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The popular Public Broadcasting Service television mini-series Cosmos: A Personal Journey was hosted by scientist Carl Sagan and aimed to explain theories of the universe to a general audience. The 13 episodes of 60-minutes each were produced by Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET and co-produced by the BBC network from the U.K. The format of the show is similar to the documentary series produced by the BBC in the late 70s and early 80s that included an expert guiding the viewer through footage designed to explain scientific theories. Cosmos was ground-breaking because of its use of special effects to explain the location of objects in space and to allow easier explanations of scientific theories.

Cosmos aimed to provide viewers with a detailed account of the formation of the universe, including the theory of evolution and natural selection to explain the story of the human race. The series progressed to speculate on the possibility of the discovery of alien life forms and what would happen to civilization if this happened. Carl Sagan used examples of ancient human civilizations being conquered and wiped out by other human races when discovered and what can be learned from these historical events. The series goes on to give an overview of how life on Earth was formed and evolved to the position it now holds; Cosmos also speculated on the future direction of the human race, including the possible effects of global warming and the greenhouse effect.

Cosmos is the most watched original PBS television show in the history of the network; it was also the highest rated PBS show in U.S. history until the 1990s. Despite its popularity, the series is rarely repeated because of the many copyright issues surrounding the use of music in the show. A 14th episode was produced to coincide with the broadcast of Cosmos following the purchase of the series by Turner Home Entertainment; the 14th episode explained new theories that had been published since the filming of the 780-minute documentary series.

1 Season, 13 Episodes - Canceled
September 1, 1980
Science & Technology, Documentary & Biography
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Cosmos Full Episode Guide

  • A voyage to see how star patterns change over millions of years is followed by a journey to the planets of...

  • Dr. Sagan leads us to a time when galaxies were beginning to form, and to show how humans of this century...

  • Dr. Sagan compares explorers who ventured in sailing ships halfway around our planet in their quest for wealth...

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