It’s impossible to summarize the content of Cosmos—the Carl Sagan-presented A Personal Voyage, 2013’s A Spacetime Odyssey, and Possible Worlds, which premieres next March—in a few hundred words.
After all, how do you describe and then document something so humbling as the beginnings of the universe, as involved as the history of astrophysics, and as complicated as what we’re still trying to learn about our place in the galaxy? It’s a daunting task, but given their collective expertise and enthusiasm, co-writers Ann Druyan and Brannon Braga and presenter Neil deGrasse Tyson are up to the challenge.
“It’s really, to me, a moral mandate to have a science show on a major network that reaches 500 million people worldwide,” said Braga, later adding, “What we’re trying to do is make science accessible because it’s really a very human endeavor, it’s a very emotional endeavor.” Druyan, who co-wrote A Personal Voyage with her late husband Sagan, echoed Braga’s sentiments about the show’s mission and emphasized that she’s never seen the world in this state of turmoil before. Still, she is able to find joy in her life’s work and cited Cosmos as the highlight of her career.
And what will that highlight look like in 2019? Druyan and Braga are still somewhat tight-lipped about what Possible Worlds will entail, but here’s what we know.
Braga confirmed that it will focus in part on the heroes of science whose stories haven’t been told on TV before. Naturally, the season will drive beyond our atmosphere, delivering on the promise of the subtitle. Braga said one of his favorites focuses on the search for extraterrestrial life and whether or not we’re ready for that.
Tyson was also reticent to share which topics Possible Worlds will tackle (though, judging from my favorite shot in the trailer, we can guess that at least one episode will explore the concept of multiverses, resulting in infinite Tysons). He did drop a few hints about the show’s overall arc and clarified what he thinks makes Cosmos—both the original series and what it’s become—unique.
“I think we succeeded in maintaining the spiritual center of what the original Cosmos was on a level where you no longer think of [it] as a documentary at all, even though it technically is. There’s not really a word for it.” He added, “It's operating on another level, reaching ... what role science is playing in our understanding of our place in the universe.”
Naturally, you can’t talk to Tyson without talking about pop culture—which Tyson looks on as more of a necessity than something to indulge in.
“I have some fluency in pop culture,” he said. “When I’m talking to somebody about science, I will clad their scaffold of pop culture with science as it applies to [them], and they eat it up. It enhances the pop culture they’re carrying with them.” And that’s part of what makes Tyson the ideal presenter for Cosmos. His tendency to give context through easy-to-understand ideas translated well to A Spacetime Odyssey and will surely do the same in Possible Worlds. I'm going to start assembling my paper chain countdown to next March right now and encourage you to follow suit.
What possible worlds do you want to see explored? Let us know in the comments!