Cosmically bad

by Spencer Doar

During the period when the HBO Go app went down last night due to the number of folks trying to watch the finale of “True Detective,” I figured I might as well check in on Fox’s “Cosmos,” a reboot based off the beloved Carl Sagan series of the ‘80s.  If I couldn’t get my dose of Harrelson and McConaughey, I might as well have a bit of the charismatic “Cosmos” host, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

For 15 minutes I was confused and disappointed at Fox’s version, jumping back to HBO the moment opportunity presented itself.   While educational science programming on a major network during the precious Sunday night time slot is laudable, this series premiere’s format didn’t cut it.  I understand why creators wanted to use the calendar analogy to make geological timeframes more approachable.  I understand their desire to use as much CGI as possible to illustrate the glory of the universe, and thus, science.  I understand the urge to have Tyson walking through different time periods, a shepherd for the birth of the world as we know it. 

But, as a whole, it doesn’t work.  There are too many things happening on too many levels.  The appearance of Tyson standing next to early Earthly species was disconcerting in a way that “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” never was (even with moments like THIS).  Then there are those wonky animations — what the heck?  It was like a 10-year-old proficient in Final Cut went through an array of Oscar-shunned animated features, picked some disturbing stuff about medieval scientists and cobbled it together with a poorly presented TED talk.  Gross. 

It may be “dazzling” as some critics are saying, but only dazzling in the sense of an expensive, confetti-laden train derailing .  There’s plenty of other, worthier science programming out there, so avoid this watered down, disjointed monstrosity.