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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-big dept.
StartsWithABang writes "So unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that it's only a few short weeks until the premiere of the new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey starring Neil de Grasse Tyson. Many have hopes (and fears) concerning what the series will (and won't) be, but this perspective — on what a 'successful' Cosmos series could mean for the future of humanity — is worth a read for anyone who hasn't given up on dreaming big."
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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Jarr, Vangelis, in those line...

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Vangelis is still alive, and he wrote the theme for the original series.

    • by mendax (114116) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:39AM (#46264891)

      According to the Wikipedia entry for the series, the soundrack will be written by Alan Silvestri. He's a good film composer (I liked his score for Contact) but I think the original Cosmos had a better idea. That series used existing music, mostly classical, for its score. Some of it was removed from the DVD versions due to the expense of getting the rights to it again, but if you saw the original series, the music is one of the things that made the series special. I learned a lot about classical music from that series.

      • That series used existing music

        And so will this one. It just doesn't exist yet.

        • by mendax (114116)

          That series used existing music

          And so will this one. It just doesn't exist yet.

          Okay, let me rephrase. The original series used music that existed BEFORE the series was even thought of, which maybe a couple exceptions, such as the Vangelis pieces.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      J.M.Jarre?

      I wonder how it will do, this IS Hollywood. If it doesnt attract sponsors with full pockets, itll be outa here like the last episodes of Quark.
      If it gets put up against big hitters on the other networks, this could be a tough fight. I dont hold out any hope for anything premiering in the spring.
      Its a test bed made of those bored w/reruns, but willing to do EXACTLY the same routine over and over if only not to have to think and melt peacefully into the couch with a beer.

  • If (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:15AM (#46264825)

    If it restores America's manned spaceflight program, then it will be worth it.

    Almost every cultural intersection between science and the human spirit since the early 1920s originated in man's mission to reach space and other planets. One could argue conclusively that America's peak was July 20th, 1969.

    It is true that since then we have lost our way. But that, like many other things, is a fixable problem, provided America rediscovers its soul and remembers what it means to be an American.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      but it's just a show. pretty documentary.

      so why are people waiting for it as if it had new revelations or some shit like that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's a show that inspired a lot of kids to be scientists

        • It's a show that inspired a lot of kids to be scientists

          ... At a time when television was 3 channels + PBS, which meant it aired as 1 of 4 choices, at a time when there was no Internet and you had to plunk down the equivalent of $700 to play Pong on your TV. Good like getting anything like the same audience when it's competing with Game of Thrones, Duck Dynasty, or anything on Netflix. And those are just the broadcast entertainment competitors.

          PBS also was not nearly the corporate shill in 1980 that they have become. Knowing PBS today, they'll probably air th

          • Your correct about kids, I watched it back when I was a teenager in the 70's, Sagan's (paraphrase) "We are made of star stuff, we are the way in which the universe observes itself" is as close to spirituality as I get. The new version will first be aired on Fox, which IMO is exactly the audience that needs to see it more than anyone else, including children.
      • Re:If (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Yoje (140707) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:54AM (#46264925)

        I believe the hope here is not that it will bring forward some new revelation, but that it will simply get the general public excited about science again.

        The original Cosmos series helped get a lot of the public talking about science, and probably grew some careers out of the kids that watched it as well. Whether Tyson and the rest of the new Cosmos staff will be able to do this remains to be seen, but I think the primary goal is not necessarily to give new insight into the mysteries of the universe, but to make thinking about these questions interesting again to the general public.

        In today's television world of History being taught by Pawn Stars, and The Learning Channel showing us insights of child beauty pageants, reality shows are now the bread and butter for almost every network. It has seriously diluted the education that is occurring from television (and let's be honest, whether it should be or not, there is no escape that a lot of people do substitute television watching for actual learning). While PBS and a few other stray networks help a bit, this new series of Cosmos offers some hope. If NatGeo was the only one doing it, it would gain some attention, but the fact that a major over-the-air network like Fox (especially with its reputation) is teaming up with this is encouraging.

