TV Review: Cosmos

Sunday was such a busy day for television that there was no way I would be able to enjoy everything that I wanted to in one day. I did manage to check out the premiere episode of Resurrection on ABC and the latest episode of Spike TV's Bar Rescue. However, one show that I really wanted to wtach on Sunday was Cosmos: A Spacetime Oddessy on Fox. Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos is a 21st century update to the 1980 Carl Sagan show of the same name. So when I came home from work Monday evening, I fired up the old DVR to check out the debut episode.

The show follows a similar model of Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, with Tyson zipping around the universe on the "Spaceship of Imagination". The first third of the episode introduces viewers to the grand scheme of things, visiting our solar system, galaxy, and the observable universe as a whole. Tyson provides insight into definitions of most everything, explaining why our human minds can't even comprehend the vastness of our universe.

After this, the show begins to narrow, giving viewers a history lesson paired in the form of some stylized animations. The purpose of these segments is to teach about the pioneers of science as we know it, with the debut episode focusing on Giordano Bruno, the 16th century philosopher who first defied all conventional knowledge by introducing the idea that the Universe goes far beyond what was believed.

I really liked how they used the show as a tribute to the late Carl Sagan. The showmakers took a sound clip of Sagan from the original run, making his the first voice the viewers hear. It was also a nice touch that the first shot is of Tyson on the same cliff that Sagan stood on to introduce his show 34 years ago. Both were very nice touches that honored a pioneer in the field and made learning about science, the world and the universe cool.

The first half of the episode was slightly awkward to watch. The CGI Universe that Tyson explored and the constantly swelling orchestral soundtrack made the show feel more like a movie that you watch on the ceiling at the Planetarium rather than a prime-time show dedicated to teaching science. Luckily, it settles into an easier stride and becomes engrossing as it pinpoints on its subject. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy the first act; I was absolutely engrossed by it. My problem was just with the vast universe that they showed, and the CGI that was used really defined that this show is educational over everything else.

The wonder of Cosmos is that it brings these insane concepts, things that people always wonder about but never have the energy to actually learn, to the forefront, making the information available to everyone. But Cosmos takes the information and breaks it down in simple, easy-to-digest pieces instead of stacking everything on top of people's plates. In light of the recent "debate" between science enthusiast Bill Nye and creationist Ken Hamm, it's clear that regular availability to scientific information is necessary and I'm hoping that Cosmos becomes the source for that.

I also don't think there's an irony in the show being sponsored by Samsung Galaxy...or maybe there is.

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