This era we live in has produced some fantastic television, not to mention some fantastic comic book adaptations brought to that small screen. In fact I sometimes feel the only downside is that there’s just too much out there to possibly watch, even with the aid of on-demand services.
Thus it was with mixed feelings that I figuratively walked away from iZombie after viewing two episodes. Happy that I don’t feel the need to add it to the already crowded list of series to keep up on and/or binge; sad for the same reason.
Full disclosure: I have not read the comic. I have heard sources say that the TV series is a very loose adaptation, perhaps to the point only the names of certain characters are the same, and so I will only comment on the show. There is an idea I keep in my head regarding effective zombie stories, which is that they are about the people (this was as opposed to a vampire story, which is primarily about the vampire). Now the blog entry where I brought that up showed an example of a zombie story which broke that rule to my delight. Similarly, Warm Bodies was able to overcome my initial skepticism. So I guess it’s ultimately more of a guideline, but in iZombie I found my limit. It’s a similar reaction to the one I had with the Roswell TV series back in the day, which is that if you’re going to base a show around the existence of zombies or aliens or other things with an established mythology, don’t just give me pretty people with superpowers and angst. That’s called X-Men. Or worse, Twilight.
Now the line between monster and superhero is often a blurred one, sometimes to very interesting effect, but… okay, let’s just get to the bottom line here, which is that by the end of Episode 2 I felt iZombie could easily just be called Psychic Superhero CSI. It’s a “case of the week” police procedural at heart, but not a very good or smart one, and the zombie elements just don’t click beyond some surface elements like brain-eating. The pilot showed some promise by showing the lead character go out of control under stress towards the end and have to wrestle herself back to humanity–though even then, that seems to me more of a vampire schtick–but I can tell you the exact moment the second episode lost me, and that was when the same lead character was able to turn her “zombie rage” on and off like a faucet, just long enough to overpower and knock out a guy getting sexually aggressive.
No no. There need to be consequences to giving in to your vampi– err, zombie rage. Otherwise you’re just a superhero, no matter how many dead brains you scavenge from the John and Jane Does on your medical examiner’s table. The psychic part, by the way, comes from our hero getting compartmentalized access to the recent memories of the deceased by way of her nom-noms, allowing her (with the help of a wisecracking detective) to solve their murders in time for the end of the episode. So I guess there’s that, although even that part makes me sad because now if there’s ever a Chew adaptation in development it will seem derivative.
Am I a bad person for giving up so soon? Perhaps. I could even be being hypocritical by dismissing it under such brief circumstances. Perhaps there will be a betterment of things down the road, although the introduction of the Evil Mutan– err, Evil Zombie isn’t what I mean. Perhaps iZombie is simply a victim of there being too many other awesome alternatives out there, but for now I’m not feeling any compelling reason to follow it week to week. Maybe when the season’s over and it makes its way onto Netflix, Right now I’m just not seeing anything I haven’t seen done before, and better, under different guises… but I’ll wait and see if it manages to shamble its way to a more brainy path.