Zombie psychic solves murders by eating the brains of the victims, news at 9! This is the overall plot of the iZombie comic and the newly premiered iZombie TV series. But aside from that one-line synopsis and the look of the main character, that’s about all that stays the same.
In 4-color funny pages, Gwendolyn “Gwen” Dylan is a recently deceased ex-junior in college who spends her days as a grave digger in the local cemetery and at night she gets together with her best friends, a ghost and a were-terrier, to solve the murders of her recent meals.
On the small screen, Olivia Moore is an undead former would-be heart surgeon turned morgue assistant who is suddenly caught by her boss eating brains with hot sauce, noodles, and chopsticks. She ends up with the only black cop in town, who no one at the precinct respects, playing “Cagney and Pasty”.
I know you’re thinking that these are pretty radically different. But wait, there’s even more! Gwen is a jaded soul who just wants to keep everything going. She doesn’t think too much about the future, doesn’t worry (or remember) about the past, and certainly doesn’t worry about what guys think of her… she is mostly concerned with doing the bare minimum to keep herself cognizant and not going full George Romero. But Olivia? Olivia spends the episode being led around by the nose, told what to do by men, and hits rock bottom when her estranged ex-fiance plays zombie-killing videogames with some other woman. We’ve gone from strong female protagonist to a psychic basset hound/lab experiment/slave to the urges of the brain she’s consumed.
Unlike the comics where Gwen, at least in the 2 volumes I’ve read, only gets brain teasers when she eats some cerebellum (yes? no? brain teasers? No? Ok), Olivia gets skills and attributes the victim had such as foreign languages or kleptomania. That could prove endlessly entertaining if the writers get creative with it. Or I might be spending every single episode praying there won’t be a “temporarily lesbian” sequence to get more viewers. That we’ll have to wait and see.
The show tries its best to be witty and endearing which the comic succeeds with easily. It may have the pilot-episode jitters, but so far it isn’t quite on par with the comic in that area. With both respective series being so different I wonder if we’ve lost more than we gained. In the comics, the town is plagued by paintball vampires, a were-terrier, a talking chimp with the soul of grandpa, ghosts, a mummy, and an evil Frankensteinean scientist (and monster) threatening to bring a Lovecraftian monstrosity into our world. Also her love interest is a monster-hunter. In the TV show we’re promised what basically amounts to Psych but Shawn Spencer is a bit paler. And also not as clever. There is also the problem that the comic is focused around strong women and the men who stumble around them… the TV show is sorely lacking in that category.
I was really looking forward this show, but now I’m not sure. We can only hope that some more of the charm of the comic will rub off on the TV show. Let’s wait and see.
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