In Review: iZombie, Episode 1 “Pilot”

The CW has got me following another of their shows. Girl zombie solves crimes with great dialogue.

iZombie, Episode 1 “Pilot” Broadcast March 17, 2015

Written by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright

Directed by Rob Thomas

Using comic book imagery and introductions at the beginning of each segment, the show begins with Oliva “Liv” Moore at work as a nurse. She handles situations without a doctor around, much to the amazement and jealousy of her peers. She passes on an invitation to go to a boat party to spend the night with her fiancée Major. He suggests she go to the party since she doesn’t do that type of thing ever. “What’s the worst,” he says, “that could happen?” A quick cut goes to the boat where Liv narrates that an “inexplicable zombie outbreak” occurs. She’s hiding under a table, safe so far, as people are getting eaten. She makes a run to jump off the boat to safety, but the image of her mad dashes freezes and then cuts to a body bag on the beach being unzipped from the inside, with her emerging. She thinks, ‘I knew that party was going to blow.’ “Five Months Later,” she’s in a grocery story buying two bottles of hot sauce and a copy of the original Night of the Living Dead. She narrates, ‘Then again, how often can you say you’ve been changed, really changed, by a party?” Cue opening title card sequence featuring some fantastic comic bookesque animations.

“Pot Luck Tuesday” at her apartment with her roommate turns into an intervention with her mother, brother, and Major, who all can’t understand why she quit her job at the hospital to work in the morgue and sits around all day on the couch watching television. Escaping by going to work, Dr. Chakrabarti is looking at a Jane Doe and asks Liv to bag and board the corpse. With the doctor gone, she cuts out the woman’s brain and mixes it with a recently nuked Cup of Noodles. She’s watching her recently purchased DVD as she enjoys her meal, when the doctor returns to ask, “Why the hot sauce? Is that a zombie thing?” Cue first commercial break.

Yes, the show is about a zombie, but not the ones you’re used to. Liv was “scratched” at the death boat party, so she still has a mind. As long as she eats fairly regularly she doesn’t go dumb, which she thinks will make her the stereotypical mindless eater. The premise is fun: zombie eats brains and gets the memories of those she’s eaten. Yes, that was in the film Warm Bodies, but the comic book predates that film by several years. The memoires don’t come clearly, she has to figure out what she’s seeing. She uses this ability to help Clive Babineaux, the newest member of the police force, solve crimes. He doesn’t know what she is, believing Chakrabarti that she’s psychic. The doctor is her confidant and kicks her butt to do more than sit and eat. The mystery of the opening episode is fun for the dialogue, but the killer is quickly apparent when the individual first appears–it’s really convenient. Still, the dialogue is too die for, no pun intended. The last show I recall seeing with a female lead that had dialogue this smart and quirky was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I made the comparison and it is that good. Rose McIver’s line delivery is funny and heartbreaking, especially when she narrates her new undead life. Malcolm Goodwin is a blast as Babineaux, who’s trying to make a name for himself at the station but is stuck with this ultra pale mind reader. The comic relief of the show is Rahul Kohli as Chakrabarti, though, to be fair, everyone has got some funny lines, it’s just that Kohli didn’t have anything serious to add to the episode until just before the closing. In addition to the zombie element, Liv is revealed to have additional abilities which will become much more fun as she learns to summon them correctly. I watched the show with my 15 year old daughter and she said that we have to watch this show together when it airs. Ahhh, bonding over the undead. Is this a father’s dream? For me, it certainly was.

The good: The script by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, the zombie apocalypse on the boat, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, and Rahul Kohli’s performances, the red items and why they matter, and the killer dialogue.

Fun lines: “Now I’m mostly just hungry,” “They got tired of my warnings,” “…ish,” “It’s what I live for,” “Your ate the girl’s temporal lobe. Going to the police is the least you could do,” “Yeah. I guess. Bye,” “Being part of a horde would suck,” “Chivalry is dead,” “Romanian Mean Girl,” and “Damn! That really works!”

The bad: The mystery isn’t much of mystery with the introduction of a specific character, but I was having such a fun time just listening to the characters talk, I could forgive it in a pilot.

The final line: Girl zombie solves crimes with great dialogue. Yeah, the CW has got me watching another of their shows regularly. So long life. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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