We’re Alive: A Story of Survival
It’s been several days, and after putting every available second into an all out binge on this show, I have come back to give you my review. I will tell you right off the bat that this will be a long review, as this show has been going on regularly since 2009. It was one of my “First Five”, to put a flip on Lesser Gods, and even back then this was a massive undertaking. I have spent roughly 48 hours doing nothing but listening, laughing, crying, panicking, and raging, and damn it I’m ready to let it all out.
I’ve even got a nice addition to this review, something I hope to do with future reviews: Questions answered by the writer and director HIMSELF. I am over the moon excited to bring this to you all, so without further delay, We’re Alive.
Now, of course it’s inevitable that comparisons to The Walking Dead will be made, of that I have no doubt. But let’s get this straight: We’re Alive predates TWD by over a year. Keep that in mind when reading this.
Dear. Sweet. Baby. Dagon. This is by far the longest AD I’ve ever listened to. 139 episodes in just the main story. This does not count the spinoff We’re Alive: Lockdown, and We’re Alive: Goldrush that’s coming soon. If ever you hear of anyone needing something to binge on their vacation, while they work, exercise, drive, eat, walk, jump, hop, skip, then this is their show. I’m the kind of guy who will absolutely DEVOUR long running television shows, such as any and all Star Trek, Red Dwarf, The Office, etc. Anything I can enjoy for more than 5 seasons, I’m in! We’re Alive was all that, but on copious amounts of speed. Forty-Eight hours of non-stop listening is one long haul, even broken down into half an hour long parts. This show is well worth every single second you put into it, but do know that it is one lengthy listen.
Onto the story. This show is one where you truly have to listen for yourself and experience firsthand. I’m not going to spoil much past the first few episodes. I mean, it would be like spoiling who dies and lives in TWD, I’d be hunted down like the vicious walker I’d become.
Opening up the show is Sergeant Michael Cross, attending college after a long stint overseas with the military. Right in the middle of class, an explosion can be heard outside, and it hits like final heartbeat of life as we know it. His cell phone rings, and Second Lieutenant Angel Tunudo calls Michael back to the military base close-by. Along the way, Michael begins to see that this is not just another terrorist attack, as he is stopped on the freeway by a pack of “things” that claw, tear, and bite their way through any living tissue they can find with vicious abandon. Michael, horrified by what he sees, makes it to the base and unites with Angel. Right on their heels is Specialist Infantryman Saul Tink. Together, they weaponize and mobilize, firing down the streets of Los Angeles.
And there’s your first episode! As I said, I won’t get into spoilers, because this kind of journey needs to be experienced fresh, and with minimal foreknowledge. I can, however, give you my impressions after taking said journey.
To sum it up, We’re Alive is nothing short of a masterpiece. Every aspect of this show is top notch, from the writing to the voice actors, the sound production to the community that has been built up around it. People like to bring up The Walking Dead as the pinnacle of modern zombie entertainment. I will easily disagree. This show started in a time when Audio Drama wasn’t much of a thing. At least, I’d never heard of it back then. We’re Alive brought a unique story and amazing, deep characters to life in your ears, and I will personally guarantee you that it is so easy to get addicted.
I was able to ask a few of my questions to KC Wayland, the writer and director of We’re Alive:
1.) Where did this whole thing come from? The Walking Dead wasn't around for the first year of your show, so what gave you the inspiration?
The inspiration for We’re Alive came from various sources. The story came first. I wanted to actually BE the first zombie survival show on TV and do it in a way that no one else had. I had a pretty clever methodology and idea to make them more of an enhanced protagonist with their own motivations rather than just a shambling horde with no purpose. It let me explore in depth more about who they are, and at the same time, explore what it would be like from the perspective of a soldier. Having spent time in Baghdad from 03-04 as a solider, I knew how people react in these high stress situations, and felt like most survival horrors got it all wrong. I also, while over there, was exposed to the idea for the tower, which was a hotel, that they filled with soldiers and made sure the ground floor was secure. It was the foundation for the ultimate plan to keep people safe, and transferred the idea to LA. The audio drama aspect came from my exposure to animation, voice recording and sound design. Put them all together: We’re Alive.
2.) As the show gained momentum and popularity, how tough was it to keep the show going with fresh ideas?
That has actually never been an issue. I continually build story arcs and more beyond what’s ever exposed through the show, the problem is that it take a long time to put them into production. Our workflow is a long process, takes a lot of work, and funding. I have more stories to last me till I die, I just hope to get to produce it all before the end.
3.) What was it like working with the actors/crew for so long?
It was like family. We all got along and was amazing to see everyone month after month for that long. Hopefully, one day, when we have the sort of continual income to support another series like this, we will continue to build on that family.
4.) With all the zombie/post apocalyptic media out there, what do you believe sets We're Alive aside and makes it truly unique?
We’re Alive is different in that it focuses on the hopes and strengths when people work together. A lot of the post apocalyptic perspective tends to be pessimistic and negative in how they see things going. Also, our “zombies” are more of a different sub-sect of a species rather than it being just a mindless horde. They do things for reasons, and have hierarchy and leadership. Few others have those things, and of course lacking visuals leave a lot up to the imagination, making things as scary as the listener can “see”.
5.) (Final question) What's next for the world of WA, and where do you see all of this going?
Working on Goldrush now, a “zom-comedy western adventure” that takes place in the word of WA. As for other stories, those are coming too, but we tend to work on quality not quantity. Good stories take a LONG time to write, and I’d rather take whatever it takes to do it right.
In closing this review, I would like to say that I could not have been more happy to share a seat with these characters and ride along through the joy and sorrow, the anger and the terror. I’m truly sad that the end came for it, but this is completely overshadowed by the knowledge that there are spinoffs, that there is more to the story. I hope to do reviews of Lockdown and Gold Rush (when available), and I can only hope that you will have experienced We’re Alive as well by that time. I look forward to any and all things that Wayland Productions puts out, because I know I’m getting quality and quantity. Please, do yourself a favor and subscribe. Even if you only listen to the show once a day, even once a week, you will not be disappointed and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a story.