The new “Cosmos”

Sadly, I cannot provide a review of the new Cosmos television show produced by Ann Druyan and starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, for I didn’t see it. I will probably watch it in rerun when I have time to see it properly.  But I thought I’d provide one review, from Reverend El Mundo, and give readers who saw it an opportunity to weigh in. First, the Reverend and his cat Coco:

Hope you got to see Neil deGasse Tyson present the first episode of Cosmos last night.  It was excellent and he did a fantastic job.

Check out the photo.  I swear I did not set this scene up.  My cat, Coco, watched the series on and off like this for at least 30 minutes!  When I got up for a treat during an intermission, she’d walk over to the kitchen w/ me (for one as well) and then eventually come back and park her butt in front of the TV and watch more of the special!  I have no clue what could possibly have gotten her attention for so long but she seemed to be really interested in something.  Maybe it was Neil’s discussion of the treatment of Giordano Bruno by the Morans* of the day!


For my own edification, I asked the good Reverend what “Morans” were, and he added this:

The word “Morans” relates to my description for the ignorami of the era.  The word gained popular circulation during the tortuous GW Beanbrain period (2000-2008) when the attached photo made its first intertubes appearance.

MoransIf you Google the word and select “images,” it’s the 1st image to pop up!  It’s the perfect picture for the OED word, “ignoramus.”

So, if you saw “Cosmos”, what did you think? Nearly all the reviews I’ve read online have been positive. And if you also saw the original with Carl Sagan, feel from to contrast/compare.

:  Another cat, sent BY reader Helene, also watched “Cosmos”:

Your reader, the reverend, is not the only one who has a cat that enjoyed Cosmos last night. Mr Mumps spent almost the entire program watching up close. Not sure why—the last time he did that was during the Olympics to watch skiers.

In the attached image, you can see him approving of the big bang.

I wonder what was appealing to cats. Do you think there is a chance that there are more Cosmos cat enthusiasts out there? I’d hate to conclude anything from a sample of only two.

Cosmos cat


  1. Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Dull and uninspiring.


    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. Not horrid, but weak.

      It’s episode 1… you need to make a better case for why folks should stay with you.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t knock my socks off, either, but we have to remember that we are not the target audience. For many who might have watched (most of which probably didn’t, but some surely did), this was the first time they’d heard any of this.

    • CJ
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      You must be joking? The “first” episode alluded to many great ideas, lessons and discoveries, and ALL you have to say is “Dull and uninspiring”

      What a dull and worthless comment.

      I thought the first episode was great. As i am already a science enthusiast, I personally didn’t learn much from watching it, but it’s not hard to imagine many people, old and young, being inspired by it. Nevertheless, i really enjoyed it. Just as i don’t learn from, but still enjoy, listening to the music that inspired me to become a musician when i was younger.

      • kraut
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

        Maybe you find it great – maybe it was ok for the kids. I found it too gimmicky and not enough substance and depth. Some pretty pictures though.
        But – maybe the topic “Cosmos” writ large in light of the new science discoveries since the original was broadcast is a bit too vast to address in any depth.
        It also was just the first show – maybe better follows.

      • Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:12 am | Permalink

        Well, that is not *all* I have to say. But it was all I felt warranted saying.

        Yes, it alluded to many great ideas, lessons and discoveries! But the delivery did not live up to the content. It found it flat and did not enjoy it.

        I seriously doubt that it will be as inspirational as the original.

        And I might be a more thoughtful and discriminating critic than you, so your snarky comment might actually be worth far less than mine! 😉


        • darrelle
          Posted March 11, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          Just felt like saying that your comments often make me smile.

  2. JohnJay
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    FYI: It’s repeated on National Geographic cable channel tonight (10 eastern). Also available free streaming on Hulu. I’ll be watching it tonight.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      I don’t have cable, so was wondering where I could watch this. Now I know – thanks!

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink


    • Darrin M Carter
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink


      • Diane G.
        Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink


  4. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    On the one hand, it was overproduced with excessive high-tech graphics and light on substance. On the other, it supported a secular, scientific world view and came down hard on religious dogma, in particular the Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of Giordano Bruno.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. I watched it in a pub theatre here in Portland, and the audience clapped out loud when Tyson said something like this: “The church leaders started to worry when these new ideas began to threaten their sacred scriptures.” (re Bruno). There was no soft-pedalling of scientific conflict with the church of the time. And I don’t think Tyson would have allowed the dilution of Evolution, when that topic is covered.

      • Skip Davis
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        I agree, and the coverage of evolution begins with the next show, “Rivers of Life”, March 16.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      It also made sure to mention Noah, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. It seemed rather Eurocentric to me — surely the Chinese, Indians, or others knew the earth orbits the sun?

      • TnkAgn
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        And it mentioned them all without regard to their actual historicity. But what can you do in an hour?

        • Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          But what can you do in an hour?

          I think that was part of it. I also think the point was to demonstrate that, whereas the world’s religions tend to regard themselves as being of great antiquity (Scientology and Mormonism excepted, of course!), in fact they’re johnny-come-latelies when you look at the grander scheme of things.

          My wife, watching beside me, said of this little section, “The religious types aren’t going to be pleased about that.” I think she was right. It put their concerns into the correct (minuscule) scale.

        • Nick
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          More like, “What can you do in 40 minutes”, given that this version is on commercial TV. The main reason I eschew commercial TV is advertising. If I must watch (as in Cosmos), I DVR it and zip through the commercials, or hope that it shows up on Netflix at some point.

          I would guess that the original PBS version had episodes that ran 50-55 minutes each.

      • Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Actually, as far as I can tell, no. The Chinese were great astronomers, but didn’t figure that out. Also I don’t think they even worked out the shape of the Earth. (A lot of Chinese cosmology has the earth being flat, IIRC.)

    • eric
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      I would agree on the overproduction. IMO it really shined with Tyson was just speaking from the heart to the audience, but when it tried to impress my primary response was “oh, please.”

      But I also have to admit at the producers were probably not targeting people like me with the over the top stuff (cartoons etc). So I would be very interested to know what younger, less educated viewers thought about it. If it works for them, then frankly I don’t really care if it impresses me.

      Anyway, I’ll keep watching, because as I said, Tyson is pretty good when he just talks about science.

  5. Lawrence Tanner
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Cosmos was awesome. The Cosmic Calendar puts everything in its proper perspective showing man as a most recent newcomer thanks to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. A very good program.

