‘iZombie’, the CW network’s zombie crime-fighter series from ‘Veronica Mars’ creator Rob Thomas, had a bumpy first season that only started to come into focus towards the end. Even so, the show’s premise and characters were entertaining enough to keep me watching. Now that it’s back for a second season, has the series gotten past its growing pains?
Not yet, judging by the premiere episode ‘Grumpy Old Liv’. It’s still fun, and I’m certainly willing to stick with it, but some of the problems from the first season are evident here.
For one thing, the episode is another mystery-of-the-week procedural. Liv and Babineaux are called to investigate the murder of a crotchety curmudgeon who was crushed underneath his own car while working on it because someone kicked out the jack holding it up. The guy was apparently a real piece of work, and pretty much everyone in the neighborhood had reason to hate him. His own sister-in-law is the prime suspect for a while, but eventually it comes to light that the culprit was a neighbor who believed that the victim had killed his dog, only to find out afterwards that the old man had merely locked the dog in his basement.
This case is not particularly interesting, except that the killer turns out to be rather sympathetic and is tormented by guilt over the mistake he made in a moment of rage. Also, after Liv eats the elderly victim’s brain, star Rose McIver has a lot of fun playing a cantankerous (and somewhat racist) crank. A lot of the success of this show revolves around the actress’ ability to convincingly change her personality every episode.
With that said, it brings up another of the show’s flaws, which is that Babineaux never gives much thought to Liv’s major personality shifts from week to week. The guy’s a detective. How does he not find that suspicious?
Let’s Catch Up with Everything Else
The more interesting parts of the episode pick up from last season’s storylines. Liv’s younger brother is still in the hospital. He survived the butcher shop explosion, no thanks to Liv, who refused to donate any of her blood for a transfusion. Although she clearly had a very good reason for that, her mother and brother don’t understand and are both very upset with her.
Ravi has not had any luck replicating the zombism cure. To do more testing, he needs more samples of the drug Utopium that had been mixed with the Max Rager energy drink at the boat party where the outbreak started. Unfortunately, the only person either Ravy or Liv know who might be able to obtain more Utopium is Blaine (David Anders), and neither of them is eager to talk to him.
Although cured, Blaine is still a devious bastard. These days, he’s working as a mortician, which gives him easy access to dead brains he can sell to zombies. He claims that he’s gone legit (by his standards). He doesn’t have any interest in helping Liv with her Utopium problem, until she suggests that the cure he was given might not be permanent. He agrees to see what he can do about finding more Utopium. After Liv leaves, we discover that he has a huge supply of it in his basement.
Since the news about its product’s side effects went public, Max Rager has seen a big downturn in business. The evil CEO (Steven Weber) has pinned the company’s fortunes on the impending release of its new Super Max drink. He tells his board of directors that he also has the key to destroying the remaining zombies.
Major is working as a personal trainer these days. When his new client gets his senses all a-tingling, he realizes that he’s become a human zombie detector. The Max Rager CEO learns about this (he somehow has recordings of Liv’s personal conversations) and recruits Major to work for him, calling him, “The greatest zombie killer alive.”
Liv has a new roommate. In a final revelation, we learn that she’s the Max Rager CEO’s henchwoman and was planted to spy on Liv.
As I said, I’m on board to watch more this season. It’s still early, and I think the show has time to work out its kinks.