Stay Tuned: I like ‘iZombie’ - you will, too
So you’re an overachieving medical student with a perfect life plan: Become a brilliant doctor. Marry handsome, sensitive fiancé. Then you go to a party, get attacked and turn into a zombie. New, not so perfect life plan: Work in the Seattle morgue. Break up with fiancé. Eat brains. The new show “iZombie” plays with popular culture’s preoccupation with zombies by exploring what happens when a girl who has everything is suddenly launched into the worst identity crisis ever. It’s clever, visually interesting, well-acted and a fun addition to the genre.
Liv Moore (Rose McIver) is smart, focused and a few months away from becoming a doctor when she goes to the disastrous party. Five months later, she’s trapped in a state of ennui, working as an assistant medical examiner and making meals from the brains of the victims who end up in the morgue. (Her go-to recipe is two part brains to one part ramen noodles, sprinkle liberally with hot sauce). Her boss, Ravi (Rahul Kohli), figures out her secret but her family, including her ex-boyfriend Major (Robert Buckley), mom (Molly Hagan) and best friend Peyton (Aly Michalka) think her attitude and appearance are due to PTSD and a Goth makeup phase.
Ravi is nonplussed with Liv’s altered state and begins research to try and cure her. When he finds out that Liv’s brain eating gives her the ability to see the last things the victims see along with some of their traits (a new twist on “you are what you eat”), he encourages her to use her skills to help solve their murder. She soon becomes the “psychic” partner of Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) a skeptical detective but one who is also under pressure to solve cases. He calls their new partnership: Cagney and Pasty.
Based on the Vertigo comic books by Michael Allred and Chris Roberson, the show is from Rob Thomas and Diane Rugierro-Wright, the creator and executive producer of “Veronica Mars.” The series incorporates the sensibility and tone of this background but doesn’t allow either influence to overwhelm it. Each scene begins as an illustration from the comic while Liv’s persona is a nod to the crime-solving Veronica.
Allowing Ravi in on things is a good start and not just because it gives the narrative a way into Liv’s crime-solving. It also eliminates the need for near-misses which would wear thin very quickly. After all, there are only so many ways Liv could hide her new diet from her boss. Keeping her secret from her family and friends is easier and slightly more believable but it will be interesting to see how the writers develop the characters’ suspicions over time. Of all the characters, Blaine (David Anders), the zombie who puts everything into motion, is a standout.
Liv provides voice-over narration that lets you in on her thoughts and feelings. She wonders why she isn’t part of a larger zombie apocalypse and eventually finds a purpose in helping the dead. Her tone is sarcastic and funny, sad and sweet. The perspective of “iZombie” is what makes it entertaining. Zombie stories don’t usually put you in the undead’s place. This show does, with great results.
“iZombie” is on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on The CW.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.