We’re Alive: The Complete Third Season

We're Alive: The Complete Third Season Cover

Review #200

After spending over two seasons with these characters, We’re Alive: The Complete Third Season manages to throw some more curve balls and still end on a satisfying, ominous and hopeful note.

Much of the first half of the third season focuses on resolving the loose ends of seasons one and two. The biggest and most obvious one being who betrayed the group to the Mallers. No spoilers, but the whole idea of writing in journals explained in the first season finally gets a nice arc. Before the narration of the epistolary sections felt like crutches. Yes the reason behind it made sense, but it felt jarring more often than not. If narration in audio drama is a turn off for you, then you’ll be pleased to know the sections where a character describes a scene are limited and the quality of writing has improved. Not that it was bad before.

The middle is all set up for the final battle between man and the zombie horde. Where as in previous seasons, the zombies acted more like set dressing, here they are fleshed out and are a more immediate threat. You may recall me tweeting on twitter about certain moments as I was listening. Again, no spoilers, but let’s just say I ran the gambit of feeling happy, sad, angry, surprised, etc. Basically every core emotion within a single episode, most of it in the back half.

The climactic finale We’re Alive: The Complete Third season is so tense you desperately want to cling to some sort of normalcy within this apocalypse, but with both sets of characters knee-deep in zombie blood, you feel there’s no hope for anyone. Throughout it, you’re on the edge and waiting for something to change—even if it’s bad—oblivious to the seeds of hope that have already been placed.

We’re Alive: The Complete Third Season is a good stopping place for the casual fan, but for the vast majority of people who have followed these characters—not finishing the fourth and final season may seem a fate worse than un-death.

5/5 Stars

Interview: Bob Koester, Director of Companions

Interview took place on 01/04/2017. MB=Michael Bergonzi. BK: Bob Koester.

You can check out the review of his audio drama: Companions over at AudioDramaReviews.com shortly after the 200th review celebration on the 29th of January. Check back here to get the link. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget, we have a Patreon.

MB: So, what sparked this story?

BK: The story began with the ending, sort of. I imagined a specific post-apocalyptic scenario basically like the one that Companions ends with, and then decided I wanted to get there by starting from before the apocalyptic event happened.

MB: Interesting. What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

BK: Probably capturing what makes the leads, Harry and Cailyn, fall in love. That’s a pretty big mystery in general, and as I say the original idea was more of a Big Picture Science Fiction thing. I kind of borrowed a trick from Shakespeare by having them already kind of like each other before the story begins, so they just need some incidents to become mutually aware of it.

MB: Yeah, one thing I noticed while listening was that the virus affecting everyone back on Earth sort of took a backseat to the romance. Speaking of that, was the idea of the simulation from the story’s inception or did you think of that later?

BK: Yeah, the love story definitely took over during the course of writing it. As to the simulation, I knew there’d be some sort of long-distance communication from the beginning, with some people far off and isolated in a classic sci-fi way. The simulations came in about halfway through, when I was looking for something that would require the characters to really invest in each other if they wanted to relate.

MB: So you were pretty set on the isolation aspect of the characters and didn’t want Harry and Kay to meet each other in real life. Why make this an audio drama?

BK: Well, it started first as a movie idea (I have a hobby of making short films), then I decided the setting made that too difficult, so I thought of making it a short novel. That’s when I came up with the character of CO, to be the narrator of the novel. But then I decided that the simulation sessions made it all very theatrical. They’re putting on a show for each other, and kind of living their relationship in scenes. It was actually put on as a one-day minimalist stage show. But then I decided as an audio drama I’d have great ability to use background noises and the like to indicate places and events to the audience.

MB: Interesting. I never would’ve pictured a simulation as theatrical. Were the actors in the same room when they recorded or was this all done remotely?

BK: All in one room. For a while it seemed like that wouldn’t be possible, but I’m glad it worked out that way.

MB: Cool. The structure of the narrative is less than traditional. What made you want to tell a story in such a non-linear and unconventional way when so many of the ideas in the story are difficult to grasp? The simulated Harry and Kay vs their real life counterparts and the technical jargon being the two main examples.

BK: Well let’s see. Telling it all as a story from a future point was a way of making that post-apocalyptic future kind of permeate it. It quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time there, narratively, because the romance became so central, so I wanted a kind of developing sense that the events we were seeing had let to something else later. Even though the audience spends a lot of time not knowing exactly what that future was or exactly what the significance of these future characters could be.

