The original Cosmos 13-episode series hosted by Carl Sagan ran in 1980. It was one of the few examples of television that I watched as a teenager which left a lasting impression. The series featured lavish effects, wonderfully communicated fascinating scientific concepts, and had a host which I found to be charismatic and funny. Looking back on the series, I have no doubt that the original Cosmos fueled my initial desire to seek out astronomy as one of my first majors when I went to college.
The first episode of its sequel/reboot “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” ran last night. The new series is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a prominent media-savy astrophysicist. As notable in my mind are the executive producers, people including Brannon Braga (Star Trek, 24, FlashForward), Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s widow), and Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted).
The first “Cosmos” episode had some fantastic segments. The show did a great job with communicating how small the earth and its immediate vicinity really is with the ‘you are here’ discussion, and I immediately regained the sense of wonder that the original series imparted in me. I also think the entire analogy of the galactic timeline using the cosmic year as a yardstick was well thought out and made sense.
But “Cosmos” isn’t perfect. I’m not so sure about the Giordano Bruno history segment. While I’m all for watching historical content when properly presented within an appropriate context, “Cosmos” went a bit far with that segment in terms of time and in veering off what should be its science based focus. I’m also not in love with Tyson’s flat delivery as I find it less enthusiastic and passionate than the subject matter deserves.
Even with its imperfections, “Cosmos” is a sight to behold that should be watched. It’s lush, well produced, and interesting.