iZombie: A New Life for the Undead

When it comes to television, sometimes it is the most surprising material that can spark a brilliant series. Sometimes, it is the right creative team that comes together and channels their prowess into creating an ongoing series worth following week after week. Sometimes, it’s just the right mixture of both that starts the fire. In the case of the first situation, Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics that is largely separate from their superhero universe and focusing on more adult stories) had launched a comic book series called iZOMBIE by writers Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. In the case of the second situation, there is the creative team of Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright. Both are producers who gained a noted following for a television series they created known as Veronica Mars. Showcasing strong characters and story in a tale that feels like a sharp descendant of Nancy Drew, the pair proved their strength in developing and guiding a television series. Why are these two situations noted? Because they have come together, with Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright returning to television with a loose adaptation of the titular comic book for the CW, with the show known as iZombie.

The series follows Olivia Moore (most commonly known as Liv), a medical student who has her eye focused on her work and an engagement with the charming Major Lilywhite. However, her whole life changes when she decides to cut loose for once at a boat party, only for this party to erupt in a zombie outbreak and for Liv to become a zombie herself. Mind you, she hasn’t lost any of her intelligence or personality as a zombie. She only reverts to a truly monstrous state if she goes without eating brains for a while. Still, the result is that she gives up her residency to get a job at a morgue (so as to supply herself with brains) and loses her engagement to Major. Now, it turns out that one of the side effects for a zombie eating brains is that they not only temporarily get parts of the brain’s personality, they also receive some of the memories resting within it. This comes into play when a police detective named Clive Babineux stops by to check in on an autopsy and Liv ends up giving a useful piece of info that could only come from the deceased. To cover for her, Ravi (Liv’s boss and the only one who knows of her secret) claims that she is psychic. Though skeptical, the fact that her information works convinces Babineux to humor the claim and he starts bringing Liv along to use her “psychic” skills to help solve cases. Thus begins their partnership, solving cases while Liv launches her own investigation into what caused the zombie outbreak and what a mysterious man named Blaine has to do with it.

Just like with their previous show Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright have crafted an excellent series right out of the gate. The writing is sharp, with characters already feeling like they exist in this world. Along with that is how they develop over the course of the series. Liv, for example, grapples with and realizes the challenges of living live as a zombie. Her path becomes a tug back and forth between the ways of her old life and old commitments with the new issues such as finding love. Major is also a good example of the show’s strength in writing. At the start of the first season, he seemed like a nice if somewhat generic character, still offering some support for Liv while working at a halfway home for runaways. However, when he starts investigating the disappearance of some teenage runaways, his path grows darker and he grows into a more fleshed-out figure as he tries to make sense of a world that has lost sense to him. The mystery is also well-paced and handled with ease, with each new revelation offering both a help towards realizing the source of the zombies as new hurdles form to be overcome. Of course, the writing isn’t the only strength to this show.

The performances in this show are very well-done, lending themselves well to the material. Of particular note is the series’ star, Rose McIver. She does a good job with her performance as Olivia Moore, showcasing her as she navigates her new life as a zombie. She also works well in showing the “temporarily absorbing personality traits” element of being a zombie, with these borrowed aspects filtering into her and guiding some of her actions and words. Most of all, she helps captures her strength as she stands in the face of adversity, challenging all those linked to the zombie outbreak who dare to threaten her and those closest to her. She is another great, strong female heroine gracing the television screen. Of course, this is fitting from the same creators who introduced the world to Veronica Mars, a teenage private detective who sought the truth when her best friend was murdered. It makes sense that they could follow up one strong series with another.

iZombie is shown on the CW on Tuesdays at 9 PM. The show is also featured on Netflix and Hulu. It’s currently on its second season as of this post, so Hulu is where you can follow new episodes as they air. For those who want to catch up on the first season, Netflix will have you covered.

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