As far as the audience picking up on the simulations vs. real-life people, that is a lot to ask and it was kind of a leap of faith in the audience. I think in a stage play there’d be ways to telegraph some of it, or I could have done the same by having the simulations have some sort of voice effect to differentiate them from the real people, but I decided the potential sense of accomplishment the audience would get from figuring it out themselves could be worth the risk.

In the YouTube version of the story, which has accompanying abstract computer graphics, I put in a hint about who is real and who’s a simulation in each scene, but less than half of people I ask pick up on it, and even they all had figured it out before they noticed the clue.

MB: Well, let me just get on record as being one of those confused listeners. You said this was originally a movie idea. Did you have trouble adapting for a medium without visuals?

BK: Um, I didn’t THINK I had trouble, I guess you’d be a better judge of the result. I did definitely have to make some changes. I drastically altered a scene because the early version had relied on visual cues and just using the way a play stage works. But in my head at least it seemed pretty natural once it changed. If challenging.

I’m sure I lean on a bunch of science fiction stuff that makes sense to me and doesn’t occur to me to explain. And pretty much every version had more and more explanation cut out because it can be kind of dead air if it’s not necessary.

Also some more basic stuff, like Harry telling Cailyn that she “sounds worried” rather than “looks worried”. Which is almost counter-intuitive but I liked the idea that the audience could judge for itself whether he was reading her rightly, rather than having to imagine what expression she had that was worrying him.

MB: I get that. I’m the same way with my own writing, never sure of how little information I’m actually giving the reader until someone actually experiences it. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Are there any social media channels readers/listeners can find you at?

BK: You’re very welcome! I’m @hamletseries on twitter. Companions is on Facebook at facebook.com/playcompanions, and I have a blog at hamletseries.wordpress.com that is currently dominated by Companions-related stuff, including ways to listen to or download it.

Endurance: The Complete Epic Series (1-6)

Endurance Cover Art
Author Picture

Produced by Word of Mouth Productions, Endurance is a space opera on the surface, but not at its core. Using the tools of other science fiction before it, the creators of Endurance go wide, rather than deep into their story. The result is a cast of characters who might as well be complete strangers and an episodic structure promising one thing, but giving something else (for good or ill).


The first episode has its social stigma in the portrayal of Choi, a tech-savy asian business tycoon with a stereotypical accent. It's not as bad as stuff from the forties and fifties, but you'd be hard pressed not to roll your eyes at the voice.


By the time episode five rolls around, you have a general idea of where the overall arc of the story is headed. Executed almost like the first Avengers film in which each character is introduced in a creative and interesting way, the first half of the series acts as both a mystery and "page turner."


Each episode is standalone, focusing on a single character and having a full arc. Some pack more of an action vibe, while others are quiet moments. Episode five is perhaps the most emotional scene, dealing with issues like assisted suicide in a believable and almost heartbreaking way. The first episode is a Die Hard-type adventure with very little internal conflict. Episode six is a perfect blend of the two and offers a nice midseason finale for the series.


Endurance manages to be its own thing and still pack a punch episode to episode. Some are hit or miss, but the scope of the project is something to be marveled.


Expect the remaining six episodes shortly after the 200th review of We're Alive Season Three goes live on January 29, 2017. Plus a little something extra.

Michael L Bergonzi    Website   

Press Release: UK International Radio Drama Festival 2017

Submissions are now open for the 3rd UK International Radio Drama Festival (UKIRDF) that takes place in the historic seaside town of Herne Bay between February 20th-25th, the submission deadline is 31st December 2016.

Through a local FM broadcast the festival airs a variety of radio dramas from across the world, in their native languages, over the course of the festival. Once the dramas have been aired FM audiences will be able to listen to the shows again via our website.

As well as featuring in the festival we are also honoured to be able to have two awards, £2,000 for feature drama and £750 for short drama and there is also a Public Award of £750 voted for from our listeners both online and on air.

What makes the UKIRDF so unique is that we are the biggest international radio drama festival in the UK. The 2016 festival had over 60 submissions from all over the world which enabled the creative team to programme 30 feature programmes and 10 shorts over the festival period.

We aim to truly champion the power of that radio drama continues to play in the lives of audiences and to further this the UKIRDF theme is From Stage To Air, more information on this can be found in the Festival Regulations.

