Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, TV series, Blu-ray (2014)13 Episodes [See Below] Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson Director: Seth MacFarlane Executive Producer: Ann Druyan Studio: 20th Century Fox [6/10/14] 4 Discs Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color 1080i HD Audio: English DTS 5.1 Length: 572 minutes Rating: *****
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, is a rebooted version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – A personal Journey series that ran on TV in 1980. Sagan was a poet and accomplished teacher, and Tyson is no less accomplished and a terrific communicator. Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan has executive produced the shows and written much of the material which gives the new Cosmos direct DNA from the original broadcast.
Of course special effects have moved along since the first Cosmos, and we get spectacular video and audio in this four-disc Blu-ray set that contains all 13 episodes of the series as it originally aired earlier this year.
The series is a bit harder-hitting in regards to science vs. religion, and serves as a strong backlash to the burgeoning anti-science movement that seems to be taking hold in some sectors of our population. In Sagan’s day, this anti-science feeling existed, but it was not as overt as we see in our generation. Tyson discusses openly the current climate change controversy, the role of religion in suppressing new ideas, and it touches on the debates over creationism.
I watched much of the series when it aired on cable and satellite earlier this year, but this Blu-ray set blows it away in terms of video resolution (being 1080 instead of 720, with less data compression), and especially audio. Watching on the National Geographic Channel I found the surrounds a bit amorphous and lacking in specific directional cues. The discs have terrific, demonstration audio and video. The surrounds are stunning, and deep bass is ever present for the big scenes of galactic creation.
On the video side we have deep blacks and detailed images of galaxies and nebula with their pinpoints of light rendered perfectly. At times, Tyson is on location, other times he is ‘green screened’ into a CGI location. It all looks great. Less successful from my point of view, were the animated sequences which were a bit retro and seemed out of place with the visual look of the rest of the images. The content of those segments is excellent, but I could not get excited about the animations.
Cosmos also has an original music score by Alan Silvestri which I haven’t heard separate from the series, but I’ll bet it would be a good listen. I can’t recommend this new Cosmos highly enough. Even if you watched it when it was broadcast, the discs are superior in every way, and of course there are no irritating underwriting announcements or commercials.
Cosmos, A Spacetime Odyssey is a thrilling audio-visual and intellectual joyride. It’s something the whole family would enjoy. The discs also contain some fine extras that go into the philosophy behind the series, how the original series inspired it, and the technical magic that makes the programs look so epic and inspiring.
Cosmos Episode List:1 Standing Up in the Milky Way 2 Some of the Things That Molecules Do 3 When Knowledge Conquered Fear 4 A Sky Full of Ghosts 5 Hiding in the Light 6 Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still 7 The Clean Room 8 Sisters of the Sun 9 The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth 10 The Electric Boy 11 The Immortals 12 The World Set Free 13 Unafraid of the Dark
Extras each disc:
Disc One: Audio Commentary for Standing Up in the Milky Way
Disc Two: Celebrating Carl Sagan: A Selection from the Library of Congress Dedication
Disc Three: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at Comic-Con 2013
Disc Four: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues and Interactive Cosmic Calendar