  6. Derek Freyberg
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Too much flash and frou-frou, and not nearly enough science, for me. And I didn’t care for the cartoons (Jacob Bronowski in “The Ascent of Man” told the story of Galileo far better than “Cosmos” does the story of Bruno). But Tyson is clearly committed to telling the story of science and is a good and clear speaker. But it was the first episode, no doubt designed to attract the attention of a non-scientific audience, so I will hold off judgment on that ground until the end of episode 2.

    • merilee
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I wasn’t mad for the cartoons, either, but Tyson IS committed to science, and clear thinking, and if the cartoons clear the minds of some of the “morans” I’d be satisfied. A hearty 2.5 cheers.

  7. helene
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I could share similar pictures of Mr Mumps from last night. He stayed glued to the TV for almost the entire show (we gave on getting him to move).

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      My feline friend Cordelia watched the entire show too – except for during the commercials when she wandered off for a snack. She was as interested in Cosmos as she was in Attenborough’s “Birds”.

  8. gravityfly
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink


    • Richard Bond
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      A rather unfortunate choice of term: a moran is a young Masai man.

      • gravityfly
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        Also the name of a gorgeous Israeli actress:

  9. moarscienceplz
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I liked the depiction of the Catholic authorities as sort of comic book super villains. I’m not too familiar with Bruno’s life story, but it appears the Cosmos guys played fast and loose with the facts.

    There wasn’t much science presented that wasn’t already in the first Cosmos. I guess that’s fine if you assume that your audience is unfamiliar with Sagan’s show, but in that case, I’m not sure there was much in this episode to hook a new audience into watching the whole series.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:28 am | Permalink

      There’s an interesting critique of the “Cosmos” version of Bruno’s life, together with a more detailed summary of his life in What ‘Cosmos’ Got Wrong About Giordano Bruno, the Heretic Scientist.

      Here in the UK I only have Freeview, so don’t know how to watch the new “Cosmos”. Of course I’ve watched the boxed set of the original, and may have to wait for the boxed set of NdGT’s version.

      • Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        I haven’t seen the show yet, but the article might be unfair: Bruno is remembered because he was *executed for holding an opinion*. I don’t care how much of an controversial kick-up-the-crap guy you are: nobody should be *killed* for that.

        Yes, he was not a great scientist or a profound thinker, especially compared to Galileo or Kepler. But so what?

  10. gbjames
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink


    My wife hated the cartoon parts, simply for graphic design issues. I liked that it started with Sagan’s original “The cosmos is everything…” statement and ended with Tyson’s personal connection with Sagan. I didn’t really learn anything from the show, but that may change as we get beyond the introductory show and into the rest of the series.

    His “space-time ship” seems to be a shiny version of Boba Fett’s ship from Star Wars.

    • elsburymk14
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Good call. I thought the exact same thing about the ship.

    • John O
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      Boba Fett’s ship is called, “Slave 1”

      I feel happy to have educated you more than NdGT managed to… so far at least anyway

  11. Tb
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I watched yesterday and I liked a lot. It is very, very good. Neil is a nice and enthusiastic presenter and his story with Carl Sagan is motivating.

    The animations are fantastic. The discussions involving Bruno was good too. I think it raises important questions and shows how a society can be bad if it’s based on religious beliefs.

    In this first episode, Neil showed us the cosmic calendar, similar to what Carl did in the originals series. Amazing and updated.

    One thing I didn’t like at all was a mention to Moses and Jesus at the end of the cosmic events. Neil mentioned “Jesus was born just 5 seconds ago” and the animation on the screen was a falling star. Really? It was so stupid to me. That line of dialog does not belong to this series. For me, it almost undid what Neil said in the entire episode.

    Bottom line: beautiful, exciting but needs way more courage to slap the society’s face.

    • AdamK
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Especially since it’s a open question as to whether Jesus was ever born at all.

    • Posted March 11, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      I too enjoyed the segment about Tyson and Sagan – it felt like the ‘passing of the torch’ from the old series to the new.

    • Ian Liberman
      Posted March 21, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I found it was outrageous when there was a series of cartoons that claimed there were the births of religious Gods e.g Christian and Muslim Gods were actually born on this earth within a specific cosmic time line. There is not a shred of evidence to support these supernatural births. Combining the supernatural with science is bad move. Very disappointing. Neil said that “jesus was born 5 seconds ago and mohammed was born 3 seconds ago etc.” He became the ultimate religious supporter by doing this. Macfarlane. an atheist activist ,should have screened this. I think it goes beyond inappropriate. This is not Family Guy.

      • Jesper Both Pedersen
        Posted March 21, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Alrighty then! 🙂

  12. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    It played like a 43 minute intro to the rest of the series, but I like it.

    The references to Sagan and the original series were well incorporated and the visuals are good.

    It’s not Attenborough, but NdGT has potential….

    Looking forward to the next episode and hopefully they’re gonna dwell on specific topics of science as the series progress.

  13. Cathy Anne
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I give it a 4 out of 5 rating. I loved the space time calendar but I didn’t like the little chrome spaceship that kept getting in the way of the awesome space scenes. I am looking forward to seeing the rest!

  14. Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a short review here: .

    I think we all watched the same show and had pretty much the same reaction. But online reviews were much more positive. I think that alone tells us something.

  15. Derek Freyberg
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    On a slightly different note, did anyone see the “60 Minutes” piece on ALMA, the radio telescope being built in the Atacama Desert in Chile. That was fun! And the budget for ALMA: just $1.3 billion.

  16. darrelle
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I played hard over the weekend and so had trouble staying awake while watching it. I’ll have to watch it again. But, a few comments.

    1) I was surprised, happily, at how directly religion was refuted. I’ve rarely heard NdGT do that so directly in any context, let alone on main stream TV. For that alone I’d promote this show.

    2) I do really like NdGT, always have, but in comparing him to Sagan on the original Cosmos he does not achieve quite the “hypnotizing” delivery that made Sagan so distinctive. I thought his delivery was decent. But he seemed to be keeping his distinctive enthusiasm in check somewhat. He actually seemed a bit out of character due to that. I think I would have liked it better if he didn’t hold back.

    3) The density of information was a little light. More typical of a US made for TV documentary. Which is not a favorable comparison. Hopefully that will change.

    4) I was okay with all the bling. But, a little less time spent on that would be better, of course. I’ll have to wait until I see more episodes.

    5) Sounds like the cartoons weren’t very popular. I initially didn’t care for them, but the more I saw of RC clergy being depicted as classic comic book style villains, the more I liked them.

  17. Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. I have been wandering about online since last night wondering what other people were watching. I wrote a review on Facebook, and I was not pleased.


    Cosmos. So…am I the only one who was disappointed? The original is on YouTube, and I went back and started watching episode 1 during the commercials. I was 13 when Cosmos ran, and nothing had been done like it. Maybe it wasn’t as good as I remembered.

