June 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “iZombie”


The existence of the strikingly similar (in premise) Stitchers provides some perspective on the imagination and skill that’s gone into IZOMBIE.  Both shows involve young women who temporarily enter the minds of the recently dead to solve their murders, but iZombie is put together with consistent wit, intelligence and a strong sense of character.

The central conceit that when zombified but good-hearted medical examiner Liv Moore (Rose McIver) chows down on the brains of a murder victim, she takes on character traits of her meal was iZombie‘s biggest risk, because it could easily have been silly and over-the-top.  Early episodes, where Liv was suddenly a committed artist, or a sociopath, needed adjustment, but the writers and McIver have found the right touch as the season went on, and it’s become something of a showcase for McIver’s wide-ranging talents (suggested previously by her near-simultaneous roles in Once Upon A Time and Masters of Sex); while not quite Tatiana Maslany, she’s ventured entertainingly into habitation by everyone from a shock-jock to a cheerleader.  At the same time, the show’s structure, which began as mostly a procedural, has gradually turned more mythology-minded, with fair success.

iZombie has mostly been relatively light in tone, despite the sometimes grisly plots, but tonight’s season finale, written by series co-creator (with Diane Ruggiero-Wright) Rob Thomas and directed by Michael Fields, was probably its darkest and most violent episode to date.  (You could almost feel how much the show wished it were on cable for the week, where it wouldn’t have had to cut away from some of its major events, and where its characters could have used some profanity.)  It was also quite a busy hour, which found time for Liv’s beleaguered ex Major (Robert Buckley) to massacre a butcher shop full of evil zombies, discover Liv’s condition, become a zombie himself at Liv’s hand when she discovered him near death, then be cured of zombie-dom when Liv gave him the remaining dose of the still-in-development antidote created by Liv’s boss at the morgue, Ravi (Rahul Kohli)–the first dose having been given by Liv to Big (well, Biggish) Bad Blaine (David Anders).  There was also some quality time with the show’s true Big Bad, Vaughn (Steven Weber), whose Max Rager energy drink was the cause of the zombie outbreak in the first place, and who’s already announced his plan to clean his company’s reputation by eliminating all the zombies who are still extant.  In case that wasn’t enough, Liv’s innocent brother was blown up outside the butcher shop, and we ended the season on Liv’s inability to donate blood to help save him, something she’ll have to explain to her mother in Season 2.

As it’s been making adjustments, there have been some rough spots for iZombie, such as the transition of Major from semi-comic former fiancee to vigilante, and the show still hasn’t figured out anything interesting to do with Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), the Seattle cop who works with Liv each week (and experiences her constant changes in personality) but still hasn’t caught on to the fact that there’s something off-key about her.  There was also an odd disconnect in the secondary storyline of Ravi’s attempt to romance Liv’s best friend Peyton (Aly Michalka), who discovered Liv’s secret and then disappeared, apparently because the actress, a recurring guest star, wasn’t available late in the season.  Still, for the most part, the series has been a refreshing adjunct to the usually self-serious (Shaun of the Dead aside) zombie canon.

While iZombie hasn’t been a breakout hit for CW, its ratings have been very much alive, hardly declining even when the regular season ended and it lost its huge lead-in from original episodes of The Flash.  With experienced showrunners like Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright in charge (both are veterans of Thomas’s Veronica Mars), and plenty of room for expansive new plotting, the series may not be deathless, but it should have the time to present quite a few more brain-based recipes that perhaps even Hannibal Lecter hasn’t yet sampled.


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."