        If the new Cosmos can actually succeed, not necessarily in explaining complex scientific theories about our world and the universe, but if it can succeed in what the original Cosmos did in just getting everyday people excited in science again, it would do a lot of long term good for this country. Perhaps, just perhaps, a few other networks could follow suit and knock out one or two hours a week of their reality programs to put more science into their programming. Perhaps it can get more people, especially young people, into looking at science as a viable career option instead of trying to figure out how to get their 15 mins of fame on another reality show. Lofty dreams to be sure, but we have to start somewhere, and hopefully this new series will either help be that spark to get others excited, or confirm once and for all that no one in this country really gives a damn about science and watch as our scientific knowledge plummets compared to the rest of the world.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          In today's television world of History being taught by Pawn Stars, and The Learning Channel showing us insights of child beauty pageants, reality shows are now the bread and butter for almost every network. It has seriously diluted the education that is occurring from television (and let's be honest, whether it should be or not, there is no escape that a lot of people do substitute television watching for actual learning). While PBS and a few other stray networks help a bit, this new series of Cosmos offers some hope.

          Well, maybe, but in some sense the fact that the show doesn't really intend to communicate new science so much as put it into perspective just illustrates how bad the problem is. I can see the argument that they're not trying to deliver science so much as to impress people that it is important - that you have to fix the problem before you can start delivering decent content.

          I feel like the TV audiences are virtually a lost cause. Mythbusters is one of the better shows but it seems like they miss the most

      • Re:If (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Evtim (1022085) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:11AM (#46265181)

        It changes lives. Literally. It raises awareness.

        My decision to come and work in the Netherlands is entirely based on Cosmos. "travelers in time ans space" was the episode - it talks exclusively about the Dutch golden age. Saw it behind the Iron Curtain at an age of 12 or something. When I realized that this is a society where you could say "The world is my country, science is my religion" [quote Christian Huygens] in the times when Galileo was prosecuted in South Europe and threaten with death I though "this is it, I'm going there".

        Of course, this famous Dutch spirit has been under attack recently as "non-profitable" - exactly the same decline in rational thought that we see much more pronounced in the US. So the Dutch also need new Cosmos, to remind them that it is because of that spirit they had the golden age. The moment they loose it, they've lost everything, since this country has nothing else [no resources, nor territory].

        • by number6x (626555)
          replying to remove bad moderation
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry, what does it mean to be an American? I always hoped those people who care about science, cosmos and all that wouldn't take so seriosly minor human issues such as nationality. I guess I was wrong.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by The Cat (19816)

        Well, look at it this way: if it weren't for America, there wouldn't be a Cosmos television series.

        What does it mean to be an American? It means you value human achievement. Americans are courageous enough to not only want to explore, but to insist on it. It drove us across the Atlantic Ocean and across North America, and then to the moon.

        In the process we invented the modern world, which is one of the things that makes advanced science possible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gl4ss (559668)

          ou really? Von Braun got the desire to go to moon as soon as he tasted some of that sweet, sweet american freedom? you have no fscking clue about where modern middle class life with all it's modern appliances, industrial production, modern chemistry and everything else originates from do you?

          no wonder if you're waiting for tyson to bring you back from the dark ages or some shit like that with "an inspiring tv show".

        • by tragedy (27079)

          In the process we invented the modern world, which is one of the things that makes advanced science possible.

          --The Cat

          The moon belongs to America, and anxiously awaits the arrival of our astro-men. Will you be among them?

          _Simpsons_

    • by roca (43122)

      Please, no, not more squandering of funds on meaningless manned missions driven not by science or long-term goals but by absurd "human spirit" PR to get more funding for more meaningless missions.

      We need a self-sustaining human presence off this planet, but all paths to get there require robotic mining and construction outside the Earth's gravity well, and that is what we need to be investing in.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:18AM (#46264841) Homepage

    Neil de Grasse Tyson isn't bad. Not a Carl Sagan, but running a TV show about science is really about building a bridge between the general public and the current science and I think that Neil de Grasse Tyson can do that.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Yea, plus if you've seen him on stage with his peers he can come off rather negatively.
      There was that one panels he did a couple years back alongside Cox and Nye in which he kept interrupting Nye and arguing semantics throughout. By himself he's great, but along side people whose opinions mean the same as his and not so much.

      • Also, he killed Pluto, that bastard

        (but seriously, he's pretty good and a sensible choice for the new Cosmos, imho)

      • by east coast (590680) on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:34AM (#46266011)
        That's the thing about Tyson and just about every public scientist out there today, they're not inclusive like Sagan was. That's what made Sagan great and even gave the naysayers a reason to lend an ear. He opened himself up to the "what ifs" of the world and didn't shout people down for their own way of being as long as it wasn't harmful to others.

        We need a feeling of unity more than anything else at this place in time for humanity's sake. I just don't see Tyson doing that although he may be the most qualified to do so. We really do need another Sagan.
      • Yea, plus if you've seen him on stage with his peers he can come off rather negatively. There was that one panels he did a couple years back alongside Cox and Nye in which he kept interrupting Nye and arguing semantics throughout.

