Ah a tale as old as time: girl has perfect life, something goes horribly wrong, she ends up dead, and now is solving crimes as a zombie. You know, a completely normal story for TV, who am I kidding that actually sounds pretty rad. Yes, iZombie, based on the DC/Vertigo imprint of the same name has all of the trappings of a by the book procedural, but it is what is done with all of those parts that makes the pilot enjoyable to watch. We follow our protagonist, Liv Moore a recently deceased med student as she chows on brains and helps to solve crimes involving those she feeds on, she has friends and a life outside of the morgue but she just wants to be normal. From this simple premise Rob Thomas, of Veronica Mars fame, manages to build an interesting world for the viewer, and takes the tropes we love but tilts them into an entirely new perspective.
Like I said earlier, iZombie lives or dies based on how well it manages to play with the formula, and since this is a basic procedural that formula needs to be messed with a lot. Luckily, with Thomas at the helm everything manages to pop and scream originality and creativity in this world. Seattle actually feels lived in and that the people who inhabit Liv’s life have a purpose in being there. Whether it be Major her ex-fiance, her overbearing mother, or Ravi her medical examiner boss, each character manages to feel like a real person and not like a fake tv character. The scenes with Ravi and the intervention really helped to nail the overall tone of the show as I loved just how excited Ravi was that they actually live in a world where the zombie plague occurred and apparently no one noticed but him. Watching him examine all of the little bits and bobs in order to begin finding a cure for Liv’s zombiefication is a nice twist on the normal “kill the zombie” plot line you expect to find in the show. There really is no mistrust in Liv and Ravi as he carefully watched her in the months since her change in order to make sure she does not pose a threat, and that is an awesome turn.
Similarly a lot of the great material is only elevated by Rose McIver’s Liv who comes across as Veronica Mars if Veronica was a zombie, and that is awesome. A great deal of people love Thomas previous work and iZombie manages to capture the perfect tone for our heroine as she happens to be the right mix of despondent about her condition, but at the same time enjoying getting to go “full 28 Days Later” because it makes her feel like a badass. McIver has a great presence in all of her scenes and manages to play up the eccentricities of the brains she eats without it being to overbearing, and I can’t wait to see how her character continues to evolve. Liv seems like she will have a strong arc for the season in that she will eventually have to control her zombie impulses or be over taken by them, I just want to see what her interaction with that other zombie from the end will be like as I can only assume he will be our big bad.
As for the actual episode itself, it totally manages to work as a pilot while never feeling to info dumpy or like it is spending to much time on world building. Pilot’s always manages to work best when they don’t feel like a pilot and iZombie has that in spades. I mean if you were to show me this and another episode of the series down the line I have a strong feeling that the tone and direction would be amazingly similar, and that is a great thing. I mean the humor is already here, and the action was pretty great for seeing the horde overtake the boat and Liv unleash her zombie powers. I just want to know how Liv’s zombie side will develop moving forward and whether her eating brains is actually a help or is helping to expedite her zombification process, because eating that many brains can’t be all roses for you.
Overall it was a fantastically strong pilot and I can’t wait to see more.
Final Grade B+
+It’s Veronica Mars as a zombie
+Great setting and most side characters work
+McIver’s Liv is super cool
-Still some procedural pilot elements
-There are some great little imagery jokes with the bronzer and the Sixth Sense joke throughout the episode. I really am a sucker for those type of things.
-I also love the fact that Liv is using zombie movies in order to learn how to blend in and not stand out, she is a clever girl.
-I hope like the comic other supernatural creatures may pop into Liv’s world at a later date, might be a fun twist.