Watched this on Netflix, because Zombies seemed like a good alterntive to news featuring the horror clown. (TM our tabloids. For once, I like a phrase they coined.) Also because I heard good things from this effort by Rob Thomas, he who produced Veronica Mars
So, my impressions: there are some VM parallels - our heroine transformed, in backstory revealed in pilot, from popular member of (her) society with bright future ahead into misfit due to traumatic event. Her new existence at the periphery/the underbelly gives her a new perspective and a snarky attitude. She's broken up with her earlier love but he's not gone from her life completely, and in the course of the pilot, she bonds with new allies. And of course, there's the case of the week format with an ongoing narrative arc underneath. Only where Veronica Mars
went for noir tropes and structures, IZombie
uses that of a procedural.
This being said, iZombie
stands on its own legs, so to speak. It quickly establishes its core ensemble of characters, and uses the zombie Macguffin in an inventive way to justify the "solves murder of the week" format - turns out consuming someone's brain gives you some of the deceased person's memories and personality traits, until you move on to the next brain. Liv taking a job at the morgue to have access to the brains of the deceased solves her personal nourishment problem, but the show makes the obvious next question - what about zombies who don't
have that possibility to get at brains from already dead people? - trigger for the long term arc and etablishing of our seasonal antagonist, Blaine, played by David Anders enjoying himself as an amoral villain with great capitalist gifts - creating a market takes on a new meaning with him. ( Getting a bit more spoilery about that. )
(Speaking of actors I know from other shows, there's also Bradley James, aka Arthur from Merlin
, as Lowell Tracey, British guitarist/singer and temporary alternate love interest of our heroine. I'm usually touchy re: the treatment alternate love interests get when it's obvious from the start they're not meant to be end game but a temporary distraction for our central character, but "who will Liv choose?" Is actually not a question the show asks (at least in season 1 it doesn't), and I thought it played fair by Lowell, making him into a character, not just a plot device. Also Bradley James is pretty charming as Not!Arthur.)
Liv, our heroine, who gets jolted out of her post-zombiefication malaise in the pilot when she realises she can use this dreadful thing that happened to her in constructive ways that give her hope, makes for an endearing central character, though I have to say I didn't really buy the plot's justification for her withholding crucial information from her former fiance after a certain point. That the show itself lampshaded this by letting Ravi, Liv's boss at the morgue and bff throughout, raise all the good arguments why she should share, didn't help. Like I said, I didn't really buy her counter argument, though to its credit, her emotional state in that particular scene WAS believable.
Ravi (her boss at the morgue) and Clive (the cop whom she becomes a crime-solving duo with) are both poc, and develop a delightful raport with Liv, which hits my soft spot for male & female friendship. Yes, they're male, if you're keeping score, and if there's a nitpick, then it's that Liv's sole female friend, her roommate Peyton, in the first season at least doesn't get nearly as much presence and personality as either. But of course that could change in later seasons; as a district attorney, the show can use her more in the crimes of the week than it did here.
Major, Liv's ex whom she broke up solely due to zombiefication pre pilot, is almost too good to be true (sense of humor, social worker who cares passionately, hunk) but gets put through the wringer in the course of the season as he tries to find out what happened to some of the kids he attempted to help. What eventually happens is another case of "well, I saw that coming, but the denouement afterwards elevates it to "well played, show, well played".
In conclusion: witty dialogue, morbid humor (obviously), yet also treats its dead as people not canon fodder. Excellent distraction, if you're in need. The first season had 13 episodes.