Brian Greene's massively successful book on the universe around us, "The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory" was followed up with an equally successful and more mind-blowing entry with "The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality." Naturally, when something resonates with the public in the realm of science, the smart move is to get the mind behind the writing on the small screen and NOVA did just that, adapting "The Elegant Universe" in 2003 and then in 2011 with "The Fabric of the Cosmos." Condensing 400-plus pages of complex but accessible scientific information is no walk in the park and giving themselves only four, 50-odd minute episodes to do so, NOVA sets the bar high. Thankfully, the man behind it all makes for a fantastic guide into the amazing.
Beginning with the aptly titled episode "What is Space?," Greene establishes himself as a confident host who understands he has an incredible pace to maintain over the course of the program but refuses to take shortcuts on content nor talk down to an audience who likely has never heard of 90-percent of what he's talking about. Thus, poses the one critical fault of "The Fabric of the Cosmos;" there's just too much to cover in a short amount of time. Having prior scientific background made Greene's explanation of what "empty space" actually is easier to digest, but for those who haven't taken science since college or even high school, it can be easy to get lost. The series seems to recognize this and wisely provides Greene with numerous visual aids to illustrate his complex points, including interactive CGI that brilliantly matches his words with examples.
The low-point (I hate to use that phrase, but it is fitting) of the series is the second episode covering the nature of time, which I feel almost requires the viewer to read a basic primer on Einstein's theory of relativity. Once Greene offers a heavy explanation on what time really is, the focus naturally shifts towards time travel and the episode reveals it's bright spot as the theory of forward time travel rings through loud and clear, before shifting back towards the muddled with time travel to the past. Arguably, a repeat viewing of this episode would alleviate confusion, but I must point decades back to Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," which time after time managed to explain incredibly complex theories with skill and ease; the bottom line is, while Greene is a great host and a brilliant man, he pales in comparison to the once-in-a-lifetime genius of Sagan.
The remaining two episodes are no less content heavy, but easier to digest since many of the ideas are still revolutionary on the physics front. Quantum mechanics are covered in "Quantum Leap" and Greene recovers nicely from the shaky preceding episode. The series concludes with a mind-blowing (and mind-bending) examination of the possibility of "multiverses," a concept any sci-fan worth his or her salt will devour. At the end of the day, "The Fabric of the Cosmos" is definitely worth checking out; Greene and other figures of the scientific community do a fantastic job at large bringing some very heavy theories to the general public. Granted, having some prior knowledge about concepts as gravity, time and relativity will enhance your initial viewing, it's by no means a deal breaker should you know little to nothing about the universe.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports solid natural colors with moderate detail, however there are some very noticeable compression artifacts when Greene is on the CG soundstage and a constant mild level of edge-enhancement.
The Dolby Digital English 2.0 audio track is well mixed with strong, clear, and clean dominant dialogue. An English DVS track is also provided.
A solid follow-up to "The Elegant Universe," "The Fabric of the Cosmos," is a well-produced look at the advancing world of physics and its connection to the "space" beyond our skies. Recommended.