Hard to believe that more than thirty years have passed since Carl Sagan first shared his remarkable labor of love, Cosmos, with the rest of the world. The thirteen-part miniseries was an instant success and an unlikely cultural phenomenon. Originally broadcast on public television in 1980, the show spread the gospel of science to hundreds of millions of people around the world, and remains one of the watershed moments in television history. And now, all these years later, I’m thrilled to report that Cosmos is finally returning to prime time. The updated miniseries will begin airing this Sunday, and will be simulcast on Fox and National Geographic, as well as a half-dozen other networks. Expectations are high. The new show will be hosted by the Director of the Hayden Planetarium (and America’s favorite astrophysicist), Neil deGrasse Tyson, while entertainer Seth McFarlane is providing most of the funds. In related news, McFarlane also generously donated the funds that allowed the Library of Congress to purchase the collected papers of Carl Sagan.
I share Mr. McFarlane’s affinity for Carl Sagan, who had a big influence on me growing up. I’ll save the gushing hagiography for another time, but I will say that I hope the new show does justice to the original. It’s not just as simple as having whiz-bang special effects. What made the original series so successful was not the graphics, but rather Sagan’s enthusiasm and eloquence. Although Dr. Sagan is sadly no longer with us, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a worthy successor. He has proved that he is more than capable of striking a very poignant chord (for examples, check out the videos here and here). It is also encouraging that Ann Druyan and Steve Soter, who helped co-write the original miniseries back in 1980, are involved once again. You can check out the show’s official website at this link, and you can watch its admittedly awesome trailer at this link. Finally, you can learn more about how this new version of Cosmos took shape by checking out the links below: