Cosmos, the 13-episode astronomy series hosted by the late Carl Sagan, was a landmark for a number of reasons, the most prominent being two: (1) in terms of television, it is the most-viewed series in the history of the Public Broadcasting System; (2) it made the often mystifying study of the stars accessible to a wide mainstream audience. The latter point is somewhat of a surprise on a fresh viewing 20 years after the series’ original broadcast. The obviously knowledgable Sagan sometimes comes off as smug, a matter not helped by his florid, often-overcooked prose of his narration. But perhaps compensating for that was his boundless enthusiasm, not to mention his easy-to-grasp presentation of facts and speculation as being part of–as the series’ subtitle states–“a personal journey.”
Since the issues addressed in “Cosmos” are of a universal concern, Cosmos Studios has made this lavish anniversary DVD package truly accessible to all nations: the seven discs are Region Zero, meaning they are playable on any DVD machine across the globe; the simple but effectively clean menus also come in a variety of languages, and subtitles are provided in seven different tongues. Providing a new taped introduction–and a driving force behind this set–is Sagan’s widow and series collaborator Ann Druyan.
Numerous scientific discoveries have taken place since “Cosmos” originally aired in 1980, and effort has been made to keep the information as up-to-date as possible. Updates featuring Sagan himself (appearing dismayingly aged and frail) taped for the series’ rebroadcast in the early ’90s follow many of the individual episodes. But in keeping with Sagan’s attention to detail, there is also a viewing option where one can view relevant, updated facts as subtitles that appear throughout all the episodes. However, it must be said that these subtitle revisions are fairly few and far between–showing just how right Sagan got the facts the first time around.
The seven discs come in a handsome, compact multiple gatefold/slipcase package that resembles a book, making it a natural to sit alongside Sagan’s bestselling companion tome in a home library.
Specifications: English 5.1 Surround; 5.1 Surround music and effects track; English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mandarin, and Japanese subtitles.