iZombie by a person who never saw Veronica Mars
I finally tackled my DVR and watched the pilot episode of iZombie. All last week I noticed a trend when reading reviews for the show. Everyone pretty much compared it to Veronica Mars.
“It’s as if iZombie swallowed Veronica and took on her much-missed spirit.” –Entertainment Weekly
“Liv’s job at the morgue even allows her to solve crimes — just like Veronica Mars!” –The Hollywood Reporter
“Like Veronica, our zombified leading lady subdues everyone with a “good verbal flogging.””-The Mary Sue
These reviews are useless to me. They don’t tell me anything about iZombie.
That’s because I’ve never seen Veronica Mars. I couldn’t tell you the premise of the show. For all I know, it’s about a sword wielding duck named Veronica that hails from the planet Mars. I don’t see the need to compare one show to the other, because it leaves out viewers like me.
If you’re going to compare two shows together, you must explain how they’re similar. Just saying iZombie is Veronica Mars tells me nothing without examples to back it up. If we’re comparing iZombie to other shows, it reminded me of USA’s Psych.
Psych is a modern take on Sherlock Holmes. Like most crime solving shows, iZombie fall into many Holmesian traits. It also has similarities to Psych.
Liv is similar to Shawn Spencer. Instead of having an eidetic memory, she absorbs memories. She retains that bit of knowledge in the same way that Shawn can recall points episodes and seasons later. Like Shawn, she uses the cover of being a psychic to explain her abilities to see the victim’s memories after eat their brains.
Ravi is the Gus from Psych character taking on the John Watson role. He’s a doctor who used to work for the CDC while Gus worked for a pharmaceutical company. Both have a vast knowledge of medical drugs and diseases. John Watson was Holmes’ biographer, while Ravi tracks and records Olivia’s medical progress as a zombie
You even have Detective Clive who could fill a few roles. He’s similar to Juliet O’Hara from Psych being the new rookie cop on the force. But in the Holmesian narrative, he’s the Inspector Lestrade or Tobias Gregson.
Could we even assume early on that the villain of iZombie Blaine could become the Yin or Yang nemesis from Psych?
For me, this show isn’t another Veronica Mars. It’s Psych with zombies. Since both shows are apart of the crime and mystery genres, they both fit that Sherlock Holmes model.
I’ve waited patiently for iZombie to premier since it was announced forever ago. This has been one of the top shows I wanted to see. There are two big reasons for this.
For one, it’s a based on the Vertigo comic with the same title. While I haven’t had the chance to read iZombie, I’m a fan of other titles from the company. They produce stellar comics that are gritty, fun, and incredibly human. They’re a great break from the Big Two of DC Comics and Marvel. I’m also the assistant manager for a comic book store. I try to keep tabs on all the television shows based on comics, because that’s what my customers are watching.
The second reason is I’m a hug fan of David Anders. I’ve loved his work since Heroes. Dr. Whale/Victor Frankenstein is my favorite character on Once Upon A Time. Since the Once writers thought it would be oh so fun to cut out all the interesting minor characters for the incredibly boring main ones, I’ve missed Mr. Anders on my television screen. I’m always excited to see his work. I was happy when iZombie was announced. I was ecstatic when Mr. Anders was added to the main cast. Though, it makes me sad he probably won’t be on Once anytime soon.
Moment of silence for Dr. Whale/Victor…
Since I’m peeved that most reviews compared iZombie to Veronica Mars, I’m going to approach this recap as I would any other pilot episode. I’m going to look at it scene by scene, and then analyze the episode as a whole.
So let’s get started.
We start off in the world of Olivia Moore. Her life is sunshine and rainbows. She has her dream job. She’s got a cute hunky fiancé. She earns the respect of her coworkers. To quote The Lego Movie, “Everything is awesome.”
Until the zombies come.
Partying on a boat, there’s a zombie attack. Liv gets scratched, wakes up in a body bag, and freaks out an EMT.
