iZombie Pilot Review: Veronica Mars With Braaaaaains?
Death becomes Rob Thomas’s new heroine!
When you’re talking about zombie movies or TV shows, it’s hard not to have brains on, well, the brain. In order for a zombie series or film to really gnaw into your heart, it has to have actual brains in addition to eaten ones, or at least a semblance of smarts in terms of writing. Luckily, iZombie, the new CW show from Rob Thomas (that’s the creator of Veronica Mars, for non-Marshmallows!) has both. For the most part, anyway.
Technically, the premiere of this new show, which follows a medical resident (Rose McIver of Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex-y times) who ends up helping to solve crimes after becoming a member of the walking dead (more on this in premise in a minute!), doesn’t start until tonight at 9 p.m. But we’ve got a quick, non-spoilery review of it for you in full zombie stylez. Let’s us count the ways the pilot is both BRAINSSSY (read: totally smart and cool like Veronica, or better yet, Mac) and BRAINSSSDEAD (read: maybe too much for even Dick Casablanacas).
– Right off the bat, we see our heroine, Liv, bonding with a fellow female hospital co-worker, Marcy. That Rob Thomas, always looking to rep positive female friendships, even if they are sort-lived. (Spoiler alert that shouldn’t spoil much: after a boating incident at a party that night, Marcy and Liv don’t hang much more.)
– Liv gets brains—and knowledge!—from working at her new job at the morgue. When she chows down on mind matter (with hot sauce, as zombies apparently but that shit on everything!), she gains the person’s memories as well as certain qualities. Sounds silly on paper, but it works within the show as Liv’s “psychic” gift gets her a gig helping a detective work on murder cases.
– There are some–but not too many!–references to zombie culture. First episode gives us a couple nods to George A. Romero, as well as a quick mention of 28 Days Later. And that’s it.
– Like Veronica, our zombified leading lady subdues everyone with a “good verbal flogging.”.At one point she makes a Lady Gaga joke that’s not the worst, and later she calls Ravi out for a weird Lion King reference. Oh, and the best is when she explains a top-of-the-car bullet hole: “Maybe he was celebrating drunk cowboy style?”
– McIver does a great job with all of Liv’s one-liners. You can hardly tell that she’s from New Zealand!
– After the Marcy moment, we get minimal girl-on-girl interaction. Save for a scene where Liv’s mom (Molly Hagan) and best pal Peyton (Aly Michalka) attack her new, uh, lifeless way of being (they don’t know she’s a zombie), and another short bit where Peyton does more of same, Liv mainly interacts with men, including fellow crime fighters Clive (a detective played by Malcolm Goodwin) and Ravi (a morgue worker played by Rahul Kohli). While it’s great to have double the Wallace this round, but we need a Mac too!
– Liv has an uninteresting love interest in a live body named Major. Despite being compared to Jake Ryan—yes, THE Jake Ryan—early on, Major (Robert Buckley of One Tree Hill, 666 Park Avenue) isn’t quite the major babe, as he makes weird jokes about murder, unknowing kills Liv’s kin (in a video game, but still!) and totally gets her in this predicament by uttering a fate-sealing statement. (And you thought Robert Durst was da jinx!) Oh, their relationship is already doomed cause, you know, necrophilia.
– A few guys seem to feel the need to mansplain Liv’s new look. Clive asks her if she’s goth, while a murder suspect tells her to get some sun. It’s like they’ve never seen/respected a pale girl before! Also, shouldn’t we be in awe of Liv’s ability to constantly maintain the platinum blonde look constantly sans hefty salon bills?
– There’s not very much of the comic of the same name left in this adaptation. Well, aside from the fact that our protagonist is a zombie and gains knowledge from eating brains. And the comic book style subtitles that appear between certain sequences.
Just not as much as Veronica Mars. Not yet.
iZombie premieres tonight, Tuesday, March 17, at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Emily Gagne (@emilygagne) is one of the founding members of Cinefilles, a site for wannabe female film and TV critics, as well as an admitted heroine addict. She may not have super strength, or be able to make a stake on command, but she can slay you with her rhetorical devices, endless knowledge of Final Girls and passion for geek girl scoop.
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