Everything You Need to Know About iZombie Ahead of Tonight's Series Premiere
Rob Thomas's iZombie premieres tonight, and although the buzz has been relatively muted, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far. With a quick wit, a strong female lead, and a healthy diet of brains, it's been compared to everything from Thomas's Veronica Mars to The Walking Dead to Orphan Black. Here's everything you need to know about this quirky zombie show before tonight's premiere:
What's it all about?
Olivia Moore is a twenty-something with everything going for her; she's a smart, successful med student who's about to be married, when a freak accident turns her into a zombie who needs to eat brains in order to keep her body functioning. She's depressed that she can't achieve any of her previous goals, until she realizes that she takes on the memories of the brains she eats and is able to solve murders with her newfound abilities.
It's Veronica Mars as a zombie
Thomas told Variety that Warner Bros' pitched this show as an effort to find the next great (spunky blonde?) female heroine: "The way they approached it was 'CW needs the next kickass female lead on the network' and essentially the marching orders were 'give us the new Buffy, give us the new Veronica Mars.'''
And like Veronica Mars, it's a procedural with the sentimental heart of a coming-of-age story: "One of the things that we talked about is that in your mid-20s-when you're out of college and you've gone on this path of what you think you're going to do with your life and who you're going to be-and you find that nothing is at all what you thought it would be," executive producer Diane Ruggiero told EW. "You sometimes have a pre-life crisis instead of a mid-life crisis. She's having that very typical mid-20s crisis, except hers is brought on by being a zombie."
"She's the poster child for quarter life crisis," said Thomas. "Like so many of her peers, she did everything right. She kept her head down and made good grades. She expected good things to follow and then wakes up one day as a zombie and the career that she thought she was going to have is no longer attainable, the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with she can no longer have. Like so many of her peers, she's finding herself in her mid-20s a little aimless when you find her in the pilot."
And, as a bonus for Veronica Mars fans, several actors from the beloved cult show will make an appearance: "In season one, we have three Veronica Mars people: Percy Daggs (Wallace), Ryan Hansen (Dick) and Daran Norris (Cliff)," said Thomas. (He also stated that more Veronica Mars actors may make an appearance if it's renewed for a second season, so keep your fingers crossed for Jason Dohring.)
It becomes more serialized as the season progresses
"There was an evolution in season one," Thomas told Hollywood Reporter. "We started taking focus off the case-of-the-week and started spending a few more screen minutes on the zombie mythology... By the end of the season, it shaved 20 percent off the murder of the week and devoted those extra minutes to zombie stuff."
It's more Warm Bodies than Walking Dead
The show won't be nearly as dark or gory as AMC's The Walking Dead, but rather, will be more like the recent film Warm Bodies, in which zombies cracked jokes and fell in love: "I don't think you can out-Walking Dead the Walking Dead on a broadcast channel. They simply won't allow the amount of blood and violence to do a great, quintessential zombie genre show with all the violence inherent to that. Our approach was much more like Warm Bodies. It was going to have some zombie-action in it, but at the core of our show there will be a zombie that you will like and connect with … we hope."
And similarly, the zombies will obviously not be the mindless "walkers" of The Walking Dead, but will more or less function like living people: "They can continue to think and behave as they did before, however they must eat brains. We'll see an example of what happens when one of our zombies don't eat brains. They become the quintessential or old school zombie we know, or what in the show we refer to as 'Romeros,' the flesh falling off, brainless zombies."
With a splash of Orphan Black
When Liv takes on others' memories, she seems to take on their personalities as well, as Thomas claims that star Rose McIver has the opportunity to play different roles every episode: "We have our own mini-Orphan Black here in that Rose gets to play a lot of different character archetypes... We see a sensual painter, a psychopath, cheerleader, stoner, radio relationship expert. Agoraphobe hacker. Army sniper. A daredevil, one of those people who jumps out of planes and off of bridges-an extreme sports gal." (It sounds a little more like Dollhouse, but Orphan Black is more topical.)
It's science fiction rather than fantasy, so no vampires
"There are no other supernatural creatures," said Thomas. "I'm not a big fan of the supernatural part of it. I know we're doing zombies, but we are doing the virus version of zombies - the 'science' version of zombies. The 28 Days Later, the World War Z version of zombies. I prefer my zombies caused by a virus than coming from a mummy's curse. True Blood had the multi-monster thing covered really well. Syfy also had Being Human about a vampire, werewolf and ghost living together and I didn't want to be the next multi-monster show."
There will be several significant changes from the comics
"There's a lot that we had to throw out the window for production reasons," said Ruggiero. "The reason the comic works so well is that it's a comic. When you try to translate it into television, a lot of it just wouldn't work."
In addition to taking out the other supernatural creatures who appear in the comics, Thomas has also changed her occupation in order to make the procedural element work: "In the comic books, she's a grave digger and that's how she gets her brains, but because we wanted to do a case of the week show, it made a lot more sense to have her working in a police morgue, where there's a murder case to be solved each week."
It's based on a DC Comic book, which means no Marvel jokes
The Marvel vs DC rivalry is alive and well, according to Thomas, "We had a Hulk joke in the pilot script that they asked us to take out [laughs]. Injecting Marvel comics into the universe was a no go."
Sadly, this does not mean that there is necessarily going to be a crossover with the Arrow/Flash universe, or with CBS's Supergirl series. "We have no plans on crossing over," said Thomas. "I would really need to think about it if anyone ever decided that needed to happen for some sort of synergy reason. But no, there haven't been any talks of iZombie existing in the same universe as The Flash or Arrow."