March 25, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “IZombie”


IZOMBIE:  Tuesday 9PM on CW

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on IZOMBIE:  Liv Moore (Rose McIver) was a go-getting Seattle hospital resident when she suffered an untimely death at a party on a boat, her arm slashed by a mysterious figure.  That hasn’t gotten her down, though:  an unusually sentient zombie, she’s taken a job at a morgue, where she can munch on brains with impunity.  The side benefit is that once she’s ingested said brains, she absorbs some of their owners’ traits and memories, and with the help of her boss Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and Seattle PD detective Clive Babinaux (Malcolm Goodwin)–Ravi knows her secret, while Clive thinks she’s a psychic–Liv uses that knowledge to solve her meals’ murders.

Episode 2:  Although IZombie is largely an offbeat procedural, the show’s second hour, written by series co-creator Diane Ruggiero-Wright and directed by John Kretschmer, delved into some of the story’s mythology.  Liv met Blaine (David Anders, made up to look so much like Spike on Buffy that it has to be a conscious homage), the man whose scratch apparently turned her into an undead, whom she’d previously glimpsed in visions and nightmares.  He’s a zombie, too, and he’s bad news:  a drug-dealer and murderer who’s started extorting other victims for money in exchange for fresh brains.

The crime of the week was relatively lame, a womanizing artist killed, as Clive immediately assumed, by his aggrieved wife.  Where IZombie will get much of its weekly zing is in Liv’s inheritance from her latest corpse, which in this case included the sudden ability to paint, and a generally more sexualized, live-for-the-moment way of approaching life, which included a badly-received attempt to reconnect with Major (Robert Buckley), the somewhat bitter fiancee she’d broken up with after she ceased to be alive (a fact, of course, that he doesn’t know).  McIver brought an appealing yearning to those scenes, and she knows her way around the quips that mark her dialogue the same way it did Veronica Mars’ in the previous series written by IZombie creators Rob Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright.  Where the show is still quite weak, aside from the routine plotting, is in its supporting characters, as Ravi and Clive are mostly stick figures at this point.  Now that we know there are other functioning zombies out there, perhaps the show will build up more of an ensemble.

Helped by a lead-in from CW’s biggest hit The Flash, IZombie had a solid start in the ratings, and it’s an entertaining if not essential hour, with potential to be more.  Its biggest assets to date are Liv and the actress who plays her, but it will need some additional depth if it’s to keep itself safely out of the TV grave.


PILOT + 1:  Has Brains, Could Use More Heart

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."