“Your Inner Fish”– TV version– has begun

April 11, 2014 • 2:29 pm

by Greg Mayer

Jerry noted in February that friend-of-the-site Neil Shubin will be presenting a three-part series on PBS this month based on his bestselling Your Inner Fish. The series began this past Wednesday; I was unable to see the whole episode (because at the same time I was writing an exam I had to give the next morning!), but it seems to have gotten off to a good start, and I saw appearances in one or more of the clips not only by Neil, but by my friends and colleagues Steve Gatesy, Ted Daeschler, and the late Farish Jenkins (all of whom were involved in the discovery of Tiktaalik).

Neil Shbin holding a cast of Tiktaalik.
Neil Shubin holding a cast of Tiktaalik.

The program has a well done website, where you can watch full episodes, as well as many other videos, and find other great resources. There is a parallel website hosted by Biointeractive.org, an arm of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also has many resources. The two sites seem to be only partially overlapping, so it’s worth visiting both.

The second episode will be aired in most areas next Wednesday, April 16, and the third episode the week after (April 23), but show times and dates may vary locally. There are also several re-broadcasts, and episodes become available on the website after broadcast. A DVD version will be released later this spring.

45 thoughts on ““Your Inner Fish”– TV version– has begun

  1. And an excellent series it is, too!

    The Creationists are taking a beating on TV these days. I love it.

  2. I watched the first episode last night. I thought it was very well done. I enjoy seeing the places that Shubin talked about in the book.

    1. Going back to the PBS website and starting there it turns out to be a region restriction; hopefully it will be shown in the UK at some point. The HHMI link works fine

      1. Yeah the US restriction is a bummer. My dad forgot to record it so he is hoping for replays since he can’t watch on the site. I have my recorded episode ready for watching this weekend.

    2. Try downloading TunnelBear, it offers a selection of countries that you can kid Big Brother you are from. I don’t think this is illegal, or so they tell me. You can get a whole lot of other stuff from the BBC on their iPlayer. Totally invaluable here in South Africa!

    1. IMO it is better than Cosmos. It isn’t filled with as much over-the-top special effect gewgogery. I like Cosmos plenty, but your inner fish feels more adult. And it shows real human corpse body parts, which is rare on TV.

      1. I’d agree — it’s even better. I thought episode #1 (obviously I don’t know about the others) was the best science TV show I’d seen in years.

      2. We sometimes eat dinner while watching. We were watching episode 1 and eating when he started showing the flayed cadaver hand! Required some quick mental adjustment.

      3. Agree that YIF is better than the new Cosmos. Cosmos is way above average but YIF is much better. What is really great is having two such shows demonstrating how much better it can be done.

      1. Ooops… make that *Natural* Curiosities!

        TVO (TV Ontario, for our friends down south -so sorry you won’t be able to view this) showed two consecutive half-hour episodes on Wed. around 7 or 7:30pm (please double check this). Then TVO re-aired it in the wee hours, 1am Friday. Next episode will be on Wed. April 16 (again 7 or 7:30, re-airing on Fri. 1AM April 18).

        Here’s last Wed.’s ep. 4 on elephants:


        Also other past episodes on youtube (everyone can get this of course!):

        Other great science shows are Alien Deep with Bob Ballard and Tipping Points:

  3. I saw the first episode on Wednesday evening (though I’m ticked off that my local PBS station put it on at 10 p.m. instead of earlied), and was very impressed. Shubin is a great presenter, and the animation/CGI is to my mind much better than that of “Cosmos”: as an example, the tiktaalik fossil in the box that Shubin had taken back to Canada coming alive and crawling into the water was spectacular.

      1. Me three. I only got to see the first half (second is waiting on DVR for this weekend) due to the 10 pm start time.

        So far, loving it. YIF is one of my favorite books for explaining evolution. I love the way it integrates info from anatomy, paleontology, genetics etc., and shows how ALL of them support the theory of evolution. Shubin does a great job of showing how it all ties together. I can’t wait til he gets to the hox genes stuff. That was one of my favorite parts of the book. And Shubin has such wonderful enthusiasm for science and comes across as such a likable guy. His energy is great for this type of series. I don’t imagine YIF will be on the radar of creationists as much as Cosmos, but YIF is the one that should REALLY perturb the fundies if they ever bother to watch it.

      2. It seems to have become a tradition that ‘science night’ on PBS starts with Nature, then Nova, and then whatever other show they have, often Secrets of the Dead.
        Nature, I suspect, draws heavily from the older end of PBS’s demographic. Maybe the old folks want to be able to get to bed by nine? 😉

      3. I was wondering that too. Nova and Nature both have an 8 PM timeslot and don’t shy away from evolution.

        There were pretty detailed images of dissection of a human hand, and a fair amount of testicle talk, so I’m wondering if either of those played into timeslot considerations.

        1. Ha ha “testicle talk” sounds like it could be its own show!

          Maybe the dissection parts forced it into the later time slot.

          I finally watched my recorded episode. I thought it was really good! I thought the animation was especially helpful in showing how the fish looked and things are explained really well, including how they excavated the fossils.

          1. It’s hard to overestimate the prudery of the gatekeepers of American broadcast media.

            On the other hand, the dissection stuff was graphic, and I could see some elementary school age kids being troubled by it (and others thinking it was the coolest thing ever, but that’s kids for you). Based on that alone, I was OK with the later time slot.

    1. though I’m ticked off that my local PBS station put it on at 10 p.m.

      Pam and I assumed they put it on that late in case the nasty evolution stuff frightened the horses. Or the kids. Or . . .

  4. I really loved the first episode and can’t wait for more. Also, as I said in another post, I really liked that Neil shared the spotlight with other scientists who are still breathing, and that some of them are women.
    I especially liked the discussion of how we have co-opted the pharyngeal arches to so many varied purposes. I only wish the graphics could have made it a bit clearer how they develop. I think that once a person grasps how we start with embryonic gills and re-purpose them into ear bones and all that other good stuff, it really makes accepting evolution practically a slam-dunk.

  5. Some issues for a UofC alum watching the first episode. I hope Neil really did not release a fruit fly in the Harper Library Reading Room – the most beautiful indoor space on campus. Does not need a fruit fly infestation.

    It was also nice to see Cliff Tabin. I went to college with him. Nice to see he has done something with his life. He was not quite as stupid as some other 18 year olds – like me.

  6. I had made a note of it when the series was announced here at WEIT. I missed the first few minutes last Wednesday (initially I too thought it started at 21:00 instead of at 22:00). It was great! I like how they put it together and mixed different stories in between the trips to the arctic for fossil hunting. The presentation by Shubin is great – his enthusiasm shows really well and it makes for great TV. I don’t normally watch a lot of TV, but with Your Inner Fish and Cosmos …

    I have one more reason to like the series: instead of reading, I listened to the audiobook version of Your Inner Fish. That was nice, but difficult, since one obviously misses the diagrams and figures …

    1. I don’t normally watch a lot of TV, but with Your Inner Fish and Cosmos …

      Exactly the same situation here. It feels really odd watching programmes rather than movies!

    2. Aargh! And now I learn that Showtime has a new series, Years of Living Dangerously, about climate change. My habits of a lifetime are under threat this spring . . .

  7. This is one of the best and most coherent documentaries I’ve seen both on what evolution really is, and how science works. The portrait of common ancestry is vivid and moving, and the demonstration of how generations of scientists build upon earlier work is just fantastic. This is science documentary film making at its best.

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