Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Billions and Billions
March 7, 2014 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Cosmos, Carl Sagan's short lived television science program from 1980 was a groundbreaking triumph and firmly established Sagan as a household name.

Now, Sagan's heir apparent Neil deGrasse Tyson has created a follow on work - Cosmos - A Spacetime Odyssy. It premiers Sunday March 9 on Fox stations worldwide in 45 languages on 123 stations. Some Clips. (MLYT)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt (98 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
EXCITED!!!!!!
posted by Blasdelb at 8:03 AM on March 7


An early (positive) review.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:05 AM on March 7


Love Neil deGrasse Tyson. Great speaker, and excellent at explaining big concepts to people who have not made their life's work studying them. He will make a very different host than Sagan, who I also loved,but that's okay, it means he will make the show his own.

Just a shame its on Fox.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:06 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Anyone know if it will be available on Hulu, or somewhere to watch online?
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:15 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Previously. Previously. Previously.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:16 AM on March 7


Unless Cosmos somehow ends up asserting that evolution is "a theory" or some jacked up shit like that then I don't see why it's a problem that a science education show is on Fox. That's a huge amount of exposure, to an audience that is less familiar than most with the knowledge that the show presents.

That's the entire point of the show. Fans of Sagan, NDT, and science in general are going to watch this regardless of where it is, but Cosmos' mission has always been to bring the understanding of these concepts to a wider audience.
posted by greenland at 8:21 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I think most of the concern is that Fox will run the show out of order and cancel after 13 episodes.

Thanks Potomac - I was searching, but then got busy with something and figured it would come out in the comments. Also, I am very lazy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:25 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Unless Cosmos somehow ends up asserting that evolution is "a theory" or some jacked up shit like that

Ann Druyan is directly involved as a writer, so that seems unlikely.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:31 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


So last night I went to go set my DVR to record this. And I discovered it's playing on a bunch of different channels at once. There's the fox one and the FX whatever, the national geographic one (we don't get that in HD though; I wanna see NDT being rapturous about science in a field of flowers in high definition only!!) and then there was a channel that we couldn't figure out from its cable box acronym.

When we punched in the channel number, it turned out that it's the 24 hour Fox live sports channel. They're airing the new Cosmos right in between UFC coverage. There is literally no other non-sports content on the channel, and it seems like everything is bracketed with sidebars of streaming sport updates. No clue if they'll be doing that with Cosmos, too, but it's fascinating regardless. I'm all for people interrupting their regularly scheduled Ultimate Fighting with some learning time, but who made this decision?
posted by Mizu at 8:32 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


I loved Cosmos as a kid, and it played a role in my fascination with science, knowledge and everything that inspired me to be curious and read about all kinds of scientific subjects at a young age.

I've noticed NDT popping up in the periphery of my blog feed from time to time or in some infographic on imgur or wherever, but I never realized just how badass he is until a couple days ago when I listened to this Fresh Air podcast.

The guy can link together the personal, the political and the astronomical in a seamless, unpretentious way.
posted by univac at 8:33 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Unless Cosmos somehow ends up asserting that evolution is "a theory" or some jacked up shit like that

Well... it IS a theory, yes? The problem is that nobody knows what "theory" means.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:33 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


I'm all for people interrupting their regularly scheduled Ultimate Fighting with some learning time, but who made this decision?

I have no idea, but Fox is really going whole-hog with this. I saw an ad for Cosmos last night (on Hulu, oddly enough, which is like the one place you can't watch it) and the list of channels it's going to be running on Sunday is staggering. It's basically every single Fox / Fox-affiliated channel. (Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life)

Somebody at Fox apparently thinks that the plebs are going to get educated whether they like it or not.

Bravo to them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:43 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Ann Druyan is directly involved as a writer, so that seems unlikely.

No doubt! I also can't imagine NDT moving forward with the program if it contained that kind of misinformation. It's funny, neither Fox or NDT actually need the show to further their career/network, and I bet that lack of stakes has actually resulted in a really even-handed program.

