This show is dumb, like really dumb.
It’s about a woman who becomes a zombie, but doesn’t become one of those zombies as long as she eats brains. So she quits her job and goes to work at the medical examiner’s office where fresh brains come in regularly. When she eats these brains she gets visions of the people that she eats and helps to solve the crime of how they were murdered while also taking on their personality traits.
Like I said, dumb. The premise is absolutely ridiculous and I never would’ve even bothered to check out the show if it wasn’t for the executive producers, Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero. You see, Rob Thomas created my all-time favorite show, Veronica Mars, and Diane Ruggiero was a key part of the writing staff and an executive producer. They absolutely nailed that show and earned my loyalty to the point that I would watch this show.
(Of course, I didn’t start watching on Netflix until after the third season started, but still.)
At first, this was one of those shows I watched before bed when I knew I was going to fall asleep. A one episode over three nights kind of thing, but after a couple of episodes I started to really see that there was a great show hiding behind the ridiculous premise and I started to give it more attention.
The thing that really makes it work for me is that Thomas and Ruggiero basically took their template from Veronica Mars and applied it to iZombie. You have the strong woman in the tough situation giving voiceover narration, the mystery of the week, the multiple ongoing mysteries, the secrets, the quick dialogue and just the right mix of humor and drama. There are always a lot of balls in the air in this show and it is all building towards something bigger down the road. Which makes those payoffs down the road immensely satisfying.
The mystery of the week episodes aren’t so much mysteries like they were on Veronica, which is a good thing because TV mysteries are pretty easy to solve. You meet like four suspects and it’s always the one with the best alibi early in the show. With iZombie those mysteries aren’t so much things to be solved, but more plot devices and showcases for star Rose McIver to play up whatever brain she’s eaten.
Those brains are the source of a lot of the show’s drama and comedy. Liv eats the brain of a crazy person, she starts seeing things that aren’t there. Liv eats the brain of a stoner teenager, she makes a bong out of an apple. The brain of an alcoholic turns her into a drunk and so on. The brains change who Liv is, but don’t necessarily turn Liz into that person. I get why she doesn’t automatically know who killed her, that’d be a pretty lame show, but it sometimes feels like there are things that she should know about the person she is/she is investigating and doesn’t. A minor complaint, but something that needs to sometimes be overlooked.
To enjoy this show, you really have to look past how dumb all of this is. The part where Liv has to eat the brain, dumb. The where part she acts like the person in often hilarious ways, awesome. If you can accept the premise, you can enjoy this show.
When you accept, you’ll find a show with excellent characters that have great actors playing them. Every character could be my favorite character. Everything they do makes sense for their character and the season long story arcs on this show are very well told. While the mystery of the week stuff can be hit or miss, it’s still good for a few laughs. If the main mystery of the week doesn’t interest you for a particular episode, you’ll still enjoy the side stories that work towards the overall story.
In a way it reminds me of How I Met Your Mother, a show that kept my interest for a long time (but not the whole time) despite my hatred of the main character and his overall story. This show isn’t that, Liv Moore rules, but I do really sort of hate saying I like this show where the lead character is a zombie who eats brains to solve mysteries. Even after getting hooked on this show, I still think it’s dumb.
Which doesn’t really matter because it’s fun and I care about the characters and what happens to them. In lesser hands this show could’ve been an absolute disaster. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero not only overcame the ridiculous premise of their show, but actually made it fun and compelling in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Thanks to them I’m all-in on iZombie which is not something I ever thought I’d say.