UKIRDF remains a free festival to submit to and we welcome radio dramas from national broadcasters, professional bodies and independent producers.

You can check out their website here. Or, if you’re interested in submitting, download and fill out the form.

Press Release: Tales of a Time Lord

December 2016

Tales Of A Timelord: A brand new science fiction audio drama for the extended Whoniverse.

“Slick and fun, in the best traditions of radio sci-fi.” – Roger Dubar (satiria.net / Huffington Post UK)

Taking listeners on a journey through a brand new companion’s eyes, Tales Of A Timelord tells the story of the Doctor somewhere near his 20th regeneration.

Tales Of A Timelord is produced by TOATL Audio, an independent UK creative group working towards universal fame.

“The dialogue is light and fun, the world well-realised and full of detail, the char…acters distinct it’s good and accomplished work and full of potential.”
– Simon Guerrier (Big Finish Productions, Co-Author of ‘Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who’)

“Probably one of the best pieces of fan fiction I’ve ever heard.” – Theta Sigma’s Doctor Who Podcast

Tales Of A Timelord is now available to download on iTunes, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and can be viewed on YouTube.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/tales-of-a-timelord/id1145559612

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/talesofatimelord
Bandcamp: https://talesofatimelord.bandcamp.com/releases
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU6eq_VGUxDRoApHU_uD8lg

More information available at https://talesofatimelord.wordpress.com/

ABOUT

Tales Of A Timelord ( https://talesofatimelord.wordpress.com/ ) is a brand new science fiction audio drama for the extended Whoniverse. The audio drama takes its listeners on a journey through a brand new companion’s eyes with the Doctor somewhere near his 20th regeneration.

Written by R. R. Molyneux
Soundscaped, Directed and Produced by Invokal Music by Merlin

Starring: Invokal as The Doc / Hattie Snooks as Maria The Tour Guide / Lucy Jones as The Entity/ Alex Lynch as Reinhart the Medic. Guest starring: Justin K. Hayward as Captain Stewart.

A Choose your Own Audio Adventure: The Fairy Tree (Michael)

Author Picture

Listening Order



Chapter 1
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 12
Chapter 15
Chapter 17

Review



The Fairy Tree is a choose your own adventure story done in an audio drama format. Since there are multiple routes you can take, this review will follow the path outlined above. This playthrough  erred on the side of being a kind, magical character and not fighting head on when you playing it smart can get you far. Call it my cautious personality.


The production value is top notch and worth the money you pay for it, assuming this style of story intrigues you. The adventure is short lived. At least for the path taken by me. Check out Zane's review for a different perspective and route taken through this fantasy adventure.


Headphones are key to experiencing the full effect of this audio drama. While it's not technically 3D as far as I can tell, it is highly immersive. That sense of being enveloped from both sides separates The Fairy Tree from free or even other paid productions. Again the price of admission is worth every penny.


It goes without saying that your mileage will vary. Not just because of the subjective nature of art, but due to the simple fact that your journey will be different from someone else's. Of course there's the caveat of limited combinations and permutations of plot events. Nowhere is this more clear, than when you're essentially given a redo for a decision you made early on in the story.


That's by far the biggest problem with this audio drama. It doesn't warrant repeat listens and there's no real sense of consequence for the actions you choose.

Michael L. Bergonzi   

Jack Flanders: Dreams of Rio, Week One

Author Picture

Part of Tom Lopez's "Jack Flanders" series, Dreams of Rio has heavy emphasis on the setting, rather than the actors. Judging by how quiet some of their lines are and how overpowering the background sounds are, it seems Mr. Lopez was going for something a bit different than the standard character-based audio dramas.


That combined with what seems like random, but authentic noises, recorded from actual places in Latin America makes the first half of this production feel almost too real. A classic case of truth being stranger than fiction. Fun fact, Mr. Lopez travelled to Rio de Janeiro & the Amazon to record the soundscape for this particular story.


Not only is Mr. Lopez raising the bar for ambience in audio dramas by essentially location scouting (The Cleansed comes to mind as well), he is also a bit of an entrepreneur. While some people may find issues with how he distributes his shows, the Jack Flanders series, as well as hundreds of other audio entertainment can be streamed for a small monthly fee. Rather than going the direct download route, Mr. Lopez is providing a Netflix-type service for his art. Something which some creatives tend to shy away from as it feels too corporate or


Mr. Lopez's company "ZBS Media" has over 238 hours of audio entertainment. Those not interested in paying the monthly streaming fee can get this and other shows for a one-time cost of around $25, depending on the show. The site is zbs.org (download) and can also be found on zbsmedia.com (streamed).


