TV Review: iZombie
Shaneyah Galley reviews iZombie, the new offering from Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars.
As a comics fan, I feel like I should be tired of all the TV and movie adaptations from the last few years. But watching iZombie, I kind of want more.
iZombie is about a woman named Olivia who has the incredible misfortune of having been at a boat party that turned into a zombie attack. She survived – kind of. Unlike most zombie movies, her ‘turning’ was an isolated incident, and life seems to have continued as normal for the rest of the world. Olivia quit her job, broke up with her fiance, and is now dealing with her new un-life as best she can. The only person who knows she’s a zombie is her boss, medical examiner Ravi. He is utterly fascinated by her and shows interest in finding a cure for her “condition.”
So far, the character diversity is a little disappointing – there is one female character besides the protagonist, and only two of the characters are non-white. There’s a major romance subplot, but there’s more than enough wit and murder to balance it.
iZombie is incredibly thematic. Liv, the main character, changes personality and acquires new skills as a result of the brains she eats. It’s a little like Psych, where she pretends to be a psychic to explain her extra-ordinary knowledge about crimes. Unlike Psych she does have vision;, she just doesn’t get them from spirits.
Liv and her zombie issues are an almost perfect analogy for post-adolesent struggles. Liv has her life all figured out before she gets turned, but after it happens, she removes and isolates herself from her old life in an effort to protect her loved ones. This has her understandably spiralling into depression. She is afraid of infecting her fiance, but can’t turn to her family, as they’re confused by her leaving her blossoming career at the hospital for a dead-end (hurr!) job as a medical examiner at the police morgue. It’s a smart move, since Liv can now eat brains in safety and in secrecy, without killing – but of course, she’s not going to tell her mum that.
If you like wit and mystery with a dash of introspective angst thrown in, you’ll enjoy iZombie.
HOWEVER, if you’re already a fan of the comics, you may want to skip this one. Adapting to screen is always dicey; I accept that. But the adaptation of iZombie has broken several of my cardinal rules:
- Never change character names. In the comics, the protagonist is named Gwen. In the TV show, she’s Olivia.
- Don’t remove main characters. iZombie is an ensemble piece, set in a far more paranormal type of universe. Gwen has two besties, one of whom is a werewolf, the other a ghost. So far in the series, Liv has only hung out with her boss and a detective named Clive.
- Book-Gwen cuts her family out of her life entirely. TV-Liv is still very much enmeshed with hers.
- Book-Gwen is a grave digger by trade, an excellent option for a zombie. TV-Liv is a morgue attendant.
- Book-Gwen slowly loses her memories as she consumes more brains – so there are definite costs and balances to her zombie appetite. They may integrate this into the TV show, but they haven’t yet.
Alright, those are almost all of my cardinal adaptation rules, which makes me kind of unhappy.
So in summary: if you’re a comics fan, steer clear of this one and grab the trade. If you’re a fan of fun, crime-y shows and don’t care much for comics, you can enjoy this pretty much guilt-free. Personally, I’m going to have to have a serious think before I sit down for the next episode.