I think most of the concern is that Fox will run the show out of order and cancel after 13 episodes.

It would truly suck if Fox just pulled it off the air halfway through and put the rest online. But otherwise, Cosmos is episodic, right? For the Sagan version you didn't have to know stuff from other episodes or watch anything in order. (That certainly enhanced the viewing, but I don't remember it being necessary.) I wonder if the new program follows suit.
posted by greenland at 8:47 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


The whole thing is weird. Seth McFarlane of all people gets a bug up his ass to redo _Cosmos_, and gets the irredeemable fuckheads at Fox to go along with it, and does it in a way that gets Tyson and Druyan on board.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:48 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


I have no idea, but Fox is really going whole-hog with this. I saw an ad for Cosmos last night (on Hulu, oddly enough, which is like the one place you can't watch it) and the list of channels it's going to be running on Sunday is staggering. It's basically every single Fox / Fox-affiliated channel. (Fox, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life)

Behold, the power of Seth MacFarlane.
posted by Atreides at 8:48 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


RDU_Xenophobe, even more amazing is that McFarlane and NDT took the show to PBS *first*, and were presented with a laundry list of demands regarding how the show would be made. They said nope, walked it over to Fox, who said "be our guest - whatever you want to do". Source: recent New Yorker article on NDT.
posted by scolbath at 8:51 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Isn't this suppose to primarily be about the universe? I could see evolution being discussed in an episode deliberately about Earth, but I don't see any other reason why it'd be brought up other than to be conjectured about it on other planets.
posted by gucci mane at 8:52 AM on March 7


I am both extremely interested and a bit apprehensive about the new Cosmos. Carl Sagan was definitely one of the formative voices of my childhood and definitely helped ignite the wonder I have felt for the strange and unknown ever since.

I have really liked what I have seen of Neil deGrasse Tyson so far, and definitely hope he will carry the mantle well.
posted by RowanYote at 9:02 AM on March 7


Anyone know if it will be available on Hulu, or somewhere to watch online?

Hulu's page for the show says that it'll be available to stream to TVs & mobile devices via Hulu Plus (their subscription service.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:15 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


RDU_Xenophobe, even more amazing is that McFarlane and NDT took the show to PBS *first*, and were presented with a laundry list of demands regarding how the show would be made. They said nope, walked it over to Fox, who said "be our guest - whatever you want to do".

The last time Fox let MacFarlane take a project to someone else, Universal ended up making half a billion dollars profit from Ted (yeah, that's not a typo -- billion with a B). I'm not surprised Fox is willing to take a flyer of a few million in return for keeping him happy.

We'll be watching this with the kids. It might make up for Tyson killing Pluto.
posted by Etrigan at 9:16 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Hulu's page for the show says that it'll be available to stream

I can't figure out from that page whether it's going to be available on Hulu Plus on Sunday, concurrently with the regular broadcast, or if it'll be delayed 24 hours like most of Hulu's network-originated content.

It'd be cool if it were going to be basically simulcast via streaming services at the same time as the live broadcast (mostly because the Really Big TV in my house only has a Roku connected to it) but I'm kinda doubtful that's the case.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:19 AM on March 7


I am both extremely interested and a bit apprehensive about the new Cosmos. Carl Sagan was definitely one of the formative voices of my childhood and definitely helped ignite the wonder I have felt for the strange and unknown ever since.

I couldn't agree more. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was such a huge influence on me -- I quite literally would not be who I am now if I hadn't seen it.

The clips seem more frantic -- but that may simply be a style difference between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan. Sagan spoke in measured tones, and much slower.

So far, I have to give the episode title crown to the original, though "Standing Up In The Milky Way" is a great title. The fact that they brought back the Cosmic Calendar -- and that tiny point of light on December 31st that is all of humanity.

I just wonder if the Spaceship of the Imagination will retain it's wonderful balance of Grandeur and Complete Cheesiness.
posted by eriko at 9:24 AM on March 7


gucci mane, eriko's comment about the Cosmic Calendar relates to your question about evolution. People who don't believe in Evolution frequently don't believe that our universe is as old as it is.
posted by scolbath at 9:41 AM on March 7


It might make up for Tyson killing Pluto.

