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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just redo it?

"Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" is a new series by FOX being billed as a follow up to to the classic "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" from the 1980's which starred the late Carl Sagan.
Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson
I'm not a fan of the idea.  I get that Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, is an executive producer on the show.  I don't have a problem with star Neil deGrasse Tyson. (At least, not outside of the "Pluto is not a planet" thing.)  And I'm not that worried about Seth "Peter Griffen" McFarlane also being an executive producer. (Though I am going to keep an ear out for Stewie's voice.)

But I do have a problem with remakes, reimaginings, and 'sequels' in name only.  I don't mean evolutions of a fandom into something that disappoints me. (*cough, cough* Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace *cough*) And it's not a HUGE problem.  I don't let it keep me from enjoying a good show.

But ultimately, I believe there are some shows/movies/books that have either a defining foundation of concepts or a style that is so emblematic of the author, creator, or actor/personality that you can't separate the two.

Prime example: Battlestar Galactica


Was the reimagined BSG a good show?  Yes, it was.  But was it Battlestar Galactica? 

The original was about a group of human war survivors voyaging across space in search their lost 'cousins' on Earth.  The series had a very positive tone.  Starting with the reason for the war: the cyborg/reptilian Cylons had attacked a neighboring species and the Twelve Colonies of Man came to their defense.

In the reimagining, humanity had created sentient machines and enslaved them.  The machines came for revenge.  And the people of 'Earth' had destroyed themselves.

Other than proper names (Cylons, Adama, Galactica) the two series are very different.  And in that light the Battlestar Galactica name strikes me as a merketing to ploy to sell a series the creators were afraid Hollywood wouldn't give a chance otherwise.

My concern for Cosmos is that in trying to replicate the 'Cosmos experience' (it's already been stated that the 'ship of the imagination' from the Sagan series will return) that Tyson will be asked to emulate Sagan's style.  Tyson is a very good teacher, but Sagan had a very artistic sense that Tyson just doesn't possess.

It wouldn't have been too difficult to sell a Cosmos like series designed around Tyson.  There was no need to invoke the name "Cosmos".  There are expectations that will come with that name; nd unlike BSG, which had a low bar in terms of story to leap in terms of comparisons to the original.

But the entertainment industry loves to hedge it's bets.  They recycle ideas, franchises, and plots to play it safe.  And that, children, is how we got "Prometheus".

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