“Come with me.” These are the words that Carl Sagan told us on his PBS miniseries Cosmos: A Personal Voyage as we set off on an adventure to discover what mysteries lie in the depths of space, the earth and humanity. Sadly, Sagan passed away in 1996, but he made his mark. Sagan took us on a journey to educate people on complex scientific matters and to expand their imaginations. What made Sagan so successful was that he didn’t give us a lecture on anything, but instead took us on a journey using wit, humor and memorable stories.
Now, 34 years after Carl Sagan’s beloved show, Neil deGrasse Tyson has taken the storyteller spot of Cosmos, giving the miniseries an updated look. With better CGI and a new name, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey begins with a clip and voice-over of Sagan from the original show and moves smoothly into Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining what and where we will be exploring.
The show, which was billed as the largest launch in television history, premiered on Sunday, March 9, 2014, on Fox and several other networks simultaneously. The miniseries is backed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who has long expressed his support of science and wanted to help create a show that shows how amazing science can be. The show was created and produced by Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan. Tyson, who had been close friends with Sagan as well as Macfarlane, was chosen to be the new presenter.
Tyson is a man of many positions in the scientific community. He is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, an astrophysicist and a writer, and has had resounding support as the new host of Cosmos. In popular culture Tyson is a prominent figure who has been featured on The Colbert Report several times and fact checks science in movies and television shows on his Twitter account.
Tyson allows Cosmos to keep the witty and humorous feel that Sagan brought to the original. He makes note in an interview with National Geographic that he does not want to replace Sagan, but instead, is “just the next storyteller.”
“Come with me,” Tyson urges in the opening of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. “Come on an adventure through space and time,” he means. “Come and explore the farthest regions of space and the deepest oceans. Connect with the cosmos and understand that we are all connected.” He wants us to remember that we are all “participants in this great unfolding cosmic story.” As Sagan so famously says in the original series: “We are made of starstuff.”
Did You Know?
The movie Contact, released in 1997 and starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, was based on a novel of the same name written by Carl Sagan. It was released a year after the famed and beloved astrophysicist passed away. The movie, though it is about the exploration of space and discovery, is, at its heart, a very human tale about a woman and how she views faith and science.
The novel, which was released in 1985, five years after Cosmos: A Personal Journey, was published by Simon & Schuster. The advance they gave Carl Sagan, two million dollars, was at the time the largest advance ever given. The novel is actually based on a screenplay that hadn’t made it to the screen, though it was later brought back to become the film Contact. (DYK by Olivia Billbrough)