I recently wrote a review of the iZombie pilot for GeekyNews and I’m going to go ahead and share it here. It’s not the same format I’ve been experimenting with, but it’s still a good summary of my thoughts.
On Tuesday, The CW’s psychic doctor zombie crime drama, iZombie, premiered full of murder, mystery, and “inexplicable zombie outbreak” mayhem. Executive produced by Rob Thomas, known especially well among the GeekyNews community for his work on Veronica Mars, and based on a Vertigo comic series, the pilot episode mixes snarky humor and a murder mystery in a quirky introduction to our main characters.
The series stars Rose McIver as Liv Moore, a medical resident-turned-zombie who takes a job working in a coroner’s office, much to her family’s chagrin, because of its access to dead brains. In a twist on the zombie tradition, regular brain eating allows her to keep her intelligence and humanity intact, while gaining some of the memories and skills locked up in the brain she eats. The pilot shows some fun side-effects of this when Liv proves to be a sassmaster in Romanian and temporarily becomes a kleptomaniac. Her medical examiner boss is Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, who is played by Rahul Kohli and who I affectionately nicknamed Dr. Chatterbox. The good doctor is highly energetic and curious, especially when he figures out Liv’s secret, and immediately starts science-ing her to figure out a cure. Rounding out the crime-solving trio is detective Clive Babineaux, played by Malcolm Goodwin. Babineaux does not know what Liv is yet, thinking that she is only a psychic. He’s goodhearted, but a bit brash. His reaction to Liv’s zombie status is probably going to be priceless when it comes out.
As for the episode itself? It had me eating my brains out in delight. Liv is snarky and afflicted with zombie lethargy, which plays well against Dr. Chatterbox’s energy and wit. Meanwhile, her relentless drive to bring the killer to justice makes her an excellent partner for Babineaux, whose own devotion to the cause allows him to look past his skepticism about Liv’s psychic visions. The pilot opened up several paths to explore throughout the season. Her ex-fiance, who she broke up with for fear of making him a zombie, can explore how Liv adjusts emotionally, while her relationship with her family can follow the usual examinations of trust and love as she strives to keep her crime-solving zombie life a secret. Dr. Chatterbox’s, and eventually Babineaux’s, support will no doubt be invaluable to Liv as the show delves into her super-powered zombie side. Keeping spoilers to a minimum, the pilot suggests that not eating brains can make Liv dumber and meaner, like a traditional zombie, but so can extreme anger. Her friendships might prove crucial to keeping these instincts under control, as well as provide her with hope and a semblance of normalcy. After last night’s episode, the show is in a nice place to explore a lot thematically, and have set up a lovable cast of characters to do it.
The one complaint I have about the pilot is that, though it had a combination of backstory, character focus, and action, it ultimately seemed too busy. It gave glimpses of her pre-undead life and had to introduce the cast of characters related to that version of her, while also establishing who Liv is now and the people that comprise this new side of her. It was simply too much to fit into a single episode, and the split in focus resulted in two stories that would have been best addressed with more time and depth. Now that the introductions are out of the way and the foundation has been set, however, the creators should be able to use that time to really explore and tell compelling stories.
As we saw in the opening credits released a few days ago, the artist for Vertigo’s iZombie comic series, Mike Allred, got in on the TV fun by drawing some fantastic panels for the opening sequence. This artistic touch actually carries on throughout the episode, with the transition from commercials starting off as a comic depiction of the scene. While this is a relatively small touch, it is an important one. Beyond referencing the source material, it reminds viewers of the type of story they are watching. iZombie isn’t CSI or The Walking Dead; it is this quirky, explorative work that mashes genres together and puts them through shenanigans in a way that you usually only see in comics. We look forward to seeing how the personality of the show develops.
Now, unrelated to my thoughts on the show, an interesting side-effect on me of the combined medical and crime-solving parts of the show was suddenly coming up with a ton of questions about zombie physiology. According to Dr. Chatterbox, Liv’s heart beats about ten times per minute, and her blood seems highly viscous. So what effect does this have on her other bodily systems? And we see her eating normal food, so how has her metabolism adjusted to death and how does her digestive process work now? Perhaps most intriguingly, Liv gets shot, and while the bullet is removed, they choose not to stitch the wound closed due to the lack of blood flow. So will the wound heal on its own, or will she forever have a hole in her body, and how will this effect her in the future? If you have any thoughts on zombie healing processes, or simply want to share your thoughts on the pilot, let us know in the comments!