We’ve been wondering about the stars since the first intelligent biped stared into the night sky. Personally, I find the possibilities beyond our atmosphere fascinating and wish I had the mind to absorb the hard science. I took Astronomy in college and when I struggled with the math involved I went to the professor who asked if it was part of my major. When told no, he told me to drop the course. A year later, PBS aired Cosmos: A Personal Journey, Carl Sagan’s lauded and beloved miniseries about the stars. Being in college at the time, I missed watching it or reading the gorgeous companion volume but know it had a major impact on society.
Among those influenced by the show was Neil deGrasse Tyson who recently concluded a thirteen episode sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which is now available ion a handsome four disc Blu-ray set from 20th Century Home Entertainment. It comes at a time when America relies on Russia for engines to reach orbit and a recent analysis declares we don’t have the budget or political wherewithal to reach Mars anytime soon. We still have members of Congress automatically pooh-pooh any sort of scientific warning about our climate or evolution or the value of exploring the universe.
They should all watch this. We’re reminded of the awe-inspiring vistas of stars, solar systems, and galaxies. Credit goes to Renaissance-man Seth MacFarlane for producing this series, using his clout to get this funded and on the air. Among the executive producers is Brannon Braga, known better for mangling science fiction than embracing science but his presence here is a welcome one. Tyson partnered with Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan to write the series and collects images culled from telescopes and satellites representing a true international collective.
While Sagan was a scientist-poet, Tyson is more of an everyman but still inspires us with his wondrous tour of the cosmos. He honors his predecessor, showing what we’ve learned since the original series and builds on what was presented then. With his own version of a starship, we tour the stars and the intent was to bring a cinematic sweep to the smaller screen and it works beautifully.
The Blu-ray transfer is just shy of perfection with photography and stunning CGI recreations. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is more than match for the visuals so watching this again and again will be a pleasure.
Each of the four discs comes with Special Features such as:
“Standing Up in the Milky Way” Commentary from Druyan, Mitchell Cannolo, Braga, Jason Clark and Kara Vallow.
Celebrating Carl Sagan: A Selection from the Library of Congress Dedication (34:37) . Credit goes to MacFarlane for getting Sagan’s papers delivered to the people’s Library.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at Comic-Con 2013 (40:13) shows that much as we love our spaced fantasy, we’re also geeks for the real thing.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues (41:20) shows how the first miniseries informed and inspired the second.
Interactive Cosmic Calendar: Druyan hosts a timeline accessible from any given cosmic “month”.