I have been itching to watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos for ages. So much so that this was polished off in about a week. When I consider that Black Mirror has been on the continued back burner for over six months now, it’s nice to have a show tha clicks so much that I want to see it ever evening in double helpings.
Cosmos finds itself on the list for two reasons. Firstly, this was the first American attempt to make a documentary series modelled after what the BBC did (and continues to do) in the UK. Also, this is one of the big influential documentary series in American TV history, so to not include it would have been a grievous error on the part of the compilers.
Even though the technology is outdated in places, that doesn’t hamper the series in any way, the initial episodes where we careen through space and get to know the personal histories of some of the pioneering scientists that got us to this point are still as engaging as ever. For everything I came into this series knowing (as I was one of those kids that was hugely into space), I left with so much more I left finding out. Especially some of the history.
Cosmos does this extremely well and really does demonstrate how much respect we should have for those who trod before us as they have helped shape where we are now. Sagan is an excellent host and his passion for the subject is infectious, especially when coupled with the dreamlike music. There are times where he gets a bit lost in his own love for theory and the technical elements that I can imagine being off putting a an 8 year old me who was watching it to learn about the stars, but this is very much the minority of the show’s runtime.
It will be a while before we get around to the modern Cosmos series that is also on this list, but I cannot wait to see just how much the science and understanding has changed in the interim 35 years. Politics too, but let’s not go into that as, from the more political elements of the 1980 show, I can imagine Carl Sagan’s ghost weeping over how the importance of fact has diminished since his death. Alas, I am going to run out of documentary series in this list if I am not too careful, so it might be a few years before I get around to the modern update.