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post #1 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review



See our Blu-ray coverage of this phenomenal documentary hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson that explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time.




The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95



Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2014
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 553 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese
Hosted by: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Directed by: Brannon Brage & Bill Pope
Music by:Alan Silvestri
Based on: Cosmos: A personal voyage by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Steven Soter
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 10, 2014


"The cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be… "


My Take:



Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive produced by Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, Mitchell Cannold and Brannon Braga, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY is a captivating documentary series that explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time.

Going into this review I knew nothing of this documentary series and eagerly looked forward to seeing it after reading the press release. Rather than trying summarize it I would provide some pertinent details on the series that I found at Wikipedia:

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a 2014 American science documentary television series. Which is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan on the Public Broadcasting Service and is considered a milestone for scientific documentaries. This series was developed to bring back the foundation of science to network television at the height of other scientific-based television series and films. The show is presented by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who, as a young college student, was inspired by Sagan. Among the executive producers are Seth MacFarlane, whose clout and financial investment were instrumental in bringing the show to broadcast television, and Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow and a co-creator of the original series.[2][3]The series loosely follows the same thirteen-episode format and storytelling approach that the original Cosmos used, including elements such as the "Ship of the Imagination", but features information updated since the 1980 series along with extensive computer-generated graphics and animation footage augmenting the narration.

Here is some background on the original series from the same article:

The original 13-part Cosmos: A Personal Voyage first aired in 1980 on the Public Broadcasting System, and was hosted by Carl Sagan. The show has been considered highly significant since its broadcast; David Itzkoff of The New York Times described it as "a watershed moment for science-themed television programming".[7] The show has been watched by at least 400 million people across 60 different countries,[7] and until the 1990 documentary The Civil War, remained the network's highest rated program.[8]
Following Sagan's death in 1996, his widow Ann Druyan, the co-creator of the original Cosmos series along with Steven Soter, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sought to create a new version of the series, aimed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and not just to those interested in the sciences.


This thrilling, 13-part adventure transports viewers across the universe of space and time, bringing to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge and a deeper understanding of nature. With an updated Cosmic Calendar, dazzling visual effects, and the wondrous Ship of the Imagination, fans will experience an unforgettable journey to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest and smallest scale. I was completely involved in this intriguing and interesting documentary that uses a combination of narration, visual effects and animated segments to present in riveting detail the roots of the earth’s origins, mankind’s beginnings, our kinship to every living organism and the myriad of questions that loom regarding limitless space. As a person of faith I can’t say that I bought all of it and admittedly there a many questions that science can’t answer but this is a fascinating piece that I couldn’t stop watching.

This Blu-ray release features over two hours of bonus materials including an interesting five-part documentary on the making of this critically-acclaimed ground-breaking television event. Fans can also discover what connects us all and see the past, present and future of our galaxy with the interactive “Cosmic Calendar,” which is exclusive to the Blu-ray release.

If you enjoy these types of documentaries and haven’t seen Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey I can’t recommend this enough.


Parental Guide:

This program is suitable for general audiences.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):


Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This is a reference quality high definition presentation that boasts brilliant colors, superlative depth, and an abundance of high level detail. The nature defined color palette is alluring as the deep, vivid, reds, succulent blues, and resplendent earth toned hues leap from the 1.78:1 framed video. Contrast balance is spot on as the various shades of gray are gradationally revealing and whites appear bright with crisp highlights that preserve detail. Blacks are delineated, deep, and rich, which works hand in hand with the definitive shadow detail to provide low level images with excellent perspective and depth of field. Resolution is impeccable as the vastness and scope of the recorded elements offers lucid, three dimensional acuity that is extraordinary. The beautifully captured images of our planet and beyond can be captivating as the richness of color, transparently rendered detail, and near infinite sense of depth and dimension are assuredly conveyed in high definition.

