Check It Out!: Cosmos (2014)

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Show: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

(c) FOX

(c) FOX

Written by Ann Druyan, Steven Soter and Carl Sagan.

Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Music by Alan Silvestri.

Original Premiere Date: March 9, 2014

Status: Finished its planned run, but don’t rule out a continuation down the line!

Time Slot: Used to air on Sundays at 9/8c on FOX.

 

Elevator Speech Version: A 13-episode miniseries about different science topics relating to Earth and the cosmos, geared to the general public, and not just science geeks. The focus of the show can range from an obscure historical figure, to the stars, to life and fate. “Science is a way to keep from fooling ourselves and each other,” a quote mentioned in the last episode, is a beautiful way to put what the show has always been about: whether we like it or not, science is a human language and one that’s particularly of interest when dealing with what surrounds us. To put it simply, science helps us learn about the vastness of our universe.

Look For: When the initial credits focus on the Red Eye Nebula, they display the ‘C’ and ‘S’ of ‘COSMOS’ first on their own tribute to the late Carl Sagan. There are plenty of little homages to him and the original show throughout the series, as well.

Neil deGrasse Tyson. (c) FOX

Neil deGrasse Tyson. (c) FOX

Why You Should Check It Out: Because science is awesome and the show does a fantastic job of explaining just about everything in an interesting and easily understandable way! In a time where the sciences are declining in popularity, this show did a great job of making a case for why they’re important and not as boring, or useless, as it’s detractors might think. The episodes usually have a common topic they explore, even if they usually divide into a few segments that focus on a certain breakthrough or individual. Moreover, there is so much to praise about the storytelling: it’s compelling and will leave you smarter than you were before the episode started. Druyan and Soter did an incredible job of highlighting some very important topics without making it feel heavy-handed.

This series is considered to be a continuation of Sagan’s  Cosmos from 1980, and you can definitely tell while watching it: there are many callbacks and winks to the original and Sagan (including graphics, like the Blue Dot sequence, segments and anecdotes). Yet, it also brings the series into the new century as it incorporates many breathtakingly beautiful special effects and lovely instrumental music to accompany you on this ride.

One of Sagan's iconic quotes.  (c) FOX, NatGeo

One of Sagan’s iconic quotes.
(c) FOX, NatGeo

However, as stunning as the special effects were, my favorite parts were the human side of the tale and the episodes that related the stories of some extraordinary people who made significant breakthroughs, but aren’t as recognized.

Science is one of humankind’s most remarkable achievements; from looking at our surroundings, we strove to explain our world through hard facts. To this day, there remain mysteries in the universe, such as dark matter and energy (referenced in the finale  as a subject of embarrassment for scientists), and host DeGrasse Tyson wonderfully displays why these conundrums are so necessary for us to move forward.

That’s one of the things Cosmos did well: it showed that what once set us back (our lack of knowledge, for one) is now our biggest asset (through the pursuit of that knowledge), even if it’s not necessarily infallible (because us humans make mistakes). We are driven by our curiosity, which furthers our discoveries in science, but not everything we do is exactly right.

Despite my focus on that specific theme of the show, Cosmos contained many, many things worth discussing that I have failed to mention here… which tells you about the breadth and depth, and tonal range of the show in just thirteen hour-long episodes.

EP Michael Cannond, EP and director Brandon Braga, Dr. Tyson, EP Seth Macfarlane and EP/Writer Ann Druyan. (c) FOX

EP Michael Cannond, EP and director Brandon Braga, Dr. Tyson, EP Seth Macfarlane and EP/Writer Ann Druyan. (c) FOX

Fun Fact: If you want to know how a project like Cosmos ended up at Fox, reading this and this and this is a good start. (There are many articles and videos all over the internet explaining it.)

 

Where: DVD and Bluray came out on June 10. It’s also streaming on Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Still not convinced whether Cosmos  might be for you? You can check out some short snippets from episodes here.


Cosmos recently won four Primetime Emmy awards, two Critics’ Choice Awards and one TCA Award. Check the complete list here!

 

… is a young graduate student that has been way too passionate about television ever since she was little. While she insists she doesn’t have a specific type of show, they all usually have strong but flawed lady characters, some derivation of the stubborn friends-in-love/friends-to-lovers trope, and they all make her yell at her tv a lot. She just wishes she had more hours in the day so she could actually write about this.
You can usually find her on Twitter, Tumblr, and at cassidy at thankyoulizlemon.com

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