I must put in a wonderful side note for the title sequence. It’s the same artwork style as the comic books and a beautiful touch to the show. Vertigo Comics isn’t as well known as the Big Two, and it’s currently being dwarfed by Image Comics. It’s a simple way to call back to the original source material reminding the viewer that this is a comic book show.
Flash forward to five months where everything in Liv’s life sucks. Her well-meaning family stages an intervention with hunky fiancé in tow. Her mom spouts off she knows how to fix Liv’s failing life, her daughter is being useless, and mother knows best.
Mother Gothel, because she reminds me of the villain in Tangled, even grabs Hunky’s arms telling Liv she’s wasting her chances with this piece of man meat. Liv’s eye rolling, snooty roommate hops on the bandwagon too.
I’m going to call the roommate “Snoots” because I don’t care about her enough to learn her real name.
Gothel even throws out a guilt line of “You didn’t volunteer for this thing, and you know how important that is to me.” Every time you speak, Mama, I like you less and less.
The family is approaching Liv out of love and worry. I completely understand that. There’s no way for them to know or comprehend she’s a zombie. But it’s the way they approach her that bothers me. Even if you take the zombie bit out completely and put this in a real world scenario, Olivia went through a traumatic accident. Five months later, she probably would still be recovering and suffering from PTSD or something. It’s completely wrong to go to an accident victim this ferociously and pretty much attack her. Even Hunky who supposedly loves her gets in on the banter. The only person in the scene that’s actually human towards her is Evan, her brother (he’s nice so I’ll learn his name). He keeps his nose out of the argument respecting Liv’s privacy.
The family is the real monsters so far in this show. Not Olivia. You’re cool too, Evan.
The eager ally
Olivia leaves for work, and we’re introduced to the brightest ray of sunshine and probably my new favorite character!
Dr. Ravi is a medical examiner for the police department. Liv is the new resident working under him. What you need to know is he wears adorable sweaters, rambles on excited about corpses, and eats cereal over the bodies. He has no filter on his mouth and speaks with energy and kindness to her. After the family bashing Liv just got, she needs someone like him in her life.
Ravi, you are a koala, and I love you already.
Their new case of the week is Jane Doe found dead. Olivia takes immediate interest while Ravi leaves for a different case.
In a great mini montage, Liv cooks up noodles and weighs out a brain. With a heaping helping of hot sauce, she chows down on her make shift brains lo mein.
The lights flip on and there’s Ravi with questions.
He’s wiggling with excitement as he examines Liv spouting off his theory that he always knew that the night of the boat attack was zombies. He noticed over the last five months whichever corpses he left with Liv to finish up were missing parts of their brains.
I already fallen for Ravi, but one interaction sealed the deal for me when Liv asks him how can he be so normal to her. He responds with, “How am I supposed to be?” This is his character defining line for me.
Olivia needs a positive force like Ravi in her life. He sees her as a human and a friend. There’s no fear. Only trust.
I love you, you big sweet koala wriggling puppy of love.
He tells Olivia he used to work for the CDC and would often voice his concern about man made drugs used as warfare. The night of the lake attack, party goers used a new drug called Utopia. Me thinks this is where the zombies came from.
In a quick flashback, I finally get what I’ve been waiting for since iZombie was announced. David Anders is back on my television screen again!
Blaine (Anders) is a sleazy (but hot) guy hitting on Liv. He’s coaxes her to try Utopia, but she declines. Then the zombies attack. Blaine morphs into a (sexy) zombie and attacks Olivia. He scratches her and sends her flying over the side of the boat.
Interesting take on the zombie infection. She changes from a scratch and not a bite. I got a sneaking suspicion that finding out more info on Utopia will be a season long arc.
Back in the present, Olivia says she has to eat brains or she’ll go all dumb zombie attack on a person.
The new detective
Investigator Clive Babineaux is a rookie cop in charge of the investigation on the Jane Doe. All they found at the crime scene were a pair of handcuffs.
This triggers Liv into her first vision of the series recalling the victim being arrested in Canada.
Clive calls BS until Ravi looks up the Jane Doe in the police records. He identifies her, but Clive thinks they’re pulling a prank on him.