The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers the elements contained within this documentary film with aplomb. The running narration is clearly rendered with crisp articulation and smooth intonation. I felt that it could have been a bit more forward within the front soundstage but otherwise presented very well. The front three channels are integrated nicely and combine high level detail/clarity with pinpoint imaging. Alan Silvestri’s music has appreciable top end air, smoothly rendered instrumentation, and discerning focus as its enriched elements are delivered across the listening area. The surrounds are effectively used to generate an enveloping soundstage filled with various sounds and near field panning effects. LFE presence is excellent as bass response extends deep with rich ultra low frequencies that consistently engage the room. This isn’t an aggressive surround mix but this audio presentation enhanced the source material and sounded great.



Bonus Features:
  • The Cosmic Calendar: An Interactive Look at the History of the Universe (Blu-ray Exclusive)
  • COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY - The Voyage Continues
  • Celebrating Carl Sagan: A Selection From The Library of Congress Dedication
  • COSMOS at Comic-Con 2013
  • Audio Commentary on Episode One: “Standing Up in the Milky Way”



Final Thoughts:

Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive produced by Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, Mitchell Cannold and Brannon Braga, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY is a captivating documentary series that explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. This 13 part feature is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan on the Public Broadcasting Service and is considered a milestone for scientific documentaries. It comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring top notch high definition video, an impressive lossless surround sound mix and an interesting supplemental package. I thoroughly enjoyed Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey and highly recommend it for fans of the genre.






Ralph Potts
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post #2 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 10:42 AM
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Best show I've seen this year, by far. I never thought a science documentary could bring tears to my eyes. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my hero.

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post #3 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 10:44 AM
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Like Planet Earth, this needs to be in everybody's BD collection.
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post #4 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Best show I've seen this year, by far. I never thought a science documentary could bring tears to my eyes. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my hero.
Greetings,

Agreed Mark. It was captivating for certain...


Regards,
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post #5 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the info. Will definitely be buying this one. Excellent series.
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Having been relegated to watching this series off Hulu (not even HuluPlus) so my kids could see it (their bedtime conflicted with the air time), I'm seriously considering buying the BD copy. I'd love to be able to watch it in all of its HD glory.

Thanks for the review.
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post #7 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 11:23 AM
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I watched all the episodes and now I just bought the Blu-ray. And I agree with Mikazaru. This and Planet Earth a must have in collection. And to add couple of more for the collections. The Universe series and Journey to the edge of the universe, narrated by Alec Baldwin.
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post #8 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 11:25 AM
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I think the original series is far better in many respects, Sagan just had a better approach. True that much of the actual science is outdated in the original, but its a better watch for me. I also didn't care for the animated stuff. It seems more geared to the lowest common denominator, which is something Sagan didn't do.

For those whippersnappers too young to know the history, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan wrote the original screenplay for "Contact". The story was never picked up by any studios, so they adapted it as a novel. It's a fantastic read. The eventual movie came later and is a far less complex story than originally conceived.
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post #9 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 12:40 PM
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This should look far more better than the 720p OTA Fox broadcast!
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post #10 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 12:43 PM
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Sorry if this offends some people:

I have been steadfastly watching Cosmos with my 14 year old son who is an excellent student. Cosmos is probably the best science education he has ever received. He has complained for some time that when the teacher even ties to bring up many topics in Cosmos, 13 year old kids in his class immediately start yelling "That's not true, jesus is true". So of course, this kind of education across our country for decades now has been completely stifled.

I agree with another poster, this show has brought tears to my eyes, it really is amazing and should be played each and every week in science class's across this country.

The graphics for a TV are amazing. My son and I are now on Season 5 of Start Trek the Next generation and the difference is absolutely amazing, movie quality. I'd love to see a new Star Trek using the graphics technology in Cosmos.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" -Arthur C. Clarke
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It sits lovingly beside my Dr Carl Sagan Cosmos collection. Both stand as national treasures IMO. Dr. Tyson was a very worthy anchor in the long journey started by Dr. Sagan. I love their work. And watch them repeatedly.
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I liked that they introduced us to so many unsung heroes of science. So instead of yet more about Copernicus and Galileo, we get to hear about Giordiano Bruno. And that continued throughout the series. The contributions of these people was an eye opener for me.

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post #13 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 01:14 PM
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Great review Ralph.

I watched every episode on network TV and enjoyed it, the animation was cheesy but I liked the special effects. It should be a must watch for kids if they are interested in science. It will be on Hulu Plus until 4/22/15 so I will wait to buy the BD, the price for the set on Amazon is very reasonable.

