iZombie Season 1
iZombie is the story of Liv Moore (get it?), a dedicated medical student (Rose McIver) who makes the mistake of going to a party one night. After a massacre, she awakes as a zombie, completed with bleached skin and hair, which means she needs to eat brains in order to keep her higher intellectual functions. So she takes a job at the morgue, and when she snacks on a particular cerebellum, she gets flashbacks from the life of the corpse. The high concept is Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Pushing Daisies.
As a result of the change, Liv breaks up with perfect fiance Major (Robert Buckley) and moves in with friend Peyton (Aly Michalka). Her boss, Dr. Ravi (Rahul Kohli), knows her secret and works to find a cure for zombieism (and provides some welcome good humor to the whole situation when Liv overdoes the pity party). Local police officer Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) works with her to solve cases but thinks her inside knowledge is the result of psychic visions.
It’s loosely based on the comic by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, but with a bunch of improvement tweaks by the development team of Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright. They previously brought us Veronica Mars, which I love and which has a number of similarities to this show: A strong, clever young woman is forced to go solo due to a severely traumatic event. Caring friends don’t know the true details of her situation, as she works to figure out how to cope with what happened to her, narrated with her voiceover. Allred provides scene interstitials, which translate into live action in a cool effect.
A lot happens over the course of season one, which I appreciated, since it feels like a series with real motion, instead of one treading water. It’s a compelling blend of mystery, character interaction, touches of horror, and dark comedy, particularly when Liv picks up uncomfortable traits from the victims, often surprising herself. A killer-for-hire turns out to be a trivia buff, for instance, or Liv gets a daredevil, thrill-seeking attitude from a former sorority sister or her speaking patterns change after she eats the brain of a high school cheerleader.
There are a few supernatural powers, too. Favorite episodes include:
- ”Flight of the Living Dead”, episode 5, which introduces Lowell (Bradley James), a zombie musician who provides some needed friendship for Liv. The mystery is a promotional skydiving stunt gone wrong, and this is where the continuing plotlines really snap into high gear.
- ”Virtual Reality Bites”, episode 6, where Liv eats a vengeful hacker’s brain and ends up with both computing skills and agoraphobia. Liv and Lowell have a great conversation about zombie life.
- ”Mr. Berserk”, episode 10, which has an alcoholic reporter’s murder tied up with the end of the Lowell storyline, and we meet Steven Weber as the head of the Max Rager energy drink company.
There’s also an overarching plot, revolving around Blaine (David Anders), a drug dealer who went to the same party and also became a zombie. He sets up a new business, supplying brains to the infected out of a butcher shop called “Meat Cute”. He’s a creep, but a charming one.
The drug has some connection to the whole zombie plague, with a conspiracy involving the energy drink company. And disappearing homeless kids keep Major involved in Liv’s life, as he’s trying to help them. There’s a lot to like about this show, from the twisted mysteries to the witty dialogue. I want to spend more time with Liv, wishing the best for her and her friends.
The set consists of 13 episodes on three discs. Extras are almost non-existent, consisting of deleted scenes and 29 minutes of a panel from Comic-Con 2014 (which turns out to be hosted by my old housemate Alan Sepinwall, go Alan!). Since that was before the show aired, it’s more about casting and how the show will work than exploring the events of the season.
Disc one has four minutes of four deleted scenes from three episodes. If you get to them through the extras menu, there’s no detail information, but you can also access them per episode, which helps put them into context. Disc two has one half-minute deleted scene. Disc three has two scenes, just over two minutes total, each from a different episode.
The second season debuts this coming Tuesday, October 6, at 9 PM ET, 8 PM CT, on The CW. It’s a good series; you should try it. Here’s a trailer:
(The studio provided a review copy.)