Television series based on comics have skyrocketed in popularity. Shows such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and Fox’s “Gotham,” amassed sizable followings. The CW has notably been dominating the comic TV market with “Arrow,” and “The Flash,” both huge hits, and The CW looks to further its death grip on viewers with another series, “iZombie.” Adapted from the comic book series of the same title, it’s a comedic take on the undead, proving that the zombie genre is as alive as ever.
There’s certainly no shortage of zombie TV shows, with “The Walking Dead,” and “Z Nation,” but “iZombie” fills a fantastic void: comedy. Developed and produced by “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas, “iZombie” stars Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore, a bright, young physician whose future is altered when she’s turned into a zombie. Liv transforms from a medical resident with a handsome fiancé to a recluse working in the coroner’s office. Luckily, Liv doesn’t need to order take out, as her meals are regularly wheeled in on gurneys.
Unfortunately, the newly undead Liv suffers from a dilemma: not eating brains means she becomes sluggish and dimwitted. Thankfully, her employment perks in the medical examiner’s office include a replenishing supply of brains to nom on. In a particularly humorous moment, Liv adds chunks of brains to her ramen. Mmmm, extra protein. Devouring brains, however, comes with a side effect: Liv sees how the victims died. Thus she teams with Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), to solve the case of a Jane Doe. There’s a neat “Monk” meets “Warm Bodies” dynamic, bolstered by the camaraderie between the characters.
“iZombie” benefits from a strong cast of likable characters, animated by phenomenal actors. Rose McIver provides a neat voiceover as Liv, which offers insight into the brain of a zombie. She worries about turning her loved ones, like ex-fiancé Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) into a zombie. The audience feels the conflicted nature of undead Liv. Her partner in the medical examiner’s office, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) plays an enthusiastic confidante, with an unexpected reaction of delight at Liv’s condition. He’s intrigued, wishing to run tests, but reveals that he’d like to cure her condition, showing compassion in addition to curiosity.
What truly sets “iZombie” apart from the horde is that it’s incredibly clever. Stylistically, the show is punctuated by cartoon graphic novel panels with enlightening titles like “The Eager Ally,” which foretell the coming events. It serves to ease scene transitions, as well as reinforce the series’ comic book roots. While there’s definitely action, captivating dialogue is a strong aspect of the show. Liv quips while being operated on by Ravi that being dead likely takes the pressure off. Ravi replies that she’s undead, not dead, adding that “there’s a big difference.” Arguably the most unique trait, however, is that the significant transformation in “iZombie” isn’t from living being to brain-munching, reanimated human. Rather, it’s the adjustment to navigating daily life. Subtly, “iZombie” preys upon viewers, enticing us to sympathize with Liv, our zombie protagonist.
Pop culture tidbits abound, with references to “28 Days Later,” and “Night of the Living Dead,” which Liv studies like an athlete watching game tape so as to avoid full on zombification. Moments like this are marvelously meta, and add a self-aware charm while serving as an homage to the genre. The pilot’s intro presents pre-zombie Liv’s life as disarmingly picture perfect, and her fiancé Major jokes that it’s like the end of “Sixteen Candles.”
If the rest of the series is anything like the pilot, “iZombie” is a show you certainly won’t want to miss. It kicks off with a solid standalone plot, as well as an overarching storyarc. Once again, The CW delivers an addicting comic book-based show. It’s humorous, engaging, and unique, appealing to a wide audience. With a nuanced narrative, veteran actors, and “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas at the helm, The CW’s latest addition to an already strong lineup is bloody good. “iZombie” is delightfully fresh, and the first of 2015’s must-see new shows.
“iZombie” premieres Mar. 17, 2015 at 9 PM on The CW.