“LIV IS A PSYCHIC!” Puppy Ravi blurts out.
Clive wants nothing of this voodoo crap and storms out.
Olivia explains to Ravi that she can see the victim’s memories after eating their brains. Ravi is over the moon excited when she agrees to let him run more tests on her.
Return of the Living Bad Family
Olivia shows up to help build her mother’s posh haunted house. Side note, she has sudden urges to steal red things. This comes up throughout the episode. Snoots snarks at Liv giving more bitchiness to the scene and wasting everyone’s time.
Mother Gothel fails at being sly practically yelling, “Hunky is over there looking sexy with a hammer! Go help him!” Seriously, Gothel dear, do you get a lady boner for your daughter’s fiance? I can’t tell at this point. With another completely abusive line, she says she just doesn’t understand Olivia anymore. You’re not really trying, are you? So far you win the Most Selfish award on the show.
Olivia longingly ganders to Hunky. She loves him so much that she doesn’t want to risk him turning into a zombie. That right there is realistic love and not the fantasy Gothel fails at building between the couple.
An actor fake screams in the distance triggering another vision.
Olivia sees the victim struggling under a masked man. He pulls off the cover revealing the local weather man on the nightly news named Johnny Frost.
Back at the police station
Ravi encourages Olivia to speak with Detective Clive about the weather man. She doesn’t has a choice to continue the psychic act since the zombie excuse is out of the picture.
Clive is not happy to see her. Turns out the identity Liv gave him is Lady Gaga’s real name, and it’s officially make fun of Clive day at the station.
With the new weather man information, Clive doesn’t want to crash and burn on his own. He decides to drag reluctant Liv along to the questioning.
I really like Clive a lot in this scene. He can take a lot of crap without it damaging his ego. He’s going to become the logical partner in the Liv-Ravi-Clive trio. He dishes out a ton of sass too balancing Olivia’s natural cheekiness. If Ravi is our Watson character, then Clive is definitely the Inspector Lestrade of the group.
Holmes and Lestrade– I mean Liv and Clive arrive to the news station. Clive still calls BS on her abilities and wants to test them out. Panic mode activated for our little zombie.
Johnny falters seeing Gaga Jane Doe’s picture. We get a great flash of Clive “Are you kidding me?” face when Liv is right. Johnny blows them off trying to get out fast.
Liv stops him repeating from her vision his words, “Heeeerrrrre’s Johnny!”
Weather Sleaze is genuinely surprised hearing Gaga Doe was murdered. We learn her real name is Tatiana, and she has a gal pal named Tess that worked with her. The two of them are ladies of the night which is a nice way to say sexy escorts.
Our nightly ladies saw Johnny often, but he’s not the murderer.
Back with Koala Ravi
In the morgue, Liv says, “I’m glad there’s only one of me.” Ravi questions if there were other zombies from the attack. Five months later, there’s been no reports. This was one of my questions for the show too. Was the boat a single incident? Are we on the verge of a widespread attack? I’m sure it will be explored throughout the season.
Clive busts in exclaiming, “Oh you’re watching a zombie movie! I’d survive the apocalypse and kill my Granny! Hurray!”
Slow down there, crazy. Slow down.
He needs Liv to come to Tatiana’s place to do her voodoo magic. This is a nice scene, because the audience can see the beginning stages of trust Clive puts in Olivia. He might not believe in her powers, but there’s something special in her he can acknowledge. Plus, Ravi and Liv work for the police department. If the cop say go, they kind of have to go.
Ravi also encourages her as well. Deep down, I think he wants to use this as a chance to run more tests on her.
Liv Holmes and Clive Lestrade on the case!
Olivia and Clive head to the apartment of Tatiana’s friend, Tess. A flash of a cop badge and she suddenly forgets how to speak English. Good thing Liv absorbed how to speak Romanian from eating Tatiana’s brains. That’s a new ability. It’s not explain in the episode, but I have questions about this. Does Liv now understand Romanian for all time? Or is it like Rogue in the X-Men where she borrows it temporarily?
I like to imagine her like Rogue especially since she got that white swoopy in her hair.
