tek's rating: ½

iZombie, on The CW
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Caution: spoilers!

This is based on a comic book series that I haven't read. But when I first heard of the show, several months before it premiered, I thought it looked like it could be cool. And it was developed by Rob Thomas (creator of Veronica Mars) and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (a Veronica Mars writer/exec producer), so I've been looking forward to checking it out. Now that I have, I can say it's even better than I expected it to be. I've never been big into zombies, but this is a pretty fresh take on the genre. Which is not to say it's completely original in tone or theme. It reminds me of various other things, like Tru Calling and Pushing Daisies, maybe Forever Knight. And of course it has a very Veronica Mars-like vibe. The show is seriously clever, funny, quirky, cool, and interesting. And it has characters I immediately liked, played by a really appealing cast, particularly the lead actress, Rose McIver. (Before this show, I knew her best from a recurring role as Tinker Bell on Once Upon a Time. Another recurring character from that show who's also in this one is played by David Anders. I also want to mention that I really dig iZombie's opening theme song, Stop, I'm Already Dead, by Deadboy and the Elephantmen.

Season One
So... McIver plays Olivia 'Liv' Moore. At the start of the pilot, she's a talented and dedicated medical resident with plans to become a heart surgeon. And she's engaged to a great guy named Major Lilywhite (I am really not sure how I feel about that name, though). But early in the episode, she goes to a party on a houseboat, which is very unlike her. And she picked a really bad time to change her habits, because everyone else at the party is taking a designer drug called utopium, which turns them into rampaging zombies. Liv is one of the few survivors of the fire and mayhem, though the public and the authorities have no idea zombies were involved, because, you know... zombies aren't real. (It's fortunate, I guess, that all this happened on a boat, so the incident was isolated and mostly contained.) Unfortunately, "survivor" isn't the most accurate word to describe Liv, because now she's a zombie, since she had been scratched by one of them. Flash forward five months, and her whole life has changed. For one thing, she's much paler than she used to be, a fact which strikes me as odd that her friends and family don't comment on (but maybe they did during the five months that the pilot skips over, I dunno). More importantly, she had quit her residency to start working at a morgue as a Medical Examiner's assistant, and she had broken off her engagement to Major. So her mom has been really worried about her, and so has her best friend/roommate, Peyton Charles (Aly Michalka), who is an assistant D.A. But of course, they have no idea Liv is a zombie.

However, Liv's boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, figures out her secret. And he's really excited about it, in a very fanboyish way. (He had been fired by the CDC at some point, for some of his unorthodox theories.) Now, he wants to learn more about her condition, and try to develop a cure. Anyway, the reason Liv is working in a morgue is so she'll have a steady supply of brains to eat, so she can stay as close to being human as possible (rather than turning into the mindless, monstrous sort of zombie you'd see in a horror movie, or as Liv calls it, "full-on zombie mode"). In addition to keeping her relatively normal, eating brains also imparts flashes of memories from the people whose brains she eats (which reminds me of Warm Bodies). She can also obtain some of their knowledge and personality traits. And since the brains sometimes come from murder victims, this means the information she obtains can be used to help solve their murders (though of course it's not as simple as just having a clear memory of who murdered them). So she starts working with Seattle police detective Clive Babineaux, who has just recently transferred from vice to homicide. Ravi tells Clive that Liv is a psychic, which of course he doesn't believe at first, but her insights soon convince him. (And it's gotta be more believable than her being a zombie.)

Anyway, it's not long before Liv meets another zombie, Blaine DeBeers (Anders), the drug dealer who had scratched her on the boat and unwittingly turned her into a zombie. Throughout the season, Blaine becomes a major villain, who turns people into zombies to work for him (the main one being Julien Dupont, aka "the Candyman"). Blaine also starts a business selling brains to other zombies (most or all of whom he'd turned specifically to create a client base). He runs the business out of a butcher shop called Meat Cute (which is a pretty awesome name to begin with). Blaine also has a police lieutenant named Suzuki working for him, covering up his illegal activities. Mostly that involves Blaine's staff kidnapping and killing runaway teens. And since Major is a social worker at a teen outreach center, he begins investigating the disappearances of some of the kids in his group. Eventually this will lead him to realize there are zombies in the world, and he wants to kill all of them. But he's still friends with Liv, not realizing that she's a zombie, herself. Also, at one point Liv starts dating a musician named Lowell Tracey, who is also a zombie. Eventually, the two of them decide that Blaine has to die, but Blaine ends up killing Lowell, instead. Meanwhile, there's an ongoing plotline about an energy drink called Max Rager, which has apparently been causing an outbreak of zombies. (I guess the drink is tied in some way to utopium, but I don't recall if it was ever even specified exactly how.) The CEO of the company that makes Max Rager, Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber), knows there's a dangerous problem with the drink, but he has various people working to cover that up, which includes murdering anyone who gets too close to the truth.

