Despite being pretty burned out on zombies, like most of the English-speaking world, in the last couple of weeks I somehow ended up watching two television shows that feature the living dead: Fear the Walking Dead and iZombie. Fear is the much more traditional zombie show and a spin off of The Walking Dead, while iZombie is a detective procedural with happy, relatively functional zombies.
Fear the Walking Dead – 7/10
Unfortunately before I even start telling you how much I enjoyed Fear the Walking Dead, I feel compelled to complain about its name. What is going on with that title? I feel like I’m being lectured. You! Do you fear the dead? No? Well… you better! It’s awful.
The show starts shortly before the zombie apocalypse hits, and was pitched as showing what happened before Rick woke up from his coma in the beginning of TWD. The focus is on a couple of families who were fortunate enough to be in the “safe zone” once zombies started ruining everyone’s day. Of course, as any TWD fan knows, there’s no such thing as safe…
Fear gets pretty short shrift from TWD fans, and is frequently criticized for being slow or lacking in action. However, I greatly enjoyed it for that very reason. I mean look: I hated the Farmin’ Friends season of TWD like every other reasonable person, but not everything about zombies needs to be non-stop explosions and brain-eating. The TWD gang is basically a pack of trained killers at this point, but there’s room for stories from people who are less prepared, less violent, and more… confused.
I also like the fairly complex moral alignment of many of the main characters, but without too much heavy-handedness. Lately TWD has spent a little too much time, I feel, focusing on Rick’s journey from mild-mannered sheriff to The One Who Knocks (everyone in the head if they get near Carl) and it’s getting.. ponderous, I guess. I know, yes, yes, Rick is the real monster. Yes, producers. There there.
Basically if you watch TWD for the gore and the action (valid reasons!), skip Fear. If you want slightly more personal stories about the zombie apoc, well, check it out.
iZombie – 6/10
So okay, in the world of iZombie zombies are perfectly normal human-like creatures as long as they have access to a supply of fresh human brains. I mean, their hair goes white and they have visions and moments of extreme adrenaline can send them into “zombie mode”, but generally zombies are people too.
Liv Moore (get it?) is secretly a zombie. She works in the city morgue, which gives her a full supply of human brains. She gets visions and character traits from the brains she eats, which means she also works with the police to solve crimes as a “psychic”. Obvs.
iZombie is a Rob Thomas joint, which is not surprising as the show is basically Veronica Mars with zombies. And to that end, I find it has the same flaws as VM. iZombie is cute but toothless, which is tough to do in a show about brain-eating. Everyone is just a little too .. cotton candy light. Problems never seem to stick, and at the end of every episode Liv has learned a little whimsical lesson about life.
It’s enough to drive a cynic mad.
If you liked Veronica Mars, you’d enjoy iZombie. If you are a little too into the grimdark, like me, you can skip it.