TV Review: iZOMBIE Premiere

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iZOMBIE – PILOT/ Written by DIANE RUGGIERO & ROB THOMAS / Directed by ROB THOMAS / Starring ROSE MCIVER, MALCOLM GOODWIN & RAHUL KOHLI / Produced by SPOONDOOLIE PRODUCTIONS & WARNER BROS. TELEVISION

Liv Moore had it all. A loving family. Supportive friends. A medical residency with the promise of a position as a heart surgeon down the line. And a gorgeous fiancee, with a wedding in three months’ time. Yes, it would be fair to say that Liv had a great life.

Then she went to a party which turned out to be Ground Zero for a quickly aborted zombie apocalypse. And now Liv has – well, a life isn’t quite the word for it.

Liv’s family and friends are worried. She’s become withdrawn and started avoiding them. She broke off her engagement. She abandoned her residency to take up a dead-end job as an assistant coroner. And let’s not forget her sickly pallor and new-found fondness for Goth couture.

Little do they know it’s all for their protection. Because ever since the night she woke up in a body bag, Liv has had an odd craving for brains. It’s a hunger that, if left unsatisfied, causes Liv to become become angrier and dumber. So the new job is a necessity unless Liv wants to take up grave-robbing to satisfy her new dietary requirements or wind up stumbling around like an extra in a Romero film.

It’s a change. And it’s not easy sometimes. But it’s something Liv has come to live with. Figuratively speaking.

Thankfully, her boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, was quite understanding after he noticed that some of his patients were missing a little on the top. In fact, he’s all too eager to study Liv and help her understand what has happened to her – perhaps even find a cure someday. And a side-effect of Liv’s diet – her experiencing stray memories from the lives of the people whose brains she eats – has endeared her to Detective Clive Babinaux, who has started enlisting Liv’s “psychic powers” as an aid in solving various crimes.

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Despite a gorgeous credit sequence with art by the great Mike Allred, iZombie has very little in common with the Vertigo Comics series which shares its name. Apart from the title, a heroine who bears a greater resemblance to Gwen Stefani than the traditional moldering corpse and the conceit that eating brains can impart the knowledge of the deceased, the two series have nothing in common apart from a certain eclectic sense of humor.

Thankfully, while fans of the original Chris Roberson books may be disappointed to find that this pilot is sadly lacking in swinging 60’s ghost girls and were-terriers, it proves enjoyable on its own merits. True, it is one of the countless police procedural dramas that seem to dominate the airwaves these days but the zombie angle puts a unique spin on it. More, the show is self-aware enough to spoof the genre somewhat, given that Liv disguises her true nature from the police by claiming to be a psychic.

Given the creative team involved, comparisons to Veronica Mars are inevitable and apt. Liv narrates the episode from a first-person perspective, with a wry, self-depreciating sense of humor. Rose McIver proves a likable heroine as Liv and the major supporting players prove to be equally capable in dishing out the sarcasm as well as taking it. And the show’s scripts defy the standard RomComDram cliches, such as when Liv decides to try and reconcile with her fiancee only to find him with another woman – not having sex, but playing a violent, zombie-slaying video game!

While genre purists and those hoping for a more faithful adaptation of the original comics may be disappointed, iZombie should satisfy most viewers. When the worst thing you can say about a show is that it seems like Veronica Mars meets Chew, it can’t be that bad. And it isn’t. It’s quite good.

Rating 4

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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