That was really Mike Brown at Caltech, who kept discovering things. Either Pluto isn't a planet, or the solar system has hundreds of them. His book, "How I killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" is an enjoyable read.
posted by eriko at 9:44 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Well... it IS a theory, yes? The problem is that nobody knows what "theory" means.

Actually, evolution is not a theory. "The theory of evolution" is that it is caused by natural selection. Of course, the evidence is overwhelming that this theory is correct, and today we regard evolution and natural selection as one and the same. But evolution is a law, like gravity—we know that it happens, and there's no question about it. Also like gravity, we have a theory about its cause. These theories are about how the observed phenomenon occurs, rather than theories that the phenomenon occurs. Unlike gravity, though, the theory of evolution is utterly triumphant—the cause of gravity remains a bit of a mystery!
posted by waldo at 9:49 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I couldn't agree more. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was such a huge influence on me -- I quite literally would not be who I am now if I hadn't seen it.

As a kid, 1980 was a banner year. I got a computer that year, and there were Space Shuttles and volcanoes - and this show - which my parents not only let me stay up late to watch, they let me monopolize the only color TV in the house so I could watch it.

The shame of it all is that I want to like NdT more than I do. It's not fair to him or to Sagan to make the comparison - and indeed, Sagan is incomparable - and yet I do despite myself. A 9.9 is an infinite distance from 10. Still, I will watch this show - in it's entirety - anyway.

It will never capture my imagination and dreams the way the original did - but that wide eyed 8-going-on-9 year old has been long lost to space and time. I am not really the audience for this show anymore. I hope I enjoy it anyway. Maybe it will add some fuel to that fire of wonder and imagination that the original sparked all those decades ago.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:50 AM on March 7


Either Pluto isn't a planet, or the solar system has hundreds of them.

And what is wrong with that? That is precisely what makes the declassification of Pluto one of the biggest failures of modern science: "There would be too many of them" is as unscientific as it gets. It has no bearing on the physical attributes of the body in question, it's all about "there'd be too many of them otherwise."

Good thing the chemists haven't fallen for that, or they'd be declassifying elements with the same reasoning.
posted by chimaera at 9:58 AM on March 7


The actual scientific reasoning is because of its size and location in space. Pluto's diameter is less than 1/5 the earth's, even smaller than the moon. Its mass is less than 1% of earth's. It has a really weird orbit that is unlike the other planets'. So they call it a dwarf planet now.

It's still up there, it still has its own natural satellites and still orbits the sun. They changed its label as their understanding of the solar system improved. Being mad at scientists for doing science that conflicts with "in my day" childhood nostalgia is far less scientific than reclassifying a heavenly body because of what you learn about it.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:11 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


I can't think of the original series without thinking of the amazing soundtrack, which was a broad mix of electronic and classical.

Vangelis - from "Heaven and Hell, pt. 1" (used as theme music for the show)
Vangelis - Alpha

It was also the first time I ever heard the famous Pachelbel "Canon in D," which in its own way blew my young musical mind just as much as the Vangelis tracks did.

I hope the new show comes up with some decent music too. I gather it's going to be scored by film composer Alan Silvestri.
posted by dnash at 10:21 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


You're mistaken on the actual scientific reasoning. It has nothing to do with size, and very little to do with its location in space.

It is entirely because Pluto does not conform to the third of the following criteria:
The IAU...resolves that planets and other bodies in the Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet [1] is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.
Pluto fails only on item C. Furthermore, the above definition does not account for extrasolar bodies (the thousands of planets Kepler has/will find, for example).

Also, by the way, there was an interesting hand-wavey argument that was used to say that Neptune, whose orbital neighborhood does contain Pluto (they are in an orbital resonance, is the handwavey reason Neptune "cleared" its neighbhorhood but Pluto hasn't).

