Shiri’s Prediction: I don’t remember Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980). I was two. And not nearly as smart as my now four year old son who knew all of the planets in order by that age.
I am geekily gleeful about this new incarnation, and I’m sure Izzy will be two. And even if Zora, my eighteen month old daughter doesn’t remember watching it this time around, survey says the information will be stored in the archive for later. All four of us are going to sit and watch Cosmos together and I say this as someone is isn’t big on media-centric family activities.
Though I may not mention to Izzy that the new Cosmos host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is responsible for poor Pluto’s being ejected from the club. He told me ages ago he was worried Pluto would be lonely and it was mean to say it wasn’t a planet anymore.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the only astrophysicist, besides the one guy at NASA with the tattoos and the hair, who is cool enough to stand up out of that chair — yes, the one that looks like an Enterprise bridge chair — and throw on shades to get people pumped to DO SCIENCE! Okay, maybe Brian Cox, but he has the TARDIS gig nailed down, so lets’ give someone else a chance. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the freakin’ Batman of astrophysicists anyway. If you’ve seen him on Colbert, you know he’s funny, if you’ve read his books you know he’s brilliant, and if you’ve heard any Star Talk or seen any recent episodes of NOVA , you know he can make even the most complicated science accessible and bloody fascinating. Like any good world builder, he assumes both that his audience wants to be there and they’re smart enough to get it if he lays it out and then steps back to allow us to stack the pieces the right way and see what the mental tetris ends up looking like. Dr. Tyson is excited about science, which gets his audience excited about science. He shows us that there’s nothing we can’t understand and that there are mysteries yet to be solved.
Quite frankly, I’ll follow the man anywhere he wants to take me.
Think science isn’t your thing? That’s what I used to think, outside of biology and anatomy. Thanks to this gent, I understand concepts I never thought my brain would be able to process given a thousand years and some computer chips to help out.
Bet you don’t even know how much science is your thing. Give Neil deGrasse Tyson a chance to prove otherwise.
Besides, have you seen his star map vest?
IN A WORLD…where we need to spend as much money on teaching as we do on blockbusters, this show looks the type of show you would want. The creative forces behind it and in it are as good as it gets (love him or hate him having Seth MacFarlane around as a producer will make sure it is not boring). And Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the best known and loved public scientist around today (like a Bill Nye with more science cred). It looks good, great even. And if it can help change course on the anti-science, anti-intellectual course the country has been on, even better.
BUT, and it is a big but, this is a science show on the most conservative of TV networks, FOX. The original Cosmos with Carl Sagan is one of the most watched PBS shows, ever. Internationally, it still is the most watch production of PBS. This new version is a Cosmos Studios (production company behind the original), National Geographic, and Fuzzy Door (a.k.a. Seth MacFarlane) production that will be broadcast on FOX and the National Geographic Channel. It is great that this show is getting made, and is on a broadcast TV network to reach as many people as it can, but I worry that needs of network TV, ratings, will be a concern and if that will have impact on the shows content. And, how do they deal with subjects where science and religion touch? There is a bit in there of something that looked a lot like an animated Jesus, and does having FOX be the broadcaster change how they can approach that? Is this a world we want? Where public scientists have to sell bits of their soul to get the stage they deserve for sharing their ideas? Is it better or worse or just different than if it was a publicly funded stage?
In the end, I am excited and hopeful, but just a touch skeptical, worried maybe, and will watch the show more closely than I would if it was on PBS. Maybe, that will make the experience even better…
<edited to add in Luke’s late-ass prediction>