One Eighteen Migration – a zombie apocalypse podcast

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One Eighteen MigrationOne Eighteen Migration is a new podcast fiction series by Christian Haunton, Christopher Wiig, and Will Ross. I’ve listened to several shows now, and to be perfectly honest I don’t like it.

There are three main issues I have with the podcast:

1. It plays looped music and looped sound effects under the narration.

This doesn’t work. I believe, instead, that it is universally just a bad idea. I’ve said it many times in the past, and One Eighteen Migration use of music and effects doesn’t dissuade me of my belief. My empirical studies of audio stories have shown that they are not improved by playing music underneath them. Instead, a music or sound effect wallpaper comes off as if the creators are either not confident in the writing, the narrator, or both. Audio dramas are audio dramas, audiobooks are audiobooks – to split the difference comes off as a half-hearted attempt to do both. Adding music and effects just doesn’t work. The story must be completely adapted to be audio drama, or just remain audiobook. One Eighteen Migration is neither. Music can manipulate mood in film, or in audio drama, or set a scene for an audiobook story, but it cannot underscore a story and get the same effect as it does in a film or in an audio drama. But, it isn’t just neutral either, it contributes to a general noise making the narrator harder to hear in noisy listening conditions (like practically everywhere you take an ipod). Generally though, I think it just illustrates a temptation too common – to improve the work by adding to it. You can’t airbrush a story’s imperfections by painting them with a thick layer of music or adding in looped sound effects.

2. There is too much swearing.

I love swearing, I swear with great pleasure. But, swearing doesn’t work in scripted introductions or in a journal. When you script-in swearing, when it comes off casually, like it’s just another word, it lessens the effect of the naughtiness (defeating the point). Also, the narrator, Jonas, is supposed to be a college professor. I spent 16 years hanging out with college and university professors. Many do swear, but they sure don’t sound like Jonas. They tend to reserve their swearing for direct quotations and for when they spill a coffee on a pile of essays.

3. The story is too slow.

Greenly, South Dakota, its residents and such might have a great story to tell, but I’m not gonna be able to stick around for it. Even the shortest episode, the twenty-two minute opening show, felt very long-winded. It’s told first person past tense. But, the action is told entirely without dialogue. There is no back and forth, just reportage, diary style. Which of course also kills the suspense – which was already killed by being told in past tense (we can’t be worried about whether the hero is going to die if we are constantly reminded he’s telling us what happened today). Perhaps a journal entry style isn’t the best way to tell a zombie apocalypse story.

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Posted by Jesse Willis

2 thoughts to “One Eighteen Migration – a zombie apocalypse podcast”

  1. I came upon your blog while looking for more information pertaining to this particular podcast. I certainly agree with your review re: the slow pace of the story. I feel like there wasn’t a satisfactory and/or tangible progress during Season One. The author had a few character revelations, though not unpredictable, and a somewhat confusing implication of the main character going insane. Or not. Or so. Or not.

    Having said so, I must admit that, despite these flaws, I’m still enjoying the story – perhaps not as much as Darker Projects Audio Dramas or Zan’s The Corridor, but it’s still entertaining. I disagree with your assessment of Jonas’ “swearing”. I’m not much on swearing myself, but when I do come upon swearing in a story, I try to take the circumstances into account. Granted, Jonas was a college professor, and college professors do not tend to swear gratuitously. However, I only have “issues” with Jonas’ professorship in that…well? He doesn’t seem much like a professor. He doesn’t make any references to his knowledge, doesn’t analyze the situation the way an educated, published man would, etc. BUT I do not have any problems with the swearing and how that relates to his position as a Professor. The world has gone to chaos, the dead are walking the earth, and his town has become a Hitler-ish prison camp. He’s no longer a Professor. While his mind may still work like a Professor, I don’t know that decent language would be maintained under the circumstances for everyone. I just don’t see it as an improbability that his language has eroded, giving way to constant cursing. I’m not so sure my own vocabulary wouldn’t diminish to various grunts and swearing if I were put into the same circumstances.

    Additionally, Jonas is 31, not 71. He’s a relatively young man who most likely became a professor only a few years before the zombie calamity. I’ve known plenty of Ph.D. students aspiring to be professors whose vocabularly consists of language that’d make your local thug blush. It’s more likely that he would regress back to who he was prior to his professorship in such a stressful, psychologically-pressing situation than an individual who has been in the genteel academic world for decades.

    That’s all. Thank you for your review!

  2. Linda, thanks for writing in.

    Indeed, there was one Darker Projects zombie project that I quite enjoyed, you should check it out…

    BTW, I just watched a zombie movie called Diary Of The Dead. In it a film professor (from England) find himself in the middle of a zombie uprising. He did a lot of drinking, but not very much swearing. Still, that’s anecdotal.

    Part of my objection to the swearing was that it didn’t come off as spontaneous. When it’s in a scripted introduction, or in a journal it sounds completely un-spontaneous – which makes it powerless – which defeats the point.

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