The Orville star Seth MacFarlane hints that the much beloved science miniseries Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey may be gearing up for a second season of highly entertaining and educational television.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage debuted as a 13-episode PBS series in 1980, hosted by Carl Sagan. It was a revolutionary moment for science-themed television, winning Emmys and Peabodys and becoming the most watched series in PBS history. MacFarlane, mostly known for the decidedly lowbrow humor of FOX animated series like Family Guy and American Dad, was a lifelong fan of Sagan's series, and used his clout with FOX to revive the series in 2014, now hosted by popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The new series featured Tyson in a Star Trek like space vessel, narrating a new scientific subject each week. The series repeated the original's critical success, but was a modest ratings performer, and future installments have been an open question since the first season wrapped.
But MacFarlane is suggesting there may be good news on the horizon. During a Reddit AMA to promote his new science fiction series The Orville, MacFarlane cryptically addressed a fan's question about Cosmos' future.
This is encouraging news for Cosmos fans, many of whom have long assumed the series would not continue, certainly not on FOX. But a few factors have likely made Cosmos' continued existence on a major network possible. For one, the finances and measurements for success in network television have drastically changed over the last few years. Overnight ratings are still a major consideration, but other factors such as time adjusted DVR views and potential future streaming revenue have become almost as important, and Cosmos is a series that figures to thrive on both of those fronts, even if it's never going to be a ratings behemoth.
The other, perhaps more important consideration is FOX's relationship with MacFarlane. The Family Guy creator has made the network a near unfathomable amount of money through his primetime animation empire, which has been largely perceived as the motivation to allow him to pursue a project like The Orville, which simply has no analog in modern network television. While it remains to be seen if that series will end up being a winner for FOX, keeping MacFarlane happy is clearly a priority for the network. Reviving Cosmos for another season would not only achieve that goal, it would likely grant the network a series that earns them both further critical accolades and broader goodwill. It's a winning situation for everyone involved.