BTW: I was a whipper-snapper when the original series came out.
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post #14 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by tleavit View Post
Sorry if this offends some people:

I have been steadfastly watching Cosmos with my 14 year old son who is an excellent student. Cosmos is probably the best science education he has ever received. He has complained for some time that when the teacher even ties to bring up many topics in Cosmos, 13 year old kids in his class immediately start yelling "That's not true, jesus is true". So of course, this kind of education across our country for decades now has been completely stifled.

I agree with another poster, this show has brought tears to my eyes, it really is amazing and should be played each and every week in science class's across this country.

The graphics for a TV are amazing. My son and I are now on Season 5 of Start Trek the Next generation and the difference is absolutely amazing, movie quality. I'd love to see a new Star Trek using the graphics technology in Cosmos.
The kids need to learn a few things. First, Jesus spoke nothing of science, neither praising it or dismissing it. Second, their interpretation of "Jesus" are mandates in Old Testament books, which predate Jesus. They may ask themselves why their Jewish friends (at least in the US) whose entire religion are based on this books do not make such a big deal about these chapters. Finally, if they choose to dismiss science like this whenever it comes against their own religious dogma, they need to be prepared to prepared to walk away from the benefits they enjoy because of it (technology, medicine, engineering, TV and radio...the list is endless).

As far as the show goes, one thing I liked about the animated segments which isn't mentioned a lot is that it gave names to titans of science who are often forgotten by later day students. Teaching about how these people (men AND women) got to the point of discovery is often as fascinating as discovery itself. Tyson taught that the process is important, and that everybody you read about who made great discoveries were also wrong about something at some point...some of their whoppers were pretty big. People who make discoveries are fallable...science itself as a process is designed to self correct these mistakes, if everyone remains true to the rules.
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post #15 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 01:47 PM
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The kids need to learn a few things. First, Jesus spoke nothing of science, neither praising it or dismissing it. Second, their interpretation of "Jesus" are mandates in Old Testament books, which predate Jesus. They may ask themselves why their Jewish friends (at least in the US) whose entire religion are based on this books do not make such a big deal about these chapters. Finally, if they choose to dismiss science like this whenever it comes against their own religious dogma, they need to be prepared to prepared to walk away from the benefits they enjoy because of it (technology, medicine, engineering, TV and radio...the list is endless).

Unfortunately their brain washed bubbles are powerful enough to dismiss this. There is 2 main kind of history, *real* history and religious history. Religious history totally changes based on their particular slant of religion (1000 different versions that all claim theirs is right). Most of them have been trained to think that it was specifically their deity worshippers that brought about science so that they have more of a right to "use" it then us. Islam is the best example, many of their scholars claim that all science today is in the Koran (usually bits and pieces plastered together from across the entire book to make the claim which is usually still not even right as was shown when they clamed it said the speed of light). The good thing about Cosmos is it reminds us that the scientific method allows us to always learn more, change what we know as we learn more. Religions simply give you the answer for everything and frown on raising questions about it. Reality is heavily demonized by their controllers (religious shaman) and there is no doubt that they are fully attacking the Cosmos program based on this.
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I'd really like to see this. I'm not sure I can justify the price although I'd probably watch it and say "that was worth it".

As a Christian, I don't have a problem with big bang cosmology at all. To bad there's such a rift and bad attitudes going around about it
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post #17 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 02:44 PM
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Just added this title to my Purchase List. Thanks for your concise and well-written review, Ralph!
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post #18 of 37 Old 06-13-2014, 11:12 PM
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Thanks for the timely review! I just got a copy at Fry's...they price matched Amazon and now that Amazon has a $35 min for free shipping I didn't have to pay shipping or get extra stuff.

