Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A short not-review of the first episode of Cosmos

If you've been living on a rogue planet wandering through the far reaches of the Local group, you may not have heard of the Cosmos reboot on FOX with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

We finally got around to seeing the first episode yesterday. I was nervous because I loved the original so much and hoped that my kids would like it as well (as all parents know, you can't show fear or the sharks will smell it :)).

Things I liked:

  • The homage to Carl Sagan was done beautifully. If you're going to reboot a franchise, you don't have to pretend that nothing existed before, you know. 
  • The mix of CG + real person and animation was a good way to tell the different stories. I was a little worried about the denouement of the Giordano Bruno tale because my six-year old was watching, but it was done without being too graphic. 
  • The graphics were non-cheesy: but then I wasn't ever worried about the quality of graphics in the original. I'm pretty sure that 20 years from now these graphics will look cheesy as well. The year-long calendar of the universe was a fantastic demonstration of the immensity of time. 
Things I could live without:

Granted, it's the first episode, so there's no point in being too harsh. But 
  • If I had any heartstrings ever, they've been pulled out of shape into long strands of spaghetti. The constant sweeping orchestral background made me feel like I was watching NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics. I almost expected to see a personal profile of how the universe overcame the adversity of the Big Bang to become the star performer it is today. 
  • As with all modern American shows purporting to be about science, I found the balance between sweeping rhetoric and actual facts to be disturbingly skewed towards the soaring fluffy. Watch some David Attenborough, people ! or even, I don't know, COSMOS itself. But see below...
I liked it. No question that I'm watching it again. And the eight-year old loved it ! Thought it was full of information. So maybe my assessment of graphics-to-information ratio is completely off. 

The funniest thing: when it was over, this happened:
Kids: "Let's see the next episode now!"
Me: We'll have to wait a week for it.
Kids: "What do you mean, we have to wait a week ?"
Netflix should be proud. Binge watching on demand is now the default mode. 

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