Yes, I do like to watch documentaries. Ha ha.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a 13-part documentary series created by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and chronicles the history and future of astronomy, life and the general study of the universe as we know it. It is a remade version of the original Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted by Carl Sagan, of which there are books as well.
Before I say anything about the series, it should be noted that Alan Silvestri’s original composition for the title theme and music for the series is unbelievably beautiful.
Cosmos works on three fronts: Real, animated, and metaphorical. The latter is achieved through the way the show voyages through its course, in the ‘ship of the imagination’, which transcends all limitations of humankind to allow us to see, up close, things like the inside of a black hole and surfaces of the Earth (from the past) and other celestial bodies. What the biggest take away from all this is, of course, is the sheer extent to which you are forced to hold your breath at all the incredible visual representations of everything in the universe. You might need to thank modern computer image generation, but everyone on the visual effects team truly created something exceptional, for which ‘a treat for the eyes’ is a laughable understatement.
The animated sections of the show largely exist to tell history of scientific discovery, which in this show, often follows people who have made famous discoveries and also animates their personal lives (for example, Isaac Newton). Quite a lot of the show is dedicated to historical human scientific discovery, and this is a plus point. Unlike anything you learn in school, Cosmos enables you to care for a scientist as you see their struggles and everything they did to achieve what they did. It enables a mass audience to develop true appreciation of those who came before us.
Through Cosmos’ journey, which takes you all the way across time, there is a layer of sentimentality across the whole show; sentimentality of being human, of being alive, of existing at a random star, at a random point of a random galaxy. It is as much a spiritual series as it is an informative one. Of course, the nature of the subject is as such, but it’s wonderful to see how much the series embraces this.
I’ve come so far and have said nothing about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s presentation, because I’ve saved the best for last. Perhaps the world’s best known living astrophysicist, for his presence on the internet and general popular culture, Tyson brings something to this show that nobody else could have. There is, at his core, a burning love for science, and this oozes out of him with every single word he says on the show. Nobody would be as much in awe of any of the history, any of the visuals, or have any appreciation of existing, without Tyson’s voice covering it all. He has you gripped from start to finish, and this series truly wouldn’t have been nearly as good had anybody else hosted it.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is more than just an educational documentary series. It’s something that can provide brilliant scientific insight to an entire generation and beyond.
On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: MIHIR