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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is an adaptation of Carl Sagan's award-winning TV series Cosmos (1980) and continues the show's tradition of offering scientific research-based explanations about the creation of the universe and related phenomena. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson inspires kids to think about their place in the world with a relatable but smart approach. Kids will see fiery galactic explosions, and some of the historical accounts reference torture and executions (though no blood or wounds are shown). The word "hell" is occasionally used but in a specific context. Kids might be initially put off by the show's deliberately slow pace, but chances are that the show's themes and visual effects will draw some of them in.
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What's the story?
Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY explores humanity's quest to understand the universe. The science-driven series invites viewers to take a journey on a ship of imagination to discover the details behind the creation and sustenance of the cosmos. Viewers also get a glimpse of what it may look like in the future. Historical accounts of the efforts of early scientists to learn more about the universe also are offered. From understanding how Earth was created to addressing questions about the beginning of life, the series takes a fascinating look at our world and beyond.
Is it any good?
The adventure documentary is an updated version of Carl Sagan's Emmy-award winning TV show Cosmos (1980), and it pays tribute to the astronomer's contributions to the study of the universe. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey offers viewers interesting and understandable scientific explanations about our world, the universe, and other fascinating phenomena. Meanwhile, thanks to the work of director and producer Brannon Braga (known for his work with the Star Trek franchise), the series boasts lots of sleek special effects that create visually stunning moments.
The way Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey offers details about the universe and beyond are entertainingly educational, and the stories it tells about early astronomers such as Copernicus and Galileo, as well as important but often-forgotten philosophers such as Giordano Bruno, also are very interesting. But it's the show's thoughtful enthusiasm for using science as a way of understanding our world, and what exists beyond it, that makes it outstanding.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way science is used to explain things we can't see or hear. How do scientists gather information to describe how the universe was created, even though the event happened millions of years ago? How do they know that they are right (or wrong)? What are some of the past and current controversies surrounding scientific explanations of things such as the shape of our planet or the beginning of life?
What is the difference between a reality show and a documentary series? Should a documentary be considered a work of fiction when it uses things such as imaginary space crafts and special effects to explain things?
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