And... aside from the zombie-related story arcs, Ravi and Major become friends and move in together. And eventually Ravi starts dating Peyton. But back to zombie stuff! Near the end of the season, Peyton learns that Liv is a zombie. Not surprisingly, she's totally freaked out by this revelation, so she leaves, without telling anyone where she's going or if she'll ever return. Major eventually gets kidnapped and tortured by Blaine and his zombies, but he later escapes and kills all of them except Blaine. Blaine then stabs Major, but before he can kill Major, Liv shows up and stops him. But she can't kill Blaine, because without him supplying his clientele with brains, they'll all go into full-on zombie mode and start a zombie apocalypse, or whatever. So instead, Liv uses one of only two doses of a potential cure Ravi had developed, and turns Blaine human again. After Blaine leaves, Major is bleeding out and near death, so Liv scratches him, to turn him into a zombie and save his life. But he's horrified by this, and she later gives him the second dose of the cure, which means there's none left for herself, nor is Ravi to make more (as he'd already used up all the tainted utopium he had). After Liv and Major leave, Lt. Suzuki finds that Meat Cute is full of the bodies of Major's victims, and he causes an explosion, thereby killing himself and destroying the evidence of what had happened there. Meanwhile, Vaughn Du Clark is planning on releasing a new drink called Super Max, but the media learns about some of the negative effects of Max Rager (though I still don't think the existence of zombies is public knowledge). In spite of the bad PR, Du Clark still intends to proceed with his plans. And the season ends with a very dramatic cliffhanger involving Liv's younger brother, Evan.

Season Two
So, that cliffhanger... Evan had been caught in the Meat Cute explosion, and was left near death. In the hospital, Liv decides not to donate her blood for a transfusion, not wanting to turn him into a zombie. But she couldn't explain that to her family, so this season, they're not speaking to her. (Though Evan did wind up surviving.) Meanwhile, it turns out that cured former zombies (Blaine and Major) can detect other zombies, because their hair stands on end when in the presence of a zombie. Du Clark finds out about this, and forces Major to start killing zombies, threatening to have Liv killed if Major refuses. Of course, Major no longer wants to kill zombies, now that he knows Liv is one of them, but he has no choice. However, after a few kills, he starts drugging them and freezing them, instead, hoping that Ravi will develop another cure that he can give to the zombies he was supposed to kill. Meanwhile, Major starts a (sexual, non-romantic) relationship with Du Clark's assistant, Gilda, who we eventually learn is Du Clark's daughter. Also, Gilda becomes Liv's new roommate, so she can spy on her. Of course, Liv is unaware of her connection to either Major or Du Clark.

Blaine is now running a mortuary, which he uses as a supply of brains for his zombie clientele, as well as a base of operations for selling utopium. (Of course, he had to recruit new, non-zombie underlings, the main one being Don E.) Eventually, he'll try to help Liv and Ravi obtain some of the tainted utopium used at the boat party, though this is pretty difficult, since no one seems to know exactly how it differs from regular utopium. (It's obviously gotta be more complicated than just adding Max Rager, right?) And without the tainted drug, Ravi won't be able to make more of the cure. Meanwhile, there's a more important villain to worry about, a mob boss named Mr. Boss (yes, that's his real name), who everyone knows is a criminal mastermind, but the cops can't pin anything on him. (And Blaine used to work for him, prior to becoming a zombie and starting his own criminal empire, last season.) So Mr. Boss is a problem for pretty much everyone, including Blaine, who is now a rival. Also, Peyton eventually returns, to head up a task force for D.A. Floyd Baracus, who wants to take down Mr. Boss. (Unbeknownst to Peyton, Baracus is a zombie with ties to Blaine.) She also renews her friendship with Liv and Ravi, though she and Ravi don't go back to dating, since he was now dating someone else. (His new relationship doesn't last very long, though, so we'll see what happens.) And... an FBI agent named Dale Bozzio begins working with the police; she's investigating the recent rash of missing persons (the zombies Major has been eliminating). And she soon starts a relationship with Clive. Meanwhile, Major breaks up with Gilda and gets back together with Liv, although they can't have sex because that would turn Major into a zombie. But they're willing to do other things, while they wait for Ravi to make a cure.

Don E. eventually finds a drug dealer named Drake, who knows where to find some tainted utopium, but it's going to be difficult to get it. Also, when Don brings him to Blaine, Drake had just been shot, and was near death, so Blaine takes him to Liv, who has no choice but to turn him into a zombie, to save his life. Meanwhile, Liv's increasingly erratic behavior (caused by the personality traits she picks up, temporarily, from the brains she eats) finally causes her to do something that Clive can't let slide, so he ends their partnership. Also, Liv decides she and Major can't be together anymore, at least not unless Ravi can cure her. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the rat Ravi had cured last season suddenly reverts to a zombie state, which makes him fear the cure wasn't permanent for humans, either.

Unfortunately, after the midseason break I had to stop watching the show, so I don't know when I'll be able to continue updating my review.

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