Review of "Cosmos" on FOX From The TV MegaSite

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"Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey" review by Sundi 3/9/14
airs Sundays

Thirty years after PBS and Carl Sagan teamed up to bring us “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, FOX is rebooting the classic to offer the secrets of the universe to a newer, younger audience. Airing on all of its networks on Sundays at nine, the miniseries is sure to captivate those of you who are even the least bit interested in the science of our beginnings. It has unbelievable special effects to demonstrate the science, and physicists Neil Tyson DeGrasse explains it in an approachable and reasonable way – for the dummies like me who couldn’t get it otherwise. Also, the series handles the controversy surrounding the science versus faith debate diplomatically, and offers it up respectfully for both sides.

Unexpectedly, the series comes from FOX juggernaut, Seth McFarlane, but it is very far from his usual work. The computer graphics and special effects will amaze you and leave the 1980s series looking a little puny. DeGrasse tours the space-time continuum on the “ship of the imagination” (which is a little corny, but I told you it was painted with a pretty broad brush), which is a sleek, futuristic update on the original. The camera work takes full advantage of the majestic scenery as well, and nods to Sagan’s versions with the cliffs featured in the beginning sequence. It’s hard to look away from DeGrasse’s “tour” of the universe because it offers such rich visual context.

Cosmos is deeply concerned about context in all facets of the show, as it takes the most complicated and dense moments of our scientific past and serves them up in digestible, approachable tidbits that even I could follow. The series uses familiar analogies to contextualize our place in the galaxy using our “cosmic address” to pinpoint our whereabouts in the universe. Similarly, it invokes our common understanding of a calendar to explain the age of the universe and how old familiar concepts are (the Sun was born on August 31st of this cosmic year and Jesus was born five seconds before midnight on December 31st). It is a clever and easily understood way to give specific insight into a hugely abstract concept.

While the show does pretty well in these areas, where it succeeds most is its diplomacy. While definitely coming down on the side of science, Cosmos is not dismissive or condescending to the faith-based views on the origin of our universe. Before ever mentioning the phrase “The Big Bang Theory”, the show offers the story of the Italian monk, Giordano Bruno, who experiences a “spiritual epiphany” about the infinite nature of the universe. Bruno’s revelation shows him that his God can go on forever; therefore proving that the universe can as well. This idea caused persecution and expulsion from the Catholic Church. The series comes down pretty hard on the church, though, calling it the “thought police” and suggesting it “tormented” Bruno, but Cosmos is careful to praise Bruno's open-mindedness and willingness to accept the heretical ideas he discovered. It’s not a subtle way to speak to the faith-based viewers, but it is fair and tempered way, if you ask me. Degrasse is also careful to acknowledge the gap in sides, when he speaks to these viewers. For example, the moment he begins the talk about The Big Bang Theory, he reassures viewers, “there really is a lot of evidence to support this theory,” soft pedaling the idea as best he can.

For those of us who are interested in science, but need it to be sexy and eye-catching, this show is for you. Degrasse is enthusiastic enough to hold our attention when he’s talking about boring stuff, and the show is beautiful enough that we don’t notice when we are getting bored. I am recommending this to anybody who has ever thought about the universe and wondered how or why. If you don’t care too much about how it was made, then don’t waste your time here. It airs Sundays at nine on FOX.

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**SERIES PREMIERE**--“COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY”-- (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) CC-AD-HDTV 720p-Dolby Digital 5.1


In a TV First, Series Premiere to Air Simultaneously Across Multiple U.S. Fox Networks  

More than three decades after the debut of Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking and iconic series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” it’s time once again to set sail for the stars. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sets off on the Ship of the Imagination to discover earth’s Cosmic Address and its coordinates in space and time. Viewers meet Renaissance Italy’s Giordano Bruno, who had a spiritual epiphany about the infinite expanse of the universe. Then, Tyson walks across the Cosmic Calendar, on which all of time has been compressed into a year-at-a-glance calendar, from the Big Bang to the moment humans first make their appearance on the planet in the all-new “Standing Up in the Milky Way” Series Premiere episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 9 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, and simultaneously across multiple U.S. Fox networks, including National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life. After the cross-network premiere event, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY will continue its epic 13-episode run, airing Sundays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, and Mondays – with all-new bonus footage and behind-the-scenes content – on the National Geographic Channel (NGC) (10:00-11:00 PM ET/PT).  (C-101) (TV-PG D, V)  

Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson

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