Rob Thomas, the writer not the musician, is a magician. “Veronica Mars” wasn’t a runaway hit, but it created a loyal fan base that helped crowdfund a movie. He wrote and developed “Party Down” which featured a pre-“Glee” Jane Lynch, Adam Scott before “Parks and Recreation,” and everyone’s favorite, Lizzy Caplan. It also had a ton of “Veronica Mars” alums. He was also responsible for the “Beverly Hills, 90210” reboot, “90210,” which lasted a respectable five seasons. Now he’s at it again with a new teen crime drama, “iZombie.” Will this series, which will air on The CW this fall, be the next “Veronica Mars?”
Die-hard marshmallows, as fans of the show are called, may lose it at the comparison, but “Veronica Mars” was the “Buffy”-fication of the Noir genre. A snarky girl helps her classmates with a unique set of skills in both series. But one subverts the horror genre with an ingénue heroine, and one turns the detective into a high school girl. “iZombie,” loosely based on a comic book of the same name, will follow a snarky undead girl who helps solve crimes with a unique set of skills. Med student-turned-zombie Olivia ‘Liv’ Moore (Rose McIver) takes a job at a coroner’s office to get her brain fix. But when she eats them, she gains memories that help her solve mysteries. So it’s “The Walking Dead” meets “Tru Calling.” This show feels like it’s putting an intelligent, young female spin on the zombie genre.
Can New Zealand native McIver fill the shoes of Kristen Bell and Caplan as a Thomas lead? She is very versatile. She recently starred with Caplan in the hit summer series “Masters of Sex,” and channeled her best 1950s housewife as an innocent virgin hell-bent on getting married. She was a standout and really could have used more time on the addictive sex soap opera. She also did a very Kiwi ass-kicking take on Tinkerbell on “Once Upon a Time.” She has that blend of heroine and innocent and looks like she can pull off a wisecracking, super cognizant zombie. “iZombie” also features David Anders of “Alias” fame and “Saturday Night Live” alum Nora Dunn.
There’s very little out about the show just yet, but it could definitely be as fun as “Veronica Mars.” It’s clear it will have a strong heroine and a lot of witty banter. Dunn has the same great retro appeal as Enrico Colantoni, who played Veronica’s dad, Keith. It also finds Thomas reuniting with writer/producer Diane Ruggiero on this series. However, the concept may be a little out there for audiences. A super-smart zombie who solves mysteries sounds like a bad 1980s sitcom. Only time will tell how well the series will do. It does look primed to do for the undead what “Veronica Mars” did for the gumshoe. Although, technically, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” already did it. But hey, it’s Rob Thomas, so there’s a high propensity toward awesomeness. We’ll decide after the pilot if we want six seasons and a movie.
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.