by Tony Ortega
When I heard that the CW was going to do a television adaptation of the I Zombie comic book series previously published (and cancelled way too soon) by DC Comics’ imprint, Vertigo, I was somewhat hesitant to jump on another Walking Dead bandwagon. However, since most of the shows that I watch are on the CW (don’t judge me), I figured I would give it a shot. Plus, Rob Thomas of Veronica Mars fame, was at the helm of the show.
Disclaimer before I begin my review: nothing makes me more excited than to watch or read something where the main character has to overcome some horrible adversity and then turn said adversity to something great. Keep this in mind as you read on. Also, SPOILERS (using my best River Song voice).
Readers of the comic were introduced to Gwen Dylan, a female zombie who works in a graveyard, providing her with a steady supply of brains to consume as she will convert into a mindless zombie without this rather peculiar Paleo diet. The consumption of the brains gives her flashbacks of the person’s life and she sets off to resolve their murder and/or any unresolved issues prior to their death along with her sidekicks: a ghost and a were-terrier.
Viewers of the TV show were introduced to Liv Moore (Rose McIver), a promising hospital resident (paging Christina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy), who had the perfect job and an oh so handsome fiancée Major (Robert Buckley). Liv attends a boat party where a zombie outbreak occurs thanks to a new designer drug. A rapid zombie scratches her, throws her overboard, she is tagged by the coroner as dead, only to be “reborn” as one of the undead. The show flash forwards to five months after that fateful night where she now has a head of white hair, pale skin that would make the Cullen vampires jealous, and employed as a morgue assistant, which also provides her with a steady supply of brains to consume. Like Gwen, Liv must consume human brains to stay intelligent, however, the side effect of her diet is that she receives flashbacks of the person’s life, which she uses to solve their murder.
Five months later, we see that Liv has abandoned many dreams after being reborn as a brain eating zombie: quitting her job as a resident and breaking up with hunky Major, for fear that her secret will be uncovered. She lives in abject fear that someone will find out her secret and have nothing to do with her, or a far worse fate. Her family even stages an intervention as they are concerned that she is suffering from PTSD, which in their minds, would explain why she has gone through such a personality overhaul. We also see a very human side of being a zombie as Liv talks about having to eat anything with major hot sauce for her to feel any gustatory pleasure. I thought that was a great little tid bit of info.
The show has a very Veronica Mars flavor to it as we have a very strong female lead solving crime who narrates to the audience throughout the episode. What differs from VM is that Liv doesn’t really want to solve crime. She is sort of forced into doing so by her mortician boss, the only one that is privy to her secret. Her partner (of sorts), Officer Babinaux. While Officer Babinaux is initially hesitant to work with Liv (as she explains to him the reason for her flashes is because she is a psychic), he comes to rely on her flashes as well as her tenacity to solve the series premiere murder. Ultimately, while having solved the case, Liv came to a startling epiphany: “Life’s short and then you die. And then, then you have to make some decisions. You can skulk around lamenting all that you’ve lost, try to keep yourself numb and isolated. Or you can embrace who you are. I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to help people. Not necessarily as a zombie psychic who eats murder victims brains. I’ve spent five months bemoaning all that was taken from me. It never occurred to me that I’d have something to give; a way to contribute. All I needed was some hope that there was a future that I fit into somehow.”
While I don’t hold much hope for more than a season or two of IZombie (because America would rather watch reality TV), I was quite moved with the writing, pacing and the characterization of the show. It definitely holds a lot of promised as long as Mr. Thomas and his gang maintain the momentum of the series premiere. Yes, I will continue to watch this Veronica Mars/The Walking Dead with a dash of Grey’s Anatomy (seasons 1-10 only) show. You may come to realized how you contribute to the world despite any affliction.