iZombie

IZ1

Liv’s life was going exactly how she wanted, she was on track to becoming a doctor, she was preparing to marry the man she loved, and life seemed like it couldn’t get any better, but it could get a lot worse, something Liv finds out first had when she becomes a zombie and must give up everything, taking a job at the morgue to hide her feeding habits.

A morgue would be a terrible place for a zombie to get its food, day old human just not being very pleasing to the undead palate. In a pinch it might be okay, like if that was all that was available to you and you hadn’t eaten for an entire week or two, but there are way better options than eating dead people, pig for instance. Pork is an excellent substitute for human flesh, it even taste like people. The living seem to judge every kind of meat they eat by how close it is to chicken, the undead judge their meat on how close it is to living humans, and pork seems to come the closest to tasting like living human flesh. I fail to see the point in eating someone who’s already started to rot when you can go out and buy fresh pork instead, it’s even less risky. Hell, there’s times I find myself feeling too lazy to go on the hunt for something of the human variety and just go to my local grocery store instead. It’s not the perfect substitute, but it works. What doesn’t work for me is eating a nearly rotted corpse that’s started to get all mushy and gooey. I know what you’re thinking, I’m a zombie, I can’t have that many high standards when it comes to the things I’ll eat. Well first of all, fuck you for being such a judgmental, lifeist bastard, and second, damn straight I have standards in what I’ll eat. Sure, just like any creature, I’ll eat whatever if I’m starving and don’t have anything available to me, but I prefer not getting to that point. Would you want to eat the slowly liquefying remains of a decomposing cow? Of course not. Would you eat the slowly liquefying remains of a decomposing cow if you had no other options open to you? Most likely. It’s the same with most zombies, just switch cow with human, so you won’t be seeing many zombies hanging around the morgue looking for food, but should you come across one, turn tail and run because that zombie is most likely starving and ready to eat anything that crosses its path. Though if you wish to be nice and save them from a rather unpleasant meal of rotting human, that would be much appreciated too.

iZombie tells the story of Liv Moore, a medical resident on her way to a fantastic life with her dream job and good guy fiancé Major Lilywhite, and no, Major is not his title but his actual name. I’m making sure I say that because it took me a few episodes before I figured it out. One night, the normally reserved Liv takes up an offer to partake in a boat party where the perfect life she imagined comes crashing down on top of her in the form of a small zombie outbreak caused by a tainted drug called Utopium. While most everyone on board is killed, Liv is only scratched and falls overboard, awakening on the beach nearby with a bad hangover and the desire to consume human brains. Because of her new status as a brain eating member of the living dead, her whole life is thrown into chaos with her leaving her residency to work as a medical examiner with the Coroner’s Office and breaking off her engagement with Major in fear of exposing him to whatever has infected her. As a medical examiner she has access to the one thing she needs to maintain any shred of her humanity, human brains. If she goes without these she’ll slowly revert to a mindless, decomposing beast and won’t be able to control herself, but eating brains has a side effect she didn’t see coming. Whenever she ingests brains she gains a small part of that person’s memories and personality, something that comes in handy to police detective Clive Babineaux. Babineaux thinks she’s psychic, something Liv uses as cover to help the detective solve various murder cases involving the people whose brains she consumes. The only person that knows her secret is friend, ally, and boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, the head of the Coroner’s Office that’s determined to cure her zombieism and help her out anyway he can, but Liv isn’t the only zombie trying to survive among the living. A few other zombies “survived” the boat party, and chief among them is Blaine, the very zombie that not only brought the tainted Utopium onboard the boat but turned Liv as well. At first it seems like he might just be a victim of his own vices, but as time goes on it becomes apparent that Blaine is hiding something, and in between helping to solve police cases with Detective Babineaux, Liv is going to have to discover what he’s hiding or face a zombie population that might just continue growing.

IZ7{Hot sauce and brains, a winning combination}

I need to get one thing out of the way right off the bat because it’s a complaint I’ve heard numerous times, iZombie is far from a clone of The Walking Dead. I have no idea how this complaint is so prevalent, but it’s something that seems to come up constantly with multiple versions of “No, I don’t really care much for that show, it’s just a copy of The Walking Dead.” Yeah, it’s really not. In fact, the only similarity between the two is that they both have zombies, other than that they are two completely different shows. I’m guessing it’s some kind of anger over having a competing zombie show on television because I can’t see why anyone would bother to call this a copy of The Walking Dead. iZombie is actually based on the Vertigo comic book series iZOMBIE about a zombie gravedigger named Gwen who, much like Liv, must consume the brains of the living to keep from losing the last bits of humanity she has left. The show and the comic, though similar, do have some major differences such as the main character’s name and profession, as well as the comic’s look at the soul and how it affects a person, but it’s by far nowhere near a Walking Dead clone. The Walking Dead is serious drama focusing on the survivors of a zombie apocalypse and the other is a comedic yet emotional take on the lives of a few zombies surviving in a world that would try and destroy them if they knew of their existence. The Walking Dead has its merits, though I personally struggled to maintain focus with it and gave up by the end of season 3, while iZombie kept me glued to the screen and wanting more after each episode. It’s really going to depend on what you’re looking for, some might enjoy both and others are going to like one more than the other, but I can guarantee you that they are very different shows.

