This is a repost of a review I originally posted on urban-fantasy.com
I’m currently out-of-town visiting family and have found myself with several hours of free time in the evenings. My plans for rewatching Babylon Five were dashed by the inability to get Prime on the tv’s streaming, so I needed something else.
A quick scan through Netflix and I found iZombie. I’d seen some of the ads on television for it, and since it isn’t a show I’ve been watching with my husband or with my family, I fired it up.
I’m already into the second season, so I’ll hop in with a review of the entire first season of the show.
iZombie finished its fourth season and has been renewed for a fifth and final season. It is loosely based on a comic book of the same name.
Liv Moore attended a disastrous boat party one night, waking up the next morning in a body bag and craving brains. Now she works at the King County morgue, getting her brains the “legit” way. And a side effect of her feedings, Liv gets visions about the people who have died. She uses this power to help solve murders.
The characters are what make the show. Liv gets a special shout-out in the Highlights section, but really all of them are engaging and interesting. Ravi, Liv’s boss at the morgue, is warm and funny, and I like seeing a genius type character that isn’t just a complete loser socially. Major has a kicked-puppy look that will break your heart, and his arc is well done.
I like the new angle on zombies. They’re a monster on the downswing in an oversaturated market, but iZombie has managed to do something different with them. While the stereotypical rotting, shambling zombie makes appearances in the show, it mostly deals with fully conscious and engaged zombies like Liv.
Blaine is a great villain. So many shows have mediocre or weak villains, especially in the first season. Blaine has neither one of these issues. A charming, self-absorbed drug dealing rich kid, Blaine uses his newfound condition to build his own empire. He wants to own all of Seattle, and with his ambition and brains (of more than one kind), he might actually be able to do it.
And finally, this is a little weird, but I appreciate the brain food creativity. Both from Liv cooking brains in the morgue to eat and help solve murders, to Blaine’s obsessive drive to produce foodie-brain dishes that even zombies can taste. It’s a flash of color and weirdness that really add to the show.
There aren’t too many cons, actually. There is a little too much drama/soap operaness to it, but that’s to be expected from the CW. Almost all of their shows have more than a little bit of that tone. It isn’t too overwrought though, otherwise, it would be a bit much for me to watch.
In the same vein as that comment, especially towards the end of the season, there was a little bit of the Spiderman 2 effect. The show starts to stack so much on Liv that it becomes a bit over the top. It seems to be a game of “let’s see how much we can make Liv’s life suck,” as if being a zombie isn’t enough.
The complete effect of the brains that Liv eats is uneven. At the beginning of the season she seems to have some control over it. The longer the season goes on, the more pronounced the changes are. Liv also seems to have less control over it. I know it is a schtick they want to use for humor and emotional heart-pulling, but its inconsistency bothers me sometimes. And how is Liv ever…you know, Liv? How often does she have to eat? Is there time for each brain to wear off before she’s got to eat another one? These questions may be fleshed out and answered in later seasons, but not so far.
While I like Clive Babineaux as a character, and his repartee with Liv is good, he doesn’t move much beyond the snappy cop persona in Season One. In twenty-two episodes of iZombie, he doesn’t have a lot of backstory reveal or even much of an arc. Hopefully, this is a complaint that the showrunners remedy in later seasons.
The television show/comic book aesthetic it has is a lot of fun. I particularly like the opening:
The minor henchmen in this series are great. Most of them have barely any screen time, but iZombie manages to give them a lot of personality and character in the small amount of time they do have.
The biggest highlight in iZombie is Liv, however. So many female characters are bitchy, unsympathetic, and uninteresting to me. And in many cases, they’re not very feminine, either. But Liv is fantastic. Cute, funny, caring. A little broken. The writers manage to bring forward her bitterness, uncertainty, and anti-social tendencies without making her into a complete pain to deal with. She makes the show and is the main reason I continued to watch it at first. Hopefully, she stays as engaging and interesting as she is now.
And finally, despite the subject matter of the show, iZombie isn’t nihilistic and hopeless. It’s not a depressing watch (at least not yet!) and that is definitely something I can get behind.
Have you watched iZombie? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments below!