Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey — the first joint venture from Fox Broadcasting Company and National Geographic Channel (NGC) — will premiere in the U.S. on Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT on FOX and encore the following night at 10pm ET/PT with bonus footage on NGC.
The 13-parter from executive producer/writer Ann Druyan and executive producer Seth MacFarlane — yes, the Family Guy guy — will also makes its worldwide premiere on March 10 on NGC and Nat Geo Mundo.
More than 30 years after Carl Sagan’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Cosmos: A Personal Voyage made its debut, MacFarlane teamed up with Sagan’s original collaborators including Druyan and her cowriter, astronomer Steven Soter to produce the 13-part epic, hosted by astrophysicist and cosmologist, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
A press release announcing the premiere date touts Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey as “the saga of how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time … transporting viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest — and the smallest — scale.”
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey will combine new means of scientific storytelling with updated takes on celebrated elements of the original Sagan series, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination — a must for MacFarlane, who said he watched the original series as a child and again as a high-school student.
“I had always been a fan of Cosmos,” McFarlane told critics at today’s Television Critics Association press tour. “I met Neil through an organization that Jerry and Janet Zucker put together called the Science & Entertainment Exchange and found out he was working with Ann on doing a new Cosmos. I said, while National Geographic, Discovery Channel were some of the places that it was being considered to be pitched to and are great networks, in a way, you’re sort of preaching to the converted, and wouldn’t it be nice to broaden it a little bit even more? And I thought that there was a strong possibility that this particular regime at FOX, as creative and open minded as they are, would be receptive to the idea of doing the show on a network, and sure enough, they were.”
Dr. DeGrasse Tyson admitted he was a bit skeptical when he first met MacFarlane for lunch, not knowing specifically what the reason for the meeting might be.
“His first question to me just after the appetizer was, ‘How can I make a difference in science in this world?’” Tyson says. “That was his question to me. And I said, ‘Is this Seth MacFarlane? Is this, like, the guy who illustrates Stewie? Is this the same guy?’ So that was my first indication that, in fact, he had some deep sort of genetic roots of wanting to make a difference in this world, and the rest, as we say, is history.”
“If you have a beating heart, you’ll respond to Cosmos,” said Druyan, asked if the show will appeal mostly to fans of science and astronomy. Druyan said she took on the project because, “I was not a student of science in school. I was not even a good student in school. I fell in love with nature and with the power of science to reveal it. Over the time, the glorious time I spent with Carl, and I became in love … .”
Asked if the series might serve as a teaching tool in schools, Druyan says it’s up to the teachers right now. “We are hoping that the schools will actually assign it to the kids,” she said. “You know, ‘Don’t forget to watch Cosmos Sunday night.’”
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premieres Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT on FOX and Monday, March 10 at 10pm ET/PT on NGC.