Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - FOX / National Geographic
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is an American science documentary television series. It is presented by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan. The executive producers are Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow.
The series premiered on March 9, 2014, simultaneously in the US across ten 21st Century Fox networks. The remainder of the series will air on Fox, with the National Geographic Channel rebroadcasting the episodes the next day with extra content. The score for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey was written by Alan Silvestri.
COSMOS filmed in locations such as Rome, Munich, Iceland, Alaska, and the African Savannah.
The original 13-part Cosmos: A Personal Voyage first aired in 1980 on the Public Broadcasting System, and was hosted by Carl Sagan. The show has been considered highly significant since its broadcast; David Itzkoff of The New York Times described it as "a watershed moment for science-themed television programming".
The show has been watched by at least 400 million people across 60 different countries, and until the 1990 documentary The Civil War, remained the network's highest rated program.
Following Sagan's death in 1996, his widow Ann Druyan, the co-creator of the original Cosmos series along with Steven Soter, a producer from the series, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, sought to create a new version of the series, aimed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and not just to those interested in the sciences. They had struggled for years with reluctant television networks that failed to see the broad appeal of the show.
Neil deGrasse Tyson visits the Royal Society of London, England.
Seth MacFarlane had met Druyan through Tyson at the 2008 kickoff event for the Science & Entertainment Exchange, a new Los Angeles office of the National Academy of Sciences, designed to connect Hollywood writers and directors with scientists. A year later, at a 2009 lunch in New York City with Tyson, MacFarlane learned of their interest to re-create Cosmos.
He was influenced by Cosmos as a child, believing that Cosmos served to "bridge the gap between the academic community and the general public". At the time MacFarlane told Tyson, "I'm at a point in my career where I have some disposable income ... and I’d like to spend it on something worthwhile." MacFarlane had considered the reduction of effort for space travel in recent decades to be part of "our culture of lethargy".
MacFarlane, who has several series on the Fox network, was able to bring Druyan to meet the heads of Fox programming, Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly, and helped secure the greenlighting of the show. MacFarlane admits that he is "the least essential person in this equation" and the effort is a departure from work he's done before, but considers this to be "very comfortable territory for me personally".
Neil visits Kew Gardens in England to help us learn about the complexities of evolution.
He and Druyan have become close friends, and Druyan stated that she believed that Sagan and MacFarlane would have been "kindred spirits" with their respective "protean talents". In June 2012, MacFarlane provided funding to allow about 800 boxes of Sagan's personal notes and correspondences to be donated to the Library of Congress.
Neil travels to northern Italy to learn how Albert Einstein developed his famous theories of relativity.
In a Point of Inquiry interview, Tyson discussed their goal of capturing the "spirit of the original Cosmos", which he describes as "uplifting themes that called people to action". Druyan describes the themes of wonder and skepticism they are infusing into the scripts, in an interview with Skepticality, "In order for it to qualify on our show it has to touch you. It still has to be rigorously good science--no cutting corners on that.
But then, it also has to be that equal part skepticism and wonder both." In a Big Picture Science interview, Tyson credits the success of the original series for the proliferation of science programming, “The task for the next generation of Cosmos is a little bit different because I don’t need to teach you textbook science. There’s a lot of textbook science in the original Cosmos, but that’s not what you remember most.
What most people who remember the original series remember most is the effort to present science in a way that has meaning to you that can influence your conduct as a citizen of the nation and of the world--especially of the world.” Tyson states that the new series will contain both new material and updated versions of topics in the original series, but primarily, will service the “needs of today’s population".
“We want to make a program that is not simply a sequel to the first, but issues forth from the times in which we are making it, so that it matters to those who is this emergent 21st century audience.” Tyson considered that recent successes of science-oriented shows like The Big Bang Theory, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and films like Gravity, that "science has become mainstream" and expects Cosmos "will land on hugely fertile ground".
Tyson comments on the "love-hate relationship" viewers had with the original series' Spaceship of the Imagination, but confirms that they are developing "vehicles of storytelling". Tyson affirmed that defining elements of the original series such as the Spaceship of the Imagination and the Cosmic Calendar with improved special effects, as well as new elements, would be present.
Animation for these sequences were created by a team hand-picked by MacFarlane for the series. Kara Vallow developed and produced the animation, and the animation studio used was Six Point Harness in Los Angeles, California. The updated Spaceship was designed to "remain timeless and very simple", according to MacFarlane, using the ceiling to project future events and the floor for those in the past as to allow Tyson, as the host, to "take the viewer to the places that he’s talking about".
In August 2011, the show was officially announced for primetime broadcast in the spring of 2014. The show is a co-production of Druyan's Cosmos Studios, MacFarlane's Fuzzy Door Productions, and National Geographic Channel; Druyan, MacFarlane, Cosmos Studios' Mitchell Cannold, and director Brannon Braga are the executive producers.
Fox's Reilly considered that the show would be a risk and outside the network's typical programming, but that "we believe this can have the same massive cultural impact that the original series delivered," and committed the network's resources to the show. The show would first be broadcast on Fox, re-airing the same night on the National Geographic Channel.
In Canada, the show was broadcast simultaneously on Global, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild. A preview of the show's first episode was aired for student filmmakers at the White House Student Film Festival on February 28, 2014.
Cosmos premiered on simultaneously in the US across ten Fox networks: Fox, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo Mundo, and Fox Life. According to Fox Networks, this is the first time that a TV show is set to premiere in a global simulcast across their network of channels. It was the first documentary series to be broadcast on commercial networks.