Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was a landmark and multiple award winning television series event when it first premiered in 1980. Now, 34 years later, Fox will be rebooting the beloved series for a new generation of television viewers with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson filling in for Sagan as our host and tour guide through the cosmos and Seth MacFarlane serving as the executive producer behind the miniseries event that will air sometime next year. Dr. Tyson and executive producers Ann Druyan and Brannon Braga were at this year’s Comic-Con to premiere the first trailer for the new series and to take questions from the audience about what fans of the original series can expect from this new iteration of Cosmos. You can hit the jump to read a recap of the panel for Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey.
Moderator Jonathan Ross started the panel by asking the audience, “I just want to check if we have the right people in here. Does anyone here have a problem with the idea that the earth may be more than a two and half thousand years old because your friends are outside holding placards.” referencing the various people that were outside Comic-Con this year holding religious signs. The audience responded enthusiastically and it was this incredibly strong love towards science that was a mainstay vibe throughout the whole panel and presentation.
This was followed by the world premier trailer for the series, which you can watch below. Seth MacFarlane also recorded a special video for the panel from the set of A Million Ways to Die in the West, which played afterwards. The video was brief but MacFarlane made a point to say, “I’m more excited to be involved with Cosmos than any project I’ve been involved with throughout my career. Like many of you, the work of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan inspired in me a lifelong interest and enthusiasm for science.” MacFarlane introduced the panel through his video and the trio of talent involved with the show received a standing ovation as they took the stage.
Ross’ first question for the panel was, “We remember the first series and it was an incredible event. Why do it again and why do it now?” Druyan, who is also Carl Sagan’s widow, responded by saying, “Because it is a very big universe and there are so many stories to tell. In the first series, we covered a lot of territory, but there is so much left. So we have new stories, or stories that yet to be told, that we want to tell you. We also feel that the kind of cultural atmosphere and assault on science is ending finally, and that the pendulant is swinging back our way. We want to torque the zeitgeist in the direction of not only exploration, reason, the love of nature, but also for the vision of the future that we can still have. It is within our grasp and that is what Cosmos is about – what happens when your brain, heart, soul, eyes, and your ear are fully functioning. So it is time to get going.”
Ross then asked Dr. Tyson about the new spaceship of imagination, which can be seen zipping around in the teaser, and how it will play into the show. Tyson responded by saying that it will serve as both a figurative and literary vehicle to move through space and time during the series. It will not only move in space, but it will also move into the future. The spaceship will move to wherever the storytelling requires. The spaceship, along with Dr. Tyson, will be traveling to the past, present, and future throughout the series as Dr. Tyson will transition from one place to another. “That ship expresses anything that I am thinking about at the moment. So there are no buttons. I’m talking to you about the past and the past will appear right where I need to be and right where we need to go. It will allow us to transition from one place to another and from one time to another.”
Ross brought up what was up with the small bits of animation that appear in small glimpses throughout the trailer and if that was MacFarlane’s idea and how it will serve the show. Brannon Braga, who will be directing and producing the series, answered the question by saying that it was Seth’s idea and how the animation segments will tell stories about the heroes of science and past history, but instead of telling them in live action, the series will tell these stores by using animation. Braga said that the style will be very “graphic novely” and that MacFarlane’s animation studio will be doing the animation.
Ms. Druyan also talked about how the series will have a respect for its audience and that there will be no “dumbing down” involved with the show. “Carl Sagan taught me respect for the audience and for the public. There is no need to dumb anything down. Just speak clearly and use the words that we all use to depict the grandeur of nature. Cosmos, the original series, and this series are exactly on the same level, which is that we speak to everyone.” She went on to add, “There is no limitation and there is no exclusuion. The information we are wanting to share to the world belongs to all of us.”
Much of the panel was focused on why another version of Cosmos is needed right now and how it feels like there is a whole new generation of people ready to change how the world looks at science and our place in the universe. Dr. Tyson brought up the growing attendance at Comic-Con as proof that there is still hope and how it feels like the pendulant is swinging back in favor of science and an appreciation of knowledge. “If Comic-Con people ruled the world, the future would be invented daily and warfare would be nothing more than bar fights with toy lightsabers. That is the world I want. “ said Dr. Tyson before praising the high production quality of the new series. “This is the right combination of the right people at the right time to get everything back on track. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was a generation ago and you don’t want to go for more than a generation without having the reboot of who we are where we are heading in this universe.”
Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey will be premiering something next year on Fox as a prime time miniseries event. The trailer makes the new series seem as slick, trippy, and fantastical as one would hope. If this new rebooted take on Cosmos will live up to the original classic series is still a question that fans will have until the much anticipated project, which has been in production for years now, finally airs next year, but there is absolutely nothing that feels discouraging based on the teaser footage and the amount of talent involved with the new series. The amount of passion that was evoked again and again throughout the panel by Ms. Druyan and Dr. Tyson was something beautiful to witness and these words cannot come close to capturing the sense of love and awe that was felt throughout the panel. The Cosmos panel was without a doubt one of the highlights of this year’s Comic-Con and it looks like Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey will definitely be something to look forward to in 2014.