TV Review: “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” – Science is Magic

Written by Jesse Gelinas June 19, 2014

Neil degrasse Tyson on the cosmic calendar on "Cosmos"

Thirty-four years ago, Carl Sagan took us on a wonderful voyage through the cosmos. From the tiniest molecules in our own bodies to the far reaches of the countless galaxies beyond, he showed us how truly remarkable the universe can be. No need to dress it up, dumb it down, or fudge the narrative. Today, with advancements in science and our understanding of the universe, as well as media technology, we can take a similar journey. This odyssey through our cosmos shows us the true wonders of the universe, and the history of the men and women who gifted us with this knowledge. Neil deGrasse Tyson seems just the man to guide us on this journey, and his work stands up incredibly well to his predecessor.

“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” follows the same formula of the original series. Each week, Neil deGrasse Tyson focuses on one or two aspects of the universe around us and gives us an in depth look to help us understand its workings. We’re also treated to some history lessons about previous scientists and scholars who made these discoveries, and the hardships they faced when trying to change the world. Some names will be all too familiar for anyone who’s passed the fourth grade while some will be a bit more obscure. All of it is fascinating.

“The Cosmos is all that is, ever was, or ever will be.” – Carl Sagan

Science is fascinating in its own right, and the great thing is that a lot of young people are realizing this at a very young age nowadays. Just take a look at the r/science subreddit on Reddit.com, or “I fucking love science” on Facebook. The beauty of “Cosmos” is that it can appeal to all these young science enthusiasts, older generations who’re interested in learning, and anyone in between. Well, almost anyone. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the controversy brought on by certain religious fundamentalists about the content of the show. Some have gone so far as to demand that religious notions like Creationism or Intelligent Design should be given equal airtime on a program dedicated to scientifically explaining the workings of the universe. I don’t remember this kind of tension over Bill Nye, but maybe I’m just too young to remember. Unsurprisingly, this small minority of non-viewers was unsuccessful.

The Ship of Imagination on "Cosmos"

When visiting the history of scientific discovery, we get these lovely animated segments. They’re simple yet look great and help deliver the important messages. Yes, they also have a running theme of religious persecution, but it’s all factual. Most of the show is covered with Tyson’s narration allowing us to better understand complex systems and concepts that we usually take for granted. Things like light, electricity, sound, gravity, the sun, microscopic cells, extinct species etc. They all get their time in the spotlight, and are explained in easily consumable ways for anyone.

“Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything. Accept these terms, and the Cosmos is yours.”

Let’s take a moment to talk about “Family Guy”. Yes, it’s a funny cartoon that has millions of dedicated fans (myself not one of them); however, twenty years from now I think Seth MacFarlane will be better remembered for producing “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey”, and for good reason. In today’s world where everything is polarized, and the extreme fringes of society are getting louder and louder, we need shows like this to remind us about the wonders of the world.

A Tardigrade on "Cosmos"

The Tardigrade. “Cosmos” has taught me this is the baddest son of a bitch on the planet.

Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” was a great injection of science into the mainstream through TV. “A SpaceTime Odyssey” takes that same approach and uses all the resources at its disposal to make it grander and, I believe, more entertaining and accessible. If you have kids, introduce this show to them. If you have older parents who you’re constantly having to explain things to, get them in on it as well. They won’t be disappointed; they’ll be awed. The world, the galaxy, and the universe around it is a wondrous collage of amazing things. It’s magic. It truly is. It’s magic without the need of fairytales to make it make sense. You need only a charismatic astrophysicist, and his Ship of Imagination.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Poster for "Cosmos"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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