Mar. 25th, 2014

Cosmos 2.0

Mar. 25th, 2014 08:51 pm
farrandy: (Randy and Dogs)
Okay, so we've been watching the new version of Cosmos. I have to admit I had a lot of trepidation about this show. I have very fond memories of the original series (and admittedly I may be remembering it through rose-colored nostalgia because I haven't seen it --except for a few short bits on Youtube--since it originally aired). Carl Sagan was (and still is) one of my heroes. The show was beautiful; science and art all rolled into one hour long package for 13 weeks. It occurs to me that it was the first soundtrack that I ever bought (on LP! Remember those?). It introduced me to the music of Vangelis. How could anything compete with that?

It doesn't. But then, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyessy isn't trying to compete with the original; it is a continuation, paying lots of homage to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (especially in the first episode), such as returning to Sagan's Cosmic Calendar. I got a chuckle as Dr. Neal deGrasse Tyson started walking toward the Big Bang, reached in his jacket and pulled out a pair of sunglasses. I also got just a bit weepy at the end as he was telling about the time he met with Dr. Sagan, who gave him a copy of The Cosmic Connection signed "to Neal, a future astronomer". After the episode, I went back to the lab, rummaged around and brought out my own copy of the same edition to show to Barbara (it is, sadly, unsigned).

I had heard that historical recreations were going to be executed using animated cartoons, and I was also skeptical about this, but it is nicely done, and very artistic. It was used in the most recent episode to tell the story of Edmund Halley's diligence in getting one the most important books in the history of science--Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica published and how it almost didn't happen (the phrase "The History of Fish" still makes me giggle--and you'll just have to see the episode or do some research to know what I'm talking about).

The special effects are much better than the original, but well, there really was no CGI back in 1979, and they aren't working with a PBS budget----which leads to my one qualm:

Commercials. The original Cosmos , being on PBS had no commercials. The new Cosmos, being on the National Geographic Channel and (surprisingly) Fox, is interrupted numerous times for ads for car insurance or deodorant. I will give them credit, though; unlike shows on, say History or Discovery, the story picks up right where it left off--they don't insult your intelligence by taking 30 seconds before a seven minute long commercial break to tell you what you're going to see and then take a minute after the break to remind you of what you've already seen (Hello! I'm watching a show about science and I do not have the attention span of a gnat!). This is one of the reasons we dropped cable. BTW, I couldn't help to notice the irony that one of the commercials shown during episodes 1 and 2 were for the big blockbuster movie about Noah's Ark, but it was dropped during episode 3. Maybe it was because in episode 2, Dr. deGrasse Tyson, in talking about (gasp!) evolution pointed out that there are over 50 million species of beetles alone. Any rational person, hearing that, would have to soon conclude that a major portion of that boat must have been devoted to just to bugs (and where did they put the termites on a wooden boat?). I've heard that a lot of evangelical Christians are (not surprisingly) upset that the show is not giving equal time to "intelligent design" or creationism or whatever they're calling it now. To them I say, you have numerous whole networks devoted to your belief system, and not once have I heard of any of them devoting equal time to evolution, so until that happens, just zip it already!

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. The air is kinda thin up here anyway.

Finally, in comparison of Sagan to deGrasse Tyson, the former was like a favorite uncle saying, "The cosmos is an amazing and wonderful place. Come with me, if you will, and let's explore it." (I still think of him as Uncle Carl). The later is like a science geek who drinks a lot of coffee, gabs you by the arm and says, "Look! Those galaxies are colliding! Let's get closer!" The bridge of Sagan's "spaceship of the imagination" looked (ironically?) like a cathedral. deGrasse Tyson's looks a bit like the the bridge of the Enterprise. But I'd gladly take a ride on either one.

And, thinking about it, since Sagan descibed the cosmos as "...everything that is, ever was or ever will be," if you were on one, eventually I suppose, you'd meet the other.

What a pleasant thought. Hi Uncle Carl!


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