Cosmos shows documentaries aren't a dying art

Last updated 12:03 26/03/2014

There is one genre of film and television that is often ignored - and indeed has been so far on this blog.

The poor cousin to the dramedies and reality television that dominate our television viewing is the documentary.

In the last few years two of the very best films I've seen - TT3D: Closer to the Edge and Senna - are better than the majority of scripted dramas.

The same really cannot be said for television's efforts, the odd David Attenborough effort from the BBC excepted.

Thankfully a new arrival to our screens allows me to to enjoy this oft-ignored art form.

And it doesn't get any better than Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

I resisted waxing lyrical about the Neil deGrasse Tyson-fronted show last week because the first episode was so broad that it would have been a massive failure to make our entire history boring.

So did the second episode - entitled Some of the Things That Molecules Do - manage to hit the same high notes?

Of course it did - and I should never have worried. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a follow-up to one of the greatest shows of all time, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

Back in 1980 the original series was presented by Carl Sagan, a genius scientist and orrator who made it cool to love science.

It comes as no surprise that deGrasse Tyson, an equally brilliant communicator who idolised Sagan in his younger days, is able to present the massive ideas of our universe in a way that is accessible to young and old.

My 9-year-old watched the first episode with me and he literally sat mouth agape for a lot of it as he tried to process the sheer scale of our world.

It takes a special series to grab kids of that age and leave them yearning for more.

Given its immediate success, it may be surprising that the series was a longtime coming.

After Sagan died in 1996, his widow, Ann Druyan, and deGrasse Tyson immediately set out to make a new version of the series.

But it was only when Seth MacFarlane (yes, he of Family Guy and Ted fame) became involved with securing funding that it actually happened.

The effects are oustanding, the story is compelling and you'll actually learn something from watching this show.

Too few shows are able to hit even one of these, so to get all three in one beautiful looking package is a joy to behold.

And there's an added bonus - it's also annoying the hell out of fundamental Christians in the USA who believe evolution to be untrue.

They're demanding their "theories" of creationism and intelligent design get a similar amount of time on screen to that spent by deGrasse Tyson dealing with evolution.

Thankfully Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is grounded in science, not pseudoscience, and finally we have something epic to tell the tale to a new generation.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday nights at 7.30pm.

Don't miss it.

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