AMC’s The Walking Dead has being continuing the media trend of giving zombies a bit of a bad rap, so it’s just as well that there are movies and TV shows that show life (or something like it) from the perspective of the undead. Rom-zom-com Warm Bodies showed that meeting the right person can warm any zombie’s heart, and UK series In the Flesh documented the struggles of people living with Partially Deceased Syndrome.
The latest character to face the difficulties of living with a constant threat of rotting and a heavy dependence on braaaaains is Liv (Rose McIver), the protagonist of The CW’s latest comic book adaptation, iZombie. Based on the Vertigo series of the same name and adapted for the screen by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, iZombie‘s story kicks off with Liv attending a party on a yacht and being bitten during a sudden outbreak. She wakes up as a zombie, and the only way to prevent her mind and body from deteriorating is to secure a steady diet of human brains.
The ghoulish premise of the original comic book has been altered to fit the formula of a crime procedural with a similar structure to shows like Veronica Mars and Tru Calling. It bears a particular conceptual resemblance to the latter, since Liv obtains some of the memories and characteristics of her “victims,” who are actually just bodies that are brought to the morgue where she works, and uses the knowledge to solve the mystery surrounding their deaths.
iZombie‘s supporting cast includes newcomer Rahul Kohli as Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, Liv’s boss at the morgue and one of the few people who know her secret, Malcolm Goodwin (House of Cards) as police detective Clive Babineaux, Aly Michalka (Easy A) as Liv’s roommate Peyton, and David Anders (Arrow) as Blaine DeBeers, another intelligent zombie living under the radar.
A common trope in the zombie genre is for the shambling undead having some vague recollection of their past lives. For example, in classic horror film Dawn of the Dead, the zombies mindlessly congregate at a shopping mall because they can’t quite break the habit of consumerism, and in the video game series Left 4 Dead some of the zombies’ past vices have caused them to mutate into special types like Smokers and Boomers.
Liv has managed to retain almost all of her memories and personality, but they can be temporarily disrupted by those of people whose brains she’s eaten. In one episode, for example, Liv eats the brains of a Romanian kleptomaniac and gains the temporary ability to speak Romanian, along with the temporary urge to steal stuff.
For fans of the comic books who are wondering how close the show is to the source material, Kohli told TheWrap that it’s “more Wanted than Watchmen… It has its heart and roots in the comic book, but it’s not shot for shot.” He also said that, unlike the comics, the show doesn’t yet include other monsters like ghosts and shapeshifters; season one is going to be all about the zombies.
The CW has already seen considerable success with adaptations of DC comics, having launched both Arrow and The Flash as part of a shared universe, and plans for another spinoff featuring characters from both existing shows. iZOMBIE, which was created by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred, is obviously a bit more niche than the superhero fare, but at a Television Critics Association event earlier this year Thomas talked, half-jokingly, about getting to episode 100.
The show certainly has a strong premise, but does it have legs? Tune in for the pilot tonight and let us know in the comments what you thought of The CW’s latest offering.
iZombie airs Tuesdays @9PM on The CW, starting tonight.