Those who were hoping for a new Buffy show, you may have your wish in iZombie.
Recently, I reviewed One Big Happy, and lamented about how stilted the show was, and how it suffered from “pilotitis,” the affliction that faces many new TV shows trying to garner audience at their outset. So much to explain, so little time.
Well, iZombie certainly solved that riddle.
The story is that a an up and coming doctor, Liv Moore (Rose McIver), gets invited to a party by a medical rival. She planned to spend that night with her fiance, Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley), but he convinces her to live a little. Well, she lives very little, because the boat on which the party is hosted becomes a zombie fest, and she narrowly escapes actual murder, but instead drowns. Much to an EMT’s surprise, she emerges from her body bag on shore.
And that is the first three minutes of the pilot. Nicely done.
A little deft fast-forwarding, some relatively subtle exposition from other characters like her mother (Molly Hagen), brother (Nick Purcha), and her best friend and roommate (Peyton Charles). Within only a few more minutes, we know that Liv has withdrawn from her family, that they don’t know she’s a zombie, and that she’s left “living” medicine for the morgue.
The rest of the episode simply exposes other key plot points (spoilers?): her boss (Rahul Kohli) already knows she’s a zombie; when she eats brains, she gets flashes of the people’s memories; and there is a new detective who clearly needs her help (Malcolm Goodwin). The whole thing is very quick, the exposition painless, the writing sharp and smart, the performances on point.
This should be no surprise to those familiar with the creator of the show, Rob Thomas. Those in the know will remember that he also created Veronica Mars. He’s no stranger to strong, interesting female protagonists. Mars write-mate and executive producer Dianne Ruggiero also certainly helps to keep the show on track.
iZombie has the benefit of having been a comic first, and the CW has been doing pretty well choosing comic book adaptations to green light. If you doubt it, please check out Arrow and The Flash.
Why, then, is this the next Buffy? Well, there’s the obvious parallels: strong young female lead, supernatural creatures (although it’s not clear that the zombies are actually supernatural; there’s a “science gone wrong” and “drugs are bad” thread woven through the first two episodes). There’s something more, though. Researching the comic book, one notices major changes from the original. In the comic, our zombie lead is Gwen and she lives in Eugene Oregon, not Seattle as in the TV show. There are other possibilities from the comic that one wonders if they will appear, but one guesses based on the initial storyline that vampires, werewolves, and the like won’t appear. Time will tell.
The main reason, though, for the comparison to Buffy, is the humor. There is a lot of it, and it definitely reminds one of Joss Whedon’s work, although there is a lot more voiceover in iZombie than in Buffy.
Fans of Buffy who hoped Grimm was going to be a new mainstay for them but were disappointed will be… appointed with iZombie.
10 out of 10 hot sauce covered brains
Eliot has been orbiting show business for over 20 years as an improv comedian, video director, and general guy you might barely recognize. Currently best known for his work on the comedy podcast Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast. He wrote previously for MacEdition.com, and is working on a collection of short sci-fi and weird tales that will probably be published someday. He is also one of three principals in Modest Games.