    Nope. It was as good. And this isn’t. OK, first the music sucks. Sagan’s descriptions of the majesty of the Cosmos were enhanced by the epic music, Vangelis’s In The Heart of the Universe. The music soared and swelled. Was there music behind Tyson’s words? Yes, but nothing memorable of majestic. It was cinematographic Muzak.

    Second, Sagan’s recreated a 16th century village and the Library at Alexandria. Tyson’s couldn’t pay to rent a street enough to have the cars parked elsewhere.

    Third, the mention of Pluto, and only Pluto, as a planetoid felt like a dig at the pro-Pluto crowd, and I swear Tyson smirked. I know he was pushing for Pluto’s demotion at Hayden before the IAU reclassified it officially. He doesn’t have to be a jerk about it. The simple inclusion of a mention of other planetoids like Sedna and Eris would have prevented this.

    The Moon has a sky. It may not have an atmosphere, but it has a sky. The comet that killed the dinosaurs set at least 1/3 of the forests in North America ablaze. Squatting and sticking your fingers in your ears wouldn’t have cut it. And Venus doesn’t look like that. We have pictures from the surface of Venus courtesy of the Soviet Venera program, and we know it doesn’t look like that.

    Sagan didn’t speak on screen during any of the spaceship of the imagination sequences. We watched him being as enthralled as we were supposed to be. He then narrated over it from offstage. Tyson not only talks to us in his imagination, he turns away from the visual to face the audience to do so. And so we look away from the visual to him, and we lose the connection.

    I feel like Tyson is talking down to us. The rhetorical questions bugged me, but it was more than that. Listening to Sagan’s first episode immediately following Tyson’s, I was struck by the fact that whole passages were lifted. And yet when Tyson speaks Saran’s words, they lack the passion and majesty of Sagan.

    Tyson is handicapped by the time stolen for commercials and the necessity of breaking ideas into chunks to accommodate them.

    I like Tyson in general. I think he’s the greatest proponent of science, especially astronomy and cosmogony, in the world today. And unlike Sagan, who remained a scientist throughout his life, Tyson is now primarily a museum administrator and professional science communicator. He ought to be better at this. I am incredibly disappointed.

  18. trombus
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    My thirteen year old was thoroughly engaged, so I daresay it accomplished (at least partially) what was intended. For the few of you not particularly captivated, I assume your knowledge of the subject matter may be a bit advanced compared to the average household? For what it is worth, our cat was in the room the entire time . . . on my lap asleep.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Almost exactly my experience, but with a 14 year old. I think the show was nearly perfect for the intended audience, except for the ‘ship of the imagination’. It was so gimmicky it turned my wife off straight away and she just went back to reading her book. But science documentaries in general don’t pique her interest, so the show would have had to have been amazing to hold her interest. I gather that the imagination ship was a feature of the original Cosmos, so I guess that’s why they included it. I was too young to watch the Sagan Cosmos when it first came out, and have to admit to never having YouTubed it, so I’ve only ever seen bits and pieces.

    • eric
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      That’s great to hear both posts (the 13 and 14 year old).

      I think that’s really more the target audience than us old fogey PhDs, so if they liked it, I’m far more satisfied than if I like it.

      Hopefully the rest of the series will keep them engaged too!

  19. FSM rules UK
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I watched and enjoyed it, alright its not perfect, but there is so little ‘proper’ science on tv that I can forgive it a lot.

    [I don’t include ‘Alien conspiracies’ as ‘science!]

  20. kansaskitty
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I liked it a lot. Remember this isn’t aimed at people that have a solid background in science & cosmology. This production is meant to pique the interest of kids (and adults) that don’t know a lot about the subject into wanting to know more. I thought it did an admirable job of that and will pull people in for the following episodes. If kids get turned on to science and space exploration, I think that is fantastic. The tribute to Carl Sagan at the end brought a tear to my eye. I also loved it when Neil dramatically said that we are all made of star stuff. I always get a giddy thrill when I hear that or even think about it!

  21. Woof
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    > I will probably watch it in rerun when I have time to see it properly.

    It’s on YouTube:

    No idea how long it will stay there.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      A better quality (720pHD, great in full-screen mode) version is to be found at:

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      Both gone, I’m afraid, at least in the UK. If any other links exist, please let us know.

  22. Daniel del Valle
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Being a fan of the old Cosmos series, I had my doubts about this new version, and thought that Tyson had very big shoes to fill. However I was impressed and moved, especially the touching scene of Tyson relating his visit to meet Sagan as a 17 year old.
    My 20 year old son watched it with me, having seen the original when he was 5 years old. He is a biology major and wants to do research in microbiology, and claims that seeing Cosmos made him want to be a scientist. He liked the new version and was intrigued by Giordano Bruno’s story. His only criticism was that Tyson talked too fast and that he preferred Sagan’s slow, deliberate delivery. I agree.

  23. nilou ataie
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I will try cosmos experiment with cat tonight, mmhwahahaha

    • Gordon
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Douglas Adams was wrong about the dolphins and it was cats!

      • Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” still works …

  24. Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Although, like others here, I found the science was a bit thin on the ground for me, I was watching the episode with someone who doesn’t know all this sort of stuff, and she found it absolutely fascinating. So maybe, before criticizing Tyson too much, it might be worth taking into account considerations of his intended audience?

    My own criticisms: (a) The frequent commercials were a complete pain in the ass, as others have noted — for me, they seriously damaged the show. (b) The scenes of his spacecraft jostling its way through the tumbling asteroids. This is so inaccurate that I can only assume the visuals were added after Tyson had finished filming, and by the time he saw them it was too late to do anything about it. (c) The glorification of Bruno. There was a brief admission at the end of the sequence that there was no method in his madness — he just got lucky (as it were) with one aspect of his visionary effusions. But the casual observer could be forgiven for coming away thinking that Bruno was burned at the stake for being a scientist ahead of his time rather than for his whole gamut of heresies. (Obviously “heresy” is one of humankind’s vilest inventions, and obviously only very vile people could countenance deliberately burning another human being alive; but the Church didn’t burn Bruno because it felt threatened he might be right, only because heresy was in itself thought threatening.)

    • darrelle
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      RE Bruno and heresy, I think that was perfectly on point. The concept of heresy is the extreme antithesis of evidence based reasoning, aka science. The church burned Bruno because they thought, rightly, that dissenting views were a danger to their authority, their access to wealth and power. Bruno said that there is more to the universe than what the church says so lets look for more. The church said no looking for more is necessary or even allowed, we have already decided what is.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        evidence based reasoning

        Yes, but (as Tyson briefly mentioned at the end of the sequence) Bruno wasn’t in fact engaged in evidence-based reasoning. He was just being a visionary.

