Being a fan of the 12 Monkeys series is like being in a club. One of those “really cool” clubs that only the best, brightest, and most fashionable get to be in. Those of us who watched the series play out live remember it as one of the very few television series where each episode felt like a gift. When it finally ended, it’s a show that stuck an almost impossible-to-hit landing. 12 Monkeys begs to be watched over and over again, because it’s so tightly structured and gloriously written. Because it’s such a niche show, it seems both strange and exactly right that the Word of the Witnesses fan podcast became an essential companion to the series. After nearly two years and 30-plus episodes, the Word of the Witnesses podcast, like the show that inspired it, is coming to its inevitable end.
While there were a few contemporaneous “official” podcasts for the show, Word of the Witnesses is the podcast for 12 Monkeys fans. The reason for this is twofold. First, this is a podcast that came out after the series was over, so there were no secrets to protect or teases for “next week’s show!” Second, this is a podcast made for obsessive fans by obsessive fans. Tina and Brandi, two normal, everyday folks with real-world lives, got together to talk about a show they both thought was perfect. And, in doing so, they created a little piece of perfection themselves.
Because the Word of the Witnessess isn’t just a podcast of friends talking about 12 Monkeys. No, it’s those friends and the people who worked on the series giving deep insights into what the show was, where it went, and what didn’t happen but could’ve.
How 12 Monkeys Fans Keep the Show Alive Even After the Finale
Fan-made 12 Monkeys Funko Pops, image by Dave Kotlan via Facebook
The locus for the 12 Monkeys fandom is a Facebook group known as “Addicts of the 12 Monkeys.” It’s populated by both fans and those who worked on the show, so it’s a great place for behind-the-scenes photos and stories. Ironically, Tina and Brandi, online known as Capital Chick and Beep, respectively, knew nothing about it. In fact, they were rather late to the series, only watching the last two seasons as they aired. Yet, when the finale of the show aired, they were stunned that no one was talking about this perfect show.
Tina, who guested on some podcasts in the past, already started rewatching the series and “gushing about it on Twitter.” Young writers are often told to write the kind of story they most want to read. So, Word of the Witnesses began in that same vein, as the podcast that Tina and Brandi both most wanted to hear.
As Tina told Comic Years:
“At one point in the middle of a discussion about it with Beep and Selina Wilken, a TV reviewer at Hypable, I said, ‘Someone really needs to do a rewatch podcast of 12 Monkeys.’ Selina’s reply was ‘Uh, yeah, you!’ Then Beep, who I had only met once briefly at a convention, messaged me and said, ‘Let’s do it!’
The original plan for the Word of the Witnesses podcast was that it would take about 14 episodes to do a true deep dive into the show. As someone whose profession requires strict planning and meticulous organizing, Tina’s original document plotting out the rewatch podcast didn’t run much more than a dozen episodes. Yet, much like the small fandom for 12 Monkeys, the podcast’s length grew and grew in a surprising way.
As lovely as Tina, Brandi, and their friends are, there were other guest stars who fans of the show are likely more interested in. About a month after they debuted their first episode, they were joined by a very special guest.
How Terry Matalas & the 12 Monkeys Storytellers ‘Took Over’ the Word of the Witnesses Podcast
As I said before, being a fan of 12 Monkeys is like being in a club, and series co-creator Terry Matalas (and current Picard showrunner) is the president of it. If you tweet about the series, he’ll likely see and respond to it. So, when Matalas first heard the Word of the Witnesses podcast, he rallied Monkeys fans to listen and then reached out to Tina and Brandi to ask if they would like him to appear on the show. Upon receiving this message, they were both elated and nervous. It’s one thing to wax philosophical about a story you love amongst friends. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to do that with the person who created the story.
However, after their first interview with Matalas, he returned to guest on other episodes dealing with specific 12 Monkeys stories. Not only that, he brought with him other writers, the cast, and even Stephen Barton who did the music for the latter two seasons. What started out as a fan podcast for a little-known show became the unofficial “official” companion to the series. Matalas believes that 12 Monkeys fans are people who enjoy puzzles. This is why they love to rewatch the series knowing the ending, so they can see how the pieces fit together and how the final picture took shape. Yet, because Tina and Brandi were so good at getting to the heart of the story and its themes, he knew he wanted to be a small part of their show.
As Matalas wrote in an email to Comic Years:
“They were beautifully articulating things we constructed under the surface that might not be visible on the first go-through. They were brilliantly thoughtful, both with excellent creative instincts on their own. The way they were deconstructing story and character was just spot-on. Any writers’ room would be lucky to have them on board. They’ve got the chops. So, it was only natural to want to talk more with them about what we made. Online or off. We had a very small audience. 12 Monkeys was a labor of love for everyone who helped bring it to screen. Everyone behind the scenes was as passionate about it as our fans. It’s a rare thing and something I’m extraordinarily grateful for.”
Thus, the Word of the Witnesses podcast is where fans can learn about why 12 Monkeys is so special. They also can find out about some things that didn’t happen. Matalas and company talked about storylines they abandoned or how they would have altered some of the stories had the show run for more than four seasons. Listeners get great insight into the process of creating the series and a small glimpse at what it was like to bring it to life.
In fact, part of the appeal for Matalas and the rest of Team Splinter was that they got, for just a moment, to do 12 Monkeys stuff with their friends again. “We’re all still very close and try to work with each other as much as possible,” Matalas told Comic Years. “I miss every one of them. Is it too early to talk about a sequel series?” he asked, adding, “I’m only half joking. I think.”
Looking Back at Endings, Beginnings, and the Friends Made Along the Way
Image by Terry Matalas via Facebook
Like 12 Monkeys, the Word of the Witnesses podcast eventually had to end. In fact a major theme of the series is not being afraid of endings, because they are what makes the fleeting moments in our lives so special. The first of a two-part finale podcast for Word of the Witnesses drops today, with the second portion debuting next week. It’s a long final show because this little rewatch podcast grew to become so much more to its participants, the listeners, and the people involved in the show that inspired it. “We’re beyond grateful we were able to share our passion for the story along with the very people who put so much of themselves into it,” Brandi said. “It’s evident everyone involved in 12 Monkeys carries so much love for it and that’s such a special thing,” she added.
The Word of the Witnesses podcast was some lovely new content for fans of 12 Monkeys to enjoy. Tina and Brandi talk about the story in an academic way but one that is interesting and accesible to fans on any level. Their guests helped deepen our understanding of both the series and how much those involved with it love the show. And while there’s not likely to be any more new episodes (save for truly special circumstances), Word of the Witnesses will live alongside 12 Monkeys forever.
The first part of the finale for Word of the Witnesses drops today on Soundcloud or your favorite podcast app, with the second-and-final part dropping next Monday. Also, 12 Monkeys the Complete Series Blu-Ray comes out this month and is currently streaming in full on Hulu.
Are you part of the exclusive 12 Monkeys fan club? If so, share your thoughts about the series, the podcast, or both in the comments below. If not, watch it, then immediately rewatch it while listening to this show.
Featured image by NBC Universal
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.