The best thing that television has yet produced aired on PBS in 1980. Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is, still, a remarkable thing to watch—ambitious, humane, and fascinating, it covers life, the universe, and everything with grand scope and impressive detail. Much of its appeal—massive at the time, and still enduring today—is due to the charm and intelligence of Sagan, who pilots each episode with an inquisitive, eager nature. I've known stoners who zone out for hours watching Cosmos; I also know science nerds who think of it as the closest thing that rational people have to a Bible. It's currently on Netflix Instant, and if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and start it tonight. It's one of those few, rare things that will actually make your life better and richer and cooler.
And now it's being remade. Or followed up. Or... done again? Sort of.
Amidst all the Electros and Ultrons and Lokis of Comic-Con (and 1,000 percent delightful Andrew Garfields), Fox showed off a pretty impressive trailer for their new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, executive produced by Sagan's widow (and producer of the original series) Ann Druyan, along with Seth MacFarlane, which is a weird thing to type, and hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who everybody likes very, very much, because he's Neil deGrasse Tyson.
On one hand, I really like the look of all that stuff, and hell, even if it wasn't related to Cosmos, I'd watch it, because I'll watch any science-y type thing with Tyson in it. But the Cosmos connection is also what's giving me pause; the original is so remarkable, so groundbreaking, and so goddamn great that anything made in its shadow seems doomed to feel strange and small.
Then again: Every time I think something like the preceding sentence, I realize I'm basically complaining about someone bringing more science into the world, which is just stupid.
True, I'd feel better about it if it was airing on PBS, but the Fox thing is actually kind of neat, at least in theory: This new Cosmos is going to be shown on a network that will reach people who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to stuff like this. If Druyan and Tyson can still do everything they'd want to do otherwise—if Fox doesn't interfere—this could be pretty great.
So let's say I'm cautiously excited for this one. And that I'll be rewatching the original Cosmos, yet again, soon.