What distinguishes Cosmos from other science shows is the animation. It uses animation to inspect history the same way Through the Wormhole uses documentary to inspect current theories. The animation helps the writers avoid the analogies of the Brian Cox Effect ("To understand this, we'll need to go to the Sahara Desert [just so I can draw a couple lines in the sand as an analogy for you]") and just show things directly, which is more engaging. Most importantly, and I think this is what really makes it good, the animation allows NDT to interact with his subjects in a way completely missing from voiceover-oriented stuff, like the 2008 Alex Baldwin special. Overall, I think I prefer Through the Wormhole, just because its focus on modern ideas and philosophical quandaries gives science-show regulars more that they don't already know. But Cosmos still manages to surprise me, this time out with its cathedral-and-dust-mote analogy, expertly delivered by NDT with just enough amazement.
There are times when the series really hits the mark and the entire "Life of a Dewdrop" sequence was one of those times. Having the ship of the imagination become smaller and smaller so we could travel inside this tiny world was extremely cool. Loved seeing the tardigrades and learning about chloroplasts. Lots of good stuff in this one!
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