Tyson Shines in Cosmos Reboot

Miniseries follows Carl Sagan's 1980 classic

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 9, 2014 6:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tonight sees the reboot on Fox of what the New York Times calls "arguably the most successful popularization of science since Albert Einstein roamed Princeton without his socks": the miniseries Cosmos, originally hosted on PBS in 1980 by Carl Sagan. Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson leads us on a tour of the universe—with some help from Seth MacFarlane—and critics are generally impressed:

  • "The new Cosmos might be called the Large Hadron Collider of pop science: expensive, splashy, and ambitious," writes Dennis Overbye in the Times. "We all need a unifying dose of curiosity and wonder," and "it’s hard to imagine a better man to reboot the cosmos than Neil deGrasse Tyson," who adds "a little shtick and a wink to let the audience in on the fun."

  • "As a cosmic tour guide, Tyson is easily Sagan's equal," writes Verne Gay in Newsday. The show features "quantum leaps in special effects technology that transport Sagan's original vision to places even he could never have dreamed of." But "commercial TV doesn't have the luxury of time, so there's a rushed, breathless quality to this finished product."
  • At Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz sees a fundamental difference between the original and the remake. Sagan, despite being agnostic, "convinced many people of faith that he was, if not an ally, then at least not an adversary." Whereas Tyson's version "feels like a pushback against faith’s encroachments on the intellectual terrain of science." It depicts "organized religion as an irrelevant and intellectually discredited means of understanding factual reality."
  • In the Chicago Sun-Times, Lori Rackl offers a very different take, writing that she "almost fell asleep … watching the premiere." Its "use of animation makes it feel even more like something you’d see in a high school science class. Special effects have come a long way since 1980, yet they manage to be less impressive in this updated version that shoots for the stars but falls short."
The 13-part miniseries premieres tonight at 9, then switches to Monday nights at 9.

From left, executive producer Mitchell Cannold, executive producer Brannon Braga, host Neil deGrasse Tyson, executive producer Seth MacFarlane, and writer Ann Druyan on a panel for "Cosmos."   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the new series.   (AP Photo/Norton Books)
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A trailer for the series.   (YouTube)

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