It took seven years to bring "Cosmos" to television, and it has been a massive success for Fox. For the "Cosmos" season finale, host Neil deGrasse Tyson boards the Ship of Imagination and explores dark energy as well as the journey of NASA's Voyager spacecraft.
Prior to Sunday's screening, Fox hosted a special viewing of "Unafraid of the Dark" at the Paley Center for Media in New York on June 4. Fans got to watch the season finale before it premiered on Fox, followed by a Q&A session with host Tyson and executive producers Ann Druyan, Brannon Braga and Mitchell Cannold.
According to the official synopsis of the "Cosmos" season finale: "In the season finale episode, the Ship of the Imagination makes a final journey to explore one of the biggest mysteries of the universe: dark energy. Meet one of science’s greatest unsung heroes, Fritz Zwicky, whose prediction of supernovas paved the way for our larger understanding of dark energy, the unknown force in the universe that overwhelms gravity on the grandest scale. On our final voyage, discover the romantic message embedded in Voyager’s Interstellar Golden Record and contemplate the spiritual experience of life on Earth as our cosmic journey concludes with Carl Sagan’s unforgettable meditation, the Pale Blue Dot, in the all-new “Unafraid of the Dark."
For the people working on "Cosmos," the show is as much about the wonder of space as it is about the humanity behind science and exploration. International Business Times spoke to Druyan, who was married to Carl Sagan, selected the music that appeared on the Voyager Golden Record and co-wrote the original series and wrote the current series, about she show and its success.
Druyan said of working on "Cosmos," "It’s been heaven. I started down this road seven years ago to produce, write and direct the show and I couldn’t be happier. My creative collaborators, including Brannon Braga, just made it possible to create what I hope is a worthy successor to the original “Cosmos” series."
Considering "Cosmos" airs on primetime on Fox and is seen in 180 countries, Druyan said the show was never considered a risk nor was there pressure to create something great. Druyan said, "I think of it as an opportunity for the biggest rollout in television history for a science-based show, which is realistic about the challenges we face and about the heritage of evolution and the history of life on this planet. It’s just been the greatest opportunity -- to have a platform that big and that loud is just fantastic for a writer."
"Cosmos" has been a rating success for Fox, most recently drawing 3.45 million viewers during the 9 p.m. premiere on Fox last week, and Tyson said he knew the show was working after checking Twitter prior to one of the early episodes. During the Q&A, Tyson shared the anecdote of someone tweeting "Shut your trap and get ready. Neil Tyson is about to crack a knowledge egg on your ass," as a sign of the show's appeal to a wide audience.
The reason "Cosmos" has resonated with such a large audience is by not ignoring the human element of science, by focusing on the "heroes of science," as well as finding something relatable in a supernova. Druyan said, "It was my honor to co-write the original series with Carl Sagan and Steve Soter and, for me, “Cosmos” is that blend of wonder and skepticism. Of rigorous science but also...the feeling of being part of something greater than yourself and you know its “Cosmos” when the audience is crying about being on Titan or about being inside the nucleus of a cell. That, to me, is what “Cosmos” is and I think it is in a category by itself."
"Cosmos" has not been afraid to cover controversial subjects, including climate change, lead pollution, and evolution. According to Druyan, Fox never asked her to change a single word in her scripts. Tyson said to the audience after the screening, "There can be nothing controversial about the truth."
Cannold says Fox supported the show throughout the process, provided the proper budget and let Druyan have the necessary creative freedom to create "Cosmos." Another key was having Tyson "carry the audience," which eliminated the need for talking heads in the show. Braga called the show a passion project for those involved.
The "Cosmos" season finale airs on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox and on National Geographic on Monday on 10 p.m. EDT.