8 Reasons You Absolutely Must Watch Cosmos

By Charles Webb in Daily Lists, TV
Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6:00 am

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Seriously, who would have thought the mind behind Family Guy could somehow Voltron up with Carl Sagan's widow and the man, the mustache, Mr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to make a big deal science show that might just get everyone in your household hyped about the universe, life, and the origins of both?

Fox and NatGeo invited Topless Robot out to Space Camp in Huntsville to view the premiere of the 13-episode series and have a chat with its co-creator and Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan in advance of its March 9th premiere. And I have to say Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey is good - very good. So good, I would hazard to say that the reinvention of the classic '70s science series is actually important. And we're going to tell you the eight reasons why you shouldn't miss it.

Come with me...



8. A Head Trip for the Whole Family

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This is a show about the very origins of the universe featuring a man on a CG space ship zipping around talking about its building blocks (with a view that would put the Illusive Man's to shame).

Druyan says the series is the result of the work of over 750 people across five years: an attempt to map out where we come from (and hopefully, where we're going), using deep space photography, CG, animation, and good, old-fashioned heart.

"I feel like science has a really great story to tell," Druyan tells us, offering that Cosmos is a chance to acknowledge the spiritual with the scientific.

It'd be easy to call the expansive scope "weird" or trippy, but it's instead an exciting look at the scope of our universe, a "story" mapped out across billions of years that can make the viewer feel both small and like an important piece of a narrow slice of galactic history.

7. It's Got Music From the Composer for The Avengers

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Oh, Cosmos sounds great, and that's thanks to a score by Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning composer Alan Silvestri - who was only tapped for a theme for the series according to Druyan.

He went above and beyond.

"We sent him the rough cuts of the episodes and expected him to do a theme to be used through several hours of the series," Druyan says. "He was so taken... that he wanted to write every single second of the 13 hours."

Cosmos is a rarity on TV with music taken from live sessions composed by Silvestri, giving the whole production a big budget, film feel.

Druyan worked with Silvestri on the big screen adaptation of Contact, but it was Seth MacFarlane who recommend the composer for the show.

6. Seth MacFarlane Helped Make It Expensive, Expansive

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Gage Skidmore

Druyan told us that she'd been shopping Cosmos around for years before landing at Fox, in each case circling a potential broadcaster before having to turn them down. The reasons? They were stingy with the budgets and wanted editorial control of the series - something Fox, and collaborating with the man behind Family Guy, was ultimately able to offer.

Druyan says MacFarlane was a hero in her household thanks to his animation work, and that he really stepped up to the plate in getting the series made. While MacFarlane's work is often juvenile, bordering on misogynistic, transphobic and outright mean, he's also an incredibly smart and funny guy with a real science boner, according to Druyan (who did not, in fact, use the words "science boner"), dating back to the original series.

It was MacFarlane who reached out to Dr. Tyson about a way to get a global audience interested in science, and Dr. Tyson who put MacFarlane in contact with Ann Druyan, leading to a Cosmos that, not incidentally, has some pretty sweet animation.

5. No Cheesy Live-Action Sequences

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"The whole idea of animating these heroes of knowledge was Seth," Druyan told us. The original series is remembered for its painfully sincere but occasionally low-budget live-action historical reenactments which might not fly with today's audiences.

The new Cosmos includes animated sequences dramatizing these so-called "heroes of science": dreamers, thinkers, and philosophers who used rigorous scientific methodology to construct a picture of life on Earth and in relation to the rest of the universe.

Druyan says that MacFarlane assembled the collection of character designers and artists who would work from the show's scripts to create a series of shorts voiced by the likes of Richard Gere, Patrick Stewart and Kirsten Dunst.

Think about it: this is a show were the portions with a man talking science from the deck of his space ship isn't the single most visually-arresting component. That alone makes Cosmos a must-watch.

And speaking of the man on the ship...

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