COSMOS… Thanks to FAMILY GUY, America Finally Returns to Space


The most incredible thing about COSMOS, the Seth MacFarlane backed television series about our universe, is that it will be airing on FOX, a broadcast network, as well as most of Fox’s cable networks.

As I watched a special preview of this Sunday’s first episode of COSMOS, I was struck… by how much television has changed in the past 30 years.  Broadcast networks don’t air science documentaries!  In Primetime!  Even PBS’s NOVA and The Discovery Channel have created new outlets such as The Science Channel for science shows like “Through the Wormhole,” headlined by Morgan Freeman.

This Sunday’s premiere episode of COSMOS follows Neil deGrasse Tyson, (astrophysicist and friend of the late Carl Sagan) as he simultaneously stands on a cliff over the ocean and on the bridge of a spacecraft and embarks on this latest history of the universe.  The first episode of the series devotes most of its time reacquainting us with our own solar system, beginning at the sun, touching on all the planets… including a mention of Pluto.  I miss hearing about Pluto.

I am biased.  Alex Detail’s Revolution is an adventure that takes place during a life or death flight from Earth to Pluto.  When I began writing this, my first this novel, Pluto was still considered our ninth planet… the furthest definable thing in our solar system.  As Alex Detail, Captain Odessa and the crew of a spaceship named “The Cronus” make their desperate journey to ninth planet, we know they have to find something really cool on Pluto since it’s so far away.  Such are the rules of The Hero’s Journey.  Fortunately, my latest novel, “Disappearing Spell,” takes place on Venus, which as I write this, is still a planet.

I always enjoy space shows that take us through our solar system rather than on mind-bending quantum theoretical roller coasters.  All the great sci-fi movies and television series of the past thirty years easily make us forget our current species hasn’t gotten any further than our own moon (notwithstanding History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens.”)  Episode One of COSMOS uses our solar system to kick-off the 13-hour series, so the mind-bending stuff is sure to be on the way.

For now, I can only marvel that Seth MacFarlane leveraged the huge success his “Family Guy” delivered to FOX to create this series.  It took over a decade for “Family Guy” to go from a cancelled post-Superbowl-launch ratings disappointment, then life-support on cable, then back into production where it eclipsed the success of most other sitcoms.  “Family Guy” now airs on FOX, TBS, Adult Swim and broadcast station syndication.

Hopefully our own detour from space exploration has ended.  It’s high time we got back out there.  In this past year when GRAVITY, a science movie (rather than a science-fiction movie) was one of the top films, and a broadcast network will air the science series COSMOS, our imaginations and attentions may be turning back to the stars, or at least the planets.  All nine of them.

COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSY premieres Sunday, March 9th at 9:00 on FOX and Fox Cable Networks.