As I said, it’s not explained. I’m expecting Liv to rough up a Romanian mafia guy and swear at him in his native language.
A wild hipster appears from across the hallway. This is only important to note, because for a split second, I thought he was the killer. He was automatically protective of Tess. I thought maybe he was in love with the friend and killed Tatiana for some reason. Since that wasn’t the case, he goes on living the life of a forgotten hipster.
Tess finds out that Tatiana was killed and shuts them out but not before giving them Tatiana’s full name.
Clive and Liv drive to Tatiana’s posh apartment. It’s been ransacked, but things like the television has been left behind. These aren’t your normal thieves. There’s a voicemail from Tess on Tatiana’s phone calling her out on stealing something of value. Turns out that the dead girl was a kleptomaniac which explains Liv’s sudden urge to steal pretty red items after eating the brains.
Another vision hits her, and Liv sees Tatiana being held over the balcony. She slips and falls to her death.
Here’s a fantastic beat of acting from Rose McIver. She’s still for a moment with her eyes watering. You can tell it’s an emotional moment for her. Sometime the still and silent choices are the best. Bravo, Miss McIver.
They return to Tess’ crib where Olivia pokes the crap out of Hipster. He informs them that Tess is fleeing and there’s a third Lady of the Night out there named Monica. Holy cow, this killer gets around. Can we say “horndog?”
Clive can tell Olivia is visibly shaken from her vision. She could feel all of Tatiana’s emotions in the moments of her death. Great development with these two characters. He’s putting more trust in her “psychic” abilities. She might be different from him, but he’s starting to care enough to comfort her.
The scene where I didn’t think I could love Ravi more but I fall harder for him
Ravi gives his kudos and good graces to Olivia for continuing to help the detective. He compares her to the Lion King and the “Circle of Life.”
Of course he would watch Disney movies. You are a perfect man!
She notices he has vials of her blood mixed with various diseases. Ravi ran tests exposing her blood to see how it fights off infections. He admits that there’s a chance in a few years, he could possibly find a cure for her zombiefication.
Realizing that Ravi is out to help her return to a normal person, Olivia makes this face:
It’s amazing what a little bit of hope can do for a person. She assumed she would be alone and a zombie forever. Now Liv gains a few allies, and there’s a light at the end of the human again tunnel. Her world is finally starting to perk up.
With a new sense of life (pun intended), Liv heads to Hunky’s place. There we see him playing a zombie killing game with another girl. In his defense, we don’t know who this girl is. It could be a friend or his out of town sister. But with the mood of the music and Olivia’s sadden internal monologue, it’s more than likely not a relative. That’s a date.
The audience can go ahead and assume that Hunky is a bag of dicks.
The bottom of the totem pole
Clive discovers how much being a rookie sucks. He’s pulled off the case for a more experienced detective named Pratt to take over. The clue is in the name, because the guy is indeed a prat.
Clive pleads to stay on, but the Chief throws some shade at him telling the rookie to step off it. Yeah, I don’t like the Chief anymore.
Pratt approaches Clive with his condolences. They’ve all been the new guy and it’s rough. He asks Clive to go over old information again to help him out. Pratt comes off as a nice guy here. He’s quite likable as a character.
We’ll leave it at that.
The return of Snoots
Snoots is back. She moves her mouth and makes some selfish sounds. Apparently, it’s all about her. God forbid her friend have a traumatic experience and having a hard time recovering! God forbid this interferes with Snoots’ life!
Liv makes a sad puppy face, and I continue to hate Snoots more and more.
Liv stands for truth and justice like an undead Sailormoon
At least Snoots’ chat prompts Olivia to return all the items she stole over the episode. With a new sense of justice, she ends up at the police station to return Clive’s red stapler.
Pratt chats with her a moment before the address where the two missing call girls comes in. He rushes out, and Liv returns to the morgue.
Clive is down there, and Liv is back on the case. He has a tip in Romanian where the girls were seeing a “bearded pig.” It clicks with Clive that the “pig” is the slang word for cop. That’s why none of the girls have records for being escorts.
