I went to the premiere here in New York City (at the Hayden Planetarium) last night. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd (we were told they could admit 900 and the theater was completely full). It's a testament to how powerful the original Cosmos was.
As for this one? I thought it was stunning. It's simply gorgeous to look at and I even learned something (I hadn't known much about Giordano Bruno before). And Alan Silvestri's score is suitably epic. This has the potential to catch the interest of a whole new generation, and I cannot wait to see my 7-year-old's reaction when I show it to her next week.
That said, there are some differences and criticisms. The episode is framed by Sagan's voice - his original intro to the series, as a matter of fact. And, in particular, it honors Sagan's legacy. But this isn't Sagan's series. It lacks his poetic and personal flare. Tyson is good - but he's not Sagan (the most compelling moment was toward the end, when Tyson shared a personal anecdote about Sagan). That's not necessarily a bad thing, but for me at least, it'll take some getting used to.
My only real criticism is that the episode seems too quickly paced. Part of what made Cosmos so elegant is that its deliberate pace made it immersive. It allowed you the time and space (pun intended) to absorb the knowledge and beauty of the universe. This version (aside from its historical anecdote) seems to rush from one (albeit visually stunning, musically soaring, and informative) segment to the next. Perhaps that'll also take some getting used to - and perhaps it's what will help drive modern audiences to the show and to science.
All told, though, I'm thrilled that the series is back on the air, that it's being made with such a dedicated attempt to pay homage to Sagan and update its look and approach to, hopefully, inspire others as I (and so many) have been inspired. And if it accomplishes even a fraction of what the original did, then the criticisms are but minor quibbles. I can't wait until March 16 to see episode 2.