iZombie: Veronica Mars Creator Proves the Zombie Craze Still Has Bite
iZombie Season 1 Got Spunk and Brains … lots of brains.
Liv Moore (Rose McIver) has taken on many different personas since the night she nearly died.
She’s an expert sniper perched atop a high-rise building. She’s a snarky radio talk show host giving unsolicited relationship advice to her friends.
She’s a young pregnant lady with strong motherly instincts, except she doesn’t have a baby belly.
The only person she can never become is her old self; a promising medical doctor engaged to a picture perfect fiancé.
There’s an explanation to all of this which is going to sound far out there but why not have fun and go with it?
After getting scratched by a zombie, Liv must feed on human brains or she’ll turn into a mindless, undead creature. It’s a good thing she works in a morgue which is an all-you-can-eat buffet of gray matter.
The catch is that Liv temporarily retains the character traits, skills and memory flashes from the brains she eats. Using these visions and new abilities, she helps the Seattle police department solve murders each week.
Liv is the central character in iZombie, which after starting off as a serviceable television show has become not only thoroughly enjoyable but one I excitedly look forward to.
The formula to iZombie’s relatively decent ratings, at least by CW standards, is that it’s a readily accessible show aimed at the network’s core demographic. iZombie also has a wide appeal for fans of supernatural procedural dramas.
It’s a fun, zippy show that has walking, talking, fully cognitive zombies, so it could not be further from a survival horror show like The Walking Dead.
The creator of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas, experience in writing for a young female sleuth lead character and trademark witty banter (some of the best on TV right now) is the big reason why iZombie has a clear blueprint for the show it wants to be.
Add in co-creator Diane Ruggerio-Wright’s talent for incorporating the supernatural element and you got a solid foundation for a TV show.
It’s the procedural aspect which isn’t initially compelling partly because the earlier cases are weaker. In the early episodes, there are times a long expository sentence quickly blurts how the case of the week is solved, making it a little challenging to follow the finer details of the investigation.
The turning point when the show started to hit its stride is when the murders either tie into the season’s overarching story line or when the persona of the week is used to explore a character centric dilemma in an entertaining way.
The balance between the procedural and serialized elements is tricky to pull off. As a new show, iZombie doesn’t want to alienate casual viewers who would want to watch a standalone episode.
At the same time, iZombie gives viewers who are following the ongoing narrative a feeling of forward momentum. Along the way, there are twists, surprises and some really great dramatic moments that’ll make you eagerly anticipate the next episode.
One of the reasons for the show’s success is the wonderful performance by Rose McIver as Liv. She’s joins a list of talented Australian lead actresses on CW shows.
McIver is a natural fit for the role. She can deliver witty dialogue in humorous ways and captures Liv’s spunky personality.
There’s also a darker side to Liv’s predicament. Since she’s become a zombie, she’s had to deal with losing her career, her fiancé and in order to keep her secret she distanced herself from friends and family. She can’t be in a physical relationship either or risk infecting her partner.
Each episode could easily fall apart if McIver couldn’t believably incorporate a different persona without losing the essence of Liv in the process.
The supporting cast is up to the task too. Malcolm Goodwin as Detective Clive Babineaux and Rahul Kohli as Dr. Ravi have good chemistry with Liv.
The best developed story line among the supporting characters belongs to Liv’s fiance, Major Lilywhite. But his arc starts off frustratingly slow.
The other issue is that a lot of the answers Major (Robert Buckley) is searching for are already known to the viewer through Liv’s story line. So the mystery, which for a procedural show is its focal point, is initially lacking in his story.
The story picks up as Major becomes more obsessive and gets in over his head. It’s a fun ride exploring the darker side to an inherently good-hearted, innocent guy.
A good story isn’t complete without a great antagonist and iZombie has that in Blaine. You can call him an entrepreneur, a cold-blooded capitalist, but most of all he’s a smarmy snake played to perfection by actor David Anders.
If you scratch beneath the surface, iZombie isn’t really a show about zombies. But it does have something to say about how’s there’s still life to be found after a tragedy and that there are qualities in others, that may be lacking in yourself, which you can learn to better your life and those around you.
iZombie has got a good recipe for success. The combination of a likable lead character and actress, together with strong writing help make iZombie one of the more underrated television shows of the year. Season 2 premieres on Oct 6 following The Flash on CW.