The Galaxy Being

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"The Galaxy Being"
The Outer Limits episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by Leslie Stevens
Written by Leslie Stevens
Cinematography by John M. Nickolaus
Production code 1
Original air date September 16, 1963
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of The Outer Limits episodes

"The Galaxy Being" is the first episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 16 September 1963. In it, Allan Maxwell, an engineer for a small radio station, somehow makes contact with a peaceful alien creature, who gets transported to Earth by accident. The Galaxy Being inadvertently kills several people with its natural radiation, and is met with violence and hysteria from the people of Earth.[1]

Opening narration[edit]

Plot[edit]

Allan Maxwell (Cliff Robertson) is an engineer who has dedicated himself to researching microwave background noise using a device powered from his radio station. He inadvertently gets an extraterrestrial from Andromeda on his three-dimensional television screen. Using his computer, Allan is able to translate the extraterrestrial's thought patterns into English. Both are conducting illicit experiments; Maxwell should not be using the radio station's power, and the extraterrestrial is forbidden to contact "planets like Earth" because "worlds such as these are a danger to the others." Allan and the extraterrestrial have further enlightening, philosophical conversations, in which Maxwell learns that "Infinity is God. God, infinity, all the same" after the being explains "electromagnetic forces underlying all ... electromagnetic force intelligent", in response to Maxwell's query regarding whether the alien believes in God as an intelligent force.

Much of this interaction, along with Maxwell's earlier discussion of Faraday with his wife, is a play on James Clerk Maxwell the father of electromagnetic theory and his predecessor Michael Faraday, as is the alien's reference to quaternions when stating that its species uses "4 dimension numbers" to identify themselves rather than names.

In the evening, Allan reluctantly leaves the radio station to be feted at a banquet, while leaving the channel to the extraterrestrial open. DJ Eddie Phillips, who is substituting for Allan's brother Gene "Buddy" Maxwell (Lee Philips), after being told not to, turns up the power to full, causing the extraterrestrial to be transmitted to Earth as a three-dimensional electromagnetic being. The 'Galaxy Being', as it is dubbed, wreaks inadvertent havoc, killing Eddie and injuring several other people by burning them with natural radiation. The extraterrestrial encounters Allan in person, who convinces it to turn down the heat, and then guides it back to the transmitter shed. They are soon cornered by local authorities, who accidentally shoot Allan's wife, Carol (Jacqueline Scott). The Galaxy Being then uses beneficial radiation to heal the wound.

When the Galaxy Being emerges, the authorities attempt to kill it, but it protects itself by destroying the bullets in flight, again with radiation. As a warning demonstration (and perhaps to prevent other aliens from coming), the Galaxy Being destroys the transmitter tower. The mob is told, "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. … There is much you have to learn. … Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." At this, the crowd disperses.

The Galaxy Being then chooses not to return home inasmuch as it has violated a law forbidding contact with Earth. So, after first reassuring Allan that "There is no death for me," answering his concerns that it would disintegrate, the Galaxy Being reduces its microwave intensity which causes it to fade out from the Terran realm. Its last words as it vanishes into another putative dimension are "End of transmission".[2][3]

Closing narration[edit]

Sign-off narration[edit]

Note: The Outer Limits now-famous introduction and epilogue narration heard from "The Control Voice" was performed by veteran radio, screen and TV actor, Vic Perrin.

Analysis[edit]

The shimmering effect of the alien was generated by filming a specially treated rubber suit through polarized lenses.[4] This photographic negative illustrates the effect used to create the appearance of the alien in the three-dimensional television transceiver.

Booker[1] observes that the engineer and the Galaxy Being are variations of the television and science fiction tropes of the mad scientist and the invading alien, albeit with a reversal typical of The Outer Limits that both the scientist and the alien are benevolent, and it is the ordinary human beings of Earth who are the villains in the story.

The story itself dramatized the coverage in popular media of the time of speculation as to whether other planets could be contacted via radio, most particularly the (at the time recently initiated) "Project Ozma" search for radio signals from extraterrestrial intelligence ("SETI").[5] It developed these themes further into a story about electronic existentialism, and tapped into themes prevalent in U.S. culture at the time, including the televisation of the space race and the fascination with television transmission in general. The Galaxy Being itself echoed the contemporary words of NASA with lines such as "You must explore. You must reach out."[2][6]

The story also had elements of horror. As did another Outer Limits story, "The Borderland", it addressed the idea of an electronic limbo that exists when television signals cease transmission or are broadcast out into space, raising questions such as where the Galaxy Being goes when he turns off the transmitter. This horror of oblivion was to occur in several other Outer Limits episodes.[2][6]

Cast[edit]

  • Cliff Robertson – as Allan Maxwell
  • Jacqueline Scott – as Carol Maxwell
  • Lee Philips – as Gene "Buddy" Maxwell
  • William O. Douglas Jr and Charles McQuarry – as The Galaxy Being
  • Leslie Stevens – as The Voice of The Galaxy Being
  • Burt Metcalfe – as Eddie Phillips
  • Allyson Ames – as Loreen
  • James Frawley – as State Trooper
  • Bill Catching – as National Guard Major
  • Allan Pinson – as Policeman
  • Roy Sickner – as Collins, the Caretaker

Production[edit]

Filming took nine days to complete, at radio station KCBR (now KYSR) in Coldwater Canyon, MGM Backlot #4 Andy Hardy Street, and Soundstage #3 at KTTV Channel 11. The Budget for the production was $213,000.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b M. Keith Booker (2004). Science Fiction Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-275-98164-8. 
  2. ^ a b c Jeffrey Sconce (2000). Haunted Media. Duke University Press. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-0-8223-2572-7. 
  3. ^ Aaron Cain (2000-07-24). "Reviews: Classics: The Outer Limits". Sci Fi Weekly 602 (Sci Fi). 
  4. ^ Billy Ingram. "Fall Previews of the Sixties". TVparty!. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  5. ^ "Science: Project Ozma," Time, Apr. 18, 1960
  6. ^ a b Lynn Spigel & Michael Curtin (1997). The Revolution Wasn't Televised. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-415-91122-1. 
  7. ^ Schow, David J.; Frentzen, Jeffrey (November 1986). The Outer Limits: The Official Companion. New York: Ace Books. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-441-37081-8. 

External links[edit]