'Cosmos' Host Neil deGrasse Tyson Reflects on TV's New 'Spacetime Odyssey'

NEW YORK — The new TV series "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" has been remarkably successful so far, and host Neil deGrasse Tyson has a few ideas why.

"There's a comfort level that the viewer takes from the show, where they feel like I'm sitting next to them in their living room on the couch," Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, told reporters here Wednesday night after a debate he hosted at the museum on commercializing space exploration.

After the debate, Tyson invited reporters and the debate panelists for an informal roundtable discussion that ran late into the evening. Over a glass of wine, Tyson offered his thoughts on why the timing was ripe for a new "Cosmos," and his hopes for the show's legacy.

The third episode of "Cosmos" airs Sunday (March 23) on FOX and Monday on National Geographic Channel. [Carl Sagan and 'Cosmos' Reborn: Complete Coverage]

"It's been a pleasure and a joy to follow Carl Sagan," host of the original "Cosmos," Tyson said.

Host Neil deGrasse Tyson filming on location at the Royal Society of London, England for the "When Knowledge Conquered Fear" episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 23 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX and Monday, March 24 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on Nat Geo. (Image credit: Daniel Smith/FOX)

Five years ago, Fox wouldn't have made Cosmos, Tyson said. The success of the show today is that it caters to what Tyson called the "geekosphere." For example, "hundreds of of thousands of people get their geek on for Comic Con," the comic book convention, Tyson said. "The geeks have found each other."

COSMOS FirstScope Telescope, Celestron Newtonian reflector optical system features a spherical mirror with a generous 76 mm of aperture. Buy Here (Image credit: Space.com Store)

The new "Cosmos" has been successful enough that it's doing better than zombie shows. While "Cosmos" viewership dropped 10 percent from the first to the second week, "The Walking Dead" dropped 30 percent, according to Tyson. In other words, "We killed the dead," Tyson joked.

What makes "Cosmos" so popular? Tyson said it's not that he has some magical way of explaining things, but rather that he makes viewers feel like they want to be his friend. "Even if there's something [in the show] you don’t understand, you're compelled to want to learn more," Tyson said.

Tyson doesn't have any plans to make another season of "Cosmos." He said the show took a lot out of him, especially time away from his family. But he will continue to play a role in sharing science with the public.

The third episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," called "When Knowledge Conquered Fear," will air at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Fox on Sunday, March 23. It will re-air on Monday, March 24, on the National Geographic Channel at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.

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Tanya Lewis
Tanya joined the LiveScience staff in 2013. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012. Before that, she earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has interned previously at Wired.com, Science News, Stanford Medical School, and the radio program Big Picture Science. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Tanya on Google+.