Tonight, I was watching this guy,
and he brilliantly utilized the television medium to inspire a generation of rational thinkers to grow outward into the universe. He might also have been the smuggest motherfucker on TV.
Seriously, just listen to this guy talk for a minute about apple pie. He’s trying to make the point that apple pie has an atomic structure like all matter does, but he manages to insult the pie’s texture, ignore his manservant, and do a dead-on Agent Smith impression (shut up, I know how time works) in a little over sixty seconds. It doesn’t help that thanks to this article he became the de facto mascot for every stoner who can’t hear the phrase “We are the universe experiencing itself” without piddling a little.
I’m glad that he got Cosmos on the air. Good TV documentaries are hard to find, and without Cosmos, who knows where the genre might have gone. David Attenborough may never have filmed Planet Earth, my personal crack. We certainly wouldn’t be waiting on the continuation of Cosmos that Neil deGrasse Tyson will host.
But it’s hard not to poke fun at the whole thing. Besides the pretty standard 80’s special effects (read: awful shit that some kid drew on the film with a crayon) you’ve got an awful lot of rounding for a series about science. I guess detail isn’t really important on TV, and I know I’m not making an original point here, but this guy can’t go five minutes without comparing it to a billion minutes. His point is clear enough – the universe is a knowable place, even though it’s literally the most vast thing you’ll ever encounter. His demeanor, though, is there to tell us that we don’t know nearly enough about the universe, and he totally does. He knows all of it, because he is the only damn person on this show. You know how most science documentaries nowadays will have a panel of experts?
Not Sagan. No no no. His magnificent droning voice is accompanied only by shitty watercolor starscapes, age-distorted 80s synth orchestras, and the occasional pie demonstration. When he needs backup, he just dives into history, discussing important figures like 16th-century observational scientist Tycho Brahe, who got part of his nose lopped off dueling over a mathematical theorem, presumably to let us know that bad science is a good reason to get stabbed.
In conclusion, this series is an excellent primer for modern science, not-so-modern synth chords, and how to sound like William Shatner on Prozac. It’s boring as shit if you already know the science, but let’s face it, we’re just watching to drink every time he says “billion.”