10 Things We Learned About the ‘Cosmos’ Reboot From Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Reddit AMA


If you loved the original Carl Sagan Cosmos as much as we did, you’re probably viewing the idea of an updated version of the series with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Yay for new Cosmos! But what if it’s no good? Argh! Well, anyway, new host astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson — who also moonlights as the director of the Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium — took to Reddit for an AMA session over the weekend, and in the course of the discussion he let slip with various tidbits of information about the new series. Read on for a convenient summary of what we learned.

On the role of producer Seth MacFarlane: “[Seth MacFarlane] advised on doing graphic novel-style animation for many of our historic recreations. Also, he’s an all-around TV-Movie smart person. So his guidance and advice, particularly with regard to Network broadcasting was invaluable. Also, his contacts in the business brought to us many production professionals who work on films but were also fans of science, and what a new Cosmos can do for the world. That’s how we got, for example, Bill Pope, our director of photography, perhaps best known as the director of photography for the Matrix Trilogy. We’ve assembled talented people, bitten by the Cosmos mission, bringing their formidable talents to the series.”

On where and when you’ll be able to watch it: “It will appear on network television around the world. That normally counts as free. After that, and after re-runs, it will surely be available for purchase. But there’s not plans to just post it for everyone to download.”

On the show’s mission, such as it is: “To remind people that science is not something to be feared but embraced. And that understanding our place in the universe, as revealed by the methods and tools of science can not only be intellectually, but spiritually uplifting.”

On what to expect: “It’s not a remake. It’s not a re-tread. Ot’s perhaps best described as a re-boot. You can ask, if Cosmos were freshly conceived today, what would it look like? That being said, we are, of course, deeply informed by what made the original Cosmos so successful. So combine these mission statements and I have high confidence that Cosmos will land exactly where it needs to in all of our hearts and minds.”

On what to expect, cont’d: “13 episodes, like the original. Cosmic Calendar returns. So does the Ship of the Imagination. But in 21st century versions. I, of course, am taking over as host. But I will be sans turtleneck.”

On how it compares to the original series: “We carefully reviewed what worked and what did not work as intended in the original series. We are keeping — and enhancing — all that we are confident is worthy of carrying forward. Not only the tools of storytelling, such as the Cosmic Calendar — seen briefly in the trailer — but also the kinds of stories that are told. All of this is true to the sprit [sic] of the original. And that what matters most to us.”

On what he’s most excited about discussing: “Alerting the viewer of science martyrs of the past, who made discoveries that conflicted with prevailing dogma – religious, political, cultural, and who gave their careers or even their lives for the truth of their discoveries.”

On what he hopes people take away from the show: “Science is not a subject you took in school. It’s life. We are wrapped by it, in it, with it. And one’s science literacy should never be viewed as a disposable dimension of ones mind — not in this, the 21st century, where the engines of tomorrow’s economies will derive from wise investments and innovations in science and technology.”

On the show’s audience: “The show targets people who are sure they don’t like science as well as those who never knew they could like science. As for the scientifically literate out there — Redditors surely leading that pack — the show will take you places you have surely never been before: emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.”

On the return of Carl Sagan’s awesome spaceship: “You get a glimpse of the Space Ship of the Imagination from the trailer. It’s a literal and figurative vehicle to move through space and time, and, quite frankly, it’s badass. But that will be for viewers to judge. I enjoyed filming in the set for the ship. Gesturing to all manner of places in the universe – past and present.”