The original draft proposal for the definition of a planet was entirely based on the physical attributes of the body itself, and didn't require the weird, ambiguous "clearing" criterion:
A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.
Now, this has ambiguities as well, but those clarifications for nuclear fusion and the definition of an orbit around the focus or barycenter of a system could have been added to this original proposal to account for it.

The primary objection to the draft definition is that there would be too many planets in the draft proposal. Ceres would have made the list, as would have Eris, Quaoar, and many others.

I do, as a matter of fact, have a degree in Astrophysics from UCLA, so I'm not merely blowing smoke OR being mad at scientists for doing something that conflicts with my nostaligia. I think the final definition as passed contains needless ambiguity on "clearing the neighborhood," misses all objects which are flying free in space not in the orbit of a star, and is clearly motivated on the end of the IAU by nostalgia for having a discrete, short list of what constitutes a planet, rather than dealing with the population of bodies that should really be called such.
posted by chimaera at 10:23 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


...I never realized just how badass he is...

Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:28 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


It is a good thing that it is on Fox. It will reach non-choir audiences. This is a good thing. It is also a good thing that Seth McFarlane is involved. It would not have the budget / reach / etc without him.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:32 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I had forgotten that Seth McFarland was a big mover behind this. I have great hopes for this show, though now I'm afraid that DeGrasse-Tyson will be paired with an animated asteroid character with a wise-cracking 70s-camp attitude.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:34 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I do, as a matter of fact, have a degree in Astrophysics from UCLA, so I'm not merely blowing smoke OR being mad at scientists for doing something that conflicts with my nostaligia.

Fair enough, and my apologies for the unfair characterization, but that's why most people *are* mad about it. My understanding of the size issue came from NASA's own explanation for the decision, FWIW. Size (mass) is an issue if hydrostatic equlibrium is a condition, but of course Pluto clears that.

I would counter that "only failing on point C" means that it failed. Your reservations about the orbital criterion are well made, but as long as it's a criterion, Pluto ain't a planet.

And again, all this is ultimately about whether or not we add the descriptor "dwarf" to the label. It doesn't change anything about Pluto itself, it's just an attempt at refining categories.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:38 AM on March 7


Fair enough, but I think the issue is not as resolved as it seems. The simple existence of the Kepler data set on its own will be sufficient to revisit this matter at some point, and I feel that a future definition will have much clearer definition of the populations that rely only on a body's physical and orbital characteristics. The community is actually fairly divided on the IAU's current definition, and revisions are inevitable.
posted by chimaera at 10:44 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I'm excited to watch this, but with a name like Cosmos - A Spacetime Odyssey, I will be disappointed if there are no cameos by The Inspector.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:45 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Billions and Billions

I think more interesting than the fact that he never actually said this on the show (it was "billions upon billions") is that he later explained the only reason he said it so emphatically was that he was stressing the "b" so people would understand it wasn't "millions" - back then we just didn't think in numbers that large.
He was good-natured about it - his last book was titled Billions and Billions

Sorely missed, but I think NDT is a pretty cool guy. Eh does good cosmology and doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by hypersloth at 10:47 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Wired has some sneak preview photos and concept images.

Also, as a TV geek, the scheduling is interesting because it's in a very popular timeslot. It's up against Mythbusters now, and when Game of Thrones returns, that too. Ten channels simulcasting is not only an interesting marketing move, but it'll be impossible to casually channel surf without running into the show.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:53 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


It's up against Mythbusters now, and when Game of Thrones returns, that too.

Well FML.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:22 AM on March 7


I hope The Ship Of The Imagination will be included!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:45 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Elements of Sagan's original series are revisited, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:01 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


If you're interested in the issue of what is/isn't a planet, you might find this (admittedly now somewhat outdated) article by Gibor Basri a fun read. It has links to both some pop-science articles and to some slightly more technical things, including an Annual Review article Gibor wrote with Mike Brown (whom eriko mentioned above).

