What is with zombies and brains? Can’t they seriously go for a pancreas or a kidney once in a while? Anyway, when you think of zombies, what is the first TV show that comes to mind? Was it The Walking Dead? The Walking Dead has cornered the market on the zombies for years, but now a little show named iZombie seems to be shuffling its way to the front of the zombie pack.
Created by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, iZombie follows promising doctor Olivia ‘Liv’ Moore, played by Rose McIver, who becomes a zombie after a freak accident on a boat. Now she finds herself craving brains and is working as a morgue assistant for the Seattle PD to have easy access to food without raising suspicion. Here’s the catch- every time she eats a brain, Liv finds herself recalling the memories of the deceased and inheriting some of their characteristics. Along for the ride is her ex-fiance Major (Robert Buckley), best friend Peyton (Aly Michalka), boss Ravi (Rahul Kohli), detective partner Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) and zombie-nemesis Blaine (David Anders).
What separates iZombie from the hoard of zombie television shows and movies comes down to the show’s concept and its characters.
THE CONCEPT: Like the vampires of the 2000s, zombies have had a resurgence in pop culture with shows like The Walking Dead. But they have always been the same. Just a mindless hoard always shuffling (or sprinting if we think of 28 Days Later and World War Z) for a brain. iZombie takes a different approach. Loosely adapted from a comic book of the same name, the show tweaks the preconceived notions of the zombie. These zombies are no longer marked by their decaying features, but by their pale complexion, increased appetite for spicy foods and brains.
By taking the typical zombie stigma out of the picture, iZombie’s new zombie elements push the dramedy away from the common apocalypse trope. This includes the new side effects caused from eating brains, resulting in visions from the perspective of the deceased. The show begins as a semi police procedural, with Liv’s ‘psychic’ visions allowing her to tag along with Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) a’ la Psych. There is also a subplot featuring zombie-nemesis Blaine and a moneymaking operation to sell brains to zombies. Let’s just say his methods for acquiring these brains are far from legal.
CHARACTERS: Rose McIver leads the cast of iZombie as Liv Moore. Throughout the show’s 13 episodes, she must learn to to find new life as a member of the undead. However, while she tries to grabble with her newfound zombie state, she can get a little sidetracked by her diet. Every episode, Liv inherits the personality traits from a murder victim’s brain. This leads to all sorts of comic moments, from her being a sudden agoraphobe to being a nosy relationship expert. Beyond the comedy, some of the personality traits give Liv perspective on her own life, helping to further her own development.
One character that completely surprised me was Liv’s ex-fiancè and friend Major Lilywhite. From the first episode, I just expected him to be sympathetic eye candy who pines after Liv. That was not the case. The kind, supportive Major goes down a dark path that will leave him irrevocably changed. I’m excited to see how he progresses in the next season. As for the rest of the cast, they are great. Ravi is the nerdy, supportive friend to Major and Liv, Clive is the smart detective that begins to bond with Liv, and Blaine is the mastermind that toys with our heroes. Each character plays their role in this procedural like clockwork and it’s rewarding to see the cast get together for scenes. They all have great chemistry together, even when they are supposed to be enemies. There are moments when Liv and Blaine cross paths later in the season and the tension could be sliced with a knife.
iZombie stands apart from the other zombie shows surrounding it and forges new ground. It’s still trying to find its voice among its predecessors, but I am enjoying the direction it’s taking so far. There is a lovely blend of dark drama and bright comedy that balances the show nicely. It was able to tell a concentrated story within a limited number of episodes, but by the season finale, it left you hungry for more. If you are looking for a new take on living dead, I highly recommend it. I give the first season of iZombie an A-.
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Episode Total: 13
Where to Find it: Netflix (Seasons 1 & 2) and the CW
Favorite Episodes: 1×01 “Pilot”, 1×03 “The Exterminator”, 1×09 “Patriot Brains”, 1×13 “Blaine’s World”