My Love of Cosmos
I don’t know that I’ve been so excited about the premiere of a television show since I was a teenager waiting to see the first episode of a new Star Trek. I had such high hopes for The Next Generation… I know it has its adherents, many among them close friends who tell me that if I just watched to maybe the third, or possibly fourth, season, I’d find great stuff. But when The Next Generation premiered all I knew was that I was seeing a level of quality, script wise, that measured up to the dreadful third season of the original. You know, the season with the space hippies and the men who were half white/half black (but on opposite sides).
I digress. Get me on Star Trek, and I’ll always digress. My point is, I’m really looking forward to the debut of Cosmos. I mean really looking forward, as in approaching teenaged fanboy excitement levels.
I was twelve when the first one premiered, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it, before or since. Stunning imagery. The music of Vangelis and selections from the best work of the greatest classical composers. Clever re-enactments, flights of fact and fancy based on fact — like a walk through the Library of Alexandria, or the image of a spaceship the ancient Greeks might have constructed had their scientific progress never halted… stunning stuff, all delivered by the brilliant Carl Sagan with sonorous prose poetry. We loved him for his daring to hope, and his daring to face us with the truth, and part of the reason folk poked fun at his intonation and exuberance was because they were envious of his soaring language and delivery and, I think, his optimism (one tempered with caution).
Even though my wife and I never met the man, we both miss him — his eloquence, his directness, his searing intellect. He was one of the finest public science figures we have ever had, and helped ignite a generation of imaginations. I would like to have met him. I can remember talking with my wife some years ago after we’d introduced our own children to Cosmos, and we agreed that if anyone were to re-host Cosmos, the only scientist alive today who could pull it off would be Neil deGrasse Tyson.
And lo, it has come to pass, and through curious means all of you who’re into this kind of thing already know. Seth McFarlane. Fox. National Geographic Channel. Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, who wrote the original series with Sagan and Steven Soter, who, according to some reports, is also involved. Wikipedia actually seems to have the most succinct and accurate lowdown, here.
I might write historical fiction and fantasy, but I grew up on Star Trek, which led me straight into Cosmos. Back then, in between dreaming of being a writer or a rock star or a starship captain I sometimes thought I might one day be a scientist. Sagan had an amazing ability to speak directly to you, personally, even as he was speaking to billions of us. And he spoke movingly and powerfully about humanity and the universe, our past and our present and our possible futures. To this day there are moments of Cosmos that bring a tear to my eye.
Perhaps I am hoping for too much from the new Cosmos. After all, it’s hard to go home again, to rekindle that wonder. But perhaps, in these hands, I will experience it once more. I hope some of you will be watching it with me. In case you’ve somehow missed it, here’s the trailer.