FWIW, I was at the IAU assembly in 2006 where "we" adopted the new planet definition, so I guess you can blame me (and however many hundred other astronomers were present that day) for killing Pluto, too. You guys are probably overestimating the amount of considered thought that went into at least _some_ of the voting that day -- I mean, there were plenty of passionate people on both sides of this thing, but I would guess the majority of people actually voting that day didn't have a particularly strong opinion on the subject, nor necessarily an enormous amount of expertise. (Of course, presumably the people who had a major interest in this issue had been more involved than the average attendee in drafting the actual wording of the resolution.) I recall it just being a vote in the big assembly hall, open to every IAU member at the meeting (i.e., you certainly didn't have to have a background in planetary science specifically to vote). It was in a cavernous room at the congress center in Prague; they gave you a red card and a green card when you entered the room, and you held them up to vote yes or no. I don't think they even bothered to count the exact number of people voting for/against, because it wasn't particularly close. It was on the last (or maybe next-to-last?) day of a two-week long meeting, I was tired, and I'd consumed an unhealthy quantity of excellent Czech beer the previous evening, so my memories of this are all a little hazy.

Back on topic: I am crazy excited by the new Cosmos. It will never be my generation's Cosmos, but it will be my students' and my daughter's and there's no real need to compare them. If it stirs in this generation one-tenth the sensation of awe and possibility that the original version did, it will have been a smashing success.
posted by chalkbored at 12:34 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I'm generally very much not a fan of Seth MacFarlane, but using his pull with Fox to get a new series of Cosmos made? Good on him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I'm going to blow a fuse if FOX's doctrine of "teach the controversy" is applied to Cosmos. I bet there will be a disclaimer saying something along the lines of "views expressed during this program do not reflect the beliefs of this network and represent prevailing scientific theories that are still in question."
posted by pleem at 1:09 PM on March 7


I went to the new Cosmos "premiere screening and live global q&a event" this past Tuesday night at the Cal Academy of Sciences here in SF. I had such high hopes -- I love all matters space-related, Carl Sagan and NdGT -- but unfortunately found the execution wanting. It felt overwrought on all fronts. The special effects were kind of cheesy, the music was anxiety-producing, and the narrative lacked structure or coherence. Even NdGT came off as stilted, which is a real shame because a great deal of his charm comes from his affability and wit.

But maybe my reaction is just a function of aging; I definitely wondered (during the screening) if it's just that I'm not the target demographic: so many over-the-top "special" effects, etc. Like maybe the new show is targeted at "kids" whose brains have been conditioned to react/respond to the videogame aesthetic. I don't know - I just thought it could have been refined/more effective in basically every way. I still hope it does well though, even if it doesn't directly appeal to me -- the core message is profound and important.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:10 PM on March 7


I was 9 when Sagan's Cosmos aired, and I was completely enraptured by the show. I think if you asked scientists and people in other science-related fields around my age, a large number of them would cite the show as a major influence in their lives. I'm very much looking forward to the new series.

I've been rewatching the 1980 series in preparation for the new one. (Ten episodes down, three more to go before Sunday evening.) One thing that strikes me is that it does seem a bit slowly paced, by today's television standards, so I'm not surprised nor concerned that the new series may be a bit "more frantic" than the original. Other than that, the 1980 series holds up remarkably well, I think.

Elements of Sagan's original series are revisited, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination.

And some more subtle allusions, apparently, such as NdGT standing on a bluff very similar to the one Sagan stands on at the start of the first episode.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:16 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate, I think that IS the bluff....!!!!
posted by scolbath at 1:20 PM on March 7


FOX's doctrine of "teach the controversy"

FOX and Fox News are separate networks. Same parent company, yes, but I don't see a lot of FOX adopting Fox News's politics. If anything, the influence runs the other way, as Fox News remains strangely silent about some of the things on shows like Family Guy and American Dad which Fox News would be absolutely lambasting if they were run on any non-Fox Entertainment Group network.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:25 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Aversion Therapy: Just a shame its on Fox.

