Sure, we all know the tried and true undead formula: some mysterious government alien voodoo bacteria virus infects a person. Then, said individual bites another unsuspecting Jane or Jose and before you know it—instant zombie apocalypse. While I confess to being a bit of a sucker for the Z word, even I have my limits. But “iZombie” (Tue. at 9/8 Central on CW) really sinks its teeth into your pink squishy bits with its clever writing, somewhat unique spin on the undead world, and enjoyable characters.
Not normally known for its show quality, CW actually has been doing something right lately. And hiring “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas to adapt “iZombie” is one of them. DC Vertigo’s gritty, amusing, and inventive iZombie comic is fine fodder for Thomas and “Mars” co-producer Diane Ruggiero to spin television into gold. It also helps that they involved the comic book’s creators in the writing and consulting. That way, even in its altered form—and let’s not beat around the bush, it’s an adaption—the show retains some of the comic’s charms.
For those just jumping in, the show starts out when the always severe Liv Moore (played with undead deadpan by Rose McIver), is encouraged by her fiancé, Major (Robert Buckley) to take a night off to enjoy herself. Winding up at a boat party, she’s subsequently scratched by revelers in the thrall of a new designer drug, “Utopium”. Waking up the next morning, she finds herself without a pulse and with an insatiable hunger for that grey (or in this show’s case, pink) matter between the ears. Now, isolated from her living world, Liv tries to balance the tatters of her old life with the increasingly bizarre realities of her new zombie one.
Oh, and she fights crime. Yeah. In a fun little twist, Liv discovers that by eating the brains of the recently deceased (which she mercifully takes from the already departed, thanks to her new city morgue gig), she retains snippets of their memory and personality. This brings her into contact with Detective Babinaux (Malcolm Goodwin), an urbane police officer. Claiming she’s a psychic, due her uncanny knowledge of the crime scene from the brains, she helps Seattle PD solve crimes—as the memories surface, that is.
Quirks like these, in addition to the well-developed subplots and the unpredictable journey of zombie self-discovery (and her attempt to control her zombie-id), give the show an edge over many of the beat-you-over-the-head ilk within the undead sub-genre. The show also relies on comic book art, similar to its namesake, as buffer between each plot point.
In all fairness, though, the show comes across a little more PG-13 than the comic, as the CW likes in their shows. But with such solid characterization, you may not even notice the reduced (yet still meaty) gore quotient. Using more than just zombie gimmickry to infect its viewers, the show also constructs a multilayered, tension-riddled plotline similar to the ones which have worked to great effect for other shows like “Dexter” and “The Walking Dead.” So, it’s no surprise that, given these elements, “iZombie” is a cut above the rest of the often asinine zombie genre chaff.