Cosmos: a special edition

Cosmos 1986: "a special edition"
by Carl Sagan - 6 episodes
(Carl Sagan's Cosmos - the 1986 edited specials)
  • written by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan & Steven Soter
  • this edition produced and directed by Geoff Haines-Stiles
  • original series director & executive producer Adrian Malone
  • with sequences directed by Richard J. Wells, Tom Weidlinger, Rob McCain,
    Geoffrey Haines-Stiles, David F. Oyster
  • edited by James Latham (film), Bea Dennis (effects), and Roy Stewart (videotape)

  • original music by Vangelis (21 Comet movements, plus...)
  • 6 documentaries @ ~44 minutes each

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak


A number of different versions of the original Cosmos have aired on television over the years. This "special edition" from 1986 is probably the most unique because the format and sequence of information changes SO MUCH, and because it contains many specially created updates that have NOT appeared anywhere on the 2000 Collectors' Editions on DVD and VHS.

In this version, Carl Sagan is back with his writing team, shooting new segments that will be slotted in with the classic footage, to bring the programs up to date for 1986. But largely, this is an exercise in cutting back, as the original show's 13 full hours are compressed and reduced to a mere 6 episodes, each barely 45 minutes long.

Most notably, though we still get lots of outer space footage backed by Sagan's narration, nothing remains of his dandelion-seed-shaped Ship of the Imagination in this version. It has been completely removed. Nothing of the Great Library of Alexandria is seen in this version either.

Participants include:

Dr. Carl Sagan

Astronomer, host, narrator
Voyager imaging team

Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences,
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Linda Morabito

Voyager navigation team
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratories

discovered the first active volcano beyond the Earth on Io by computer enhancing navigational images from Voyager 1.

Cosmos had also previously gone through a major soundtrack revision; now it would get yet another one. This time, electronic composer Vangelis was actually on hand, creating new "Comet" pieces specially for Cosmos (reportedly 21 of them), whereas the original 1980 version had merely used pre-existing pieces from his various LP albums.

His compositions "Symphony to the Powers B, Movement Three" (which became the "Theme from Cosmos") and "Alpha" each appear in two versions throughout the six specials. One version is the old familiar one from the pre-existing LP's, and the other is a newer "Comet" version specially created for the show. These two compositions appear to be the only bits of Vangelis music used in the original 1980 Cosmos that also appear here. As with most of the rest of the score, there has been no proper release of these new versions of "Theme from Cosmos" and "Alpha". The only new Vangelis piece that has had a proper release is "Comet 16". This appears in various places in the show, most notably on all six end credit sequences, and on the first two title sequences. Many people don't seem to notice that the titles for episodes 3-6 revert back to using the original "Theme from Cosmos" from Vangelis' pre-existing "Heaven and Hell" album.

Many bits of other classical music remain the same, and there is quite a lot of Hovhaness and Vivaldi here. But it seems nothing of Shostakovich or Wm. Jeffery Boydstun appears in this version.

The 6 episodes have also clearly been created in three 90-minute pairs, as evidenced by the arbitrary division of content between the end of each part 1 and beginning of each part 2.


Episode 1 - Other Worlds, Part 1

This episode used footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 1, 6, and 5,
but it has all-new unique bits that make watching it worth it for those who have already seen the original shows.
There's a brand new opening segment of a Comet's tour of our Solar System,
highly appropriate since, at that time in 1986, Halley's Comet was about to pass by the inner solar system.
Plus, in the 6 years since the original episodes aired, the Voyager spacecraft had encountered Saturn and Uranus.
This version of Cosmos delivers the RESULTS from those encounters, to replace previous speculation from the older episodes, and in the case of Uranus, these new findings were "hot off the press" at the time, as the encounters only happened in late January 1986. These new segments are unique - much longer than the "Update" on the 2000 Collector's Edition.
Also, some of the narration has been changed, to accommodate new sequences and abridgements.
The episode also ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, as the Mars segments of "Blues for a Red Planet" will continue in the next episode....

The Music:

Okay, here's something you don't see everyday.... Cue listings for Cosmos based on the 45 minute episodes from 1986... the ones that actually had Vangelis composing new music specially for them. How many of the reported 21 "Comet Movements" have we correctly identified, and which of those also feature on the 2000 Collectors' Edition DVD?

