What’s In My Hear Hole Today?: We’re Alive

We're Alive

For months now, Jason and Karen at The Walking Deadcast (I’m honestly not getting anything to promote this particular podcast, I’m simply a lowly fan) have been talking about another podcast, We’re Alive – A “Zombie” Story of Survival.  I hadn’t given it a listen for various reasons… but their last podcast was an interview with We’re Alive’s creator Kc Wayland.  After hearing more about the podcast and what it is about and how it’s put together… my curiosity was piqued, and I’ve spent the last week getting myself caught up with the program.  I can now consider myself a fan.

We’re Alive is a podcast who’s DNA is firmly rooted in radio dramas of the past as opposed to anything we may consider more modern.  The basic plot is that a trio of military guys in Los Angeles team up to escape what at first seems to be nothing more than riots, but quickly escalates into the now classic zombie tale of infection and rapid spread.  Along the way they meet up with other survivors and find an apartment building that will suit their needs for the time being.  Each season consists of 12 chapters divided into three (or four) episodes.  Each episode is anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes long and are released approximately once a week barring holidays.

When I first decided to give it a listen, I downloaded the first four chapters… amounting to roughly three hours.  The first few chapters were a bit difficult to get into.  The format is a bit different than anything I’ve listened to at first and the early episodes are what could only be described as “shaky”.  The language felt a bit stiff and the pacing off… plus the narrator sort of hits you over the head with credits and “words from our sponsors”, which are a series of family businesses and acting classes from one of the shows stars.  I am very glad that I downloaded four chapters as opposed to two… the story was more than solid enough to keep me listening, and I happened to be doing something at work last week that allowed me to focus on this program (yes, you can’t passively listen… it’s active listening to be sure)… and by the fourth chapter, I was hooked.

Quality of the acting and production value seems to exponentially climb from that point forward.  What begins with three characters manages to grow in a very organic and natural way to include at least a dozen reoccurring characters with distinct personalities and voices.  At times, it can be hard to tell who is who… but over time, each character’s traits and habits are so familiar that it would be almost impossible to mix anyone up.

I don’t believe it is important for me to go over any plot points… in fact, the less you know beyond the classic zombie arc, the better.  I went to their website (zombiepodcast.com) and looked over their “Cast & Crew” section (always fun to put a face to a voice)… even that was a bit spoilery since they have the cast listed as “active” and “inactive”… which I took to mean (correctly) as being “alive” and “dead”.   So, don’t look too hard at who is “inactive” if you don’t wish to be spoiled.

With regards to the “zombies”… they aren’t technically zombies.  Then again… there are no “technical” zombies… but in this story, Kc Wayland refers to them as “creatures”.  If you are a “purist” in that you only like zombie stories with slow, shambling, rotting corpses arisen from the grave… you may not care much for this take.  We’re Alive’s creatures are fast… some are giant… some are super small… some can talk (?!).  What this difference gives us is an unexpected twist to a familiar story and a very real sense of “what the fuck is going to happen next?!”

The show is currently one episode and a chapter away from finishing up its second season.  During his interview with Jason and Karen, Kc stated that from the beginning they have had the story arc written and are going to end with four seasons… so get in on it now, there are still a full two seasons to go.  I know Jason had said that he likes to allow three (or four) episodes to build up and then he will listen to an entire chapter in order to get a meatier helping… I don’t believe I can do that.  Now that I’m completely caught up I am chomping at the bit for the next episode (next Monday… then a week and a half before the single episode, 1 hour + season finale… yay).

So visit the site… download the podcast for free from iTunes… purchase the remastered complete season one from their store… do whatever it is that you do to listen to podcasts… but seriously, give this show a listen.  It’s entertaining, harrowing, remarkably vivid and clear for a radio program (although I’ve once heard radio is considered the most visual medium… I don’t know about that) and wonderfully adult and geeky at the same time.  If you are a fan of the zombie genre, you will enjoy this radio drama… it’s a singularly unique experience.  At one point this weekend I lay in bed after midnight in the dark listening… and it was sufficiently creepy.  Well done Mr. Wayland, I look forward to the next two years.

And no, when they speak, they don’t say brains… it’s creepier…
Cornelius J. Blahg

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