Cosmos, Dr. Carl Sagan’s 1980 Emmy and Peabody Award-winning science series, has been given a spit and polish reinvention in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey that brings its marvelous queries and explorations of the universe both near and far into sparklingly clear and emotionally diverting reality. As before, this new version of the series takes complex scientific principles, discoveries, and speculations and breaks them down into an average viewer’s realm of understanding making for one of those thrilling documentary informational series like Planet Earth or Life that makes one feel more knowledgeable and more open-minded after he has finished viewing it. This is must-see TV.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 9 Hr. 13 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case with leaves in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/10/2014
With Dr. Sagan’s death in 1996, the impetus of his work has been carried forward by his widow Ann Druyan who serves as producer, writer (with Steven Soter who also was part of the original series), and occasional episode director on this new series of shows. As before, the new Cosmos carries us backward and forward in time and everywhere from the inside of a dewdrop to the farthest reaches of the universe in illuminating the creation and continuation of the cosmos in all its complexities and marvels. In order to tell its story, the producers have combined live action photography from around the globe, astounding 3D computer graphics, and emotionally charged standard animation that keep each densely-packed episode vividly varied in its presentation. So thickly crammed with information are these episodes that one might feel overwhelmed if more than one or two of these shows are viewed in a single sitting. Better to allow yourself the option of digesting the spectacles found in each one for a time before diving headfirst into a new one.
The Production Rating: 5/5
Hosting the new series is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who displays the same natural ability as Carl Sagan to introduce complex theories and mind-blowing speculations as naturally as telling a bedtime story and makes for a most ingratiating galactic guide. In his Ship of the Imagination, he takes us to far away galaxies, to the rims of black holes, inside molecules, and back and forth in time to introduce us to some of the legendary names of scientific investigation: Edmond Halley and Isaac Newton, William Herschel, Albert Einstein and Michael Faraday. (These mini-biographies of the famous men and women of science are voiced by a star-packed team including Richard Gere, Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina, Cary Elwes, Amanda Seyfried, Kirstin Dunst, and producer Seth MacFarlane, among others). Among other tantalizing scientific topics handled during the series’ thirteen episodes are rogue planets, the age of the Earth, the end of our sun, the future of the cosmos, global warming and our mammoth carbon dioxide problem, and the hopeful rediscovery of science as a key to survival. Without preaching or proselytizing, the underlying theme of the series is obviously to put forth scientific facts not in dispute as a way of waylaying nay sayers who continue to insist in the 21st century that these truths are in some way dangerous or to be avoided while offering more fanciful explanations of the miracles of creation and the history of the cosmos.
Here are the thirteen episodes of the series as contained on four Blu-ray discs in this set:
1 – Standing Up in the Milky Way
2 – Some of the Things That Molecules Do
3 – When Knowledge Conquered Fear
4 – Hiding in the Light
5 – A Sky Full of Ghosts
6 – Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still
7 – The Clean Room
8 – Sisters of the Sun
9 – The Electric Boy
10 – The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth
11 – The Immortals
12 – The World Set Free
13 – Unafraid of the Dark
The episodes are presented in the widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. With its dramatic mix of CGI, live action, and traditional animation, this is a show made for high definition, and the sharpness, clarity, and excitement of the presentation is peerless. Color is dramatic and richly saturated without ever seeming over-the-top. The black levels of space are densely black and endlessly appealing. Just as Planet Earth was the touchstone to the first generation of high definition viewers, so this series now serves as reference quality video for our current generation. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix again offers reference quality audio especially for a television series. Dr. Tyson’s commentary is excellently recorded and has been placed in the center channel along with the dialogue from the animated biographical segments. Alan Silvestri’s commanding score gets a magnificent rendering in the front and rear channels, and the sound effects will rock your viewing environment when supernovas explode or we approach the rim of a black hole in our Spaceship of the Imagination.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Audio Commentary: the first episode contains commentary by producers Ann Druyan, Mitchell Cannold, Brannon Braga, and Jason Clark and animation director Kara Vallow.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Celebrating Carl Sagan (34:37, HD): Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Ann Druyan speak at the dedication ceremony at the Library of Congress which now houses the late scientist’s papers.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at Comic-Con (40:03, HD): Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brannon Braga with moderator Jonathan Rose address a sold out auditorium at the 2013 Comic-Con in anticipation of the program’s premiere.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues (41:20, HD): a behind-the-scenes look at the original 1980 series and the making of this new updated version with many of the crew members discussing their contributions to making the new series unique.
Interactive Cosmic Calendar (HD): allows the viewer to choose any month on the cosmic calendar and see a clip from one of the show’s episodes which pertains to that particular moment in the history of the universe.
Promo Trailers (HD): 3 Days to Kill, 24: Live Another Day.
Highly recommended! Not just for lovers of science but for anyone with even the slightest curiosity about our world and the vast universe that contains it, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey should be required viewing. With its reference quality picture and sound and some of the most outstanding people in the realms of science and entertainment coming together to present an informational series that’s factual and entertaining, this show should be on everyone’s must-see list.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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