Monday, June 29, 2015

iZombie - brainy it’s not

tv series review

Season 1

Starring: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, and David Anders

In their eagerness to capitalize on the ongoing comic book adaptation trend, television networks have churned out programs of considerably varying quality, ranging from excitingly brilliant to disappointingly dull. Not everything has been emphatically good or bad, of course. Some projects have just been very thoroughly middling, and the recent adaptation of iZombie falls in that category.

Based (very loosely) on the Vertigo Comics (which is a DC Comics’ imprint) series of the same name, the comedy drama was developed for television by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, and follows the pursuits of Olivia Moore (Rose McIver), a medical resident who is turned into a zombie while attending a boat party, leaving her with a craving for human brains. Her new nutritional requirement leads her to a job at a morgue, but this dietary preference also has its side effects; consuming a brain leaves her with random personality traits of the victim, and she also inherits the memories of the brain’s original owner, which manifest themselves in occasional visions.

Using this newfound ability, Liv helps solve murder cases by pretending to be a psychic and assisting detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) catch murderers and unravel crimes. Her medical examiner boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), serves as her confidant after finding out about her undead condition, which she has kept secret from all her loved ones, including her ex-fiancé Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) and best friend Peyton Charles (Aly Michalka). Meanwhile, fellow zombie Blaine DeBeers (David Anders) has found a way to use the zombie epidemic for his financial benefit, setting up a criminal empire that relies on hurting innocent people, and he, therefore, needs to be stopped.

Led by a snarky heroine and strictly aimed at The CW’s teen audience, iZombie plays out like a cross between Rob Thomas’ own Veronica Mars and the Fox drama Tru Calling (which starred Eliza Dushku as a medical student who works at a morgue and uses her power of reliving the previous day to prevent murders), with some casual cannibalism thrown into the mix. The leads – Malcolm Goodwin and Rahul Kohli in particular – are very well cast and successfully embody their characters.

Initially, the show’s zombie conceit comes off as just an elaborate excuse to make yet another procedural; the mystery of the week isn’t always as intriguing as one would hope and leaves you wanting them to explore the zombie experience more instead of using it as a plot device whenever convenient. The zombie plotline eventually does become more integral towards the end of the season as the various underlying subplots converge, but the time it takes for the show to get to that point leaves you feeling like the writers just didn’t have a solid story that would have made a strong, fast-paced season and had to come up with a lot of filler to make 13 episodes.

On the whole, iZombie is moderately entertaining albeit tiresomely corny. Its protagonist’s brain-munching proclivities may be atypical, but her personality doesn’t fall too far from Veronica Mars; nor does the show try to do much that hasn’t already been done before and seems all too familiar. And while the series does build an interesting universe, it doesn’t explore it to its full potential. Committing more enthusiastically to its zany premise from the start and going for a less meandering, more focused execution throughout the season could have made iZombie a lot more exciting. Still, if you fall in the show’s target demographic and aren’t too demanding, you are likely to enjoy Liv Moore’s adventures and be invested in her fate.

- By Sameen Amer 

Instep Today, The News - 29th June, 2015 *

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