He connects that the cop is Detective Pratt (who has a beard), and that was the reason he wanted Clive off the case. He and Olivia rush out to stop the bad cop, and I wait for the day Ravi joins the trio on investigations.
How to slay a bearded pig
Pratt’s gone all cray cray on Monica and Tess in some middle of nowhere house. He’s been cheating on his wife and needs his wedding ring back which is the item that’s been stolen.
He also managed to capture a dog too. Good job there, Guy?
Clive rushes in guns blazing and chases after Pratt. Our Bearded Pig climbs out of a window. Liv blocks his car with Clive’s, but Pratt gets out and shoots her. Clive sees the attack and runs out to find her body missing.
Cue the dramatic music! It’s zombie time!
Olivia goes Winter Soldier on the car and rips off the windshield.
The car crashes sending her flying off the roof while Pratt lands on the hood unconscious.
Popping up, Liv is full zombie mode and ready to eat some braaaaaiiiiiiinnnnssss. Luckily (for Pratt), Clive sprints up, and she morphs back to normal chilled out zombie self. With a few awkward excuses (I can’t wait until Clive figures out what she is), she talks her way out of his suspicions.
The Night Ladies are safe. Pratt is arrested. The first case of Zombie Holmes and Clive Lestrade is in the record books!
King Ravi: Still the best
Ravi performs open heart surgery on the awake Liv. No biggie. He praises her for her bravery stating she can use her abilities to help others. This zombie thing isn’t bad. It’s a gift.
Can I have a Ravi now, please?
Olivia heads to Mother Gothel’s haunted house to help out. She completely embraces being a zombie with a new found pride in herself.
It’s a great moment. Liv realizes she can choose her own destiny and happiness. It wasn’t the end of the world when she became a zombie. I’ve always said it’s how a person handles their hardships that defines who they are. Liv is ready to protect this world with her undead superpowers.
That is until she gets a final vision of zombie Blaine attacking a man.
Dun Dun Dun!
This is a great pilot episode. A lot of time with pilots they try to cram in too much. For example, I love Gotham, but it has a rough first episode. The reason is they threw in every single character they could. They should of focused on the two main villains with Fish and Oswald. Ed Nygma probably would have been alright too, since he worked at the police department. It would make sense for him to make an appearance. Instead, Gotham’s pilot was like, “HERE’S PENGUIN AND FISH AND THE RIDDLER AND CATWOMAN AND POISON IVY AND BATMAN AND TWELVE OTHER IMPORTANT PEOPLE!” It was too much. It hindered the plot.
iZombie has a nice amount of characters that don’t feel superfluous. While I dislike Gothel and Snoots, they both have a role to play in Olivia’s journey.
My only real criticism is I wish they had introduced Pratt much earlier in the episode. It felt like he was thrown in the last fifteen minutes to take the fall as the bad guy. I mentioned that I originally believed Hipster was the killer. That’s because in a mystery genre format, Hipster showed up right around the time they usually tease the potential baddie. Pratt wasn’t built into the earlier plot while Hipster was. If the writers’ intent was to make him a red herring, then they succeeded. I didn’t need a lot out of Pratt. It could have been something small like acknowledging Clive around the office. I feel like Pratt would try to throw off Clive much sooner especially since he was the killer.
iZombie did a fantastic job to have an episode contained story while laying the foundation of season long mysteries. We know there will be more Utopia. Blaine is still causing trouble out on the streets. Will Ravi find a cure for Liv? There’s a lot to build on.
I’m assuming Olivia’s voice overs throughout the episode is a Veronica Mars thing. For someone like me who’s not familiar with the show, it didn’t bother me at all. For a stoic character like Liv, it’s nice getting her inner monologue on situations. She’s closed herself off from the world. With no outwardly actions depicting how she feels, the voice overs are a nice touch. There were only a few moments where it was a bit too much.
My only other criticism was there wasn’t enough David Anders for my liking, but I’m sure that will be fixed in future episodes.
I give the “Pilot” of iZombie eight hot sauce covered brains out of ten.