        Brian Cox comes closer to Sagan's aesthetic. Neil seems a lot more clownish. I've seen multiple interviews where he tries so hard to force joke after joke, complete with irritating laughter, that he completely missed the point of some questions and distracted from the science. Sagan and Cox inspire scientific wonder, Neil is closer to open mike night at the Laugh Shack.

        • by JeffAtl (1737988)

          I like Brian Cox, but he comes across as melodramatic. A point that could be made in an interesting manner in 20 seconds takes Cox at least 5 minutes.

          • I'll grant you some of that. My first reaction to seeing Cox on video was "what a punk", and half expected him to ride a skateboard into the next segment. I gave him more slack after reading The Quantum Universe and Why Does E=mc^2. Sagan also strayed into the grandiose, but I always enjoyed the theater. Maybe Tyson just interviews poorly. I'll definitely watch the new Cosmos.
  • Sorry Dr. Tyson, I don't watch FOX. Not for a long time. Not planning on starting now either.
  • by mendax (114116) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:31AM (#46264877)

    I like the idea of a remade Cosmos series. It's long overdue. However, it will be difficult for the series to be anywhere near as good as the original. The original was a mix of great writing, great music, especially the classical numbers, and the love of the subject that Carl Sagan had. Dr. Sagan wasn't just host and co-writer of the series, he was THE high priest of popular science as that time and when he spoke, he was preaching like a Bible-thumping evangelist, only without the southern drawl. While Neil de Grasse Tyson has done a lot of work to fill that role, he's not Carl Sagan. Still, I look forward to seeing this series. Since I don't usually watch TV, I'll have to get a digital TV antenna.

    • by Sebastopol (189276) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:57AM (#46264939) Homepage

      When is the last time you watched the original Cosmos? There are a lot--and I mean A LOT--of scenes featuring Carl sitting on a beach or in a meadow looking off into the distance with pontificating voice-overs that kinda ramble. Believe me, I'm 42 and I grew up on that series, but having re-watched it recently, I was surprised at the large spans of near bloviation that adorn the show. I absolutely adore the series, I just think it could have used some tightening up during editing.

      Also, I graduated from COSMOS to The Mechanical Universe, which--aside from the haircuts of the classroom--would still feel modern by today's standards.

      • by mendax (114116)

        When is the last time you watched the original Cosmos?

        Actually, I watched it last week. I have the DVD set. The series was not meant to be a pure documentary. If you wanted that, you can read the book. It was meant to be beautiful, a work of art, and the producers, cinematographers, and the editing crew did a great of creating it.

        Regarding pontificating, Dr. Sagan was more preaching than pontificating. But given that the show's purpose was to teach the general public about a subject he loved and believed, something he'd spent most of his professional life

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The series was not meant to be a pure documentary. If you wanted that, you can read the book. It was meant to be beautiful, a work of art,

          It's a very slowwwww work of art. As a work of art, it might be great, I wouldn't know because it was too slow and it lost me. As a thing for conveying information to humans it is crap, because of too much BHA in love with himself.

          • It's a very slowwwww work of art.

            Because Lord knows, if you're not being presented with a change of subject every 30 seconds, you'll get bored. Of all the things I'm afraid of with a new Cosmos, this ranks first. There's no chance it will have the majestic pace of the original.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Because Lord knows, if you're not being presented with a change of subject every 30 seconds, you'll get bored. Of all the things I'm afraid of with a new Cosmos, this ranks first. There's no chance it will have the majestic pace of the original.

              It doesn't need to. If you want the original, watch it.

              • If you want the original, watch it.

                The original is a science documentary from over forty years ago. It holds up astonishingly well, but an update to the current state of the art is undoubtedly called for. The problem is, that's not the only change they'll make.

                • by cusco (717999)

                  Several years ago my wife and I were at a secondhand store and I saw a complete set of VHS tapes of Cosmos. That's what I got for my birthday, one of the best presents I've ever had. I've been re-watching it recently and am surprised at how accurate Sagan's predictions generally were.

            • I didn't state my original point clearly enough. If you edited Cosmos to take out Dr. Sagan's lengthy and yawn-inducing monologues about our insignificance in the cosmos, you end up with The Mechanical Universe, which is paced at the speed of top-tier college lecture.