        • darrelle
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I know. I’m simply saying that in my opinion that does not matter. However he got there Bruno was also saying “there is more out there so take a look for yourself instead of merely accepting the church endorsed account. And the church said, “nope, not necessary to look and furthermore not allowed.”

          And, NdGT did clarify.

          • Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Bruno was also saying “there is more out there so take a look for yourself

            He wasn’t actually saying this at all! Take a look at what, precisely?

            One of the other commenters has gone into Bruno’s actual contribution in more detail further down the page, and expressed it more clearly than I have. You might want to check that out.

            And, NdGT did clarify.

            As I noted above. But he did so only as a brief afterthought which I think many watchers will have missed, unless like me they were wondering if there’d be some qualification of the account that had been given.

            • darrelle
              Posted March 11, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

              I am sure you know, since you are arguing the “not a martyr for science” position, that there is significant lack of concensus among scholars on this issue. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on Bruno, but I have studied him a bit. I am previously aware of your arguments, I just don’t give them the same weight you do.

              “He wasn’t actually saying this at all! Take a look at what, precisely?”

              The universe. My take away from this comment is that you don’t think much of my simplistic characterization of Bruno’s “Plurality of Worlds” philosophy. Fair enough I guess.

              “And, NdGT did clarify.

              As I noted above. But he did so only as a brief afterthought which I think many watchers will have missed, unless like me they were wondering if there’d be some qualification of the account that had been given.”

              Yes. And I noted that you noted that to point out to you that despite your negative criticisms even you admit that he did. I disagree that it was an easily missed afterthought. I noticed it and I was not looking for it, and I was half asleep.

              I have read all the comments and thought that Mark Sturtevant laid out the arguments against Bruno being a “martyr for science” nicely. I don’t disagree with the facts laid out, I just don’t interpret what is known about the Bruno affair as negatively as you. We will very likely never know how important Bruno’s ideas about cosmology were to the church judges vs his ideas about jesus and virgin births and other more direct heresies. But . . .

              “White considers that Bruno’s later heresy was “multifaceted” and may have rested on his conception of infinite worlds. “This was perhaps the most dangerous notion of all… If other worlds existed with intelligent beings living there, did they too have their visitations? The idea was quite unthinkable.”[White, Michael. The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition, p.7. Perennial, New York, 2002.]

              If you have studied the Bruno affair a bit, which it appears you have, you know that for every scholarly opinion or interpretation of what actual evidence there is that you can provide as a reference or quote against the “Bruno as a martyr for science” position, I can come up with another in support of that position.

              • Posted March 11, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

                Q: “Take a look at what, precisely?”

                A: “The universe.”

                How? How could he be advising people to go take a look at the universe before the invention of the telescope?

                In effect, at the time there wasn’t a universe to go look at.

              • darrelle
                Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

                I was not being literal. Isn’t that evident? I can’t tell if you are patronizing me or not.

              • Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

                I can’t tell if you are patronizing me or not.

                I’m being absolutely serious. Your comment that Bruno was telling people to go out and look at the universe seems to me severely anachronistic.

              • darrelle
                Posted March 11, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

                “Your comment that Bruno was telling people to go out and look at the universe seems to me severely anachronistic.”

                I am not sure exactly how you mean that. However, what seems more reasonable, to evaluate Bruno in the context of the era he lived in, or in the context of the present?

                “Who so itcheth to Philosophy must set to work by putting all things to the doubt.”[Giordano Bruno from his book, The Threefold Leas and Measure of the Three Speculative Sciences and the Principle of Many Practical]

                “Bruno wrote: “Everything, however men may deem it assured and evident, proves, when it is brought under discussion to be no less doubtful than are extravagant and absurd beliefs.” He coined the phrase “Libertes philosophica.” The right to think, to dream, if you like, to make philosophy.”[Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher by John J. Kessler, Ph.D., Ch.E.]

                “There is more out there so take a look (at the universe, reality, existence) for yourself,” does not seem to me to be an especially inaccurate characterization of what the person who wrote what I quoted above had to say. I am sure it could have been said better, but I am no word smith.

  25. helene
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    According to Delilah, Cosmos was a success.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Most excellent. 🙂

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Proof that you don’t have to sit still to like astrophysics!

  26. George
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem I found was the music. The music by Vangelis, Vivaldi, Bach, etc., featured in Sagan’s Cosmos worked just wonders, and I can’t believe they didn’t realize how important part that played. Anyone can create awesome visual effects these days, but it takes a little more than just cool computer graphics to create that special feeling most of us experienced while watching the original series. It was a big disappointment for me.

    • AdamK
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Agree entirely.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Soundtrack ticked me off a bit too. Especially irritating for me was the whizzing and whooshing every time anything happened on-screen. It smacked of “short attention span theatre”.

      Given the short attention spans of my compatriots and the sci-fi movie tropes everyone’s been fed from since birth, it was probably a good decision. Still, it pissed me off.

      • AdamK
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        The absolute worst was the rumbley-thunder noise that accompanied the explosiony-looking “big bang.” The universe was really tiny and then it EXPLODED into the surrounding sound-wave-carrying AIR, producing LIGHT.

        Of course I pity anybody trying to depict this, but they could have put some kind of correction into the script. Or used very abstract animation. Or something. They way they did it confused and conflated it with the way they depicted stars and galaxies.

  27. cbranch
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think Neil’s a great science communicator but I have to admit I was not as impressed with the first episode as I’d hoped to be.

    All the flying around in his little spaceship seemed a bit too gimmicky, to be honest. The idea is presumably not only to entertain science enthusiasts but also to attract viewers who might not normally watch this kind of thing (it is on Fox after all) and I’m not convinced that blurring the lines between hard science, speculative science, and science fiction is really the best approach for this. For one thing, I think the public is so desensitized to cool CG animations in SF movies that they might miss the point that we have actual photos of things like Jupiter and its moons, for example – to me that point makes science seem even cooler. There’s also the danger that the non-scientific public might latch onto one of these CG images, only to feel “tricked” when they learn that it’s not a real photo.

    And images that everyone recognizes as speculative, such as the bubbles of the multiverse, or the view of the earth 250 mya, are likely to provoke the non-scientific into either an argument from personal incredulity (“how can that possibly be true!?”) or an indictment of the arrogance of scientists (“how do they know that’s true!?”).