After listening to the first episode, the desire to hear how the story unfolds is almost pathological. Luckily ZBS Media has a 7 day free trial period where you can listen to all of his audio dramas. Something, which is recommended after you hear the ending of the first episode.

Michael L. Bergonzi   

Press Release: The Good Listener

THE GOOD LISTENER

A new 3 part radio drama from Holy Mountain is a highly authentic portrayal of life inside GCHQ.

BBC Radio 4

Monday 31st October at 1415

Tuesday 1st November at 1415

Wednesday 2nd November at 1415

 

Listen to the trailer:

www.holymountain.co.uk

 

The Good Listener is the result of a long and detailed research process undertaken by its creators, writer Fin Kennedy and director Boz Temple-Morris, into the doings of GCHQ, the spy agency responsible for cyber security and digital operations. This is the third outing for the production after one-off radio dramas in 2014 and 2015. During this time Fin and Boz have consulted professionals and experts from all sides, even gaining access to GCHQ itself. Their enquiry has been wide ranging, looking at day to day life inside the ‘doughnut’ as well as the operations themselves and the political context.

 

This story begins a reluctant Henry Morcombe and his team are preparing to listen in to the G20 conference of world leaders. A cyber-attack is detected that targets the electricity network across London – not unusual in itself, but this one is remarkable in its complexity and resilience. Clearly a major attack is about to unfold. This could be a terrorist act, a criminal one or even an attack sponsored by a nation state. The team need to find the source and neutralise the threat before blackouts bring chaos and major casualties.

 

Cyber-crime targeting critical infrastructure remains an issue of serious concern to guardians of national security around the world. Highly secretive projects exist not only to defend against such attacks but also to use them offensively against nation state targets.

 

Owen Teale (Game of Thrones, and currently appearing with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Mans Land) stars as Henry Morcombe, an old school GCHQ agent who is fighting from within to keep the agency from becoming like their USA counterparts, NSA, whom he considers to be data-hungry and militaristic.

 

Holy Mountain are known for innovative productions that are rich in sound and also for tackling serious issues with rigour and balance. See below.

 

Director and Producer Boz Temple-Morris;

“We’re telling a really good story about normal people trying to do an abnormal job. The work of GCHQ is so central to the way we live today – and vital to our national security – and yet so little little is known about what they do and how they do it. Should we be more grateful for the protection they offer us or more angry at the liberties they take with our privacy? Maybe both? The Good Listener takes the audience inside the doughnut but lets them judge what’s happening for themselves.”

 

The Good Listener is created by Fin Kennedy and Boz Temple-Morris and also features the work of Hassan Abdulrazzak (writer, part 2) and Anders Lustgarten (writer, part 3).

 

The Killing Joke Review (Yes, again)

The Killing Joke Graphic Novel Cover

Preamble

To Batman fans, “The Killing Joke” is one of the most quintessential comics in recent years. Comic book readers tend to agree: The Killing Joke is Joker’s true origin story. Last time you heard Zane’s thoughts on one particular Killing Joke adaptation found on YouTube. This week’s review is the same story, but with a different cast and crew  behind it. Whether it be adaptations or reviewing the same exact audio stories, I’d like to do more of this in the future. Call it a spin on the saying: “Different Strokes for Different Folks.” With that said, let’s get down to the review.

“The Killing Joke” Review

The only way to mess up an audio adaptation is with over-the-top acting and bad sound effects. When you’re adaptating a story from a comic book, people tend to gloss over sound effects and go straight for the acting itself. In this particular adaptation, every line of dialogue comes straight from the comic. Like the last “The Killing Joke” review (written by Zane Sexton), this one is also on YouTube. As the title of this one will say, it’s a motion comic and audio dramatization. While the visuals aren’t required, it might’ve helped with the performances.

Not to say they were bad, but they were no Mark Hamill or Kevin Conroy, which they seemed to be trying to emulate in their performances. The actors playing Joker and Batman/Bruce Wayne were over the top is some instances and melodramatic in others. It was hit or miss, more often than not, and a struggle to get through the entire story. The first 10-15 minutes were the most awkward, as if the actors were finding their way into character.

