Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TV Review: iZombie Season One (2015)

iZombie Season One (2015) created by Rob Thomas, based on the comics by Chris Roberson

The television show iZombie is based on a rather whimsical and imaginative comic book that came out several years ago. In the comic, a young woman named Gwen comes back as a zombie. She keeps her regular personality as long as she eats brains often enough. One of the side effects of brain eating is that she has the deceased's memories. Some of them died violent deaths or had some other unresolved issues in their lives which the girl tries to resolve. She has a ghost and a were-terrier helping her out, kind of a Scooby Gang. Gwen works as a grave digger in an Oregon "green" cemetery where they don't embalm bodies, so the brains are still edible.

The television version changes some things. The young woman is named Liv Moore (obvious pun) and she has memories from eating brains which she uses to solve crimes. She was a medical student but takes a new job in the Seattle coroner's office (so she has access to brains which happen to be from homicide victims). She also has a mother and brother and an ex-fiance (she broke it off when she became a zombie). She was infected at a boat party where a new recreational drug was in use and at the beginning of the show it seems like the drug is what has caused her and others to become zombies.

The series starts with some "murder of the week" episodes that have bits of an overarching narrative included. The coroner knows about Liv's problem and starts working on a cure. Another zombie, Blaine (played delightfully by David Anders), starts a company providing brains to the more well-to-do zombies in Seattle. He makes his own employees by turn street kids into zombies (in addition to infecting some rich people so he has clients). The conflict with Blaine becomes the main narrative by the end of the season. All the later episodes and their murders tie into either Blaine's business or the company that makes the energy drink Max Rager (a well-chosen name) which is the true zombie-creating culprit.

The show's early tone is fairly comedic with some drama thrown in. By the end of the season, this balance is flipped where it is mostly drama with snappy dialogue. The tone is also set by Liv's inner monologue about what's happening--mostly a jokey commentary on what's happening though she shows more of her character (and often the character of the person whose brains she's eaten). The voiceovers are a bit too much in the earlier episodes (especially at the end of episodes where the point of the episode is clear without Liv having to explain it). Thankfully the voiceovers are fewer by the end of the season. The last episode is very dramatic and the creators are confident enough to let the story tell itself, leaving a great ending wanting me to see more. The show doesn't come back till early October, so it will be a long wait. The DVD doesn't come out till late September, so check streaming services like Amazon or Hulu if you want to catch up earlier.

See my reviews of the pilot and the first three episodes after that.

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