Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts the premiere of the much anticipated return of Cosmos, this version subtitled: A Spacetime Odyssey, on FOX Sunday night, and the show is scheduled to open with a video introduction from President Barack Obama. The President’s speech will invite new generations to fall in love with science and discovery, and will encourage people of all ages to take on new ideas that will help shape the future.
The original television show, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, debuted in 1980 and was co-written by Ann Druyan and Steve Soter. The two were brought back to work on this iteration by none other than Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame, who was also instrumental in bringing the show to FOX at prime time. The original show was hosted by Druyan’s late husband, the magnetic astronomer, Carl Sagan, and so stepping in to fill his immense shoes is a man with immense clout of his own in Tyson, the foremost pop-culture icon in American astronomy today.
Tyson currently is the director of the Hayden Planetarium and is an astrophysics research associate at the American Museum of Natural History. He has appeared on a litany of late night television shows, such as The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Tonight Show, as well as scripted shows like The Big Bang Theory, radio programs like NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, and podcasts, including The Joe Rogan Experience. He also hosted the Nova miniseries entitled Origins, that laid out theories and explanations about the beginnings of the universe, and narrated a documentary for PBS called 400 Years of the Telescope. He hosts his own podcast, Star Talk Radio, too and brings an impressive resume into his role as narrator for the relaunching of Cosmos.
Sunday begins a 13 episode run for Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and beyond receiving attention from important people like President Obama, rival network executives will be watching with great interest. If Cosmos can demonstrate success in a prime time television slot, it would be likely that other networks would pursue producing their own science-entertainment programming, and they would be wise to audition other famous scientists such as Bill Nye, who used to have his own show for kids and is currently making waves in the national climate change debate.
Climate change probably won’t make the content cut for Cosmos though, as the topics tend to focus on astronomy, astrophysics, and theories and questions about the universe overall. Out in space, Tyson takes the viewers on a fantastic ride through the galaxy in a virtual space ship, introduces them to complex ideas like the Big Bang and the paradoxes of time, and also revisits the history of some of the most famous figures in science and philosophy.
It is imperative that America refocuses itself to being more scientifically inclined, and it is a happy occurrence that intellectual and charismatic powerhouses like Tyson are attacking the issue head on with Cosmos while President Obama throws his support behind the project as well. Hopefully this will be just the beginning of a new era of science-entertainment programming that helps to inspire Americans and the world.
Opinion By Matt Stinson