Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey is an upcoming American documentary television series. It is a follow-up to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan. The new series’ presenter will be Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The executive producers are Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow. It was originally announced that it would premiere in the 2012–13 United States network television schedule, but a Twitter update from Neil deGrasse Tyson in June 2012 indicates a Spring 2014 release. Episodes will premiere on Fox and also air on National Geographic Channel on the same night.
The original 13-part Cosmos: A Personal Voyage first aired in 1980 on the Public Broadcasting System, and was hosted by Carl Sagan. The show was considered highly significant since its broadcast; Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times described it as “a watershed moment for science-themed television programming”. The show has been watched by at least 400 million people across 60 different countries.
Following Sagan’s death in 1996, his widow Ann Druyan, the co-creator of the original Cosmos series along with Steven Soter, a producer from the series, and astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, sought to create a new version of the series, aimed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and not just to those interested in the sciences. They had struggled for years with reluctant television networks that failed to see the broad appeal of the show.
Seth MacFarlane had met Druyan through Tyson at an event that connected Hollywood directors with scientists in 2009, and learned of their interest to recreate Cosmos. MacFarlane was influenced by Cosmos as a child, believing that Cosmos served to “[bridge] the gap between the academic community and the general public”. MacFarlane had considered that the reduction of effort for space travel in recent decades to be part of “our culture of lethargy”. MacFarlane, who at the time has several animated shows on the Fox Network, was able to bring Druyan to meet the heads of Fox programming, Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly, and helped to get the greenlighting of the show.
MacFarlane admits that he is “the least essential person in this equation” and the effort is a departure from work he’s done before, but considers this to be “very comfortable territory for [himself] personally”. He and Druyan have become close friends, and Druyan stated that she believed that Sagan and MacFarlane would have been “kindred spirits” with their respective “protean talents”. In June 2012, MacFarlane provided funding to allow about 800 boxes of Sagan’s personal notes and correspondences to be donated to the Library of Congress.