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Cosmos

How can cultural elitists like ourselves put TV in the Culture category? Well, where the hell else is it going to fit?

Cosmos

Postby kurt_w » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:23 pm

Did anyone watch the first episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson's long-awaited update of Cosmos?

Just curious what it was like, and whether it seems effective. I have a kid who mostly boycotts TV but is into science and might be interested.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby rabble » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:27 pm

We liked it but I kinda fell asleep for the last half. I'll have to watch it again to catch up.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Michael Patrick » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:46 pm

It was great except for the extended animation sequence about Giordano Bruno, which only seemed to be there to make a political point.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:50 pm

Michael Patrick wrote:It was great except for the extended animation sequence about Giordano Bruno, which only seemed to be there to make a political point.
This was my take as well. That segment seemingly went on forever (and was likely of no interest to children.) And it was poorly animated, to boot. The rest was pretty well done. I would definitely think science-minded kids would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the original when I was but a wee lad.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby donges » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:47 pm

I liked the show as well; during the aforementioned animation, I kept waiting for the Monty Python foot to stomp down.
I was totally surprised that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was so involved with the project.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby ilikebeans » Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:11 pm

I liked it overall. The language and tone was great for drawing in those who aren't so familiar with the known (and unknown!) universe, especially kids. The graphics are fantastic and help to comprehend the vastness of it all.

The show started off by stating a very important fact: science and the scientific method are vitally important, and those that have denied it over the years are always on the wrong side of history. It's a message that needs to be emphasized regularly these days, and with the show airing on Fox on Sunday nights after their animated comedy block, it might reach a segment of the audience that needs to hear it.

Along those lines, I didn't mind the Bruno segment at all, aside from maybe going on a bit too long. I liked the animation too, despite multiple reviews I've seen panning it. I did find this excerpt on the Wiki page for the episode:
Other reviews have criticized the historical accuracy of Giordano Bruno and question why the show did not portray more important astronomers of the time period, such as Copernicus or Galileo, or earlier medieval natural philosophers, such as Nicole Oresme and Nicholas of Cusa, who presented the possibility of a plurality of worlds centuries earlier than Bruno.

Since it airs on network TV (which I tend to avoid like the plague), the regular advertising breaks got really, really annoying. If you have the opportunity to DVR it and skip the breaks, do it. Or, if you're in no hurry, wait until the discs come out or it's streamable.

That brings up another point. While I'm very excited about the show, a single episode's run time is ~45 minutes, whereas Sagan had the full hour for presentation. I'll take what I can get, but wish they still had the public television format.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby kurt_w » Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:51 pm

It appears that they're actually going to be posting the full version of all episodes on-line here:

http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/183733315515

The link says it's good for the next 50 days. So those of us who don't see it on TV might have another option (and one without the ad breaks?)

I haven't had time to try this yet, but look forward to doing so.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:28 am

I assume many middle school and high school science teachers will show at least part of the Cosmos series to their students. Probably not at religious schools that preach biblical literalism, as a 6,000 year old universe is contradicted in the first few minutes of the opening show.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby kurt_w » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:40 am

So I watched the first episode online. Link is here:

http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/183733315515

I started out watching it on the iPad. I had some trouble with the site, and there were very annoying ads for other Fox shows, and then the video died.

Then I switched to a laptop. The site worked fine, and there were no ads -- excellent!

Overall I thought it was pretty good. NT does a fine job narrating, and they're obviously trying to keep connections to the original series.

My daughter now is about the same age I was when the original series came out. But the context is so different, I wonder whether anything can have the same kind of impact now. There's so much more visually exciting information about science and nature out there. It probably makes it hard for any one production, even very well done, to stand out, the way Carl Sagan's version did a generation ago.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:30 am

kurt_w wrote:My daughter now is about the same age I was when the original series came out. But the context is so different, I wonder whether anything can have the same kind of impact now. There's so much more visually exciting information about science and nature out there. It probably makes it hard for any one production, even very well done, to stand out, the way Carl Sagan's version did a generation ago.


I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch them yet, but this is probably one of the few times I've wished my son was a little older so he might get into the show. So many fond memories of Cosmos and Nova growing up that I can't wait to introduce him too.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby kurt_w » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:52 am

I know what you mean (about looking forward to things like that) but the time will come ... and faster than you can imagine. It's mind-boggling how fast kids grow up. Seems like just a few short years ago that my daughter was going off to kindergarten. One can always look forward to the future, but once it's gone the past is ... past.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby kurt_w » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:09 am

We thought the second episode was good. But ... a bit roughly edited, especially the last 60 seconds or so, when they abruptly jumped back to the "old" Cosmos. I liked that they included that animation at the end, for us old-timers, but the episode just suddenly ... stopped.

My only other complaint with episode 2 is that stringy glowing thing that they use to represent DNA. It looks like somebody's model of DNA made out of cotton candy. WTF? But it is nice to look at.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:09 am

So now that we're 4 episodes in, any more thoughts from folks on this show? Overall, while I'll continue watching and being moderately entertained, I've not been particularly impressed. Certainly, this does not seem on track to become anything close to the beloved classic of the original series. Not only do I remain unimpressed with the animated sequences, but I also find a lot of the explanations provided either incomplete or downright confusing -- and I read a lot of cosmology and astronomy stuff, so I can only imagine how hard to follow some of this stuff must be to folks unfamiliar with these concepts in the first place. And I was particularly baffled by the segment on black holes, which put forth the ideas that perhaps black holes either 1) spew their material out to another place in our universe (a notion for which there is exactly zero evidence, but which there should be plenty, if true), or 2) contain an entire universe of their own inside (a notion which, frankly, I don't recall ever being seriously discussed by physicists in all the decades I've been interested in this stuff, nor one which makes any damn sense at all to me.)
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Re: Cosmos

Postby kiwiwannabe » Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:24 pm

I've discussed it with my physicist colleagues and we've decided:

1. It's entertainment, not science, per se. It's aimed at the students who have no interest in science, to try to get them more interested.

2. It's on Fox, so it does not need to be completely true and verified.

3. Seth McFarlane is the primary mover and shaker who got it on the network, and we are wondering if he's trying to make it oh, wow, cool, rather than explaining the difference between theories and hypotheses and factual, proven information.

And I also tend to fall asleep before it's over, because NDT's voice is way too soothing.
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Re: Cosmos

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:38 pm

kiwiwannabe wrote:Seth McFarlane is the primary mover and shaker who got it on the network, and we are wondering if he's trying to make it oh, wow, cool, rather than explaining the difference between theories and hypotheses and factual, proven information.
Ann Druyan wrote it, so it doesn't make much sense to me to blame McFarlane for the content. And when it comes to the special effects, they seem to be the kind of stuff Brannon Braga would be responsible for. But to be fair, I think the show does do a good job of pointing out what we know vs. what simply might be -- the narration is clear during the above-mentioned black hole segment that this is all theoretical. But as I said, it seems to be describing a theory that no serious physicist subscribes to, which seems odd given not only how many interesting theories physicists really do put stock in but also because NDT has been very vocal about his distaste for science being misrepresented in sci-fi entertainment. I mean, he's on record as saying that Disney's The Black Hole is the worst offender of all time as far as getting all the science completely wrong, yet the "maybe there's an entire universe inside a black hole" argument seems not much different to me than what happens at the end of that (truly godawful) film.
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