but a call to humility and awe before the cosmos.