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PBS series uncovers the science behind how our bodies work

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Charles Marquardt and Jonathan Soule were looking for a big bold science show to produce.

What landed in their lap is extraordinary.

The duo is behind the six-part series called “Human: The World Within.”

Danny O’Shea and Tarah Kayne practice a lift off-ice in Colorado Springs. (Courtesy of Sean Boggs)

The series takes a deep dive into the incredible universe that’s inside the body to discover the biology that all humans share: heart, brain, eyes, blood and tears. The series uncovers the science behind how our bodies work and how what’s inside powers every moment of our lives.

Jad Abumrad, host of the popular podcast Radiolab, narrates the journey through this foreign universe and reveals what makes us tick.

Magaly Rodriguez and her team attend to a victim inside the emergency rescue drill in Ciales, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy of Juan O. Rodriguez)

The series will premiere at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1.

Marquardt says breaking the series into six sections happened naturally. Each episode focuses one of the six bodily systems – nervous, circulatory, digestive, immune, sensory and reproductive.

He says production was approached from the standpoint of making the information easy to digest.

Professional ballroom dance couple Alla and Alex with their family in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Jonah Beadle)

“Each story you can relate to,” Marquardt says. “It’s incredible to see that though we are all different, we share the same systems.”

Soule says he was drawn to the project because he didn’t know exactly what was happening in his body at any given time.

“It’s a universal subject and it’s fascinating,” Soule says. “I wanted to learn more about this machine that is working every second of the day.”

Soule says the project started nearly two years ago and filming began in January 2020.

“We got half of our episodes filmed and then the pandemic hit,” he says. “We started to focus on the stories that we had. Then once the world opened up again, we captured the remaining stories. It made for a unique challenge. It’s more of an important story to tell. We live in these very fragile, but resilient bodies.”

Soule admits that it was tricky to make the science relatable and was aware of not making the stories bogged down in technical terms.

“We wanted to be smart about the information,” he says. “We didn’t want it to be a sixth-grade science film. The challenge constantly was us asking ‘Is this engaging?’ ”

Marquardt credits all the experts who worked on the project for moving the series forward with information and storytelling.

“Our test audience was our family,” he says. “I have young kids and an 80-year-old mother. If they could easily understand all while being engaged, then we were on the right track.”

After a few years of working on the project, Soule found the relationship between the heart and the brain most interesting.

“It’s the most interconnected system in our body,” he says. “We think of the heart as symbolic. Both the brain and heart have a connection to our emotions. We talk about deep grief and great loss and how it actually changes the physical shape of your heart. Yet the heart is very adaptable and it can repair itself with the brain’s help.”

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