March 23, 2015
I have no interest in the whole zombie thing. Not in Night of the Living Dead or the numerous copycats. Not in The Walking Dead. Zero. (Well, I did like the Mythbusters "Zombie" episode.) In any event, I mostly eschew the horror genre except where there's a strong eschatological element.
So I wasn't planning on watching iZombie, the latest paranormal police procedural from The CW. But it happened to be on and I happened to have nothing else to do. Zero expectations.
And you know what? It's really good! I mean, hands down, the best new series of the year. (I wanted to like Backstrom, but the pilot was so clumsily executed that I haven't gone back for another look. Maybe it's gotten better.)
Rose McIver (previously Tinker Bell, of all characters) is an ER doctor infected with a "zombie" drug (conspiracies are at play, but we've wisely been told nothing about them so far). She transfers to the morgue, where she can blend in better with the non-living dead and eat the occasional brains.
The thing is, this brain-eating (don't worry, it's too comically aware of its inherent goofiness to be gross), occasionally gives her flashes of the victim's last memories, and sometimes temporarily imbues her with their personalities too.
Down in the morgue, Rahul Kohli plays her intrigued colleague (he keeps his London accent while McIver sheds her Auckland roots), who covers for her "eccentricities" while searching for a cure. That he would do this out of sheer scientific curiosity is totally believable.
Malcolm Goodwin takes up the Agent Booth role, utilizing her insights to catch the perpetrators. Her excuse is that she's a psychic; he doesn't care as long as they solve cases.
Rounding out the cast, her family and ex-fiance fret about her constantly, staging the occasional "intervention": they think she's going through a "goth" stage because of lingering PTSD from her traumatic exposure to the "drug" (explained in the media as a bad batch of recreational drugs).
Like I said, I smell an X-Files style conspiracy in the works, but as long as they keep the stories episodic and the conspiracies in the background, I'll go along for the ride.
The series originated as a comic book series and uses comic panels effectively at the start of each segment.
The pilot episode gets the mood just right: dark, to be sure, but never somber; silly when it's supposed to be without getting stupid; and it even works in some upbeat character development without turning saccharine. A bit of Quincy, a bit of Bones, a bit of Angel (including a Spike look-alike).
In my book, that's the right recipe to make a show worth watching. (You can see the first episode here.)