You don’t need to know rocket science to know the name Carl Sagan. Easily one of the most brilliant and passionate voices of his generation, Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, Cornell professor, and prolific science popularizer, and in 1980, he captivated America with his hit show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. It was unlike anything seen on television before, a documentary series that provided an engaging look at the history of mankind and its collective thirst to understand the universe. It seamlessly melded philosophy with life lessons, experimentation with historical re-enactments, and scientific theory with impressive visual effects relative to it time.
Like the zombies it’s currently up against in the Sunday night timeslot, Cosmos has returned from the dead, and without a moment to spare. The new season, subtitled A Spacetime Odyssey, is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and already seems to be living up to it namesake with the thrilling journey it promises over its 13-episode run. The show is co-produced by Seth MacFarlane (proving that backing projects outside one’s typical genre can and should be done), 24 and Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Brannon Braga, and Ann Druyan, producer of the original show and Sagan’s widow. The first of what I anticipate will be a series of spectacularly informative hours of TV included a look at our “cosmic address,” the influence of a monk named Giordano Bruno, and the Cosmic Calendar, a narrative device used in the original series to demonstrate humanity’s history relative to the history of the universe. (Spoiler alert: we’re a blip on the radar.)