    The Bruno segment was interesting, and I guess informative for those who hadn’t heard of him before, but I’m afraid it was a departure from science, per se, in favor of making a more philosophical point about the value of curiosity and a questioning mindset. While it was clearly a shot at religious thinking, the cartoonish villain-priests are too easy a target – no religious person today will recognize his own church leadership in that portrayal. And anyway the emphasis was on Bruno’s insistence that his idea of the sun as one star among many should still be compatible with prevailing religious beliefs – not that knowledge with evidence can replace those beliefs.

    I did think the calendar metaphor for the age of the universe was pretty cool, and like I said, de Grasse Tyson is a fantastic host – I’m just not sure this series is taking the best tone for what it’s trying to do. I may watch another episode, especially if they’re covering evolution next, as I think may have been implied.

    • lkr
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      We pretty much DO know how the landmasses of the earth would have looked from space 250 million years ago… whether that matters to someone who’d be incredulous Less so for the view 250 m from now, and very unlikely to have gleaming cities on the nightside then.

      My gripes are, as others mention, the crowds of rocks everywhere — precisely the wrong message for how hugely empty the universe is. And, yes, all the whooshing

    • Anon I Loop
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 12:59 am | Permalink

      > I did think the calendar metaphor for the age of the universe was pretty cool, and like I said, de Grasse Tyson is a fantastic host

      The cosmic calendar was in Sagan’s pre-COSMOS book- either Dragons of Eden, Broca’s Brain, Or Cosmic Connection.

      Regardless of the script, Tyson’s delivery was terrible. Blame the director? Maybe. Why did the producers not catch this when looking at the daily results?

      • Karl Boyd
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        The Cosmic Calendar was in Sagan’s book The Dragons of Eden.

  28. Spirula
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Liked it. A few issues with some graphics (asteroid belt is not that crowded). Thought it was a good move putting it on a major network so the non-science crowd will get more exposure. Didn’t go soft on the religious persecution of “heretics” like Bruno. I’m looking forward to the next episodes.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Venus pissed me off. Venus’s atmosphere is so dense that it acts like a fisheye lens. It is amazingly cool, and what we got instead looked like it belonged in Heinlein’s Between Planets. I mean I love Heinlein, but he wrote long before we had a clue what most of the planets looked like.

  29. Mike Leegaard
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed it. I found myself thinking of all the young people watching and that made me happy. Even though I’d heard the story of Tyson’s day with Carl Sagan it still brought a tear to my eye. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

    • AdamK
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard the story too, but when he whipped out Sagan’s calendar with his own name on it, that was something.

      • Anon I Loop
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 1:15 am | Permalink

        Do you mean Neil walking on the cosmic calendar without saying who came up with the idea? 🙂

        • Karl Boyd
          Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          Of course what Tyson then failed to mention is that he did not take Sagan up on his offer to attend Cornell but went to Harvard instead.

          The very same institution which denied Sagan tenure in the 1960s in part because Sagan refused to play ball with the stuffed shirts running the place.

  30. Ken Pidcock
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find the content especially inspiring, but I really loved the episode ending. I’ve always been moved by personal connections through history, and that’s a good one.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Researching Sagan after the episode, I learned that his PhD adviser was Kuiper. That bit of info makes me inordinately happy.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Two Sagan biographies came out shortly after his death; one consistently admiring (by William Poundstone), one warts-and-all (by Keay Davidson). I recommend both.

  31. Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Just watched it in HD on YouTube (link posted in my previous comment above).

    Well, I enjoyed it. I see why some object to the cartoons, but they are very much in the style of today.

    I will watch it again tomorrow with my cat on my lap to see how she likes it…

    I look forward to the next chapters.

  32. TnkAgn
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent graphics (but not the cartoon cut-outs). Otherwise I agree with a reviewer who made the point that the content was generally and middle school level. Which is fine – since 1/4 of Americans think that old Sol revolves around the Earth, some middle school science remediation is in order.

    The show’s device of using a “cosmic calender year” was okay, if not original. However, the perfunctory nod to the historicity of Jesus and Noah, or for that matter Buddha and Mohammed left me thinking that the 1st episode at least, is accommodationist at bottom.

    • Karl Boyd
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      If they were accomodationists at the end, the whole bit with Bruno certainly was not.

  33. Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I very much enjoyed it. Just some quibbles that have not been brought up yet.
    1) On the Bruno affair. The view that he was put in prison and eventually executed for pushing views about the cosmos that were not in line with church doctrine is an exaggeration, imo. I first heard of the same ‘story’ about Bruno from the popular online talk by Krauss. I was surprised to later learn that actually the TOP charges against Bruno were that he declared Jesus was a normal man, and that Mary was not a virgin. Bruno also made other heretical statements in this area that would get anyone in trouble. The charges relating to his views about the universe were well down the list, sort of tacked on the end to ‘stack the deck’. I think we should not push the view that Bruno was executed for his views about the universe. That smacks of sensationalism and inaccuracy, a charge that I would rather see confined to the like of creationists.
    2) There were some minor fact errors. The release of light from the big bang was not about 200 million years after the B.B., but about 200 thousand years. I was surprised to hear NDT say this error. Finally, the first ‘animal’ to walk on land was not the vertebrate Tiktaalik. That honor goes to arthropods.

    • fivegreenleafs
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:02 am | Permalink

      I actually think you miss the something very important in your comment.

      If you have a person who has had his head cut off, a knife stuck into his heart, his lungs punctured, and crushed under a 5 tonne stone, arguing exactly what it was that killed him is in the greater scheme of things, I would claim, just sophistry.

      People were burned for way less, and you can only die once.

      But even so, if we dig a little deeper into this, I think there exist a connection between all these different charges that the church directed against Bruno, because I believe they all spring from the same source, which was also eluded to in the sequence, i.e. Lucretius, “De rerum natura”, which in turn originates with Democritus and especially Epicurus.

      It is as such a whole different set of ideas and an ancient competitor to the Platonic and Aristotelian systems that underpin the catholic church.

      So what happened in the case of Bruno might perhaps better be viewed as a “battle” in an ancient philosophical war, and a more correct way to describe it might perhaps be that Bruno was burned as a heretic, because he adhered to, and propagated epicurean philosophy, and where one facet of this philosophy is the idea of an infinite universe, and the sun as one of many stars.

      So I don’t think that it was an exaggeration at all.

      And as NdGT alludes to in the very beginning, imagination is the very first step of every journey, also the scientific one, and if you are forbidden to do even that, you will never leave your home.

      Back to Cosmos itself. I thought it was very good, and might even be perfect for what it intends to do, and diving into the tw**er stream Sunday/Monday night and the fact that #cosmos actually showed up in the trends, warms my heart.

