This week saw the premiere of The CW’s comic book based zombie story from the creator of Veronica Mars. As big fans of Veronica Mars, we set the bar high. How did iZombie deliver?
Kat Taylor – Writer
I was a big fan of Veronica Mars so I’m glad to see something from Rob Thomas on television again. And I imagine a lot will be looking to make connections to that show, but I actually didn’t feel they had that much in common – which was a good thing. I mean, there’s the female protagonist, and the voiceover narration; but I also thought the concept cleverly took the basic idea of zombies and superimposed it on a more superhero-like aesthetic.
Rose McIver is very likeable in the role, so I think that’s working for it right out of the gate, as that really could make or break the series. There was something of a sense about its tongue-in-cheek humor, which I’m enjoying and hope that we’ll get more, and having her as the lead really helped sell that to the audience.
There were a couple of things I liked most about the pilot. The first one being that I liked how the whole really-being-a-zombie kind of works similar to the normal-persona vs secret identity in so many traditional comic book properties. From the looks of it, I can’t imagine they’ll be playing up the secret part of the identity all that much – but I do like the idea of them exploring these two differing lives she’s essentially living (one hidden from her friends and family) in such an interesting new way. That’s to say nothing of how it taps into some of the fundamental questions of identity that are often at play in this kind of storytelling. Similar to being bitten by a spider or losing one’s parents, Liv’s transformation has her questioning her whole existence.
The other thing I enjoyed most was the emotional arc, which I wasn’t expecting. They kind of hint at it at the top of the episode with the “PTSD intervention” and I thought the whole ennui thing was going to be a direct result of her being a zombie, but in a more literal sense. That it came more from an emotional place was a welcome surprise – and I like that the series has that kind of emotional grounding for Liv to accept these changes, and explore the potential for who she now is and what she can be.
I’m also intrigued by the vague hints that they gave about this being some kind of a drug – and the possibility for a cure! Really didn’t expect that. With the “it could take years to develop” they’ve well-established that this could be a series-long thing. I’d love to see them do more with that in the future. And I can’t imagine David Anders won’t show up again at some point in relation to the importance of the drug.
My one frustration was that I thought the episode took a bit too long to establish the rules of zombie-ism as it exists within the context of the show. Right out of the gate, I was trying to figure out if Liv was the only one who’s a zombie, who exactly knows that she is, and if it’s unusual for someone in this position to still be cognizant (and if so, what is that makes her so special?).
But overall, a very solid pilot and I’m sure I’ll be watching more.
William Rohrig – News Director/Writer
This week Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas triumphantly returned to the CW with a new ZomCom that bares more than a passing resemblance to Thomas most famous series. Titled iZombie the new show focuses on Olivia Moore, or Liv for short. At the start of the show we see her as a lively medical resident who through her quick thinking saves a man without the need for the doctor’s intervention. This wins her the admiration of her rival, and she is invited to a boat party where things go Romero and she ends up a zombie.
With her lust for life replaced with a lust for brains, she drops out of med school and takes a job at the morgue, where she has easy access to the gray matter. Consuming brains gives her visions of the victims, and how they died, which naturally leads her to solve crimes with a rookie detective. Her boss at the morgue quickly deduces what she is and encourages her while he tries to find her a cure.
In the meantime, she breaks off her engagement with her fiance for fear that she’ll infect him, and her family is confused and upset over her new lax attitude. Liv is the absolute highlight of the show, she’s snarky,and funny, and uses humor to deal with the reality of her situation, but she has real emotional depth, and there are moments where she is clearly weighed down by her predicament. So much so, that when she learns there may be a cure, she excitedly goes to renew her engagement only to find her fiance has moved on.
Like Veronica Mars there are voice overs by Liv that give the viewer insight into her thoughts on the situations that occur. The other two supporting characters are fun as well, Ravi her boss openly accepts who she is without fear or judgment and he’s the force that encourages her to embrace her situation by helping the police solve crimes. The detective she works with, Clive, is trying to prove himself and is at first unwilling to believe Liv when she tells him she’s a psychic, but her visions prove to be credible leads, so he takes her on the case despite his skepticism.
One thing I did appreciate about this show was it’s respect for the zombie genre that partly inspired it. In these types of shows it’s all too easy to appear clever by putting down past works in the genre but every time Zombie media is shown or mentioned in the pilot it’s done with respect for the material never once is there a snarky comment about how “George Romero got it soooo wrong” and Liv at one point towards the end almost goes full classic zombie herself. So Zombie fans need not worry about this show insulting them.
The weak points of this pilot to me was the actual case of the week, which wasn’t any more interesting than the million others cases on the million other procurable shows out there. Liv’s family was a bit bland as well. Also, the lack of a hook for a serialized story hurt the show, as I believe it will be wasting potential if it’s strictly procedural. Overall though, this was a fun pilot and I think fans of zombies and Veronica Mars will love it.
Tyson Gifford – Editor in Chief
I cannot tell you how excited I was for zombie Veronica Mars. As a huge fan of Mars, I had been waiting for Rob Thomas’ next foray into TV. That his next series has so many of the trappings I adored in Veronica Mars (a strong female protagonist, snarky humor, dependable sidekicks) only made my frothing worse.
Many might be attracted to the series primarily on the basis of its use of zombies and a comic book property, Personally I see it differently. As much as I am a fan of comic book shows and zombies, I am more excited that these elements could give a Rob Thomas show a fighting chance with larger audiences. Veronica Mars lasted on 3 seasons, with the 3rd being a significant creative compromise, and Party Down lasted a paltry 2 seasons. I hope iZombie can run a respectable length, perhaps 6 seasons.
But lets talk about the show itself. Quick wit marries awkward moments in crime, that is one way to describe the show. Another would be “What would happen of Mindy, from The Mindy Project, was infected by a zombie, and suddenly became Veronica Mars?” I would also throw in a certain Dead Like Me magic, in the way the show is put together and paced. Funny to think that every show I just mentioned features voice over narration, an often unfairly derided tool in film and TV storytelling. A tool also employed by iZombie
Unlike Will, I am not overly concerned with case of the week mysteries, and the lack of main story hooks. I feel this way because Veronica Mars employed the same procedural elements, and I feel the larger story will come into focus in a similar way to how it did in Veronica Mars.
I was impressed with the cast of the series and their near instant chemistry. Rose McIver as Liv More (get it?) is the clear highlight of the series, though I also adored Ravi and Clive, and found her former fiance Major Lilywhite to be charming in a Logan Echolls (though not such a mess) sort of way.
I eagerly anticipate the rest of iZombie‘s premiere season.
What did you think of iZombie? Tell us in our comments, or on our forums, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of iZombie, and all of your favorite shows.