Cosmos (2014) Episode 8: Best and Worst
April 28, 2014
We are well into the last half of the new Cosmos, and I have to say that I am going to miss it when it's gone. I almost want to hope that Cosmos returns as a regular series at some point, with Tyson taking us through the whole of scientific knowledge, bit by bit. That is probably not going to happen (and that's probably for the best), so in the meantime I plan to savor each new episode as it airs ... and of course, judge its best and worst moments.
Episode 8: "Sisters of the Stars"
That picture up there? Bar none the best moment of the series, just because it's adorable.
Overall, I liked the way they wended through their theme this week. It wasn't quite a narrative episode, but the narrative it did tell was strong and it really served to tie together the science that followed. Every segment was fascinating and had some meat to it; transitions were solid; and it revealed an important part of science history. All in all, this is one of my favorite episodes of the series.
This was also the "women in STEM" episode, a message that can never be trumpeted enough. The stories of Anne Cannon and Cecelia Payne were not only engaging, but they were extremely important to the origin of the the science explained in the rest of the episode. I almost wish they hadn't front-loaded the story, though, and let it weave through the whole episode (though it would probably have weakened the overall flow, which was really good this time around).
As for the science segments, I really enjoyed the death of the Sun segment. The final days of the Sun is a concept that I first encountered as a kid, and at the time it freaked me out. Since then it's gone from being something that scares me to something that really fascinates me. Now I have Cosmos's awesome visuals to accompany my knowledge. [Or maybe to freak me out again!]
This was another solid episode and I can't complain about too much. But, perhaps not surprisingly, I continue to find the animated segments problematic.
I made a note last week that I felt the animation style suited more modern topics far better than ancient ones, and we got another stark example of that tonight. I didn't mind the animation in the Payne/Cannon story much at all. During the telling of the myths of the Pleiades, however, there was a scene with the Native American women dancing that was just ... well, pretty awful, if I'm being honest. Stiff and unnatural and not at all appealing. These cell-animated figures are too stiff and limited to be depicting dance.
The dialoge this episode also seemed to take a step back from last week's outing. There were a lot of lines of forced exposition that just didn't ring authentic. For example, the dialogue where Payne explains her theory to Cannon was so obviously forced exposition, and it was awkwardly scripted to boot. Kudos to Kirsten Dunst for doing her best with it.
Now It's Your Turn
What did you think of Episode 8? Let us know in the comments below.
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