Beneath a sea of fake stars in a theater in Griffith Park, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane premiered the first episode of their new series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” on Tuesday night.
The show is billed as a continuation of Carl Sagan’s beloved mini-series “Cosmos: A Personal Journey.” That award-winning show first aired 34 years ago, and has since been seen 750 million times. Pretty amazing for a show about science.
This time around it is Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, who guides viewers on a journey through the Cosmos–what Sagan once defined as “all that is or ever was or ever will be.” The new series will premiere on several TV channels on Sunday.
Tyson’s journey also begins with a ship of the imagination, unfettered by normal constraints of time and space. But while Sagan’s ship looked like a fluffy dandelion, Tyson’s ship is slim, and sleek–a hard, shiny, metallic seed. And though Sagan took us to the edge of the universe, Tyson takes us one step beyond — suggesting our universe may be just one small bubble in a multi-verse. Universes upon universes.
“Feeling small?” he says.
After the screening the creators of the series got on stage for a question and answer session that was streamed live across the Internet.
Ann Druyan, who was married to Sagan and who co-wrote and co-produced the first “Cosmos,” spoke about the intent of that original series.
“Carl always said we weren’t trying to reach the reader of the New York Review of Books,” she said. “We were trying to reach everyone. This knowledge is our birthright.”
Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” and the man responsible for bringing the “Cosmos” project to Fox, interjected “You were trying to reach the Kardashians.”
But don’t get hung up on that flipness. MacFarlane was visibly thrilled to be sharing a stage with Tyson and Druyan. When Tyson started to talk about how the earliest evidence of life on Earth might be found in fossils on the moon, MacFarlane leaned forward in his chair and said “We’re with you. Keep going!”
Druyan noted that she and a producing partner had been trying to get this updated “Cosmos” made for years, but it wasn’t until MacFarlane brought the Fox network onboard that it all finally started to happen. “This man truly is a genius,” she said.
For his part, MacFarlane applauded the P.T. Barnum element of Sagan’s “Cosmos.” “One of my favorite quotes from Carl is, ‘I want this to be interesting to people who have no interest in science,'” he said. “For 1980 it was a really visually diverse array of images.”