An Undead Procedural: iZombie

When iZombie was first announced, I was reluctant to get onboard. I am not ordinarily a fan of Zombies. I have proudly never watched an episode of The Walking Dead. But the brains, so to speak, behind the series belonged to Rob Thomas, creator of the late, lamented series Veronica Mars. For that reason alone I had to give it a shot. iZombie turns out to be a clever riff on the detective genre not dissimilar to Veronica Mars. Both series feature twenty-something blondes who solves crimes with a voiceover narration, but there is one very big difference: Liv is of course a zombie. Veronica Mars was a throwback to film noir movies of the 1940’s and 50’s mixed with a healthy dose of teenage angst, with Veronica as the wisecracking heroine, while iZombie is more of a lighthearted comedy wrapped in the guise of a police procedural.

The series is loosely adapted from the comic book series of the same name created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. When over-achieving medical resident Olivia ‘Liv’ Moore decides to prove that she knows how to have fun by attending a wild party, she gets more than she bargains for when the party is attacked by zombies. The next morning, Liv wakes up in a body bag to discover that she has joined the ranks of the living dead. Without an explanation, Liv cuts herself off from her fiancé, friends and family who are confused by her newly pale appearance and uncharacteristically listless demeanor. Unwilling to hunt and kill for food, Liv takes a job at the coroner's office. It is the perfect job where she can use her medical knowledge while secretly snacking on the brains of corpses delivered there. Soon Liv discovers that whenever she eats a victim's brain, she experiences flashbacks which often give her clues as to the nature of the murder. She soon finds a new purpose in life by posing as a psychic, working with Clive Babineaux, a Seattle PD detective, newly-transferred from vice to homicide, to help solve their murders. However one of the side effects is that Liv also inherits some of their personality traits temporarily which leads to some comic moments in the series. Everything from doing kung-fu to speaking fluent Romanian to drinking heavily.

With her shock of white hair and milky pallor, Liv is one of TV’s most visually striking protagonists, and Rose McIver gives her a warm, lively internal life. You root for Liv to find some measure of happiness, or at least peace. Part of her journey is to try and return to sweetness and light and find things in life that are worth going on living for.  Liv is surrounded by men, very-good looking men I might add (A girl’s got have her eye candy!). Detective Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) is initially reluctant to believe Liv’s visions, but as the series progresses, he learns to trust and to rely on Liv to help him solve crimes that are a little out of the ordinary. Despite her affliction, Liv has a hard time staying away from her former fiancé, Major, who ends up getting involved in her drama. She’s also aided by her boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) who soon learns Liv's secret and assists her whenever he can to protect as well as study her. He is determined to find a cure for zombies so that Liv can resume her old life. And then there is Blaine (played by David Anders who has already played scene-stealing arcs on Alias, Vampire Diaries, and Heroes), the drug-dealer turned zombie who sired Liv. His sexy swagger, one-liners and hairstyle recall vintage Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The show is clearly having fun exploring and expanding zombie conventions. The biggest question during the season was could it find a purpose for the characters from her old life who are all somehow oblivious to the fact that she’s now a zombie (her mother thinks she’s suffering PTSD)? Or would Liv continue to be isolated from them? I needn’t have worried, the writers managed to weave both her best friend Peyton and Major into the storylines and set up a humdinger of a cliffhanger involving her brother. The writers wisely created an over-reaching arc for the series involving the villain’s attempts to supply the new Zombie population with a delivery service of brains, and the possibility that the Max Rager energy drink Super Max is to blame for the sudden influx of zombies across the country. iZombie injects fresh life into the increasingly staid genre of supernatural TV.


Elizabeth Kerri Mahon loves to write about Scandalous Women and the men that loved them. Her first book, Scandalous Women, was published by Perigee Books in March 2011. Visit her at scandalouswoman.blogspot.com.

Read all posts by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon for Criminal Element.

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