Carl Sagan’s Cosmos gets a Reboot with Surprise Players Involved
When Carl Sagan’s miniseries Cosmos: A Personal Voyage first aired in 1980 I was only three years old. Even though it has been replayed a number of times since then, I’ve admittedly not seen it. Unlike most of my colleagues who often site Carl Sagan as inspiration—and try to imitate his iconic mannerisms—I cannot say this show influenced my love of astronomy. What’s worst, I think (I’m not even positive) that I may have a copy of the thirteen part PBS miniseries sitting on a shelf in my office. I’m so ashamed.
I haven’t prioritized watching the Cosmos series because I know personally how fast astronomy changes. In the thirty plus years since the original airing, our views of the Universe have changed drastically. My (unfounded) expectations are that the outdated Cosmos episodes wouldn’t capture my CGI-needed imagination.
Luckily that will all change soon enough. Recently Fox Broadcasting Company (yes, that Fox) has announced that it will be remaking Cosmos. The updated version, which will be called Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, will in 2013.
As of right now, the show will air on Fox in a primetime slot. This is interesting in of itself. The original Cosmos aired on PBS which has a certain self-selected audience. Fox has its own audience and it’s one that I wouldn’t personally equate to PBS. So there is a possible concern here that maybe Fox will butcher a classic to align with its brand of entertainment.
However, there is some saving grace here. First off, two of the original three responsible for Sagan’s version of Cosmos will be involved in the production of the updated version (his widow and writer Ann Druyan, and astrophysicist Steven Soter). Second, although Sagan is not replaceable, Fox has gotten the next best option in Neil deGrasse Tyson to be the new host. In fact, it was from Tyson himself that I first heard this news when he recently announced it at the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Currently Tyson is the host of the largely successful NOVA scienceNOW show on PBS in addition to writing popular books and being the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.
Now for the last twist in this story. One of the executive producers of the new series is Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Fox shows Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. As someone that watches each of these shows, and I follow MacFarlane on twitter, I can say that he does occasionally sneak in some great science geek jokes. In reading about the recent news for the Cosmos remake (see here and here for example) I’ve come to also realize that MacFarlane is a fan of science and he’s concerned about the direction the US is heading in. In fact, it was MacFarlane’s doing that got the new version on Fox where it will get primetime exposure and will hopefully hit an audience that traditional science shows miss.