              I also don't think it is a problem to match the pace of the lecture with what today's you are accustomed to. When sound was added to cinema in the early 20th century, purists claimed it would ruin the art form. The same thing happened when peop

      • by Zocalo (252965)

        When is the last time you watched the original Cosmos? There are a lot--and I mean A LOT--of scenes featuring Carl sitting on a beach or in a meadow looking off into the distance with pontificating voice-overs that kinda ramble.

        Yeah, there were a lot of scenes like that and some of the editing of the rest could perhaps have done with being a little more tight, but the series got the job done well and I've never failed to enjoy re-watching it. To that end I'm planning on watching it next week and the wee

        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          If you get things too tight you will lose some viewers. The point is to have some parts where the viewer can have a pause and get the wider perspective before you dive into the deep again.

          People today are too stressed to really relax and take a wider perspective from time to time.

          • by JeffAtl (1737988)

            Editing too loose will lose even more viewers as it comes across as slow and self-indulgent e.g. any Judd Apatow movie.

            I like Brian Cox but he has the tendency to do the same thing. Many times by the time he gets to the point, the viewer has been lost trying to wade through metaphors.

      • When is the last time you watched the original Cosmos?

        Funny you should ask that. I have Cosmos on DVD and I'm currently rewatching it right now. Great stuff.

    • by mendax (114116)

      You know, after I wrote this post, I looked at the Wikipedia entry of Neil de Grasse Tyson and saw a photo of him signing one of his books. He's using a blue expensive-looking (maybe Waterman) fountain pen. My opinion of his success of his version of Cosmos has improved. As a fellow fountain pen user, anyone recent user of one of these anachronisms comes up a notch in my estimate.

      • Actually they are not anachronisms, probably more high tech then any other type pf pen.
        I believe that pen ( if it is the same one I once saw ), then it is a Pelikan Blue Planet. Definitely the nib is a Pelikan.
        Waterman's have been crap since Gillette bought them ( but then I haven't looked recently maybe they've improved them. )

    • by symes (835608)

      I sort of agree with you. But you also have to think about who the program is aimed at. I would think you as a 42 year old can handle a much higher baud rate and have a far broader vocabulary. Cosmos inspired youngsters to think about what lies beyond our world and that will need a different approach to those you might take with interested adults. Thing is, if adults watching the new series love it then this runs the risk of kids hating it not only because it will be beyond them but also because, well, if i

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... that it'll be exactly like every other one. We watch them hoping they will show us something new, and they almost never do.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday February 17, 2014 @04:19AM (#46265013) Homepage

    Never heard of it. And a science program for the US public is likely to be all flashy pictures and no depth. Still, if it is a success, maybe it will awaken some belated interest in science and education, as opposed to Justin Bieber and Oprah.

    • and probably spend most of its time debunking climate change.

    • Under a rock.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by westlake (615356) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:07PM (#46267269)

      Never heard of it. And a science program for the US public is likely to be all flashy pictures and no depth.

      The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980, and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until The Civil War (1990). As of 2009, it was still the most widely watched PBS series in the world. It won an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and has since been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people.

      Cosmos: A Personal Voyage [wikipedia.org]

      Closed Caption; Collector's edition DVD boxed set of the complete landmark TV series by Carl Sagan; 7 NTSC DVDs - 13 one hour episodes; Fully international edition - DVD region zero, playable everywhere (requires NTSC compatible player and TV); Remastered, restored and enhanced; Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan updates; 7 subtitles languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, English for the hearing impaired); Subtitle science updates; New footage; English soundtrack in AC3 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound; Bonus 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound music and effects track

      Cosmos [barnesandnoble.com] $88

    • by JeffAtl (1737988)

      There are already science programs for the US public and they tend to have a lot of depth. In fact, many are repackaged with different narrators and presented to foreign audiences - even the UK.

      Of course, it works the other way around as well - David Attenborough's nature documentaries repackaged with an American narrator and are very popular in the US.

  • But Neil Tyson is pretty awesome too.

  • by lemur3 (997863) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:40AM (#46265263)

    About 3-4 years ago I got into the habit of watching most of the documentaries that come out of the UK.. whether it be bbc/channel4 or whatever else. ... Having grown up with PBS/discovery channel I have to say that american documentaries have started to turn to crap.

    Most of the American docs these days seem to be stock footage with a voice over.. very low quality and not very interesting.. The bigger trend in american docs is a lot of 3-D animations and cheesy recreations.

    In comparison the UK docs usually have a personality on-screen who is generally an expert going through the topic, sometimes interviewing people.. with less reliance on 3D animations and recreations, and in general, more respect for the viewers intelligence they end up being much more enjoyable.