Neil deGrasse Tyson responds to that notion:
Now, there are a series of thoughts I'm about to share with you that I think lasted about 12 seconds. My first thought was "[taking the pilot for the rebooted Cosmos to Fox] is the stupidest idea I've ever heard, [Seth MacFarlane] doesn't get it, this is a waste of a lunch."

But then I said, "Wait a minute, Fox is 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures, they brought Avatar and Slumdog Millionaire to the screen. Yes, there's Fox News, but also the Fox Network which has acerbic liberal commentary of The Simpsons and Family Guy. And there's Fox Sports. I realized Fox has more demographics of American culture going through their portfolio than any other network. And so, I concluded that there's no better place to be than on Fox.

So 12 seconds later I told him it was a great idea.
The rest of that interview on io9 is pretty interesting, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:26 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


hapax_legomenon, that was just what I was afraid of. I'm one of the people (and of the age group) that complains that NOVA has gotten too filled with smash-kerpow special effects, and wishes there were more details of the science. Used to be you could tell when an image was a simulation and when it was of the actual object. Now you can't be sure, and I wish they would label simulations when they show them. My worry is that they set kids up to be disappointed when the real stuff doesn't look as flashy as what they've seen.

But like you say, this might not really be meant for us. Heck, there are candy bars I liked as a kid that just taste too sweet now. This one might be, you know, for kids.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:35 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Isn't this suppose to primarily be about the universe? I could see evolution being discussed in an episode deliberately about Earth, but ...

There was an awful lot in the original Cosmos that had to do with stuff on Earth, since that's really the only venue most of us will ever get to experience first hand. It seems to me that the thrust was mostly "our place in the cosmos" as opposed to "outer space has a lot of wild stuff going on."

With regard to evolution, I recall a bit in the original book Cosmos about natural vs. artificial selection with regard to a species of crab that evolved to form an uncanny image of a Japanese samurai on its shell, due to Japanese fishermen favoring (not catching) them.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:56 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


My only hope is that they manage to maintain some of the pacing and style of the original, and don't resort to a lot of fast-cut editing effects, manic animations looped over and over and over, and that DeGrasse Tyson doesn't have to recap everything after the commercial breaks. This style of editing and program format bothers me to no end (see anything done by Discovery, TLC, even National Geographic after about 2005). Yes, I understand that it "works" to keep viewers interested (supposedly), but god dammit I want to absorb the material and the constant secondary stimulation is fucking tiring to watch. I swear that if they could, they'd make shows into Blipverts just to make sure they stuffed their banal interpretation of the information into as compact a show as they could.

I know it's reactionary of me, but it makes me love a lot of the older PBS nature documentaries that a lot of people complain about because they are so quiet and slow. I can actually sit and watch them for hours and not get bored, because they give me time to actually think about what I am seeing, versus being inundated with information and having to pretty much passively accept everything that is going on, rather than being given time to comprehend what is being presented.

I need to go read up on more information theory to come up with a better explanation for this.
posted by daq at 3:53 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


And some more subtle allusions, apparently, such as NdGT standing on a bluff very similar to the one Sagan stands on at the start of the first episode.

Is he going to do Carl Sagan's O-face?
posted by bukvich at 5:31 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


No, but does introduce himself as Nnnnnnnnnneil deGrassse Tyson, which I think counts.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:25 PM on March 7


Also, anyone who is as big a fan as I am of Carl Sagan's deliciously unique take on vocal delivery should check out his appearance in the Dead Author's Podcast.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:27 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here

I know, have you seen pictures of the younger NdGT? He was ripped.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


DevilsAdvocate: And some more subtle allusions, apparently, such as NdGT standing on a bluff very similar to the one Sagan stands on at the start of the first episode.

Very keen.

