April 12, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “IZombie”


Rob Thomas and Dianne Ruggiero-Wright’s CW series IZOMBIE is a show that would benefit from a season order shorter than the 19 hours it had to deliver this year–and with its less than stellar ratings, that might be exactly what it gets next season.  As it was, this season was overextended, with too many procedural hours that survived their routine mystery plots only due to their witty scripts and the fun nature of the basic premise:  Seattle zombie Liv Moore (Rose McIver) maintains a steady supply of brains (which keep her from turning into an all-our walker) and a sense of purpose through her job at the Medical Examiner’s office, where her ingestion of brains gives her access to not just the memories of murder victims–allowing her to solve their homicides–but their basic personality traits.

So this season, we had Liv as frat boy, country singer, control freak, gambler, magician, romance novelist, pathological liar, stripper and so on.  The personas are played mostly for laughs, and although some suit McIver more than others, she brings bounce to them all, which is needed, since the murderers are usually identifiable by the second act break.  Amidst the murder-of-the-week stories, a serialized mythology was parceled out, involving evil pharma head Vaughn du Clark (Steven Weber), whose company made the energy drink that created the local zombies; Blaine (David Anders), the very Spike-from-Buffy dealer who’d given Liv the potion in the first place; Liv’s former beau Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley), who ended up going to work for Vaughn in the latter’s quest to hide the side effects of his new drink by killing its victims; and this season, mob boss Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison); and Liv’s new love Drake (Greg Finley), the latter of whom shifted from appearing to work for Blaine to Mr. Boss to a reveal that he’d actually been an undercover cop the whole time.  All of this, which came to include Liv’s buddy and morgue boss Ravi (Rahul Kohli), unsuspecting Seattle PD partner Clive (Malcolm Goodwin)–who believed her beyond-the-dead visions were the result of psychic abilities–and Liv’s BFF and Assistant DA Peyton (Aly Michalka), tended to get convoluted and lacking in impact as it wandered its way through 19 episodes.

Tonight’s two-hour season finale, though, with Part 1 written by Consulting Producer John Enbom and directed by John Kretchner, and Part 2 written by Ruggiero-Wright and Co-EP Kit Boss (from a story by Ruggiero-Wright and Thomas) and directed by Michael Fields, didn’t have that problem.  It was able to forego the procedural filler and jump right into the core story–if anything, after a season of dawdling, it felt too rushed–and it embraced the horror genre with a full-on zombie outbreak at a party thrown by Vaughn to celebrate the billion-dollar purchase of his company.  He was wiped out by the end of the episode (his brains a meal for the story’s “poster child for poetic justice,” his own daughter whom he’d allowed to turn into a zombie in order to save himself) in an hour that had a bigger body count than the last 2 seasons put together.  Season 3 promises to be something different, with the revelation that the mogul who was buying Vaughn’s company was herself a zombie with a plan to turn Seattle into Undead Central.  Along the way, Liv had to kill zombie Drake (no great loss, really), the writers finally let Clive in on Liv’s (and Major’s) secret, and paid off a Rob Thomas (the singer) and not Rob Thomas (the showrunner) gag, with the former among those whose brains were a main course at Vaughn’s party.

IZombie is probably the least ambitious of CW’s shows, lacking the elaborate world-building of The 100 or Greg Berlanti’s superhero sagas or Julie Plec’s vampire romances, and the meta-dramedy and tonal shifts of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or Jane the Virgin.  It’s not really a series to engender wild excitement, with its loose mysteries and casual zombie mythology, but it’s a diverting hour nonetheless.  Like everything else on its network, IZombie been renewed for 2016-17, but if it’s asked to survive without its current lead-in from The Flash–the best CW has to offer–it may find itself as hungry for viewers as its protagonists are for fresh brains.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."