As far as the Jesus folks go...I was raised going to church and taught from both the old and new testament bible and have not left those beliefs behind. I was also raised in a family that was highly educated, my dad was a part of the space program in the 60s, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary.../lunarorb.html, he worked on the navigation software for the lunar orbiter (Five Lunar Orbiter missions were launched in 1966 through 1967 with the purpose of mapping the lunar surface before the Apollo landings.). I worked in an engineering group for about 15 years at an Aerospace company. I'm not sure how the parents of the children mentioned above justify their anti-technology beliefs but I have a cousin that is involved in the same genera of religion. She was refusing to believe that relativity was real, she considered such pursuits a waste of time, I explained that without it GPS couldn't work, http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/...Unit5/gps.html and reminded her that GPS can save lives by locating hurt people. She was rather flabbergasted and said she'd have to think about that.

The news media often presents science as absolute fact rather than a system of discovery. I think that the news medias misrepresentation of scientific discovery has hurt public support for science. It sounds like this program tries to dispel the standard news media dogma that science is absolute fact. If we had all the facts we wouldn't need wind tunnel testing any more, but we're still leaning about fluid dynamics so we still have wind tunnels.

I watched the first few episodes on HULU but I'm looking forward to viewing them on BD.

Cheers!
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post #19 of 37 Old 06-14-2014, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post
I think the original series is far better in many respects, Sagan just had a better approach. True that much of the actual science is outdated in the original, but its a better watch for me. I also didn't care for the animated stuff. It seems more geared to the lowest common denominator, which is something Sagan didn't do.

For those whippersnappers too young to know the history, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan wrote the original screenplay for "Contact". The story was never picked up by any studios, so they adapted it as a novel. It's a fantastic read. The eventual movie came later and is a far less complex story than originally conceived.
loved the fact that silverstri used the theme in Contact for the openingstheme for the series.
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post #20 of 37 Old 06-14-2014, 03:21 PM
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How does one comment here when it has all be said (and reviewed) so wonderfully?

I'll just say I wish kids watched more shows like this and less shows like "Bad Girls" etc.

Getting off my soapbox now.

Ralph - you had us at Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos
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post #21 of 37 Old 06-15-2014, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Best show I've seen this year, by far. I never thought a science documentary could bring tears to my eyes. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my hero.
Greetings,

Agreed Mark. It was captivating for certain...


Regards,


Great review Ralph, I'm very pleased to see everyone's appreciation of the show. My cousin had attended Cornell University, and was lucky enough to have met Sagan after a lecture...a few years before he passed.


And since astronomy is my 2nd favorite hobby, buying the series is an absolute must


Onward!
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post #22 of 37 Old 06-15-2014, 07:57 AM
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If you enjoy these types of documentaries and haven’t seen Cosmos: A spacetime odyssey I can’t recommend this enough.
Thanks for the review, Ralph. I will definitely be purchasing this title on blu-ray.

A score of 100 for video accompanied by Neil deGrasse Tyson's excellent narration skills sounds like a winner to me. The enthusiasm he brings along with his clear and easy to understand voice makes astronomy much more interesting. Can't wait to watch this!
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I think I missed one episode, some how I didn't set up my tivo to record, but I love this show and the abundant information it contain, so I definitely want this one in my collection.

Was surprised to see it aired on Fox, which to me was pretty ballsy of them with some of Mr. Tyson's bold comments towards creationist !

Thanks Ralph

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post #24 of 37 Old 06-16-2014, 08:21 PM
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Meh...

I was so looking forward to this series. I loved Carl Sagan's original Cosmos series and Timothy Ferris' Creation of the Universe, and while not consistently great, many episodes of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole, among many other shows on science and the Universe. But I was so disappointed with this new series, I stopped watching after a few episodes.

I am not a fan of Tyson at all, not only in this series, but as well when he would have commentary spots on other science broadcasts. A minor nitpick, but I find it difficult to understand him at times, as he tends to swallow the end of sentences.

But fundamentally, his demeanor comes off as smug or arrogant at times. With Sagan, you sensed he was in awe of the wonders of the Universe and it seemed a humble privilege to him to present them to you. With Tyson, he seems in awe with himself and it's your privilege to listen to him.

I also was not a fan of the McFarland-inspired animation, and I thought the writing in general was uninspired


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post #25 of 37 Old 06-17-2014, 02:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by thrang View Post
I was so looking forward to this series. I loved Carl Sagan's original Cosmos series and Timothy Ferris' Creation of the Universe, and while not consistently great, many episodes of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole, among many other shows on science and the Universe. But I was so disappointed with this new series, I stopped watching after a few episodes.

