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This is your brain on drugs. This is your brain on iZombie


Brain freeze? No, brain food in iZombie. Rose McIver stars. CW photo

Premiering: Tuesday, March 17th at 8 p.m. (central) on The CW
Starring: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aliza Vellani, Molly Hagan, Nick Purcha
Produced by: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Danielle Stokdyk, Dan Etheridge

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The CW’s latest trippy walk on the supernatural wild side can hardly be considered brain surgery. Although that definitely comes into play.

iZombie, brought to weekly TV by Veronica Mars maestro Rob Thomas, succeeds in being both tongue-in-cheek and food for thought. Taking things too seriously wouldn’t turn the trick. But Olivia “Liv” Moore’s search for new meaning to (after)-life can be affecting when played right.

Seemingly on fumes a few seasons ago, The CW has rebounded of late with the likes of Arrow, The Flash and Jane the Virgin. This tale of reluctant zombie-dom looks like another crowd-pleaser among the network’s core group of younger viewers. A fair number of oldsters also might succumb to its easy appeal.

Liv, played by Rose McIver (Once Upon a Time), is a go-getter young doc who in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s premiere ignores protocol to save a life. She’s otherwise found her heart-mate in Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley), a character whose surname should have been changed at some point in pre-production.

He encourages her to go ahead and accept a boat party invitation after another long work shift. Unfortunately, this turns out to be an unexplained zombie rave-up that leaves Liv washed ashore with a passel of corpses. She’s also pale, blonde-haired and affixed with a lifeless personality. That’s the way zombies roll, and Liv is now one of them. Five months later, those closest to her remain perplexed by the transformation.

“It’s just that you’ve changed so dramatically since that night on the lake,” says her all but fed-up roommate, Marcy (Aliza Vellani). “We think you have PTSD.”

Poor Major’s been dropped like a hockey puck because Liv knows that getting intimate with him could be hazardous to his overall well-being. So she instead toils in a morgue, where the brains she requires for sustenance are readily available. The texture and taste is pretty yucky but can be tempered by ample use of hot, spicy garnishes.

Every new series, it seems, needs either a Britisher playing an American or a Britisher in full accent. In iZombie it’s the latter. Jovial morgue doctor Ravi Chakrabarti (Londoner Rahul Kohli) is supportive of Liv and quickly on to the fact she’s a zombie. He’s both working on a cure and transfixed by her ability to flash back to scenes of crimes after ingesting a victim’s brain. This is where a skeptical young Seattle cop comes in. His name is Clive Babineaux and he’s nicely played by Malcolm Goodwin.

In Episode 1, they pursue the killer of a prostitute while lightly jabbing back and forth. Liv tends to become an action hero in the end, though. “I was a dead alabaster bad ass!” she exclaims to Ravi after the case is closed.

Episode 2 gets deeper into Liv’s gradually improving personal life while also bringing zombie Blaine DeBeers (Dave Anders) into play. He’s been the focal point of Liv’s boat party nightmares. But perhaps he’s not quite as bad as he seems. They meet in the morgue and banter a bit before Blaine gets to deliver a well-played line to a woman he bedded the night before. Hmm, she’s now all pasty-looking and constantly ravenous. “First rule about brain club. You don’t talk about brain club,” says Blaine, delivering the goods while she opens her checkbook.

Liv, Ravi and Clive otherwise are trying to find out who murdered an artist by stabbing him through the eye. After munching on part of his brain, Liv develops a sudden zest and aptitude for painting. “In elementary school, I could barely trace my hand to draw a turkey,” she remarks. Now that’s a good line.

OK, let’s review. iZombie is a “procedural” cop show spiced with brain-eaters who don’t stagger and a love story that won’t quit if Liv can somehow reunite with the seemingly good-hearted Major. Liv’s frequent narration and asides also help to keep the quip machine in gear. “I’m just a big psychic zombie trying to do her part,” she observes.

For it’s part, CW is just a little network trying to make some noise. It makes more headway with iZombie, a “cute” but never cloying show centered on brainy brain-eaters and their present-day dilemmas. Pass the ghost peppers.


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