I finally got a chance to watch Cosmos. I’m not in the states, so finding a download or stream of it has been a bit challenging. Particularly since where I am in Spain doesn’t get the National Geo channel or Fox on cable. In any case, I finally lucked out via means some of us would consider a tad shady. 🙂
Being that I was a die-hard fan of Carl Sagan’s PBS series when I was in high school, to say that I had high expectations was to be modest. Even as a teenager I was impressed at the visual genius, down-to-earth narrative, integrity and sheer purity of Sagan’s series. Sagan never narrated condescendingly to his audience. Even though most of his audience were clueless kids like me. On top of that, he always wore his passion for science and knowledge on his sleeve. At the same time, I found it rather disheartening that I would learn more about science in one hour of Sagan’s narration, than I would in an entire week of any of my science classes in school. Maybe the fact that I went to catholic high school had something to do with that.
Anyway, when I first heard that Sagan’s heir apparent Neil deGrasse Tyson teamed up with none other than Seth MacFarlane and Sagan’s still-very-prolific widow Ann Druyan to bring Cosmos back to life, excitement ensued. It was like I was that curious teen again. In this day and age of junk-science/dumbed-down TV currently being peddled by networks like Discovery Channel, Cosmos is DESPERATELY needed. At this point nothing less than a Cosmos, with Tyson at the helm, could get the younger generations inspired. And better yet, curious.
I find it odd in this day and age of the internet, with the free flow of information, just how inherently ignorant many kids are about science. Particularly how it all works. Especially when you consider the proliferation of the dolt creationists in places like the US and Australia. The ignorance for the time we live in is staggering, if not depressing. So to have a show like Cosmos come along during this dearth of dreck on TV regarding science is to say the least, a welcome change.
Needless to say, Cosmos and Tyson deliver. In volumes. The premiere show brought me back to that first overwhelming wave of inspiration I experienced when I first watched Carl Sagan’s show more than three decades ago. I had a child-like awe at the visualization and creativity that when into the show. Not to mention the passion and drive of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Who anyone can tell was just having an absolute blast as the host of this visually-rich science-fest. What can’t be overlooked is the sheer volume of message they were able to deliver with coherence, reverence, and yes, fun, inside of an hour. Really. Wow.
To be able to effectively follow the course which starts with the plight of bronze age space pioneer Giordano Bruno, all the way to a digest of the story of the universe was a major coup in television. To present the model of a one-year calendar scaled to represent a span of over 13 billion years to explain the history of the universe, was beyond impressive. Let’s not forget to mention that doing so without losing the audience is no small feat. It’s a testament to the intellectual and creative powerhouse that drives this show.
Best of all for me was the epilogue. It was Tyson recounting his meeting with Carl Sagan when he was just a 17-year old kid in New York. You can see his awe and humility at the privilege of getting to spend a day with Sagan. Absorbing all Sagan had to share with him and how he now-prophetically told Tyson that he contribute much to the science world. Without Sagan having any idea of the incredible extent. His retelling was incredibly moving and personal. It explains the source of Tyson’s inspiration and passion for teaching. Tyson shows his respect and homage for this acquired responsibility by carrying on Sagan’s work.
Suffice to say that there is no one more deserving than Tyson to carry that torch.
Cosmos has the power and potential to inspire a whole new generation of Carl Sagans and Neil deGrasse Tysons. Let’s all hope for humanity’s sake that it does just that. At whatever level possible.