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Cosmos: The Second Coming

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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I’ve been waiting a long time for this.

Fresh from its debut at San Diego Comic-Con, the first official trailer for the reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos:

In August of 2008, I attended the third annual SciFoo conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.  That’s a whole other subject, which I’ve touched on here and here and here.  (there seem to be some broken image links in these ancient posts)

Of the many incredible and inspirational people I met and interacted with that weekend (see those previous posts), one of the most delightful was Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s widow and collaborator.  We met in a session entitled, “Seducing the Public with Science.” Immediately afterwards, we were in line together for a buffet-style lunch, and I remember her telling me that they were going to remake Cosmos – and the new host would be astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Cosmos was such a singular program I had never even considered it being remade. But a new version with Neil Tyson as host?…  YES.  That sounds right. That sounds awesome.

Years went by and I only heard occasional whispers of the project.

Then it was announced that Seth MacFarlane was on board to produce and that the 13-part series would air on Fox.  That may sound surprising but it wasn’t to me. I knew that MacFarlane was a big fan of science and, as for Fox being the venue, it actually makes sense. They want to reach an audience that doesn’t normally seek out science programming. Tyson has been doing the same thing with his radio show - StarTalk (to which I’ve contributed).  It airs on commercial – not public – radio. Bringing the science to the people.

The Cosmos trailer is a great teaser. It looks like the show might be extremely faithful to the original, with necessary updates in content and visual style. If you’re wondering why Tyson seems to be touring the universe in a spaceship…  well, go check out the original series. It’s 13 one-hour episodes and it’s well worth your time. It’s Carl Sagan.

And the new series won’t air til 2014.

I’ve waited five years. I guess I can wait one more.

Brian Malow About the Author: Science comedian Brian Malow engages in lively conversation with scientists and writers for his own amusement and yours. Follow on Twitter @sciencecomedian.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. jtdwyer 10:46 am 07/22/2013

    “COSMOS” redone with CGI animation and zip speed, pan & zoom & a cast of familiar science program talking heads? Spare me!

    Link to this
  2. 2. Not 'Tarded 11:49 am 07/22/2013

    My problem with FOX doing it is that they seem more than willing to change “facts” to suit their needs. I can see them going in and “editing” the show after it is in the can so they can represent the Universe According to FOX…

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  3. 3. Scienceisnotagenda 12:59 pm 07/22/2013

    I used to revel in these types of programs…today? Not sure. They tend to be the equivalent of Sesame Street for adults.

    Snappy visuals, quippy statements…ooos and awes. Hosts bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm.

    Unfortunately science is then dumbed down to silly analogies and false metaphors. Numbers are tossed around to convey some meaning when they ate completely beyond any perception…’more stars than all the grains of sand…’ As if anyone has skills to perceive within a thousandth of accuracy all the sand on Earth.

    Understanding the Cosmos is about understanding nitty gritty physics. Math. Chemistry. Involved equations. Otherwise it’s just a veneer of surface entertainment with graphics of a black hole that has nothing to do with what a black hole actually is physically like.

    Do they inspire? I used to think so. But like StarTrek, more like presenting a false sense of reality. The inspiration is paper thin once someone picks up a book that actually tosses any physics around then it’s back to Star Trek and space monsters.

    Ha…I look forward to it.

    Link to this
  4. 4. rkipling 4:53 pm 07/22/2013

    I watched the original Cosmos when it came out in 1980. It will be interesting to see what they do with the new Cosmos.

    I think Carl Sagan would have been very impressed with series like Universe and How the Universe Works. Had he lived until the present, he would have likely been associated with those programs.

    As far as it being surprising that it will air on Fox, if you look at the drivel on their schedules it is surprising that it will air on any of the primarily entertainment networks.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Brian Malow in reply to Brian Malow 12:46 am 07/23/2013

    Well, first of all, I believe Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, and Neil deGrasse Tyson will produce a good show with accurate science.

    But, also, are you forgetting that Fox Television is the network that brought us “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” “King of the Hill,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse,” “Fringe,” “Millennium,” “The X-Files,” “Arrested Development,” “The Ben Stiller Show,” “The Tick,” “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “24,” among others?

    Hey, I don’t watch FoxNews, either. But a lot of my favorite shows aired on Fox.

    Link to this
  6. 6. rkipling 4:16 am 07/23/2013

    I was just interested to know Cosmos was coming back next year. So thanks for the report.

    I had not noticed your blog before. I’ll check out new posts as I have time. As long as you write funny stuff, it doesn’t much matter what TV programs you watch. I don’t recommend you put too much value on the comments of the folks who consider themselves too cool for school, but that’s something you will figure out for yourself. Some user names are self-descriptive although not necessarily in the way their owners believe.

    Yeah, if you want the editors of this site to let you keep your blog here, it wouldn’t be good to admit to watching Fox News. My guess is that many of the editors are more MSNBC and Media Matters types. Besides the NSA already knows if you’ve been bad or good.

    Link to this
  7. 7. rkipling 4:27 am 07/23/2013

    Oh, and one more thing. There are other science comedians here. As Inspector Clouseau said, “..it’s all part of life’s rich pageantry, you kneu.”

    Link to this

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