      Looking forward to the rest with anticipation, not least the animation of the DNA glimpsed in the intro…

      And precisely in the end of the intro, when the letters of “Cosmos” are coming fourth out of the “eye”, the first pair of letters “happens” to be, CS at the same time as just a few notes from the score of “Contact” is played, broke this old cynics heart.

      • Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:46 am | Permalink

        Sure, it was a clash between world views on the ‘nature of things’, and we are today able to objectively contemplate a murder as an example of the Eternal Struggle Between Authority and Dissenters. But I doubt those immediately involved were seeing things in such a dispassionate way.

        • fivegreenleafs
          Posted March 11, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          But is not that very much exactly what this series is about?

          That from our vantage of “cool” hindsight and from, nota bene, our position of accumulated knowledge and experience about the nature of our world and universe, to the very best of our ability, illuminate what happened and why?

        • Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Of course not, but that’s the point – we’ve learned that killing a man because he has strange opinions (no matter what the subject) is wrong. Bruno is a “martyr” for free thought and expression: the science (or lack of) is irrelevant.

      • fivegreenleafs
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Rereading my first comment I realize I might have been a bit to brief, so to perhaps clarify a bit:

        As far as I understand it, the idea of Jesus as a mortal man, Marys virginity, the infinity of the universe, the multitude of stars and planets etc, are all integral parts of the same epicurean philosophy, as laid out by Lucretius in “De rerum natura”.

        They are basically just different “facets” of the same original set of ideas.

        And since epicureanism was viewed as a “deadly” enemy to the church, publicly espousing any (not to mention all) of these ideas, would surely land you in “trouble”.

        Which to my mind makes the issue of determining “which one” to be the worst one, more or less moot, since they all “reveals” (in the eyes of the church/inquisitor) your “sin”, which is to believe in the atomistic/epicurean heresy…

        • darrelle
          Posted March 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          From the Wikipedia entry on the “Imprisonment, trial and execution” of Bruno.

          “Bruno continued his Venetian defensive strategy [defense against charges brought against him by the Venetian Inquisition], which consisted in bowing to the Church’s dogmatic teachings, while trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular Bruno held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused.

          I think that supports your point pretty well. It may be the case that the charges related to Bruno’s views on cosmology were just a cherry on top of the other charges, but those charges were brought. And, at the least, they were a significant justification for burning him alive and scattering his ashes in the river. Bruno’s views on cosmology were also inextricably in contention with the church’s dogmas, as you stated better than I.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

            Oops. Forgot those final tags. I’d forget my rear end if it wasn’t attached.

            • fivegreenleafs
              Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:58 am | Permalink

              Thank you, darrelle

              I have really just begun my own “journey” into philosophy, and I try not to read the wikipedia entries first, but rather try to identify one or two seminal works on the matter, and continue to build up my understanding from there.

              Then, I can always go back and triangulate my own perception and understanding compared to it, and similar sources, so it is good to know I am somewhat on the right track here 🙂

              I think it has something to do with my mother, who always admonished sternly not to peak at the solution pages in the back of the math book… and she was of course, a teacher herself 😉

              But more seriously, in somewhat of a exasperation in regard to Mark Sturtevant comment, I actually tracked down and verified the source of a quote I ran across a long time ago, that I think has some bearing, especially in regard to the level of intellectual perception of those directly involved at the time.

              Maybe you are well aware of it, but just in case it is new to you, as said by a Italian lutenist and composer in 1582, (from “Dialogue on Ancient and Modern Music”, page 2, translated by Claude V. Palisca),

              “I desire in those things in which the sense is involved that we always set aside … not only authority but seemingly plausible reasoning that may be contrary to any perception of truth. For it seems to me that those who, for the sake of proving some conclusion, wants us to believe simply on the basis of authority without adducing valid arguments for it are doing something laughable…”

              That has always struck me since I first heard it, and it only makes it better when you know the name of the author, Vincenzo Galilei, who of course is the father to a more famous son…

              I think we often do our ancestors a disservice when we believe that they were not well aware of many of these ideas and dimensions at the time as well…

              • darrelle
                Posted March 12, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

                No, I have never come across that quote before. Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

  34. P
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I saw seth mcfarlane in an interview about family guy and one of the questions was about the liberal bend and general offensiveness of the show, and how that works coming from Fox. Seth explained that so far as it really matters, fox news and fox entertainment are entirely separate entities, and so long as they keep making mister Murdoch money, it doesn’t really matter what goes on the entertainment side.

  35. Max
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree with those who didn’t care for the music. It made the show seem like a Star Trek episode. I suppose that’s to be expected when having a Star Trek producer on board. The music in the original was so well chosen and so great that it was fully a part of the show. The music this time is blah blah TV soundtrack. Alan Silvestri has done many soundtracks I like (Back To The Future, The Abyss, etc.) and even did the music for Sagan’s Contact, but this is just lame, uninspiring and by-the-book (the book, however, not being Cosmos).

    Also, while VERY nicely done, I like the live-action recreations of historical events in the original show better than the animations here.

    It’s definitely a base hit, a triple probably, but it’s not a home run and it’s definitely not out of the ballpark.

  36. Maria
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me Coco and Mr. Mumps are receiving messages from aliens through “Cosmos” on the television waves. Mr. Mumps! Ha!

    • helene
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      You could be right. Miss measles remained uninterested though. So only one of our cats is connected?

  37. parnell
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I liked it well enough as an introduction. There are hints in the preview of some interesting in-depth material.

    It’s MUCH better without the commercials but the story is that it was offered to PBS which wouldn’t give complete editorial control and offered a smaller budget (though the big budget didn’t really make it into episode one).

    I like this from Tim Goodman the TV Critic at the Hollywood Reporter:

    “OK, but let’s back up a minute to what makes Cosmos something truly profound. Remember that Sagan’s original was also 13 parts, but it appeared on PBS and it premiered in 1980. While the show — and Sagan — became immensely popular, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was essentially an idea shared (or not) in a more private, less polarized time. To essentially teach science on primetime on a broadcast network in 2014 is amazingly bold.

    Why? Because science is godless. And the United States is a strongly religious country. And because the Internet makes everything a water-cooler conversation that is often fractured into one side vs. the other without much openness to divergent thought or understanding opposing values. So the idea that Tyson gets an hour on a Sunday night to blow your mind with science is, in fact, mind-blowing.”

    • Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      OK. Perhaps Im just spoilt by living in the UK where we have Brian Coxs _Wonders_ series and the like


      • Alex
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:00 am | Permalink

        The Wonders series are quite something, I must agree. They have the science, in depth and with all the visuals. It may be made for a different audience, but I’m a fan, and I am comparing the new Cosmos to Wonders – will it be as good?

