‘Cosmos’ Reboot Debuts On FOX

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 By Brian Stelter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Starting Sunday, Fox’s “Family Guy” will be followed by the unlikeliest of network television shows: an hour-long scientific exploration of the universe called “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”

The 13-week series is a reimagining of the 1980 PBS series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the place of the original host Carl Sagan, who died in 1996.

Science has “got to be mainstreamed in some way,” Tyson said in an interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “Otherwise, people will view it as something to ignore or to step around.”

What better way to mainstream it than a 9 p.m. time slot on the Fox network, usually taken up by animated comedies?

Tyson and the other proponents of the series — like “Family Guy” executive producer Seth MacFarlane — say they’ll be able to reach people who aren’t fans of PBS’s “NOVA” or subscribers to Scientific American magazine.

There are people “who don’t know that they like science,” Tyson said. “They have a little flame inside of them of curiosity, and we’re going to fan that flame.”

“But then there’s another category of people — the people who know they don’t like science. They’ve got no flame at all,” he said. “So we’re going to go in there and light it.”

“Cosmos” represents a bet by the Fox network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, that Tyson and his producers can do just that.

The episodes take advantage of special effects technology and Tyson’s accessible story-telling style to teach scientific concepts like evolution. Fox is promoting it as an adventure tale.

There was abundant surprise in 2011 when the network announced its interest in remaking “Cosmos.”

For several years, Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, and collaborator Steven Soter had been shopping the project around without success. Their luck began to turn when MacFarlane asked Tyson to lunch in 2009.

“He came to me, and I said sure. I didn’t tell him that I had to move 30 things around to make the lunch,” Tyson said.

At lunch, MacFarlane “asked me 30 questions about the Big Bang and cosmology,” Tyson recalled. The conversation informed a future “Family Guy” episode, and more importantly, it got MacFarlane interested in the effort to reboot “Cosmos.”

MacFarlane, who produces several successful comedies for Fox and thus has network executives on speed dial, later arranged a pitch meeting for Druyan. “We were sort of mutually incredulous at the beginning,” Tyson said.

But Fox executives Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice “both liked the idea of doing something that no one had ever done before,” MacFarlane told USA Today. So MacFarlane and Druyan’s production companies got to work.

The 13 episodes revive some storytelling tools from the original “Cosmos,” like the Cosmic Calendar, and trot out new ones.

“The difference today is not only have visual effects advanced, but because this is airing on a major network, we had the resources — we had access to people who have told these great dramatic stories on the big screen,” Tyson said.

He described how the camera becomes “a participant in the storytelling” in ways not previously possible.

“So, yes, we go into a black hole,” he said. “We dip down near the surface of the sun. And you feel it. I mean psychologically, you feel that it’s there.”

Admittedly, airing the series in prime time on a major network is a risk, MacFarlane added in his interview with USA Today. “There’s really no way of telling how it’s going to do. It could be a disaster or it could be a huge hit or somewhere in between,” he said.

A disaster is unlikely, if only because the series is backed by a multi-million dollar marketing campaign and what 21st Century Fox calls a “multi-network launch event.”

The first episode of “Cosmos” won’t just be seen on the Fox broadcast network. It will be screened simultaneously on nine of the company’s cable channels, including FX, Fox Sports 1 and the National Geographic Channel.

National Geographic Channel will also re-run episodes of “Cosmos” on Monday nights, one day after Fox. International distribution deals will beam the series to TV screens in 181 countries — only one planet, though, at least for now.

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2 comments

  • bgrnathan

    SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing net energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

    The law of entropy doesn't allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time (which modern science has shown is as physical as mass and space), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn't happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

    Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That's not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

    The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

    EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn't mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn't mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

    WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

    Some things don’t need experiment or scientific proof. In law there is a dictum called prima facie evidence. It means “evidence that speaks for itself.” Of course, in the complexities of human society and relationships, prima facie may not always be what it seems.

    An example of a true prima facie would be if you discovered an elaborate sand castle on the beach. You don’t have to experiment to know that it came by design and not by the chance forces of wind and water.

    If you discovered a romantic letter or message written in the sand, you don’t have to experiment to know that it was by design and not because a stick randomly carried by wind put it there. You naturally assume that an intelligent and rational being was responsible.

    I encourage all to read my popular Internet articles: NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION and HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

    Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

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