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up
to help keep some music better identified in my own head as I cross-reference all the different versions of the episodes.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by a slow crossfade to "Comet 16" and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisComet 16Titles
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
(original version from "Heaven and Hell", Side A)
Narrated Opening
VangelisAlpha (original version)New footage of Comet touring Solar System
VangelisComet 16(just a few notes)

---------- Commercial advertising break -------------

Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 1 (excerpt)Return to Earth
?? unknown?? unknown("Ooooh"ing classical music)
VangelisTheme from Cosmos (original version)
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - "Sea Slog" excerpt
Antonio VivaldiBassoon Concerto RV501 "La Notte"
Movement 4: "Sorge L'Aurora"
back to 1600's Holland
Gottfried Finger"King of Pies"
Sonata for Trumpet, Oboe, Basso Continuo [and Violin]
sometimes (mis)labeled? "in D Major / D Dur"
though it plays in C Major on Cosmos soundtrack
Keith MansfieldPlanet Earth (D)Huygens' Clocks
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - "Trekking Theme" excerpt
VangelisComet 16(just a few notes)

VangelisTheme from Cosmos
NEW "Comet" version!!
?? unknown?? unknown - Hovhaness-like tinkling11 seconds mixed over end of previous cue
?? unknown?? unknown - old classicalfor the Foot People
Antonio VivaldiBassoon Concerto RV501 "La Notte"
Movement 4: "Sorge L'Aurora"
Image storage & processing
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Patterns of PatienceIntro [not yet the bit from DVD isolated track]
Alan HovhanessPrayer of St. GregoryIo and Linda Morabito

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière"Extended!! :-) (over 5 minutes)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière"Extension continues... (another minute)

continuing with tiny snippets from Voyager's golden record "Sounds of Earth",
also released publicly as "Murmurs of Earth":
J.S. BachBrandenburg Concerto No. 2, Mv. 1
Traditional ChineseFlowing Streams
Blind Willie JohnsonDark Was the Night
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony 5infamous phrase
Gustav Holst
Mars

Traditional? /
Jean-Philippe Rameau?
Frère Jacques(sung by children's choir)
Gustav MahlerSymphony No. 1 "Titan", Movement 3(Mahler quotes "Frère Jacques",
but did not compose it.)
Gustav HolstMars
Johann Strauss, Jr.Blue Danube Waltz(Marching band version)
Gustav HolstMars(no Comet 16 at this break)

Gustav HolstNeptune(several excerpts)
Gustav HolstMars
VangelisComet 16End Credits



Episode 2 - Other Worlds, Part 2

This episode used footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 5 and 4 (in that order) plus some of the most extensive re-shoots of the entire 1986 special edition. There's a brand new segment with Sagan shot in a NASA control center, where he advocates joint U.S.-Soviet missions to Mars. We also get the first of several new "garden" segments: - This one discusses fossil evidence of a comet impact affecting evolution, mainly by making dinosaurs extinct. Some narration has also been changed, particularly as additional detail surrounding Halley's Comet is merged in with the older comet segments from 1980.

These "Other Worlds" episodes have some of the best, purest, most unique extra material to be found in the 1986 Special Edition of Cosmos, and come highly recommended.

The Music

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified for cross-referencing.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by an unlisted slow crossfade to Comet 16 and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisComet 16Titles
Samuel A. WardAmerica the Beautiful
Jeff JonesPacific Eagle March(on synthesizers)
Antonio VivaldiConcerto RV 443 for Piccolo in C Major,
Movement 1, from the top
Robert Goddard & rockets
?? unknown(more humorous replacement[s] for
Rodger's "Theme of the Fast Carriers")

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Mars Lament
Gustav HolstThe Planets: Mars(skimming through Mariner Valley)
Gustav HolstThe Planets: Jupiter(landing on Mars)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 1 (beginning)Viking awakes, 1st photos
nice long definitive usage (over 4 min.)
Antonio VivaldiConcerto RV 443 for Piccolo in C Major,
Movement 1
taking soil samples
Antonio VivaldiConcerto RV 443 for Piccolo in C Major,
end of Movement 2
speculation

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Mars LamentWolf Vishniac
VangelisComet 16Terraforming
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière"Extended!! (nearly 6 min.)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Heat from Helllow tones & percussions for Venus segments
(over 4 minutes)
Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 1 (excerpt)Return to Earth
?? unknown?? unknown - old classicalfor environmental warning

VangelisAlpha (original version)Comet stuff from ep 4, computer study
new narration - 5 missions to Halley's Comet for 1986
?? unknown?? unknown - old classicalTunguska event

?? unknown??Comet Movement? - Jurassic Rubber DuckyDinosaurs extinct - NEW footage
pitched up - fast; (faint quiet short)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - The Big Burn good deliberate start
VangelisTheme from Cosmos
VangelisComet 16End Credits



Episode 3 - Children of the Stars, Part 1

This episode used footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 7, 3, 8, and mostly 9. For those that know the original series, this one does feel like it is cramming in too much too soon, and leaving out a lot. We get a taste of the opening Brooklyn bits from episode 7, but nothing of the more interesting content about ancient Greece. The older episode 3 is particularly badly short-changed, as we waste time on Sagan's designed-to-be-bashed definition of astrology, without getting to the good bits comparing the geocentric vs. heliocentric models of the heavens, or to the story of Kepler and his laws of planetary motion.

