The Pack is a comedic, post-apocalyptic audio drama about civilization after a nearly world-ending calamity:
Created by J. Gordon Ross and Ash Catherwood, THE PACK is a post-apocalyptic radio broadcast brought to you by the Jet Pack Cops, as they patrol and protect the wastes.
The Pack is staged like a radio broadcast, switching between the perspective of different people from different groups within the wastes. The main focus here is the eponymous Pack, the group of police officers who travel on jetpacks, though a good deal of the story is also devoted to the outcast mutants.
The Pack feels nostalgic and familiar while also feeling incredibly new. The setting and audible aesthetic of the show clearly draws some inspiration from the Fallout games, but mostly the more humorous, desert-based Fallout: New Vegas. The world of the podcast feels different enough to be allusive and reverent without feeling overly similar. The depth of worldbuilding in the show is enough to merit a podcast-specific Wiki, but it isn’t the type of show to demand a full knowledge of the lore onto the listener. Instead, The Pack decides to stay light-heartened, irreverent, and a simple fun listen. The Pack allows the listener to dive deeper, should they want–and with such engaging storytelling, it’s difficult not to want to dive deeper.
The writing and performances in The Pack are all perfectly suited for the absurdist, sometimes nihilistic humor of the show; the jokes land solidly because they’re rooted in a level of self-seriousness the characters hold though the creators clearly don’t. There’s no winking at the camera, no breaking the fourth wall or character–there’s just reveling in the humor of mutants very genuinely asking to be taught how to be cool.
Some of the best culminations of writing and performance are in the show’s many songs. Almost every episode has a musical moment, and the songs are as lyrically ridiculous as they are frustratingly catchy. With its music and worldbuilding, The Pack seems almost adjacent to Fall of the House of Sunshine, though slightly less hyperbolic. The audio drama format could do with more musicals, and while The Pack doesn’t slip into full musical territory, the use of songs here is a welcome change from traditional audio drama formats.
It should be noted that at some points, The Pack struggles with tone issues. There are moments when it seems like the podcast is striving for more social commentary than it can fit into such short episodes, especially with most of the runtime devoted to the world and characters. The intent here is noble, though; it’s one of the reasons shows like The Once and Future Nerd and Solutions to Problems have been quick favorites. The problem is mostly with the execution. If the show were to commit more wholeheartedly to the genuine moments of commentary or weave it in more closely to the jokes, the points being made would come through more clearly.
Even the tone issues with The Pack are a small complaint, though. This podcast is strange, hilarious, and a nice departure from the typical post-apocalyptic intense drama of the medium. The worldbuilding is lush, the performances are solid, and the jokes always land. At just about fifteen minutes an episode, The Pack is the perfect listen for anyone looking for a quick reprieve from the current state of anxieties in the world–to focus, of course, on the hypothetical future’s.