iZombie Episode 1.1 (Pilot)
Director: Rob Thomas
Screenwriter: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero-Wright
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders The CW
Air Date: March 17, 2015, 9pm
From writer/director Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and based on the graphic novel of the same name, iZombie centers on Olivia “Liv” Moore, a bright young woman who’s also a newly turned zombie. Her “illness” forces Liv to abandon dreams of becoming a doctor and marrying her handsome fiancé. Devastated, she clings to what’s left of her humanity by working in the city morgue, where she has a convenient supply of fresh brains, and incidentally takes up a hobby solving murders. I had the pleasure of screening the pilot episode at SXSW, followed by a Q&A with director/writer Rob Thomas, writer Diane Ruggiero-Wright, and the principal cast.
Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, and Malcolm Goodwin are a charming team, with great on-screen chemistry. The quick dialogue for which, Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright are famous, is even more fun with zombie jokes, and there are solid one-liners throughout. For example, after a particularly intense battle, Liv declares herself “a dead alabaster badass.” Director Rob Thomas hopes to capture the magic of shows like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the influence of those franchises is prominent. The mild horror elements and sassy rapport between the leads, McIver, Goodwin, and Kohli, are delightful.
Rose McIver’s Liv is a highly relatable member of the undead. Like most people in their early twenties, Liv is just trying to figure out how to inhabit this world with a purpose, hoping to avoid hurting herself or anyone else in the process. Every time Liv eats a new brain, she retains the memories and some of the character traits of it’s previous owner, so we won’t know what kind of Liv we’re going see from episode to episode. Thomas hinted at many surprises to come in a show formula, promising that it will never be boring.
As with any adaptation, there is fear that the heart of the source material will be lost in the page to screen translation. The creators of iZombie are confident this will not be the case. In the words of writer Diane Ruggiero-Wright, “we made a lot of changes, but we kept the essence of the character.” I guess we’ll see what the fans have to say. The double whammy of built-in viewers for the CW Network’s newest show is impressive. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright bring with them the powerful force of Veronica Mars enthusiasts (remember that multi-million dollar kickstarted campaign they fueled?). Plus, iZombie, the graphic novel by Chris Robertson also enjoys a strong readership. Whether fans watch for love of Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright, or they watch for love of the source material, I don’t think they will be disappointed in iZombie.
iZombie premieres tonight at 9/8c on The CW. Check out all the preview videos here.