Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Blu-ray review

cosmos blu-ray

Who would have thought that a documentary TV series would be such a big hit on network TV. Well, that’s the case with Fox’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey when it debuted with 8.5 million viewers. With the season finale recently airing on June 8th, it’s surprising to see the 4-disc Blu-ray set already being released in the same month (not that I’m complaining). Cosmos is the updated version of Carl Sagan’s 1980s series of the same name that teaches us about our planet and the universe that contains it. With visual effects advancements, we truly get to see some awe-inspiring space exploration in the name of science.

The series has some talent backing it. It’s hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who’s an actual astrophysicist. Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) acts as the executive producer, composer Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future, The Avengers) scores the series, and Bill Pope (The Matrix Trilogy) is the cinematographer. Patrick Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Richard Gere, Seth MacFarlane and many more lend their voices to the human history animated sequences.

Let’s point out that with science, there’s bound to be controversy surrounding it when religion is involved. It’s to be expected, since science is about the search of truth and explaining why things are compared to religion being mainly based on faith. The show does a great job of showing how science can hurt itself, with scientists smearing other scientists.

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The Ship of the Imagination is our gateway into the universe. With our host, Tyson, we’ll get to fly to the ends of the universe, explore galaxies, planets, stars, black holes, supernovas, and more. Looking up on the ship will point to a possible future, while looking down on the ship will show the past. We’ll also get to explore organisms that can survive inside fire and ice, the tiniest atoms, and how our DNA is closely related to other animals. Some of the things you may know from science class in high school, but the series also covers things in detail as well.

The first episode explains to us the Cosmic Calendar. To easily understand the age of the universe, 13.8 billions years is condensed into a 12-month calendar. One day would represent 17.8 million years. The Big Bang would take place on the first day of the first month at midnight. Humans only appear until the last day of December in the last minute. Yeah, we’re babies in the universe.

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Other science shows would use actors to narrate, but having Neil deGrasse Tyson gives the show credibility. The show is able to educate while also entertain. When we get to see human history, we’re treated with a stylized animated sequence, compared to the original series live-action historical reenactments. (For me, the animation style took some time for me to get used to it.)

One of the episodes, “When Knowledge Conquered Fear”, covers how people’s fear of the unknown had led them to believe that a powerful force is attacking them. Before humanity knew what a comet was, many cultures believed that these small icy body was either the wrath of God or some greater being condemning mankind.

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One of the more controversial topics is global warming. There are people who believe that global warming isn’t caused by humans, and then there are those who do. The show actually gives us a measure on carbon dioxide rising due to human tampering like deforestation, industrialization, and agriculture. Tyson also tells us that the carbon dioxide level before in the past million years never exceeded 280 parts per million. Now, it’s up to around 400 ppm. If the trend continues, Earth will still be around, but human life as we know it will be extinct.

The greatest thing that the show does is inspire. After watching it, I’m more interested in going to science museums and going away from the city to see the night sky. If you are into science in any way, shape or form, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is highly recommended viewing. Maybe by learning more about science, you’ll be able to annoy your friends by nitpicking science fiction movies.

Series Rating: 5/5 Atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

 

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Part of the charm of the show are the great visuals, and the Blu-ray delivers on that. The effects, whether we’re looking at a tiny atom or seeing the giant eye in Jupiter, are truly breathtaking. The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p and contains all the colors you can think of. It’s clear throughout, whether we’re visiting space, seeing Tyson’s face up close, or viewing the animated sequences. This is a pretty impressive presentation, especially for something from TV.

Video Quality: 5/5 Atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on Blu-ray features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Even though sound is nonexistent in space, the series would be boring without it. We get to hear the ambient sound of space, the loud explosion of the Big Bang, the supernova of a star, and giant rocks hitting Earth in its infancy. Space isn’t the only place to showcase the audio, since Tyson also ventures down on Earth, whether in the city or in a forest. We’ll hear the chattering of people and the many sounds of the wild.

Audio Quality: 5/5 Atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

 

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The Blu-ray set features over 2 hours of extras.

  • Audio Commentary – Only one commentary is available, and it’s for the first episode, “Standing Up in the Milky Way.” Co-director/executive producer Ann Druyan, co-director Brannon Braga, executive producer Mitchell Cannold, and animation producer Kara Vallow.
  • Celebrating Carl Sagan: A Selection from the Library of Congress Dedication – This extra features Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan at the event. Both speak in front of a crowd including Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson’s speech is easily the most inspiring and emotional.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at Comic-Con 2013 – This features the Cosmos panel at San Diego Comic-Con in its entirety. Here you really get to see Tyson’s personality shine as he easily entertains the crowd.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues – This one’s more of a traditional behind-the-scenes look at the show. We get to see how the show follows the original show’s idea and the making of it.
  • Interactive Cosmic Calendar: Ann Druyan is the voice guide as we get to interact with the Cosmic Calendar by month and see what significant event took place in it.

Extras: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B

The show is inspiring and will easily make you a fan of science. There’s a good message, and that it is good to question things and find out why things are the way they are. Tyson gives some good pointers, as he uses them to be able to make the mainstream people want to learn. The video and audio quality are clear and the extras have enough content for fans wanting more.

Overall Grade: 5/5 Atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

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