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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey



Update of Sagan classic is smart, visually spectacular.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Underscores the value of using scientific research and methods to understand nature and the universe. Reinforces an appreciation for science, nature, space, and study. Themes include the conflicts between early scientific theories and various Christian faiths. 

Positive role models

Host Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with a flair for explaining complicated things in a way most people can understand. He's an inspiring role model because he's incredibly smart, but he seems really down-to-earth.


Explosions and other violent interplanetary events shown. Historical accounts of scientific theories and theorists include tales of torture and executions, including burning people at the stake. Animated sequences show people shackled and wearing punishment devices; the start of sentences being carried out are shown, but no blood, wounds, or actual deaths are visible. 

Not applicable

The word "hell" is used to describe certain locations. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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. 

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 by offering 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. 

Families can talk 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? 

TV details

Premiere date:March 9, 2014
Cast:Neil deGrasse Tyson
Networks:Fox, National Geographic Channel
Topics:History, Space and aliens
Character strengths:Curiosity
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

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Teen, 14 years old Written byNicky12345 April 25, 2014


Some episodes contained words like dammit.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 9 years old April 5, 2014

Blows your mind

Mind blowing. You won't believe your eyes. Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes it easy to understand and thrilling. It is hard to believe we are only in the last 14 seconds of the "Cosmic Calendar." I can't wait to see the next episodes.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 10 and 13 year old Written byMattmchugh April 16, 2014

Beautifully done, solid content, and Tyson makes its accessible

For those who remember Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," this update goes more for eye-candy graphics than big, ponderous ideas. That's not meant as a criticism, since the visuals really draw in younger viewers. The celestial CGI looks great and the animated segments featuring historic figures from science are fun to watch and informative. In many ways, the show seems to be made to appeal to kids, though it's certainly sophisticated enough to keep adults interested. Even with the top-quality production, the real star is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Like Sagan, he radiates wonder and enthusiasm; unlike Sagan, he's never monotone (sorry, Carl, but sometimes you were!). Tyson projects the perfect mix of intelligence and likability, giving the eloquent script -- written by Sagan's widow and original series writer, Ann Druyan -- just the right voice. He's like your favorite uncle, telling exciting stories about things that would seem dull from any other source. Personally, I'm finding it a pleasure to have something this good to watch with my kids. I think smart kids over 8 will be able to follow most of it, and tweens and up will definitely learn something. Be warned that, while not disparaging of personal faith in any way, the show does not shy away from noting how religious doctrine is often at odds with science. To its credit, it shows that thinkers such as Giordano Bruno, Galileo, and Newton -- who ran afoul of the religious leaders of their day -- were motivated not by atheism but by deeply held beliefs that they were exploring the full scope of creation -- something worth remembering in age where, sadly, many people still seem to think science and religion remain at odds. -- mm
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models