      • azhael
        Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        As much as i enjoyed Brian Cox´s series i have to say Wonders Of Life was occasionally mediocre in terms of content. If we are going to use his series as a reference of quality then i think Cosmos has the potential to be even better.
        That said, i much prefer the style of presentation and the british touch of Wonders Of than the overly visual american way. It´s great to have stunning computer generated images but if i want that i´ll just play pretty much any recent computer game. They rely too heavily on that and it does become too much. A purely subjective commentary from my part, though.

  38. Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I think it was a decent start to the series and Tyson did a great job of driving home the point to question everything. The science was pretty light, but I think he’s trying to cast a wide net in a culture that is really lagging behind the rest if the world in education.

    I particularly enjoyed his willingness to take on religion. It’s already created some noise on the Web with religious people upset about how the Church is portrayed. Maybe he did play fast and loose with the limited facts we have surrounding Bruno, but I don’t find that he stretched the truth when it comes to the fact that the Church executed Bruno, whether it was for a scientific heresy or a different one. The fact is that Bruno and others were executed for what we’re essentially thought crimes.

    On another note, my wife watched it with me. She has never been overly religious, and really never gives it a lot of thought. But, she told me today that the show got her thinking, “if there’s all those other billions of worlds and there could be life everywhere, what is so special about us and why would God care about only humans? I’ve never thought about this before.” If Tyson is having that effect on other people, then this show is a very good thing.

    • Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      I agree on every point. There were several sequences that were stunning, one topping the next. I particularly felt that the sequence showing how BIG the universe is was especially well done, especially to the point that there could be a multiverse. The audience members who were not aware of how insignificant we are should be shocked and awed. That is a very good thing.

  39. romanticrationalist
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Generally, I liked this first episode. I had heard Tyson tell the story previously in other venues, but I confess to having a lump in my throat when, at the closing of the episode, he pulled out Sagan’s day planner and recounted his 1975 trip to Cornell, at Sagan’s invitation, when as a young man, he was deciding where to go to college, and the kindness and generosity Sagan showed towards a “17 year-old kid from the Bronx.”

    When the series was announced, many people, myself included, scratched their heads when it was announced that FOX would the series’ home. I know a lot of people were skeptical of Tyson’s selection as the presenter but when I learned that Seth MacFarlane was involved and indeed was instrumental in selling the show to FOX it made a certain ironic sense. I cannot recall whether it was Tyson, Druyan, Soter, or MacFarlane that pointed out that the audience they hoped to reach was not the typical documentary TV aficionado, but instead the viewers of MacFarlane’s coarser, “blue-collar” shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. For such an audience, I know of no other well-known astronomer or astrophysicist that can match Tyson in moxie and verve.

    There was one missed opportunity in the writing/presentation of the material in the premier. When talking about origin of life, Tyson quite correctly stated that science does not yet have a blow-by-blow account of the origin of life from the abiotic chemistry of some “warm little pond.” In fact, we may never know with any precision how life got started, and the best that science may ever be able to do will be to find a handful of probable scenarios based on experiments and observations.

    The missed opportunity was that of being able to drive home the fact that “The evolution of life on Earth, after it began, is as well-grounded and thoroughly tested on the anvil of observation and experiment as is the germ ‘theory’ of disease or the Newtonian mechanics we use to send probes to explore our solar system.” This subtle distinction would expose the conflation (often intentional) by creationists of the separate questions of evolution and abiogenesis.

    As for the music, nothing could replace the beautiful Vangelis pieces from the original, but I also remember hearing about rights issues with the music. Checking Wikipedia quickly, the haunting, evocative theme of the opening of the original Cosmos was released by Vangelis in 1975. I do not know for sure, but I can readily imagine that the rights to use Vangelis’ compositions again would have made the cost of the series prohibitive.

    **Update** My criticism regarding the presentation of evolution may have been premature as the second episode is about natural selection.

  40. Jim Thomerson
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was OK for an introductory show. I was most impressed by the personal touch at the end. It sort of justified the whole show. Something for all us scientists to remember when the rare bright eyed person intrudes into our space.

  41. sgo
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I just watched it for the second time. It’s good. And I was surprised at how close it stays (at least in the first episode) with the original. Well, the opening was of course done on purpose on the same spot (nice touch). But there was the imagination spacecraft (didn’t care much for it in the original, now it seemed a little weird to have it animated into the background when looking at a Mars rover, but oh well), and wasn’t the cosmic calendar in the original as well?

    As many said here, I really liked the personal touch of How Tyson Met Sagan at the end. I hadn’t heard that story, and it’s great.

    I am still divided on the animations. From a segment during the commercials just now on National Geographic it looks like there’ll be many more. I liked the acted-out parts in the original series.

    I also liked how Tyson said ” … for now” several times, when explaining current limits to our knowledge.

    And, finally, it’s just really great that there’s a science show on Sunday/Monday. I also can’t wait until “Your Inner Fish” starts.

  42. jwthomas
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Max the Magnificent slept through the whole program as he invariably does for anything not involving food, petting, or tossed bottle caps.

    I watched it on my laptop and though I was familiar with everything Tyson spoke about I still enjoyed it and will likely
    follow the whole series. I do think it will go over well with younger viewers who aren’t familiar
    with the information.

    I too disliked the use of animations. Considering what the special effects must have cost I’d think they could have afforded to hire a few actors.

  43. Brad
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    If everyone here had loved it everyone whom it was meant for would have hated it.

  44. Dale Franzwa
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    As one of those who originally alerted Jerry to the Cosmos series by calling his attention to the three interviews Bill Moyers did with Tyson, I was sorry that Jerry missed the first episode. Maybe he’ll catch it on one of the links mentioned above.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, in fact (being on the west coast) was able to watch it twice by catching the earlier EDT feed from NY. For the picky, picky critics above, we need to recognize that this series really isn’t aimed at us (sophisticated viewers). Instead, it’s aimed at the broader TV audience who are exposed to so much woo and pseudo-science on network TV, they don’t know what real science is or how exciting it can be to make new discoveries (yes, the universe really is 13.8 billion years old and might be only one of an infinite number of bubble universes in an unfathomably vast multiverse). Yes, evolution really is true despite what your preacher might tell you. And so on.

    Hopefully, the series will attract the interest of many young people, making them think about becoming scientists or at least having more respect for science. I was especially impressed that Barack Obama contributed a short preface at the beginning of the show. Now we see that even racial minorities can be scientists. Science isn’t just old white guys in lab coats. I think this is the ultimate value of the new Cosmos series.

