When I first heard that CW was making a series about a zombie who solves crime, I was appalled. Since when have the undead become productive members of society? What ever happened to the good old days of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, where viewers were treated to a flesh-eating horde in all its mindless splendor? Is twenty-something drama really what the zombie genre has come to?
I felt only slightly more optimistic when I discovered that the series is actually based on the popular comic I, Zombie, but I still expected complete, abject failure from the TV adaptation. Instead, I found myself enjoying the show and snorting to myself over some particularly snarky one-liners. Turns out that iZombie is about zombies in the same vein that Buffy was about vampires: they’re there, and they have to be dealt with, but there’s a lot more going on.
Liv Moore (Rose McIver) is just your average, beautiful, over-achieving medical resident with an equally beautiful fiancé, Major (Robert Buckley), who adores her. It looks like Liv has it all until she goes to a party and gets turned into a zombie. (Apparently, that’s what our moms were worried about when they warned us not to stay out late and to avoid parties with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.) During the party-turned-massacre, Liv manages to jump ship and wakes up in a body bag on the beach as the only not-quite survivor.
Cut to five months later and an intervention disguised as a pot-luck dinner. Whenever a mom starts out with “What I’m about to say comes from a place of love,” you can bet that the conversation isn’t going to go well. As it turns out, since Liv is now working in the city morgue, and she has broken up with her perfect fiancé, her family is convinced she has PTSD. At least they don’t know that Liv is now a zombie who only works at the morgue for the easy access to brains that no one will miss. Well, no one except her boss, Ravi (Rahul Kohli), who is super excited about the idea of working with a zombie… as long as he can perform a few tests on her.
The only problem with Liv’s new eating habits is that she starts gaining the memories and habits of her snacks, proving that “You are what you eat isn’t just a ****** thing my mother says about fat people.” Of course, these memories come in handy when she finds herself partnering with new homicide detective, Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), who thinks she is a psychic. As they go about the business of fighting crime, Clive and Liv come to respect each other, and Clive even gives their partnership a name: “Cagney and Pasty.”
In the end, the crime is solved and Liv has come to terms with her life, such as it is. Cue the dramatic dream sequence, indicating an arch-nemesis on the horizon.
While the premise is cheesy, and the crime-drama genre is even more over-done than the zombie angle, the show is actually pretty amusing for what it is. Rose McIver’s depiction of a zombie who just wants to “help find justice for a fellow dead girl” proves that the casting director got it right, and her chemistry with Malcolm Goodwin (detective Clive) is unexpectedly enjoyable.
That being said, if the show wants to go beyond novelty status and actually succeed, it’s going to have to up its game. First of all, the actual crime-solving portion of the show is weak, and the progression of the case is actually a little hard to follow because of everything being crammed into the hour. Secondly, I always appreciate a certain level of attitude, but when it’s being delivered by characters with no depth it’s not funny as much as it is annoying. Finally, the writers are going to have to give viewers something besides just Liv-being-sad-that-her-life-has-changed. Something more than solving crime. They are going to have to give us a real reason to keep coming back week after week.
Language – There is some cursing (a**, b*****), but it is minimal. There are a couple of conversations involving drugs and prostitution.
Violence/Gore – For a zombie show, the violence is very low key. There is one scene of a zombie outbreak and attack on a boat, but it is only about 30 seconds’ worth of the episode. One scene involves a brief flashback of someone falling to their death after being held over a railing. The final confrontation with the killer involves two women tied to a chair, multiple gunshots, and a wreck, but no deaths or injuries. There are several scenes involving Liv eating brains or handling them.
Sexual Content/Nudity – While there is no nudity, there are several scenes that are somewhat sexual (i.e. couples making out at a party, flashback of a prostitute’s encounter with a client, etc.).
Drugs/Alcohol – During the boat party scene, there are drugs and alcohol present and discussed. Being a zombie is described as “being on somebody else’s acid trip.”
*all photos courtesy of CW
The Bottom Line
While the dialogue is entertaining, the show is going to have to find something else to offer if it wants to keep people watching.