IZ2{Going to have to find the complete comic series now}

I think one of the things that I liked so much about iZombie was how different the premise was, almost like a zombified Law and Order, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know why Law and Order never added zombies, that would have been great. It’s a mostly original idea, zombie coroner eats the brains of murder victims to see what they saw and help solve the mystery of how they were killed. It’s not something I’ve seen at least, though someone is more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong. I enjoyed the premise of a detective/horror/zombie show, and the comedic element made it that much better. It’s more a snarky, sometimes dry humor rather than a full on laugh riot, but that’s what I liked about it, the humor was toned down to be more of a sarcastic, witty humor that would have worked in any kind of detective show. It was just a bit more prevalent than you would have seen in most cop dramas, but this being more a comedy than a drama, that was perfectly fine with me. It wasn’t all laughs and crime solving shenanigans though, at its core iZombie has a lot of heart as it explores the lives of people trying to come to terms with a life that’s been upturned, and it’s not all Liv’s life either. Liv’s ex fiancé Major has had his life completely turned around as well and must deal with the end of the life he thought he was going to have with Liv. There are also a few other zombies trying to make a “life” for themselves, some use their newfound zombieism as a tool for illicit gain, taking advantage of the fact that they’re now much harder to kill, while others are simply trying to survive as best as they can. Also new was the zombie rage exhibited by the undead when they were damaged in some way or otherwise found themselves threatened, in this rage mode the eyes would turn bright red and the zombie was capable of greater feats of strength and brutality, almost as if the zombie was “Hulking out.” It was an interesting addition that almost made the zombie into a superhero, or villain, like figure and, as far as I know, was something new. The undead having to eat some part of a human to stay fresh on the other hand is nothing new, nor is a zombie absorbing some part of its victim, it was done as recently as 2013’s Warm Bodies with the zombies gaining the memories and feelings from eating a person’s brain. What was different was how far they took it. Going without brains not only made a zombie rot faster, but lose any resemblance to who they were, completely losing their mind and reverting to something that only ran on instinct. Furthermore, they almost completely gained the personality of the person whose brains they had fed on, not just their memories, but the essence of who that person had been. If they had been a kleptomaniac, then the zombie might find themselves stealing random objects, if they were a thrill seeker then the zombie would find themselves looking for more adventurous situations, if they had been an alcoholic then the zombie would find themselves having trouble avoiding alcohol, whatever personality quirks the person had would transfer over to the zombie that consumed their brain, at least for a time as it would eventually fade away.

IZ6{Zombie rage does not seem like a pleasant thing}

To make Liv’s personality shifts work right would take an actress who could play a character like she had some form of multiple personality disorder, and actress Rose McIver does a great job, nailing each quirk as if they were her own and seamlessly shifting back and forth between the various personality types. I loved her character and how each episode would showcase Liv becoming a slightly different person. She’d still be Liv, but not the exact same Liv she was in the last episode. This was because almost every episode featured her consuming the brains of someone different, always with the intention of helping them, but absorbing their traits regardless. It made her character fun and interesting with the way her personality would shift in such a manner that you were always kept wondering what she was going to be like next. I thought she did an absolutely astounding job with how much she had to change from episode to episode, hiding who she really was from those closest to her. You felt strongly for her character, wishing she could tell the people she loved what was going on in her life but understanding why she couldn’t. It was a heartfelt performance that made you care so much for Liv and what happened to her. Though McIver shone as Liv she wasn’t the only one that delivered a strong performance. Comic relief Ravi, the head coroner played by relative newcomer Rahul Kohli, does great showcasing a man dedicated to curing Liv of the zombie virus and slowly coming to care for her as the series goes on, becoming not just an ally and confidant, but a close friend as well. Blain, played by David Anders in his second appearance as a zombie after The Revenant, is an interesting mix of asshole, mysterious victim, and charismatic charmer. I found myself liking him as much as I despised him. Malcolm Goodwin’s portrayal of doubting detective Clive Babineaux was a blend of skeptic and believer, combining the two in a way that seemed exactly like how a detective would react to gaining the cooperation of a supposed psychic with powers he doesn’t believe in but who has proven herself able of figuring out things she shouldn’t know. Clive doesn’t quite understand how she really gets her powers, but he knows she can help him solve his cases. One of the best in my opinion was Robert Buckley’s character. Buckley, mainly known for his stint on One Tree Hill and a couple of other shows I’ve never heard of, plays Major Lilywhite, a character that is a fairly bland stereotype of the all-around “good guy.” If he was bland why did I think he was one of the best? Because despite him being so incredibly mediocre and unremarkable, he was so well written and so well portrayed that you ended up liking him a lot, rooting for him as much as you did anyone else. He is kind of the pillar that holds everyone up when things start falling apart, even as he starts to question his own sanity at the thought of zombies being real. Normally this character type would be used to little effect, his only function to move the story forward, but here he becomes the strength people rely on in the middle of chaos and upheaval.

IZ4{Liv shadowed by Ravi (left) and Babinauex (right)}

{Ravi examining an undead Blaine}

{One of the few pictures I could find of Major with his shirt on}

iZombie was possibly one of my favorite shows of the year, a show that went between darker tones and more light hearted moments. It had heart, humor, and horror all wrapped up into one neat little package and didn’t shy away from showing some of the gorier aspects that any zombie fan loves. I can’t wait for the next season.

 

The Undead Review

 

Created By: Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Diane Ruggiero (Veronica Mars)

Starring: Rose McIver (Power Rangers R.P.M., Once), Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill, 666 Park Avenue), Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings, The Lazarus Project), Rahul Kohli (Alone Together, I’ll Be Home Soon), and David Anders (Heroes, The Revenant)

Release Type: Television Release

Channel: The CW

Released By: Spondoodlie Entertainment, Vertigo Productions, DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Television

Release Year: 2015

Television Rating: TV-14

Rotten Heads: Five Heads Out of Five

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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