  45. Anon I Loop
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    This is just a disaster so far. It’s like Kosmos For Kids. And they’re in bed by 9PM.

    The closing talk about Carl was good but had no context in the episode. The Voyager moment was nice too.

    The music was mostly sub-par.

    Maybe his kids should have handled this effort.

    • Scientifik
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Although I haven’t yet watched the first episode, I don’t see how aiming the series at the younger generation is a particularly bad move.

      After all, whom should we strive to get hooked on science; teenagers who are today choosing their education/career paths or 60-year old science buffs?

  46. azhael
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Dinosaurs are not extiiiiinct!! Raaaaaaargh!!
    Other than that, loved it. It was an introduction so i think some of the criticisms are easily and justifiably excused.
    At first i thought the Bruno segment was too long and too “in your face” but after it concluded and i saw the following content i decided i liked it quite a lot. In an introductory episode i think it was a great choice to present a yuxtaposition of dogmatic religious belief and freethought and the scientific method. Coupled with the celebration of science and the awe and wonder of the universe, it puts you in the right frame of mind to absorv the rest of the series.

    Not perfect, but since there is no such thing as perfect, i think it was pretty damn good. Looking forward to the next episode and my biology fix. I hope i don´t have to yell at the screen.

  47. Latverian Diplomat
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    The first episode is available online here:

    • pktom64
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, it’s only available from the US.
      But if you can watch it, don’t wait too long, it’s “only” available for 54 more days (as of today).

  48. Posted March 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Science is not something in which you need to depend on other to get a result, if one has good skill then there should be no reason to say that only because of some biological difference one can’t do well good in a certain field.
    biological science

  49. Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I found it a little wanting, much like the movie Gravity. But it’s lovely and will appeal to a younger audience and perhaps the viewers of Fox TV on which it’s being aired. Might it sway some creationists and other bible-thumpers?

    I hope the subsequent episodes will be more substantial.

    • Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I hope they don’t repeat the one-year calendar scaling thing. Did not like dates being assigned to events, but that’s just me… too reminiscent of, say, baby Jesus’s bday on Dec 25, and could confuse younger viewers.

  50. Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    There’s a very enthusiastic take on the episode by Donald Prothero here:

    Although he’s less critical than I am about the minutiae, I think he has it right when he analyses it in the context of the audience it’s addressing.

  51. Posted March 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    “I wonder what was appealing to cats. Do you think there is a chance that there are more Cosmos cat enthusiasts out there?”

    I fully expect cats to leave us a note one day reading: ‘So long, and thanks for the Meow Mix!’

  52. bric
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    Apparently in Oklahoma the natives had to be protected from unwelcome news

  53. Rollicks
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    Hello, I am a first time poster.

    I’ll start by saying that this show wasn’t advertised very well. I heard about it four days ago, and I listen to Star Talk habitually. Oh well, I guess that explains his absence from the program.

    I watched the show twice because the first time I had my back turned. I thought it was very good for a first episode, I’d give it a B+, but the animation sucked the air out of the room. It wasn’t like Sagan’s, but that’s to be expected with a different crew and a different audience. I’m hopeful that the next one will be better.

    Also, for the sake of science, I have 3 cats and a dog, but only one cat was attentive to the screen. He’s a big black Manx named Max.

  54. Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Episode 2 is very enjoyable….. more biology!

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      My Border Collie, Deets, went nuts at the TV when Niel was taming the wolves.

  55. Posted March 22, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    In this opening episode of Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” I accept!

    These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.
    • Test ideas by experiment and observation.
    • Build on those ideas that pass the test.
    • Reject the ones that fail.
    • Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
    • Question everything.”

    We will now test four ideas—two from the Bible and two from the materialist. All these ideas will be tested by observation as they cannot be tested by experiment. We will first test the biblical claim that man is “created in the image of God.” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see. The fish does not trace the fishbone pattern in the fowls of the air; or the elephant and the emu compare skeletons.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.

    Now let us test the materialist idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. Physicist Nick Herbert stated “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.” This idea has failed the test.

    What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of Nothing? If we accurately define Nothing as, for instance, “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.

    What about the biblical idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause. And, since the qualities possessed by this cause describe the God of the Bible, we again find a biblical idea has passed the test.

    Therefore, let us begin to build on the two scientifically strong ideas that have passed—the idea that God is the creator and that we have been created in his image. Let us further reject the materialist ideas that have failed—that a universe can come from Nothing and that materialism can account for human consciousness. Join with me and let us question more ideas from the Bible, and question more ideas of the materialist. Then, let us follow the evidence where ever it leads.

    Especially, let us build on the idea that overwhelmingly has the most scientific support, with endless supporting observations, the greatest idea ever, that God created the heavens and the earth.

    I believe—as already demonstrated by our first four tests—that when we accept the terms presented to us in Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, we will find, not only that science and religion are compatible, but that science actually supports what the Bible says.

    Can you or your readers explain how I am wrong?

    • Woof
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      It’s about time someone came by to stand up to these experts!

    • Posted March 22, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Readers: Before you engage in trying to address McLeroy’s arguments, be ware that it is probably futile. McLeroy, a dentist is a creationist, and was a member of the Texas State Board of Education (and once its chairman) when it was trying to gut evolution from Texas public-school textbooks.
      You can read about him here.

      But be aware that I am 99.9999% sure that nothing you say will change his mind, so do you really want to engage in a futile argument?

      And I will ask McLeroy, as I ask many theists, before you post again, could you please give us the EVIDENCE that has convinced you that there is a God, and that your Christian God is the right one rather than, say, Allah or the gods of the Hindus?

      • Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        That pretty much covers it, present the evidence. I’d also like to see the evidence for the claim that the Universe popped into existence out of nothing. Sean Carroll did a nice job destroying this straw man in his debate last month. To take a page from the sophisticated theology handbook, “That’s not the Universe I believe in either.”

    • Woof
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Since nobody else is jumping in here…

      A Universe from Nothing:

      The question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” has been asked for millennia by people who argue for a creator of our universe. Taking a trip back to the beginning of the beginning and the end of the end—and reviewing the remarkable developments in cosmology and particle physics over the past 40 years that have revolutionized our picture of the universe—Lawrence M. Krauss explores the discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of both nothing and something. It has become clear that not only can our universe naturally arise from nothing, without supernatural shenanigans, but that it probably did.

  56. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The difference is when scientists don’t know something (e.g., abiogenesis) they admit it and get to work on trying to figure it out. They don’t make up a bunch of arbitrary bullshit.

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