That said, it’s hard to live up to the graphic novel’s acclaim. Even the animated movie failed to capture the story, according to most critics. The general consensus was the off-putting scene in the “prologue” with Batgirl that wasn’t in the original story. Unlike the animated movie, this audio adaptation is faithful to the source material and it’s perhaps its greatest flaw.

If you’ve never read The Killing Joke or know nothing about it, you might enjoy this. Aside from those two reasons, you’re better off listening to the one Zane Sexton reviewed on the site or reading the graphic novel.

It’s as simple as this: if you know what’s going to happen in a story, then the only thing that can make it engaging comes through with the production itself. As far as this adaptation goes, it barely scrapes by.

3.5/5 Stars

Interview: Fault Line Players, Youtube and OTR Serial Homages

With the vast majority of audio dramas being on iTunes and other Podcasting applications, why YouTube? Are there any plans to publish on other platforms?

Ted Falagan – YouTube was simply the most accessible and, most importantly for a troupe that produces everything out of their own pockets, it didn’t cost anything.  We’re also on SoundCloud (where folks can download free MP3’s of our latest works.).  We’ve tried ITunes, Pod-O-Matic, Podbean, and even our own website, but found that YouTube simply reaches the most people and requires the least amount of effort on our part in terms of marketing.  Don’t get me wrong, we do as much social media marketing as humanly possible, it’s just that YT is easy to format and has a bigger reach. Our website is down for the time being, but we plan on re-launching it soon.  But it’s a lot of work to maintain.  Currently, FLP has a staff of two – myself and my wife, Debbie – and we do all of the writing, editing, the majority of the voice acting, and all of the marketing, so we have to try and keep things simple.  Or we collapse!

Talking about the Silver Fox, what made you want to tackle such a classic archetype of radio drama, which some would say has been overdone. Were you going for an homage or something different?

T.F. – I’ve always been a comic book fan and wanted to try a super hero tale.  It seems that the mysterious, lone vigilante hero – armed with only his fists and guns (ala The Green Hornet, Shadow, etc.) is the easiest to translate into an audio format.  ‘The Silver Fox’ is definitely an homage to that form of storytelling.  I suppose it is overdone to a certain extent.  I simply wanted to create a world where this character could exist in and then co-exist and interact with other heroes (many of which will be introduced in future ‘S.F.’ episodes.)  I loved comics specifically for the connectivity of the stories, the characters all existed in the same universe.  Now that Marvel has finally taken the step into translating that to a film universe, I wanted to try and do it with an audio one.  A lot of future threads in my ‘S.F.’ stories will connect in small ways to some of my other audio stories.  And, for those brave souls who follow our works, perhaps they’ll notice and be excited by it. Or not.

Do you record the actors at the same time in the same room, or is this an online endeavor? If you had the chance to do it the other way, would you?

Deborah Fabiano-Falagan – We record everything in a little office / studio in our apartment.  When using outside actors, we have them come in one at a time (there isn’t room for multiple actors) and then they record their lines in one session.  We’ve had actors record lines on their own, using various recording methods, and actually from spots all over the world, but it began to get problematic getting the different recordings from varied sources to sound right, so we discarded that approach.  We have moved recently and now have a bigger space, so we hope to get a troupe together and record some works live in the future.

What are some of your personal favorite productions you’ve done so far. Are there any in upcoming projects you’d like to share?

D.F.F. – My favorite episodes to write are the ‘Asylum of The Mind’ episodes.  That’s our horror anthology series.  Since it’s an anthology, I get to really stretch my imagination and go very dark.  As far as the future goes, we are currently auditioning for new troupe member so we can get more voices into the mix and, hopefully, to get some more writers.  Ted & I can write and act in many shorts, that’s fine, but having more voices both behind and in front of the mic would be the ideal situation.  And that’s what we hope to do.  Right now, we premiere a new short once a month, but we’d love to get enough new talent added so that we can, perhaps, move to a weekly – or at least bi-weekly – schedule as far as content output goes.  That would be ideal.  We always have ideas and new scripts, and will keep creating works of all genres.  We have a 1950’s era, sci-fi series coming called ‘The Aquarians,’ and a continuation of our popular vampire web-series ‘brood,’ called ‘The House of Kaine.’

 

Michael: Thanks to Deborah and Ted for taking the time to answer these questions. A review of The Silver Fox will premiere over at Audio Drama Reviews on December 4th, 2016.