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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Cosmos (2014) Episode 9: Best and Worst

by Alison Hudson

May 7, 2014

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Donate Just in time for Earth Day, Cosmos delivers an episode that tackles the subject of climate change and global warming. This show hasn't shied away from science controversies so far, and I was really looking forward to how they were going to tackle this sometimes contentious topic. So how did Cosmos do?



Episode 9: "The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth"


BEST MOMENTS


I'm really beginning to enjoy the interplay between episodes of this series. It's becoming increasingly evident that the creators didn't think of this series as thirteen standalone episodes each suitable to be watched out of context in a classroom. Each episode certainly could be, but there's a treat to watch the whole series together and seeing ideas and concepts return episode to episode. For example, this episode brought us back to the Halls of Extinction and the story of the Permian Extinction, both of which were mentioned briefly in the evolution episode. I think they even used some of the same FX shots. It's a nice way to tie the individual episodes into a larger science narrative without requiring someone to watch all the episodes in order.

The final monologue of the night was nice. The show really had to tow a fine line between science and advocacy, and for the most part they succeeded even as they departed from information and into editorial. That it was Tyson delivering the speech helped, I'm sure.

WORST MOMENTS


The animated segments continue to be the weakest part of this series. Even when the animation itself doesn't fail too horribly, there's always the dialogue there to remind us that a very different production crew must have worked on this part of the show. For example, this episode we got the cringe-worthy line about "C'mon Marie, that's girl talk!" in relation to plate tectonics. Really? "Girl talk"? Girls in the 1940s just sat around chatting about geologic drift? I get the intent (to emphasize the "men's club" nature of science over the years) but there were so many better, more subtle ways to have handled that line.

Additionally, one of the small frustrations I continue to have with this series is how often they'll mention something offhand and then move on when I want them to stop and tell me more. Twice they mentioned the small creature that survived the Permian, complete with a computer-generated shot of the little beast, but they never even gave it a name. I know, it encourages me to look it up myself, right? But I don't want Google to tell me. I want Tyson to narrate it, and every other science text I ever read, ever. (Please, Neil? Pretty please?)

Now It's Your Turn


What did you think of Cosmos's taking on of the climate change story? Let us know in the comments!

by Alison Hudson

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