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Apr. 6th, 2014 @ 11:16 pm Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - Part 5
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Spiketail Hatchling
As mentioned in the last review, the two series have gone completely apart from each other. Sagan's original series has Episode 5 as "Blues for a Red Planet". It tells a bunch of stories with red Mars at its center. We hear of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. In Sagan's characteristic way, he takes a pretty good amount of time out of his episode to take users to the 1800s with Percival Lowell and Robert Goddard.

It's obvious that Mars really captivated Sagan. His series features scale models that make Wells' Mars come alive with cities in spheres, canals, towers, and all the other trappings of the late 1800s-idealized-Mars. It really makes me wish Sagan had done some work in Sci-Fi.

The fifth episode of Tyson's series, though, was "Hiding in the Light"-- another evocative title. If my last review seemed a little negative, this episode makes things better. We learned how light works... and even poked around inside an atom (gosh-darn finally!). He goes on a rather long Islamic trip about what great scientists existed there, but, as usual, when folks discuss this part of the world, individual names are largely left out (with one exception), and things are discussed very, very broadly.

No pre-credits blurb. The show lacks consistency, but I feel like they're cutting out a lot of content for ads. In the show, after the Islam discussion (they should've mentioned the Baghdad Battery), we whiz past Newton and Hershel again in discussing optics and the way light works. He hinted at the Doppler effect and red-shifting of more distant galaxies... but, once again, he didn't cover it. He did discuss why we see color in a very visual way. Also, at the end, he showed what a cityscape looks like in various spectra. It would've been cool to know where the various spectra lie relative to each other, but I'm tired of having basic questions unanswered by the series... I'm guessing the idea here is that the watcher is supposed to be inspired to find this out on their own. Sagan's Cosmos gives a pretty good answer to most of my questions.

For an episode on color, the visuals are super top-notch. I think Annie was a little blase about this one, but to journey into an atom and see the orbitals was worth the mere 45 minutes of my time.

The new series is taking shape, though. It seems they watched the original series, dissected what elements are needed for an episode (visuals, biography, science, music, and emotional viscera) and went and dutifully put a little of each into these episodes. For this one (and episode 2), it worked... it really worked. Despite my petty whining, I found myself genuinely enjoying this one.

Unfortunately, I've been sick, so this post will be short. Next episode promises more waterbears!