Smart TV (I was going to say brains on TV.)

I Zombie

Question: What is the difference between a monster and a person with an unusual dietary requirement? Answer: Timing.

Disclaimer: I don’t like zombies. Really. They’ve been done to death. And yes, this may just be that kind of “punish”ing review. Because I like this show. So far a lot, although only two episodes in it’s kind of hard to judge what kind of lurching legs it has. It may be unkillable.

The story: uptight and over-achieving young and hot surgeon, Liv Moore (who’s very name has to be a pun), gets talked into loosening up and joining a fellow doctor for a boat party. Where free samples of a new designer drug turn partakers into brain-eating zombies. Liv is scratched by one–the truly smarmy dealer himself, coincidentally–before escaping over the side of the boat. She wakes up on the beach in a body bag. Yup, you guessed it, she’s now a zombie. Apparently the rest of the new zombies were killed by fire when the party-boat burned to the water line, and all the other partiers either burned or drowned.

Of course nobody believes in zombies, so Liv isn’t promptly quarantined by the CDC. But she does quit her amazing surgeon’s position for a job at the local medical examiner’s office. Because, yes, she needs to eat brains to survive–or at least to keep from switching into full on mindless hungry Zombie Mode. Everything else she eats is now completely tasteless unless she adds a six-alarm fire side of chilli peppers, which is a pity because apparently brains don’t taste at all good; dress them up how she might, she complains endlessly about their squishy texture and metallic aftertaste.

Anyway, Liv is very depressed, practically a… okay, a zombie. She’s had to give up her career, which apparently she’s been preparing for since she was potty-trained, and her Absolutely Perfect Boyfriend fiance (she very rightly fears that zombie-ism is a communicable social disease and she isn’t about to risk doing that to him). Her family, roommate, and ex-fiance don’t understand her, she is “living” with no purpose, and death just sucks.

Then her medical examiner boss (who got tossed out of the CDC because of his obsession with man-made viruses) figures out what she is. Instead of outing her, he starts treating her as his personal science project (in a friendly way). He wants to both understand her and cure her.

And Liv finds a purpose in death: because you see, when she eats bits of someone’s brain she gets stimuli-triggered visions from their memories. She also temporarily picks up their skills and personality quirks… A series of events leads to her working with a rookie detective to solve murders (he thinks she’s a psychic, which is just so much more believable than zombies).

Liv is a zombie superhero!

To be honest, writing all this down I find the premise clever but not deep. So, why do I like it? Because the writer has gone beyond the zombie-joke aspects of the story. Liv is believable and sympathetic as Everywoman (if Everywoman was a brilliant overachiever turned into a zombie); she is a very relateable young woman who Had It All or at least a close approximation, then lost it. The human resonances are everywhere; she has a condition that makes her unemployable in her chosen field, she has a disease that makes intimate relationships risky, all carefully laid plans for the future wrecked, she is drifting and trying to find purpose. She’s practically a Woobie (see TV Trope here).

Pleasingly, the writers are avoiding stereotypes when not winking at or outright mocking them, and everything is a least one degree from normal. Did I mention the first Regular Bad Guy to appear? He’s the dealer who scratched Liv, yes he’s a zombie, and he’s making the most of his condition by infecting victims and becoming their supplier of brains. Clever.

The viewer can even count on the occasional moral lesson; in Episode 2, Liv eats part of the brain of a talented artist; she discovers her artistic and passionate side (to the point where her vocabulary changes and she’s both painting compulsively and lusting after beautiful men and women). She loves her new-found sense of passion, but also realizes that our passionate natures are inherently selfish as desire drowns reason and consideration. Plus it was fun to watch her detective partner wonder just what was happening to his morose emo psychic.

So I’m going to give this show a shot. It might have quite a long TV-live, or unlife anyway.

M.G.Harmon

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About George

I am a reasonably successful self-published author ("successful" means I can pay the bills and am highly rated in my Amazon category), former financial advisor (writing is more fun), and have something in common with Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond. Guess.
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8 Responses to Smart TV (I was going to say brains on TV.)

  1. Louis Launer says:

    Personally, I think zombies have been done to death, too. (no pun intended)

  2. Brian says:

    I was just curious if you had ever read the graphic novel that the show is based on? I believe it has 4 or 5 volumes currently, so a decent amount of material for them to trawl through for the show. Also curious how you feel about a show based off material like that, where they have to balance maintaining true to the source material so as not to alienate the fans, while at the same time providing something fresh so as not to come across stale and a live action clone of said source material.

    • George says:

      No. And now I won’t, since I don’t want spoilers or second-guessing. Maybe after the series is finished; that said, I’m a big fan of making TV properties out of good book and comic series. I also know that you can never be completely true to the source-material–it’s a fine balance.

      • Pachilles says:

        I partially disagree about being true to the source. Since the Marvel Universe became such a hit, the rest of the book-to-movies have gotten closer. So much of the movie industry would barely know the story before they’d start making changes, but now they realize the depth of the sources, as well as the fans.
        There will always be SOME amount that doesn’t translate, so that’s the ‘partial’ agreement part.
        The Game of Thrones adaptation is VERY close, since they included the writer’s input (usually they practically ignore them, but still keep the name in the credits), but even GoT has even started to pull away a bit with the writer’s approval/suggestions.

  3. Pachilles says:

    It was originally a comic series that completed in 28 issues. The TV show doesn’t appear to be following the comic storyline, but looks like it is keeping the general concept and feeling of it. One difference is that her ‘death’ disconnected her from her old life. I wish the show had followed that part at least. I have hopes that the show will follow up with the two other significant characters in her life from the comic.
    I read the comic series when I heard this show was being created. You might like the other recently comic-based release series called “Powers” (www.imdb.com/title/tt1851040). I also read the comic series it’s based off of, and it also keeps the general concept/feeling from the source. It is released on the ‘Playstation Network’, so you may need to find an alternate source/method to watch it.

  4. Stephen says:

    I’ve grown to hate zombie shows/movies/books but this one is (3 episodes in) amusing me. Still won’t really miss it if it’s cancelled or gets daft lol.

  5. Anonymouse says:

    It sounds suspiciously like the zombie related books of Diana Rowland.

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