I’ve been excited about this one for a while. Rewind to 2011 when I was introduced to a “zombie podcast.” It was the first audio fiction piece I'd heard which was produced specifically for the internet.
Back then, radio was still The King in my eyes. I knew what podcasts were but had no idea of the scale or the potential. That was until I heard
If you hadn't guessed, it's all about the zombie apocalypse, following one small band of survivors.
In short, it was one of the greatest audio drama productions in the world. In fact, 5 years and a million other audio dramas later, it's STILL arguably the greatest.
But don't take my word for it – as of October 1st 2015, We're Alive had racked up 40 million downloads!
Which brings us to this offering from Wayland Productions; We're Alive: Lockdown!
It's set in the same universe, and goes right back to the beginning, but from a different group's perspective. As hinted at by the title, it's set in a prison.
Straight away, the differences are apparent between We're Alive episode 1 (circa 2009) and Lockdown. Wayland has learned much in 7 years – both in the storytelling and production fields – and he's putting it all to good use.
The story starts off with a few familiar faces, and they're knee-deep in peril. Story-telling 101.
Once things calm down, the main character tells his tale of his time in the prison when the outbreak happened – cue flashback. So far, after 3 episodes at time of writing, it's all compelling stuff. Familiar, yet fresh.
The characters all sound unique, with their own voices and backgrounds, and their interpersonal conflicts are realistically gritty – no clichéd, vaudevillian bullies who “need to be taken down a peg”.
The production values are literally as high as anything I've heard in radio, TV or film. There, I've said it. The sounds are rich and varied, but never intrusive – until they need to be. It is about zombies, after all.
The good thing about Lockdown is that it's a stand-alone series. You don't need to listen to hundreds of episodes from the original series if you haven't already.
At the risk of gushing, I have to state categorically that this is one of those great, genre-defining works that either inspires you to make your own podcast (or stick at it) or intimidates you into submission.
The first installment of We're Alive did the former for my colleague Matthew and I, and it's my genuine hope that Lockdown does the same for you.
If you'll pardon the pun, you can hear the whole shooting match at the We're Alive website.
And if you enjoyed this article, please have a look at our other fiction podcast reviews here.
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