I didn’t like the cartoon segment. I missed Carl Sagan and Vangelis. But its heart is in the right place.
Yes, Vangelis’s music in Sagan’s Cosmos was great but there was so much more than just Vangelis, all of it used quite tastefully. This had none of it. The “awe” feeling we all got from the original series must had been largely due to the music and I can’t believe they would make a mistake of not trying to do it here. I feel very confident predicting this series will be nowhere as popular and the music selection is to be blamed for it.
You can blame that on the exorbitant rates folks get for music royalties these days. Additionally, Vangelis wasn’t nearly as well known as he is today, nor was the original series as highly anticipated as this one was, so they would have gotten the music for cheap.
The guy doing the music for the new series does have serious nerd cred, however. The first episode was written by Sagan’s widow and directed by one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation producers who took over after Roddenberry died.
Has anybody rewatched the original series recently? I watched the first episode not too long ago, and it doesn’t completely hold up. Much of just seems to be long shots of Sagan staring out at the ocean, with no voice over. And he didn’t always get his science or history right, either. His explanation of evolution with the story about the crabs, is more a demonstration of selective breeding than evolution (though, of course, selective breeding wouldn’t work if there was no such thing as evolution), the story of the burning of the Library of Alexandria is a simplification of what happened there, with it having been burned multiple times (and as we’ve recently discovered, so no fault of Carl’s for not mentioning it, much of the material in the library was lost thanks to budget cuts, because nobody wanted to pay to keep up the place).
And while Sagan the TV personality would have been touched that they spent so much time remembering him, I’m not sure that Sagan the scientist would have wanted that. After all, science has moved on considerably since Carl left us, and the last thing we should do as a society is replace religion with a cult of personality around someone else. Sagan also got a few things wrong, and demonstrated a stubbornness nearly as great those in the religious community. When computer models showed that his dreaded “Nuclear Winter” would be more like a “Nuclear Autumn” than another Ice Age, he continued to support the concept of “Nuclear Winter.” He had an affair with Ann Druyan for a number of years before he divorced his second wife and married Ann. (Fun fact, the recording of the human heartbeat on the Voyager record? Ann’s heart. She’s said that she used her heartbeat, because she wanted to capture the sound of the love that her and Carl shared. Carl didn’t divorce his wife until 1981, Voyagers 1 & 2 were launched in ‘77, so the recording would have been made prior to the launch by some number of months or years. Of course, Ann could be lying about this, since the interview I heard with her talking about it was recorded after Carl’s death.) He visited Timothy Leary in prison, and smoked pot (not necessarily bad things, but certainly not generally known to people). Additionally, he sold the government on the idea of paying for the SETI program by showing them that the equipment used to scan and analyze the radio band known as “the water hole” could also be used to monitor things like Soviet radio transmissions and phone lines (in a way, Sagan shares part of the blame for the whole NSA domestic spying business).
I was just reading about Giordano Bruno. I find it incomprehensible what a difficult time the catholic church has learning from its own mistakes. They have formally expressed regret about the way Galileo was treated but to this day they have continued to defend their imprisonment, torture and murder of Giordano Bruno. I find it hard to come up with words to describe how insane that is.
I’m sure Bruno’s charred corpse would appreciate an apology by the church, but if they wanted to show that they were sincere about learning from their mistakes, they’d shutdown the office of the Inquisition, which is still around. (And turn in the baby diddlers, sell off a bunch of their art to have money to help the poor, stop being jerks about gay marriage, birth control, IVF, etc., etc., etc.)
In a perfect world, the new version would probably rate a “C” at best, however, the fact that its on Fox, and its the first time in decades that I can remember a commercial broadcast network doing anything so ballsy (no doubt the fact that Seth MacFarlane has a pair of hit shows on Fox had a great deal to do with this), makes it an “A+.” Oh, and Nielson is now counting online viewings of shows on Hulu for three days after its posted, even if the house watching it isn’t a “Nielson family.” They put the episodes up on Monday morning, so I ran the first one as background noise as often as I could until today to bump the numbers up a bit. If it does well, we’ll get more TV like this, and its certainly what we need.