iZombie is a supernatural procedural drama airing on the CW, featuring a zombie partnering with a detective to solve murders. It’s an adaptation of the Chris Roberson and Michael Allred comic of the same name, but only in the loosest of terms.
Created By: Rob Thomas
Network: The CW
Air Date: Ongoing (Airs Tuesdays)
The series stars Rose McIver as Liv Moore, a former cardiac resident turned into a Zombie during a party. With her now unhealthy appetite for brains, she abandons her job and takes a position at the Seattle Coroner’s office. The job gives her access to fresh brains to keep her hunger at bay and humanity in check, but if she feeds, she takes on some of the victims’ personality traits and last memories. While working with Detective Babinaux (Malcolm Goodwin) she and her boss, Ravi (Rahul Kohli), claim she’s a psychic to explain he sudden visions.
The premise itself isn’t bad. It’s certainly more interesting than most procedurals and modern Zombie series. It has a lot of style and manages to keep itself silly even with the somewhat dark subjects it handles. And it has to be said, the comic-style intro and scene transitions are awesome! But it depends on Deus-Ex-Machina a bit too much, on Liv getting a vision or hulking-out (more on that later) at just the right time to solve murders or catch the criminals.
The episodes follow the standard procedural formula: victim, investigation, culprit apprehended. The twist is Liv eats chunks of the victim’s brains to get the visions they need to get the criminal. Along the way they deal with some of Liv’s family and romantic issues—which to me, considering she’s a zombie, feels kinda icky. But while she is the protagonist, I would love it if they explored Ravi & the Detective’s lives as well, to help us form a connection with them. Episode 4 makes some headway on this but only because it’s case-related.
So far, the episodes have stuck to the above formula down to the letter and including some voice-over commentary from Liv, which actually works in the series’ favour as it makes her an even more compelling character. When you’re supernatural, it helps to have something to connect you with us normal folk.
It’s impressive how McIver portrays the different personality traits she inherits from the brains she eats. Her boss Ravi provides the much-needed comedic relief, acting as the mad scientist, studying his zombie employee. The two actors have wonderful chemistry so their scenes are always a joy to watch. On the other hand, there isn’t any chemistry between them and the Detective, making all his scenes drag on more than they should. It doesn’t help the fact that he’s stuck in a very tired trope: the Detective using a disreputable source of information because it works. It’s been done before, masterfully so in series like Psych, but it hinges on the chemistry, which we’ve established is non-existent, and the performances. I have to give it to Malcolm Goodwin, his portrayal is very good. You can feel the stress his character deals with every day.
They seem to be putting David Anders’ character up to be the big bad of the season and at first I didn’t feel it, he felt less of an evil mastermind and more a bumbling sleazeball—much like he is in all his other roles. But then he zombified a one-night-stand, extorted her and has been shown to mercilessly kill people, so I quickly changed my mind! I especially like his scenes with Liv, how he tries to both get into her good graces and still manipulate her. Their Zombie-shop-talk is lovely.
The rest of the cast, however, is entirely forgettable. Even the room-mate and ex-fiancé are bland and uninteresting. Liv’s mother is the cliché overbearing mother, his brother is the cliché annoying teenage brother and so on. It’s still early in the series, I know, but the characterisation is just too weak on the secondary characters.
It’s very early to tell just how deep the ‘lore’ is. Zombies all have chalk-white skin and ash-blond hair…and no one comments on this. I’d say that’s a dead giveaway that something is definitely wrong with you. The way they feed to keep the zombie-urges at bay and keep their humanity is a bit too Vampire-y for my tastes, but it’s not bad, though I wish they explored how other Zombies react to the brain eating—is it just Live who gets a personality shift and memories or do they all? In certain situations they can ‘hulk-out’ and become unstoppable killing machines but so far it’s just another example of Deus-ex-Machina. It’s not something Liv has to struggle with, to keep at bay, but something that happens at the most convenient moment. I wish they had used it as an avenue for character growth.
So far, I’m on the fence with iZombie but the good outweighs the bad. It has an interesting premise, oozes style, Liv is a strong character and her scenes with Ravi are so fun—and good at world building—they overcome some of the series’ deficiencies.
Do note that is just a first impression based on 4 episodes.
4/5 – Exceptional