Thursday, May 15, 2014

CW’s upcoming ‘iZombie’ deviating too far from its comic book origins?

iZombie vol. I graphic novel cover
Photo Credit: Vertigo

DC comics announced last Thursday, May 8, that The CW officially decided to make the Vertigo comic book, “iZombie”, into a live series. Though not as popular among comic book fans as The Walking Dead has been that has also been running as a TV series for the last four seasons, it shouldn’t be surprising that it has been given the official permission to be adapted into a TV series during this time of a zombie craze in pop culture. The iZombie comic and graphic novel series is my “Walking Dead”, since I never cared for The Walking Dead comics or television show. And so I was proud to hear that iZombie would be adapted to TV. That is until I read about several changes in the original storyline that could make the series resemble almost nothing of its comic book origins.

What’s so different about this comic book, created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and published by DC imprint Vertigo, is that unlike most other zombie comics the young heroine, Gwendolyn (“Gwen”), herself is a zombie. She’s intelligent regardless of her occupation of grave digger which she takes up in order to access the brains of fresh corpses for food in order to stay “alive” and so to keep her human state of mind and from going into a total rot that would cause her to lose her feminine beauty forever. (Okay, at least relative feminine beauty since she’s a little pale, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.) But there is a price to pay for eating these brains and it’s not taken out of her paycheck: many of the corpses are ones of murder victims whose disturbing memories invade Gwen’s mind and in order to get rid of them she must track down the murderers and bring them to justice.

But now here’s the problem with the upcoming TV series: regardless of the main character’s name change from Gwen to Liv, who is to be played by Rose McIver (Once Upon a Time), she has been given the role of coroner in place of grave digger. A beautiful heroine who is a med student and helps the cops solve homicide cases with her zombie psychic ability taking the role of grave digger probably wouldn’t look so good to a television audience. Which brings us to producers Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Diane Ruggiero’s other rewrite of the script. In the comic, Gwen often solved these cases on her own or with her supernatural friends (a were-terrier and the ghost of a ‘60s girl). Because of these rewrites—the main character’s role of coroner technician, her partners in crime being people of the mainstream (let alone living) such as the cops and her medical examiner supervisor—CW’s iZombie may be not much more than just another front for a crime series. A front to gratify a Hollywood inclined audience with gun violence exploitation and the all too old car chase scenes, all for the purpose of studio and television network executives to make profits off of that audience that has unwittingly seen these same old tropes all their lives.

Not that TV crime drama shouldn’t cross over into the horror and sci fi genres. There has been horror and science fiction television that has crossed with the crime genre in ways that support the storyline really well. This is the case with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow which involves Ichabod Crane having awakened from a 250 year long sleep to the present day and helps the skeptical cops track down the Headless Horseman who continues hacking off people’s heads. The ‘90s had the X-Files in which FBI Agents Mulder and Scully attempted to solve classified cases involving UFOs and the paranormal. The show’s ‘70s predecessor, Kolchak: The Nightstalker, involved a reporter who investigated similar cases connected with crime. Similarly, any decent adaptation of iZombie definitely calls for solving murder cases since the comic book often involved such storylines due to the nature of the main character.

The real problem here is that, unless we’re given further notice that the other supernatural characters from the comic book will be included, the supporting characters in the iZombie TV series would probably drown out the paranormal elements of the plot making it come across more as a crime drama than a horror or dark fantasy. This would be regardless of’s Tim Beadle’s claim that the show will be like no other zombie series, which, to an extent, he would be right. It wouldn’t be like Walking Dead which is based more on the ideas of George A. Romero’s 1968 movie, Night of the Living Dead, and so is more apocalyptic in theme. Besides the comic book’s twists and as Thomas himself says, it’s not apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic and so it takes place in an everyday life setting. So on the level of zombie television shows and movies it may be very different. However, on the level of supernatural shows especially ones involving psychics assisting with homicidal investigations, such as Medium and Psych, it may not be that different.

We can only hope the producers have more surprises up their sleeves and so will reveal further twists to this series that make up for the above mentioned old TV tropes as the production of the pilot episode comes to completion, which an expected date for has not yet been revealed.

Do you think iZombie as a TV series has potential to differentiate itself from other paranormal crime dramas? Feel free to leave your comments in the box below.

Until next time . . .