What does fit together seamlessly is the jump from episode 3's lengthy varied interpretations of the Big Dipper in the constellation of Ursa Major, to episode 8's look at how this constellation and many others can change over time. There isn't all that much of episode 8 used here either, but in that case, I think only the very best, safest, and cleanest portions made it into this special edition.

At least 50% of the screen time here comes from 1980 episode 9's footage, and successfully tells that episode's main story of atomic construction and distribution facilitated by the life cycles of varying kinds of stars. Episode 9's material isn't quite finished, before we get another sort-of cliffhanger to lead us into the next special edition episode.

The only content that seems to be brand new here is an examination of the Beta Pictoris planetary disc: - New planets may be forming from the debris in the ring around that star. It is also mentioned that similar debris discs have been discovered around some other stars as well.

The Music

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified for cross-referencing.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by an unlisted slow crossfade to Comet 16 and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music
?? unknown?? unknown - old time trumpet Jazz/Swing piece (2 excerpts)
?? unknown?? unknown - slower smooth sax/clarinet Swing piece
VangelisTheme from Cosmos - NEW "Comet" version!!
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Pristine~1 minute leading from familiar portions
into rare extension...
?? unknown?? unknown - old classical

?? unknown?? unknown - old classical
VangelisTheme from Cosmos - NEW "Comet" version!!
?? unknown?? unknown - old classical
VangelisTheme from Cosmos - NEW "Comet" version!!
Galt MacDermotAquarius(Cheesy synth version, with vocals)
(two excerpts)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Mars Lament - choir version(w. synth) (connected universe)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Pristine
VangelisAlpha - NEW "Comet" version!!(2 excerpts)

VangelisComet 16Cambridge
?? unknown?? unknown - trumpet old classical
VangelisAlpha (original version)nuclear chemistry

VangelisAlpha (original version)stars make atoms
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 1Star Life Cycle
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Corona AlchemyVery cool & lively!
Alan HovhanessPrayer of St. Gregory(Ghost of the Sun sits here in other versions)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - The Big Burn
?? unknown?? unknown - old classical
VangelisTheme from Cosmos (original)
?? unknown?? unknown(flutey oriental-sounding piece)
?? unknown?? unknown Native American Chanting(not from Voyager's Golden Record)
?? unknown?? unknown - old classical
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Patterns of Patience
VangelisComet 16End Credits



Episode 4 - Children of the Stars, Part 2

This episode used footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 9 and mostly 10. In fact, this really just feels like a compressed version of the old episode 10, missing some of the galaxy photos and the studio bits shot at the "Flatland" desk. This is bookended by some of the remaining bits from episode 9. It all makes a nice special edition episode, but it's pretty much all re-run material. The differences in the editing and the soundtrack are the primary highlights here.

The Music

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified for cross-referencing.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by an unlisted slow crossfade to Comet 16 and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Patterns of Patience (continues beyond what is on DVD isolated track)
VangelisComet 16over 3 minutes
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Pristine~1 minute - This is the actual end of the piece!
Long crossfade obscures connection to rest of song.
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 2(2 minutes worth)
?? unknown?? unknown(unknown classical violin feature)
VangelisComet 16(just a few notes for the logo...)

---------- Commercial advertising break -------------

Blind Willie JohnsonDark Was the Night ("mule train" style music - 2 excerpts)
?? unknown ?? unknown - same 1920's Jazz/Swing piece
heard in regular Cosmos episodes 1 & 10
Keith NicholsJelly's Blues(Jazz of the Twenties)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Starfield Glitter(unknown electronic - extended here!)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "Skyline"

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Venus Goes Digital
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Code Generator Bubble(lengthy overlap with previous cue)
-- no music -- Sagan lands back on Earth / in India
East Indian music section...

Clem AlfordRaga Sind Bhiravi(with really pronounced opening)
Clem AlfordRaga Yaman

Clem AlfordRaga Sind Bhiravi(faint with echo)
?????? unknown - woodwind solo feature
Keshav SatheTabla Solo
Clem AlfordRaga Sind Bhiravi

Keshav SatheTabla Solo(slowly fading out)


?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Data Drilldown (slowly fading in, lasts a good 90 seconds or so...)
(beeping down-swooping electronics)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Pristine(snowflake landing) nearly 3 minutes
An edit cuts to the final phrase early.
VangelisTheme from Cosmos (original) (with a commercial break part-way through)
VangelisComet 16End Credits



Episode 5 - Message from the Sky, Part 1

This episode used footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 2, 1, and 11.
Some narration has been changed.