Before I saw those clips, I was hoping for a better quality version of this image, because I'd love to make that my desktop. Unfortunately, everything I've found of that image is pretty small, or appears to be upscaled from a smaller image and a bit blurry.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:56 PM on March 7


I know it's reactionary of me, but it makes me love a lot of the older PBS nature documentaries that a lot of people complain about because they are so quiet and slow.
I'm with you on the benefits of slow / ambient documentaries. That said, NdGT is such a font of awesomeness that I really don't care how the video is produced. As long as they don't auto-tune him. That could be bad.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:59 PM on March 7


I will be ecstatic if (a) it doesn't suffer from the awful CGI effects onslaught pioneered by the execrable wad of hateful stupidity that was What tнē #$*! D̄ө ωΣ (k)πow!? or (b) it avoids stinking up the series with the unendurable prattling televisual omnipresence of Michio Kaku.
posted by sonascope at 8:02 PM on March 7


I want an update on the Meat planet
posted by Renoroc at 9:54 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Yeah but is he going to wear Sagan's orange parka? Because that's really what counts.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:08 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here

And that's no bullshit.
posted by homunculus at 6:44 PM on March 8


pmarca: "In general: There is a growing CP Snow-style divide between people who trust math/science/tech and people who trust people/institutions. A challenge for the general press--and business press--is to hire/train more reporters who are on the math/science/tech side of the divide. It is going to get far harder to understand--or explain--the world from here for people who aren't deep in math/science/tech. Corollary: It is becoming much more important for math/science/tech people to be able to explain things to non-math/science/tech people."
posted by kliuless at 9:41 AM on March 9


Facebook Page “I F-ing Love Science” Is Getting A TV Series, With Craig Ferguson Producing
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


So it's started (here on the east coast) and I think it's great. If it was on PBS I'd want more, but on Fox, after Family Guy, and in the first 15 minutes we've got a simple matter-of-fact statement of the scientific method.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:18 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Previous post on Giordano Bruno.

I think the first link went to this article.
posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I miss Carl.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:00 PM on March 9


Wow, that was amazing. The tribute to Carl Sagan was touching. All the vast scale of time and space stuff gave me goosebumps just like when I watched the original series with my dad. Glad to say he's still going strong at 80 and watched this tonight.

I loved the animation sequences with Bruno. So well done.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:03 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I liked it a lot.

I have a particular hate for most science shows produced today with the wishes-he-were-a-trailer-voiceover-artist narration and the super fast cuts and the repeating after commercial break (even if I'm streaming the thing and don't have any commercial breaks) and the lack of any real depth because the show has to fit in a 30 minute time slot which is only like 22 mins with commercials. So I was pretty trepidatious about this.

But you know what? It was a lot of fun. Sure, this was mostly review for the types of people who would be fans of the original show, but they have to start somewhere, right? And yeah, the pacing is a little faster than Carl would have done, but it's 2014 -- Carl Sagan's Cosmos wouldn't be able to hold an audience today, I can deal with that.

And they gave it an hour long timeslot, and NgDT said "we are all star stuff", and the historical bits that touched on religious belief were handled in a pretty even handed way that didn't make this non-theist cringe, and I did learn a little something because I didn't really know much about Giovani Bruno before.

So far so good. I'm looking forward to next week.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:51 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


What I'm most curious about is how this will be received by the broader culture. During the Bruno segment I confess I was wincing a bit, getting ready for the Ross Douthat editorial defending the church's treatment of Bruno. Hopefully I'm just being pessimistic and it won't come.

It was also fun noting the stuff that was new since the last version, like exoplanets.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:08 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed it. It was very matter of fact about settled science and didn't mince words with "some people say" or any weaselly phrases like that. However, I note for the record the program is rated TV-PG.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:51 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


The thing that have me goosebumps was Carl Sagan's day planner. How cool was that?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:35 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


However, I note for the record the program is rated TV-PG.

A (cartoon) dude did get tortured then burned alive, so the rating seems justified.

Then again, maybe they were going to get the PG rating anyways for showing the fallacy of the Church so they decided to play up the torture bits a little because they could?
posted by sparklemotion at 7:34 AM on March 10


I liked it a lot, except for the commercial breaks. But I guess that's (literally) the cast of doing business.