I am not a fan of Tyson at all, not only in this series, but as well when he would have commentary spots on other science broadcasts. A minor nitpick, but I find it difficult to understand him at times, as he tends to swallow the end of sentences.

But fundamentally, his demeanor comes off as smug or arrogant at times. With Sagan, you sensed he was in awe of the wonders of the Universe and it seemed a humble privilege to him to present them to you. With Tyson, he seems in awe with himself and it's your privilege to listen to him.

I also was not a fan of the McFarland-inspired animation, and I thought the writing in general was uninspired

Greetings,


Thanks for offering your thoughts Thrang. Sorry to hear you feel that way as that wasn't my impression of Tyson..




Regards,

Ralph C. Potts
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post #26 of 37 Old 06-17-2014, 02:33 AM
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I first watched most of the episodes recorded from DirecTV HD broadcasts (local Fox affiliate & NatGeo HD), and was appalled by the lack of video quality, yet could see that the original content was amazingly well produced. Once I discovered the BluRay set would be available in early June, I pre-ordered and stopped watching broadcast versions. Boy am I glad I waited ...

This BR set is stunning in it's video quality, the 100 rating is well deserved. The clarity and smooth motion in starfield scenes are awesome when upscaled to 4K on a 80" wide screen.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack has real low-end and the mix is very good. I found the dialog to be perfectly understandable on my rig (I have a BIG center).

I find Neil DeGrasse Tyson to be just the perfect narrator for this edition at this time. Yes, different than Sagan, but so is today's audience. I believe his passion for the subject and engaging presentation will draw more young people in.
Those who loved the Sagan editions are already on the train, what we need are new passengers, lots of them.
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post #27 of 37 Old 06-17-2014, 06:46 AM
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Greetings,


Thanks for offering your thoughts Thrang. Sorry to hear you feel that way as that wasn't my impression of Tyson..




Regards,
I totally agree with this statement, Mr. Tyson had a great presence on screen and I felt he was much more impressed with science and the universe than himself. Loved the show and I will be getting this soon. Great review as alway Mr. Potts, keep them coming!

John M.
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post #28 of 37 Old 06-17-2014, 07:30 AM
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One question.

I DVRed the series and watched it while skipping the commercials, in most cases the series seemed to suffer badly from the placement of the commercial edits. Often times right in the middle of a topic and a lot of times the last 10 seconds of the show prior to the break are "retread" after the commercial break. Does the BR version suffer from this as well? Is there many disjointed breaks and overlaps where it is obvious that the commercial breaks have been skipped over, or is the editing for BR more fluid, without the glaring discontinuities?

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post #29 of 37 Old 06-17-2014, 09:56 PM
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Watched all 13 on hulu... can't wait to ge the blu-rays, this is my absolute favorite TV series. I can't get enough of this stuff!

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post #30 of 37 Old 07-29-2014, 11:46 PM
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The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack delivers the elements contained within this documentary film with aplomb. The running narration is clearly rendered with crisp articulation and smooth intonation.
Ralph, I agree with most of your review, but the narration on this thing was horribly inconsistent. The sound mixer on the show was Mark Hensley, and he had a lot to say about how difficult and challenging the mix was because Tyson's narration for any one episode was frequently recorded in as many as 10 different places:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/post-...ghlight=cosmos

Hensley's comments are very incisive, and they correspond to what I heard from the very first episode. I was like "WTF???!" screaming out loud at the television, because you could hear in a 1-minute narration piece, it was recorded in two or three different environments and at least two different microphones. Very, very inconsistent, and it sounded like total crap, almost to the point if interfering with my ability to understand and enjoy what Dr. Tyson was trying to say.

Having said that: Mark did a terrific job (on a very fast TV schedule) stitching the bad narration together as best he could, and the show did get an Emmy nomination. But he himself is not happy with the dialogue. The overall sound quality of the effects and music are first-rate, particularly for TV. I think content-wise, it's the best non-fiction TV show I've seen maybe in the last decade.
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