The old episode 2 is the primary source for the content here, as Sagan digs deep into the story of evolution, and the chemistry that supports it. The bits that involve the Cosmic Calendar also require that it should now be properly introduced, and for this it seems that a small bit of modified footage from the old episode 1 is also carted in.

Only when we get past the final commercial break and into the last of the six segments do we switch to material from the old episode 11 to probe the depths of knowledge stored in DNA. This story barely gets going before another "to be continued" notice appears on screen, and the old episode 11's material will have to be concluded in the next instalment of the special edition....

The Music

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified for cross-referencing.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by an unlisted slow crossfade to Comet 16 and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music
??? Traditional Japanese??? alternate Japanese flute music
?? unknowndrum & drone soundmixed in with flute music above
throughout the political-warrior-crab tale
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 1(mixed in with previous cues)
Wolfgang MozartClarinet Concerto K622 in A Major
Movement 2
VangelisComet 16commercial out

VangelisAlpha (NEW 1986 COMET version!!)(nearly 5 min. long)
Cosmic Calendar introduced
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "Skyline"(definitely the bit we know)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Chicxulub Requiem(Sad bit for dinosaur extinction)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Corona Alchemymost complete airing of this piece
(over 3 minutes)
Antonio Vivaldi"The Four Seasons" - Spring No. 1

?? unknown?? beep bop & drone(unknown library SFX??)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Corona Alchemy
Johann PachelbelCanon in D

?? unknown?? unknown solo horn notes
?? unknown?? unknown classical
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Code Generator Bubble(for most of Miller-Urey experiment)
VangelisComet 16(2 excerpts)

J.S. BachAir on G(played on strings)
?? unknown?? unknown - Jurassic Rubber Ducky(descending squeaky electronic)
pitched down - slow
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Pristine
VangelisComet 16End Credits


Episode 6 - Message from the Sky, Part 2

This episode is composed of footage from 1980 Cosmos Episodes 11, 12, and 13, using about the same amount of content from each and doing a pretty good job of trimming the fat and sticking to the main story.

Unique highlights include a brand new concluding monologue shot in the garden, plus a few completely new effects sequences. Some narration has been changed, chiefly to fit the new abridgements and tie everything together.

The Music

(Anything written in green text represents a name I made up to help keep some music better identified for cross-referencing.)
(Also, black bars indicate where commercial advertising breaks occurred;
these are typically preceded by an unlisted slow crossfade to Comet 16 and a Cosmos logo.)
Composer/PerformerTitleNotes
VangelisSymphony to the Powers B, Movement Three
also known as "Theme from Cosmos"
Title Music
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 19 - "Trekking Theme" excerpt
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Venus Goes Digital
Johann PachelbelCanon in D
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 4 - Movement 1(two excerpts)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Rockin' Construct Lurch(all-new portions)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Patterns of Patience
?? unknown?? unknown classical
Alan HovhanessSymphony No. 4 - Movement 1
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 2 (beginning)deliberate start
?? unknown?? unknown spooky oooh

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière"
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Data Drilldown(beeping down-swooping electronics)
(very deliberate start)
VangelisAlpha (NEW 1986 COMET version!!)deliberate start
(prime number pulse sound)
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière" (Alt)
alternate version or extension

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - "À Voir La Lumière" (Alt)
alternate version or extension continues
Alan HovhanessPrayer of St. Gregory
?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - The Big Burn (deliberate gliss start)

?? Vangelis???Comet Movement? - Alien Vista 1 (end) (lone brassy synth lament)

VangelisAlpha (original version)

Ludwig von BeethovenSymphony No. 7, Movement 1(starts earlier than the usual excerpt)
VangelisTheme from Cosmos (original)
VangelisComet 16End Credits


The episodes feature the following music-related credits:

  • original music by VANGELIS
  • Classical music selections: DELOS RECORDS
  • Alan Hovhannes [note the bad spelling!] selections from the Poseidon Records are used by permission Crystal Records, Inc.
  • "Pacific Eagle March" by Jeff Jones, Fortune House Music / ASCAP
These credits would be exactly the same for all six episodes, except that the credit for Jones' March only appears on episodes 1, 2, 5, and 6, but not 3 or 4. This is additionally strange, as his piece of music can only be heard in episode 2.


It is also curious that almost none of the suspected Vangelis Comet movements appear here on top of the exact same footage as on the more modern 2000 Collectors' Edition. (Humason's 1920 telescope observation of galaxies is the big exception.) Most Comet cues seem to have been moved to all new positions, to fill in whatever gaps they needed to. One wonders how much of each composition has never been heard yet on any version of Cosmos...



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Read the data capsule review for another documentary:
"Alien Earths" - A tour of early exoplanet findings by their discoverers...


Or, get an overview of all episodes of this series from our
"Cosmos" Episode Guide Catalogue.



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