Mini-review: iZombie 1×1 (US: The CW)

Veronica Mars eats brains


In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW

Are you the kind of person who loves Veronica Mars? Are you the kind of person who loves brain-eating zombies? Do you think you might be the kind of person who would like it if Veronica Mars had been a brain-eating zombie?

Then listen up, because I have a show for you.

iZombie is loosely adapted by Veronica Mars-creator Rob Thomas from his comic of the same name and sees driven medical resident Rose McIver (Power Rangers, Xena, Masters of Sex, Once Upon A Time) take a rare moment to enjoy her life and go to a party. Unfortunately, at said party, David Anders (Alias, Heroes) is passing out his new experimental recreational drug, which has the rather bad side effect of turning everyone into zombies. Guess who gets caught in the flesh-eating crossfire?

Realising she has the power to infect others and that she needs to eat brains regularly if she’s going to avoid a massive IQ drop, McIver abandons her engagement to Robert Buckley* (One Tree Hill, 666 Park Avenue, Lipstick Jungle) and goes to work as a medical examiner. There, by pretending to be a psychic, her ability to acquire memories from the brains she eats starts to come in handy for homicide detective Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings) in solving murders. The only person she can trust not to kill her messily for being the undead monster she is? Fellow medical examiner Rahul Kohli, who might even be able to come up with a cure for her ‘condition’.

As with Veronica Mars before it, iZombie is a whip-smart show about a whip-smart woman who delivers a whip-smart voiceover while she solves crimes, all while juggling repressed passions and emotions, and trying to deal with adult issues. It’s a lot of fun, very knowing and oozes obvious subtexts from every pore, with McIver’s zombie-induced lethargy and lack of joie de vivre standing in as a viewer-determined proxy for anything from depression through to the rejection of societal and familial expectations.

Which should be exactly the kind of thing I would love. Yet for some reason, iZombie left me a whole lot colder than it should have done. Maybe it’s the glibness of it all or the lack of any real darkness; maybe it’s McIver’s annoying family; maybe it’s the fact the show has latched onto the police procedural format as the best way of telling stories; maybe it’s the fact that McIver gets shot and has no apparent capacity to heal – or blood flow – yet doesn’t seem too worried about having a bullet hole in her.

Whatever it is, while the show does have plenty of merits, from the central cast through to the zombie premise itself, it’s not quite gelling for me yet. But then I found the same was true of Veronica Mars, which I appreciate is practically a diagnostic criterion of some form of mental unbalance. So give it a try at least, since it’s entirely possible this might be the best TV show ever. I don’t think it is, but maybe someone’s eating my brain already.

* No, not me


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.