It’s well documented how I feel about the horror genre. Horror works best on those that are easily suggestible, ergo me. I hate being scared, and no matter how much I tell myself it’s just a movie/it’s only TV I still get freaked out. The closest I can usually get is “suspense” with gusts to “creepy.” For every Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I can enjoy — it’s fun and there’s a love story etc- there is a Supernatural that, while now in a similar vein, relied too much on cheap tricks and jump scares in early episodes to ever let me get into it. Even Buffy had episodes that I had to watch during the day and I still had trouble sleeping. I realize, I’m a wimp. But, at least I know what I like. When sat down to watch the pilot for iZombie all of these thoughts were in my head.
Honestly, I wasn’t even planing on watching. I knew the premise, promising med student becomes zombie, and I checked out there. Zombies are absolutely not my thing. I know that The Walking Dead is not filled with scary scenes (any more) as much as it’s grinding drama, but I’m still not going to watch. But, then I saw the creative team was also responsible for my late and beloved Veronica Mars and I had to check it out despite my trepidations. And I am so glad I did
Rose McIver stars as Liv Moore (get it?) our titular zombie who must eat brains to maintain her humanity. As a side effect she also gains the deceased’s memories which she uses to solve crimes. And? It is not scary. It’s witty, charming, funny, and a little dangerous. It’s everything I usually look for in a series. Even the high concept isn’t too high a bar to clear as the whole thing feels pretty grounded in its own warped reality.
The characters, with the exception of Liv, will need to be fleshed out (sorry) in order to make them tolerable. Her roommate (Elise Gatien) for example seems to be idling around judgmental bitch (and I don’t think that the character was even named in the pilot. According to imdb it’s Corinne) and her mother (Molly Hagan) is in shrew mode more than anything. While it’s made clear that Liv has undergone a radical change in personality since she (un)died, she hasn’t told anyone why she is now the way she is nor why she ended her engagement to the allegedly perfect, if improbably named, Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley). Honestly, the personal dramas are pretty bland but are the only thing keeping this from being a very weird crime procedural so I’ll ignore it for now in hopes the writers know what they’re doing. As the series is based on a comic series there is always the possibility that there is significant groundwork already laid there. Additionally, her cop partner (Malcolm Goodwin) probably should have been recast, he has zero chemistry with McIver and as their partnership is the core of the series I wish they would have found someone with a little talent. Again, pilot. All of this can really change as the series gets going. Plus, David Anders is recurring (as Blaine DeBeers) so that is something to look forward to. (Fun fact, McIver and Anders were on Once Upon a Time simultaneously, as Tinkerbell and Dr. Whale/Dr. Frankenstein respectively, but never interacted)
The one thing I want to emphasize is that this is not the second coming of Veronica Mars. Liv is less ascerbic than Veronica and her situation is very different. Veronica helped people, at least initially, as a means to an end — to find her rapist and Lilly’s killer — her other cases were begrudgingly accepted for the most part. Liv on the other hand is desperate to find some way to go on and the crime solving seems to provide that. How long that will be enough remains to be seen as is how that will play into the central mystery of the series — how did Liv become what she is? Tonally though the shows have commonalities which will serve the VM viewer well as an entry point. Personally I can’t imagine even checking this out if it wasn’t for Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero. The show, at pilot at least, feels like it’s of the same world in a way — serious but not dire — that I can really appreciate. Even the first mystery is perfectly fine as a jumping off point with lots of fun throughout.
iZombie despite it’s silly title and crazy premise has a lot going for it. A great behind the scenes staff along with a really likable lead and enough intriguing things teased in the pilot make for a pretty good start. As with all shows it has it’s problems but luckily it’s on The CW which tends to let show breathe for a while and find their footing. Plus, the high bar for ratings is pretty low. I think this has the potential to be a fun and quirky show that will really fit in on The CW. If they can fix their issues. B- Check it out iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9 e/p on The CW