Premieres Sunday, March 9 at 8pm on Fox.
While reality shows have played a huge role in network programming for more than a decade, documentary series and specials have been relegated to cable and public television. So it's refreshing to see the huge push that Fox is giving to Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a follow-up to Carl Sagan's award-winning 1980 series that originally aired on PBS.
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With a healthy network budget behind it, this new Cosmos looks extra glossy as astrophysicist and host Neil deGrasse Tyson takes viewers on a green-screen-aided tour of the known universe and the history of how our world came into being. Through animation, he narrates the story of Giordana Bruno, a friar who was found guilty by the Roman Inquisition for daring to suggest that Earth was not the center of the universe. The visuals are gorgeous and lush, and, despite Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane serving as an executive producer, the animated sequences are neither cartoonish nor distracting.
Tyson's booming baritone lends the perfect amount of authority to the narration in Cosmos, though viewers that know him from his witty appearances on The Daily Show may miss the sense of humor he's displayed elsewhere. But his enthusiasm for the material and his reverence for Sagan's work make him the perfect torch-bearer for this sequel.
On what's become an intensely competitive night for prestige television, Cosmos offers a unique educational and entertaining experience that can be enjoyed by the whole family.