I haven't heard anything about there being a book to go along with this version. Will there? The book accompanying Sagan's version was one of my all-time favorites.
posted by COBRA! at 7:36 AM on March 10


It's not bad, except for the damn constant pornozooms to the cheesetrekkie silver spaceship, and the horrible, horrible, horrible score and even worse sound design. Would it kill Fox to hand issues of audio to someone with ears?

I am curious, though, about the contention that these sorts of things have to be hyperkinetic to attract audiences these days. Were kids of my day any less hyperkinetic? I mean—we actually spent large portions of our lives outside, doing actual, nonsimulated things, so you'd think we'd have been even worse targets for a program played at a leisurely pace than a generation raised to be glued to chairs, screens, and cubicles.
posted by sonascope at 7:52 AM on March 10


FYI, first episode is up on Hulu.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Grantland's take.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:04 AM on March 10


Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable: No one will ever match his talent as the “gatekeeper of scientific credibility”
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on March 10


I enjoyed it so much I forgot to include my complaint: So. Many. Lens flares.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:57 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I enjoyed it so much I forgot to include my complaint.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


Delilah's Crazy for Cosmos (2 1/2 years old)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:31 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Also London Real presents Neil deGrasse Tyson - Cosmos
posted by filthy light thief at 3:34 PM on March 11


My wife and I finally finished the first episode last night, and we're excited for the program, though the amount of fluffy CG was not necessary (to hook us, at least).

The first night ratings weren't fantastic, with the program ranking 3rd with 5.8 million viewers, compared to the #1 show in that time slot, ABC's "Resurrection," which had 13.3 million viewers. The number of Cosmos viewers bumped up to 8.5 million viewers across 10 networks, and is expected to grow to a total audience of 40 million viewers worldwide.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:31 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Oklahoma Fox station removes evolution from ‘Cosmos’ by cutting only 15 seconds
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on March 13


filthy light thief: I was hoping for a better quality version of this image

... and I found one! Today Online has a Cosmos gallery with this image, unfortunately matted. It's a bit blurry if cropped and upscaled to 1920 x 1080 px, but that's the best I've found so far.

Amusingly, it seems like this Greek Digital TV blog has a variant on that image, which apparently was matted against a different version of the Milky Way backdrop image, and the brightness of the foreground is bumped up.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:54 AM on March 14


There Is One Movie Neil deGrasse Tyson Approves Of Scientifically: After famously criticizing Gravity, the astrophysicist — and host of Fox’s COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey — doesn’t know if he’ll ever publicly fact-check a film’s science again. Praising a film’s science, however, he can do.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on March 14


The evolution stuff in episode 2 was fantastically done. I'm glad they threw a spotlight on the tired old eye argument.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:41 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as soon as that started, I just imagined Tyson in a writer's meeting saying, "No, we have to do something on eyes, because that's what they always fucking yammer about."
posted by Etrigan at 5:08 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


So ... did that station in Oklahoma just refuse to run Episode 2? "Accidentally" overdub it with scenes from The Seventh Sign?
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:13 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Wolves/dogs were a fantastic if maybe too-subtle example for the "why are there still monkeys?" crowd, too.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:45 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


Creationists Complain Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'Cosmos' Isn't Giving Them Airtime
posted by tonycpsu at 1:42 PM on March 21


Cosmos Chronicles How Knowledge Conquers Fear
posted by homunculus at 9:49 AM on March 24


Patrick Stewart Beams Down To Join Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Cosmos
posted by homunculus at 5:46 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Bill Nye: I Took Astronomy From Carl Sagan
posted by homunculus at 11:01 AM on March 30


'Cosmos' host Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak at Omaha Pastafarians conference
posted by homunculus at 8:59 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Uhhh yeah I'm definitely going to have to go to that.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:47 PM on April 2


Tyson's speech will take place Sept. 19 (which is Talk Like a Pirate Day, incidentally)

Oh, this could be epic.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:50 AM on April 3


Remember That Time Our Friend Bill Nye And Neil deGrasse Tyson Were Loveable Jerks On Stargate: Atlantis
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on April 6


« Older If you've time to spare, the Unusual Locomotives p...  |  Six Miles Out... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments