With the premiere of “iZombie” on March 17, The CW will show viewers a different kind of zombie epidemic — one that isn’t quite as horrifying as you may be used to. Zap2it sat down to speak with the cast and crew of the show at the 2015 winter TV press tour to find out exactly what those who tune in should be expecting.
If while watching the first episode the show seems remarkably like “Veronica Mars,” don’t be surprised. “iZombie” comes from executive producers Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero, Dan Etheridge and Danielle Stokdyk — otherwise known as the brain trust (pun intended) behind “Veronica Mars.”
They’ve also brought some of that show’s tricks to the table for “iZombie.” Though Liv (Rose McIver) is a zombie, she’s a young woman solving crimes while her internal monologue narrates the story. Sound familiar, Marshmallows? If that’s not enough, Ryan Hansen — who played Dick Casablancas on “Veronica Mars” — has signed on to guest star in an episode.
That’s not the only show “iZombie” may remind you of, though. “I think, to me, it’s like Buffy dealing with vampires in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'” McIver says. “It’s like there’s a world in which Liv is still functioning, she has relationships, rent to pay and a life, of sorts.”
Unlike most zombie movies — and the juggernaut that is “The Walking Dead” — “iZombie” isn’t a world overrun by zombies. In fact, there’s only two undead that viewers know of from the beginning: Liv and Blaine (David Anders).
“Doing a show on The CW, there’s no way to out-apocalypse ‘The Walking Dead.’ They can show the shotgun blast to the face and all the stuff you need to do a good zombie apocalypse show,” Thomas explains. “If we’re going to do a zombie show on The CW, we’re going to need another spin.”
Instead of focusing on a group of the living trying to survive against an army of the dead, the zombies will be trying to figure out how to function in the world. The zombies themselves are also very different, with the abilities to think, feel and act.
When viewers first meet Liv, she’s not yet a zombie and she’s good at pretending to be happy. It’s joining the ranks of the undead that shows her how to appreciate life.
“She had been a character who had done everything she was supposed to do. She had essentially not stopped to smell the roses,” Thomas says. “Weirdly, being a zombie opens up the world to her in some way.”
That’s where helping solve crimes comes into play. The possibility of helping people is something she finds for herself, rather than what was laid out for her.
The munching on brains helps too. When Liv digs into her favorite snack, she temporarily takes on the memories and passions from the person it came from. Experiencing life through their eyes will help her feel more comfortable venturing outside of her own comfort zone.
Know from the get-go that Liv’s fellow zombie Blaine — who seems like the coolest guy around — is actually the villain of the story. Though you are going to want to love him, he’s serious trouble. “He’s a bad guy and does very bad things,” Thomas confirms.
It’s going to be hard to dislike the character at first. Even the crew can’t seem to get enough of him, as Thomas adds, “The poor writers who get the Blaine-less episodes are so disappointed because he’s so much fun.”
“I’m glad that we start painting him as a cool guy,” Anders says.
However, as the season progress, viewers will come to understand exactly who Blaine is and the danger he poses to Liv and the world. “Later on in the season, he does some ruthless things and starts twisting his mustache,” Anders teases.
Liv broke off her engagement with Major after becoming a zombie, but the two of them still see each other — a lot, since they’re close with each other’s friends and family. While he may be very slowly rediscovering the dating world, all roads seem to lead back to Liv.
Of course, she knows that as a zombie there can’t be a future for them. “Because of the fact that any slight scratch or accident could turn Major into a zombie, there’s no wiggle room,” Buckley says. “Liv has to operate in absolutes. There’s no future and she has to shut that door.”
Things aren’t quite as clear cut for Major, since he doesn’t know about Liv’s affliction. “Major’s still very much hopeful, still very much in love,” Buckley adds. The poor guy just can’t catch a break.
While the undead in “iZombie” may not be quite as terrifying as those normally seen in movies, Ravi — the medical examiner Liv works for — is a little too casual about being best friends with a zombie.
He’s the only living person who knows Liv’s secret and it doesn’t scare him away. Instead, he’s more fascinated and wants to learn everything about her and the condition she’s found herself with.
“Here’s this medical miracle and … he could be the person to cure it,” McIver teases.
His connection to Liv won’t end at trying to fix her, though. “Over the course of the season, [Ravi] becomes more entwined in her life,” Kohli says.
That includes a friendship with her former fiance, Major, which will no doubt irritate Liv. “Ravi and Major developing their dynamic is really funny,” McIver teases. “They’re both total gamers and there’s a scene where they game together.”