YMMV: Cosmos

  • Broken Base:
    • The 2014 series has been accused of going out of its way to attack religion, particularly the first episode's lengthy tangent on the life of Giordano Bruno. Tyson has responded that he has no problem with religion itself, only its practitioners who are too narrow-minded to consider the validity of science. Subsequent episodes bear this out by various neutral and positive mentions of religion (Tyson gets visibly emotional when he visits the Benedictine monastery where Joseph von Fraunhofer sowed the seeds of astrophysics) and demonstrating how scientists themselves can be biased to downright unethical, like Dr. Robert Kehoe's work for the lead industry.
    • There are those who believe the show should be much, much more stringent about science, and those who think it should stay the way it is, usually as part of a debate on appealing to the masses.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The theme tune, and most of the background music. It's by Vangelis, after all. Also, the Symphony of Science auto-tune Voice Clip Songs all contain remixed Cosmos scenes, of which one is almost entirely based on Cosmos.
    • Here's the "Pale Blue Dot" monologue coupled with a Snoop Dogg instrumental. note 
    • Alan Silvestri's music for the new version isn't anything to sneeze at either (the producers initially approached him to only write the theme music, but Silvestri was so impressed with the first episode that he signed to score the entire series). The Emmys certainly agreed, as Silvestri won for his theme music and his score for the first episode (it should be noted that this was his first ever nomination).
  • Genius Bonus: In the reboot's CGI animation of DNA replication, one strand of the DNA helix is replicated without interruption. The other is not; the "gears" give this strand a shake at regular intervals. This is the leading strand and lagging strand, respectively.
    • The Ship of the Imagination's portholes to the past and future are rimmed in red and blue, respectively. The doppler effect causes objects moving away from us to be shifted red, and those moving toward us blue.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Billions and billions", or any other -illion, said in Sagan's characteristic way. Actually he never said "billions and billions" in the show, but he acknowledged it in his final book.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The original Cosmos is known as much for Sagan's sonorous voice as for being a groundbreaking educational program.
  • Narm: Tyson entering the black hole with Jitter Cam and mouth agape.
  • Science Marches On: Interestingly, although many of the details are no longer accurate, remarkably few of the theories and principles Sagan discusses have been completely supplanted by more current research. The DVD commentary discusses this, and Ann Druyan, in her introduction to the first episode, states that, 20 years after the fact, at least, the series needed little revision. That said, when the series was rebroadcast by PBS in the early 1990s each episode ended with newly recorded comments by Sagan discussing any points either proven wrong or new discoveries related to the episode since it first aired.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Sagan spares no expense in stressing the importance of promoting science and knowledge of the world, as well as raising awareness of the dangers of irrationality. The reboot is not shy about describing the need for scientific discovery to be free of the shackles of government and religion.
    • While talking about the hunting of whales, Sagan refers to the practice as "whale murder"
    • The first half of the last episode is basically "why nuclear weapons are a BAD IDEA"
    • Neil spends a good bit of the second episode explaining evolution, stating it as a fact and not "something that's going to go away."
    • In the episode "A Sky Full of Ghosts," Neil very matter-of-factly explains that due to our advanced ability to perceive how light travels through time and space, there's no way that the Earth can be only 6,000 or 7,000 years old, despite beliefs to the contrary. He goes on to stress that to believe otherwise is to discount most of the light from our galaxy, not to mention the rest of the cosmos.
    • Similarly, the fourth episode "Hiding in the Light" makes it clear that science should not and cannot be shackled under any type of control by organizations or institutions with ulterior motives for it to progress forward. (Which, of course, is not to say that scientific progress should divorce itself from ethics.)
      "How many minds have we left in the rubble?"
    • Episode 9 of the reboot has Tyson give an impassioned plea for the use of sustainable and clean solar power instead of fossil fuels, pointing out that our reckless usage of them is setting the Earth's climate on track to a state it was in during the time of the dinosaurs, which would be catastrophic and probably result in a mass extinction, and Tyson questions just why nobody is willing to use the unlimited and free energy supplied by the Sun.
    • Episode 11 shows us all the ways civilizations have died in the past and could die in the future before Neil suggests that our intelligence can and should be used as a survival mechanism, so that our next "Golden Age" could start on January 1st of the new cosmic calendar. It's not so far-fetched to imagine a Star Trek-like utopia... if we choose to follow that path rather than short-term greed, hatred, and fear.
    • Episode 12, "The World Set Free", could almost be called "Yes, FOX Viewers, Climate Change is Real."
    • The season finale, "Unafraid Of The Dark" reminds viewers that Science Marches On and established beliefs we have today may be disproved in the future. To question established beliefs and to use solid evidence and facts rather than believing what makes you comfortable, is one of the hallmarks of science and progress.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The episode devoted to Kepler and Tycho Brahe. "Who Speaks for Earth" qualifies as well, especially the segments where he talks about how humanity has so much potential for advancement and knowledge, yet all too often listens to paranoia or short-sighted greed.
    • Tyson's monologue at the end of the premiere episode of the 2014 series. Anyone who was inspired by a mentor will get teary eyed when he talks about how he knew he wanted to be a scientist, but that day Sagan showed him the kind of person he wanted to be.
    • He expounds upon that memory in "A Sky Full of Ghosts," where he likens Sagan to one of those very ghosts in the sky, a star whose light still shines long after it's gone.
    • Tyson's monologue at the end of episode 10, "The Electric Boy" about how the discoveries of Michael Faraday helped transform humanity from a patchwork of scattered, isolated towns, villages, and cities into the globally connected society we are today and how those same forces connect us to the cosmos itself.
    • The final episode has a Call Back to Giordano Bruno when Neil talks about the history of science and the importance of free thought—for a few seconds we see Giordano Bruno languishing in his prison cell, before he "escapes" into his dream of the infinite cosmos.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Sometimes concepts they had covered in previous episodes and could reference are dropped. For instance they spent an episode covering plate tectonics, and then in the next episode discussed the discovery of Earth's magnetic field. When magma cools the metals follow magnetic field lines - it was the discovery that some rocks were no longer pointing to the magnetic north pole which became the Smoking Gun proving continental drift, however this was never brought up. Chalk up another "thank you" to Faraday!
  • Ugly Cute: Tardigrades! Just look at them swim through that dewdrop!
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: In the Neil deGrasse Tyson version, some of the effects of both the starship and the imagery on offer is absolutely gorgeous.
  • What an Idiot: It was a dramatization, but really, Humphrey Davy—you remark on how a colleague lost an eye to nitrogen trichloride and then practically stick your own face in the stuff when you're about to start the reaction?