After two completely boring and formulaic entries this week is a little better. Not much better but a little better. The show in general had a great first episode and then it degenerated into formula pretty quickly. There’s nothing wrong with formula on the surface, it’s a valid serial story telling device. It’s sometimes a necessary story telling device, especially when you are telling a series of stories whose end you don’t know. Unless you signed up a television show with the specific intention of ending it at some point then the expectation is that the show will run forever and that changes the kind of stories you tell. It sets up a need for formula so that you can feed plot elements into a machine and create perpetual episodes from now into infinity with a moderate amount of work. I’m not saying that it’s not work, but the addition of a formula at least gives you a foothold when you break a story. You kind of have 20-30% of story right there, a skeleton to add flesh to. In the best case you have something like South Park that follows a very basic formula (the semi-famous ‘therefore’ and ‘but’ formula) in the worst cases you have House which was formula down to the minute; essentially the same episode every single time. What I’m trying to say is there is nothing wrong with using a formula however using that formula successfully is the trick. For the most part iZombie has not used its formula successfully. It established that formula in the first episode and then proceeded to clone that first episode twice more. Not only did it clone that first episode twice more it removed the cast elements that made that formula successful by narrowing focus to just Liv instead on the larger ensemble cast. It’s good to have a strong main character, someone who can carry the greater story, one that we can spend time with but I just don’t think the character of Liv Moore can carry the show on her own. She can carry moments on her own, she can carry, maybe, an act on her own, but not episode upon episode on her own. The strength of the series comes from that supporting cast which has been largely absent. This week we get the return of her smart ass brother who was a much welcome breath of fresh air, as limited an appearance as it was. His casual obsession with Liv’s absent roommate, his ease with Liv’s profession and just the slightly different personality he brings was a light in the darkness of the formula.
This episode saw Liv eating a brain and getting visions of her Detective sidekick being a dirty cop. This messed with the formula a bit as well as it created some level of conflict between the two characters. It was something different and it was nice to see. The scene of her ‘going undercover’ with her boss was just plain enjoyable as the chemistry between those two characters is funny and friendly. When she is hit by a homeless persons cart and jumps up announcing that she “…knows kung-fu…” I laughed, but I also thought it was incredibly stupid.
We also get the bigger picture on her zombie antagonist and his brain dealing operation which hints at being much bigger than previously thought. Apparently he has been turning quite a few people into zombies and runs a brain feeding operation out of a butcher shop that also serves gourmet brain meals (?) and where he literally keeps goons on ice ready to serve him. That whole side provides an interesting peek at the greater world but I wonder how they will come together by the end of the series and I don’t wonder that in a good way. It looks like it will be a major problem down the road and I’m curious to see how they make it work but I’m also anticipating it to be a car wreck. As for right now, this episode, it brings back some of the glimmer of the first episode so it’s not a total waste of your time but I wouldn’t clear your schedule to look at it.
iZombie 1.4 Watch iZombie on CW, Tuesday 9/8 C