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iZombie: The Complete First Season (2015)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/12/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/8/2016

Here's the thing about being a entertainment devotee. When you watch a great deal of movies and television shows, you can't help but absorb the various stories and ideas. And you will no doubt realize that some of these plots are similar, even very similar. And, in some cases, you come across something which feels exactly like something that you've seen before. It can be very difficult to ignore the resemblance and truly give the new item a chance. This was the conflict I faced when I tackled iZombie: The Complete First Season.

iZombie tells the story of Olivia "Liv" Moore (Rose McIver), a young doctor who is doing her residency in a hospital. Along with her career prospects, Liv is also engaged to Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley). One night, Major convinces Liv to blow off some steam and attend a party. However, at the party, Liv is scratched by a zombie and wakes up the next morning with a craving for brains. Along with this hungry comes a nearly albino-like appearance. Due to these changes, Liv calls things off with Major and leaves her hospital job for a position in the morgue. This allows her access to fresh brains. Her boss, Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) not only learns her secret, but he offers to help find a cure for Liv's condition. Meanwhile, Liv learns that when she eats a brain, she takes on that person's personality and inherits this memory. This allows her to assist homicide detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) solve murders. But, Liv soon realizes that she's not the only zombie in town and those who are looking for a way to get their brains could create chaos in town.

In 2003, a show premiered on Fox entitled Tru Calling. This show concerned a young medical student whose life falls into turmoil when she loses her grant, forcing her to take a job in the morgue. Once there, she finds that she has a psychic connection with the corpses and she's able to re-live their deaths in order to help solve crimes and right wrongs. Does this sound familiar? Tru Calling wasn't a monster hit, but people have heard of it, especially those who would be the target audience for something like iZombie. Therefore, I was very surprised when I first heard about this new show, as it sounds so very close in subject matter to Tru Calling. Very, very close. In addition, iZombie also shares traits with Bones (with all of the medical procedural stuff) and several other supernatural shows, such as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, with the way in which Liv must hide her condition.

Once you get past the lack of original ideas, and the fact that the show appears to be jumping on to the zombie bandwagon, one jumps into the show itself. If you've ever watched a TV show, you no doubt know that the Pilot episode is meant to introduce the characters, and in the case of a drama like this, set up the central plot or mystery. The first episode of iZombie, sets up a few ideas -- ideas which aren't properly explored. When Liv becomes a zombie, her hair turns white and her skin takes on the hue of alabaster, but no one asks her about this. The notion of how she became a zombie, beyond being scratched, and whether or not there are more zombies, if never explored. These concepts eventually come up in the series, but I can't imagine many viewers watching the Pilot and not wondering when someone is going to mention these things.

So, clearly, I have some issues with iZombie. However, the show is not without its charms. Rose McIver brings a lot of pep to her role and she does a great job with manifesting the various personalities that she takes on. Like so many supernatural shows, the episodes combine episodic, self-contained stories, as well as story arcs which cover multiple episodes, if not the entire season. The show does a good job of balancing these components, and this should satisfy viewers who enjoy either or both parts of the show. I, for one, typically prefer the stand-alone episodes in shows like this, but I didn't mind the season-long stories, save for those which focused on Blaine (David Anders) -- he's a weak villain and I've never liked that actor. iZombie is based on a DC comic book, but it was brought to television by Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars. This show has a similar vibe, as we have a spunky heroine who solves crimes and often puts herself into dangerous situations. If you can look past the show's issues with originality and vagueness, iZombie offers a decent amount of fun and some mild drama. The show definitely has a pulse, but it won't change your life.

iZombie: The Complete First Season is very inconsistent with Liv's skin tone on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The three-disc set contains all 13 episodes of the show's first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. For the most part, the image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. However, there are select moments where a sheen of video noise appears on the dark parts of the screen, creating a truly distracting effect. The colors look good, as the show does not shy away from a palette where the reds really pop. The level of detail is good and the depth is notable. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects are subtle, but they do add to the action scenes, as they mostly highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The music and some sound effects offer a noticeably bass response.

The iZombie: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. Each Disc offers DELETED SCENES from various episodes -- Disc 1 -- "Pilot" (2 scenes), "Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?"; Disc 2 -- "Flight of the Living Dead", "Patriot Brains"; Disc 3 -- "Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat", "Blaine's World". "iZombie: 2014 Comic-Con Panel" (29 minutes) is a discussion of the show's first season which features Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggerio-Wright, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, and David Anders.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long