    NOVA in particular has tended towards lower quality in the past few years.. in stark comparison to HORIZON, which continues to be quite good.

    as I've seen the hype over this COSMOS series come about I can't help but think it will be a big let down... as the budgets just don't seem to be there, along with a different view of the intelligence of the viewer.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Yeah, I think the 3D stuff is often used poorly. I've been watching Soviet Storm and it is basically a Russian/BBC version of Battle 360 or whatever the US show was called.

      The show itself is decent, but the 3D stuff is used poorly. They don't use illustrations to show how the battles actually went. They just have lots of pictures of tanks getting blown up or whatever with lots of bullets frozen in mid-air while the camera moves around. Sure, it looks pretty, but it does nothing to tell me what happened.

  • by Hognoxious (631665)

    Will he pronounce it properly, and not so it rhymes with "hoes doze"?

  • by irp (260932) on Monday February 17, 2014 @06:13AM (#46265365)

    ... Which means it will start with a 10 minute teaser/cliffhanger to prevent people from leaving during commercials. Then the commercial break. Then a 10 minute teaser, repeating most of what was said in the previous segment, adding like 2-3 minutes new stuff and a new cliffhanger. Commercial break. Then 10 minutes of repetition. Etc. etc.

    There are a lot of *seemingly* interesting documentaries being made in the US, but upon inspection they are mostly made to ensure viewers STAY for the COMMERCIALS.

    If you watch them without commercials, the look like they were made by retards for retards! :-/

    I will probably give it a change, but I guess I will be disappointment... Currently I'm only watching documentaries made by the BBC...

    • by tomhath (637240)

      If you watch them without commercials, they look like they were made by retards for retards! :-/

      Are you saying they're better or worse without commercials?

    • Who watches TV. These should go straight to Netflix.

      On an other note, Wouldn't this be a PBS show? Not an commercial broadcaster.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Yup. When I watch recordings without commercials it is really jarring when suddenly the show switches to recap mode and then I realize, "oh, that must have been a commercial break." They spend half of the show doing this sort of thing.

      The original Cosmos was made for PBS, which is commercial-free.

      The other poster mentioned Mythbusters, and that show drives me crazy because they constantly switch between unrelated segments with the goal of stringing you along. I'm fine with documentaries that weave togeth

    • If you watch them without commercials, the look like they were made by retards for retards! :-/ I will probably give it a change, but I guess I will be disappointment... Currently I'm only watching documentaries made by the BBC...

      Aussie here, couldn't agree with you more. I only watch BBC docos, and even then some are dodgy.

      I've given National Geographic shows a go, because I like the magazine. But their entertainment division is simply that - entertainment. Special effects and waffle. It's a real shame. Making documentaries on a commercial basis is FAIL from the start. By the time you've made all the compromises necessary, any real value in the enterprise has long since bled out.

      Here in Oz we have the ABC, bless its cotton socks. B

  • Check out "The Brain Scoop" on Youtube. It's not about the universe, but it IS done right. http://www.youtube.com/channel... [youtube.com]
  • I don't mean that I doubt the quality or the content but I just looked for iTunes and Amazon and didn't see it. I see a lot of music with "Cosmos" in it. I see a few TV shows like "The Universe" and a good Nova special on "The Fabric of the Cosmos" but no "Cosmos" to buy and download as the episodes air. I guess I won't watch it or I'll end up watching "by other means" if I really get motivated. Or I'll wait for it to pop up on Netflix...if it shows up there and isn't throttled to hell.

    I love watching shows

  • I often watch the original series for background entertainment. Sure, there is some really informative information in there such as how acolytes of people like Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato basically impede real science from moving forward. But then the guy spouts off on the theory of nuclear winter which turned out to be totally bogus and a fabrication of the KGB to deter NATO from placing nukes in western Europe. He just can't resist the opportunity to inject opinion knowing full well that he's A) g

    • by tragedy (27079)

      But then the guy spouts off on the theory of nuclear winter which turned out to be totally bogus and a fabrication of the KGB to deter NATO from placing nukes in western Europe

      Last I checked it was still a pretty valid theory of what would happen in a widespread nuclear engagement. There's lots of argument about how severe it would be, but there aren't really any papers from anyone credible that say that it definitely would not happen.

  • Let's be realistic (Score:4, Informative)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:55AM (#46267167)

    I'm sure it will be a great series -- I intend to watch every episode -- but let's not be stupid about it. It's not going to have a dramatic effect on the future of humanity.

  • Nobody lives under a rock, but we all live on one. The 3rd one from the Sun, to be exact.

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