It’s like I’ve always ironically said, “The only way you could make Veronica Mars better is if Veronica was a zombie.” I liked last week’s pilot episode well enough, but “Brother, Can You Spare A Brain?” was even better and full of signs the production team knows fully what to do with a script and some actors. There were concerns the “murder of the week” gimmick employed by so many procedurals before this one would drag the series down, but instead of that being the main focus, it’s used as a springboard to go in several different directions. And what directions!
This one opened with the murder of an artist named Javier, who had been stabbed through the eyeball into the brain. (I’m probably dating myself, but it used to be in the days of Murder She Wrote that just shooting a guy was enough. When did TV killers get so creative?) We don’t get to see much of Javier outside of Liv’s visions, but we get a pretty good idea he was the very model of the snooty archetype and he probably wore a beret.
Javier also, apparently, slept around: the first vision Liv gets is his lying on top of a young woman, and then a jealous somebody barging in through the door. This leads Clive to conclude, “It must’ve been the wife.” Upon investigation, though, not only was the wife fully aware of Javier’s mistresses but she was rather lackadaisical about it. There were several other suspects Liv and Clive trailed from that point, but the surprise end verdict was that it really was the wife. Since everyone who’s seen a bit of TV is familiar with the first suspect always being the red herring, I have to give ’em credit for exploiting that.
One thing you need to know about Liv is that she not only absorbs the memories of the brains she eats, but the person the brains belonged to directly affects her personality, and for the next few days she shows traces of their behavior. It’s a pretty hilarious concept and it’s been done well so far, but I have to wonder how many times it can happen before it gets old. Last week she became a kleptomaniac; this week she developed a paint obsession and a passionate eye for detail and color that dipped into insanity.
“There he is. The one with the gleaming crystal eyes and the mouth that looks like he just finished eating a peach!”
“How about you just tell me what color shirt he’s wearing?”
iZombie is also intelligent enough not to waste time dragging out a “mystery” that would be better tossed. Not only do we find out who infected Liv on the boat almost immediately, we can already tell he’s going to be a major player in the series — and we don’t mind, because he’s the most slick and charismatic pale-faced reprobate since Spike. Blaine is another zombie, but handles his affliction completely differently from Liv, using it as an opportunity to gain power and singlehandedly run a brain-trade racket.
The pilot never explained exactly WHY Liv had to abandon her relationship with her fiance, but what Blaine did on purpose makes it clear: apparently sex will zombify someone just as well as a bite (he also could have bitten her during sex, but I think the implication was the former). He charms up a woman at a bar, takes her home, and she’s pale-faced and craving brains the very next day. That’s when Blaine whips out some pink matter in Tupperware and starts demanding money. He got these brains, by the way, from ambushing three hoods at once inside of a car. Blaine is awesome.*
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His interactions with Liv are great. Liv knows better than to trust him, but they have enough in common that they can hold a conversation over exotic topics like how they hate the taste of brain. I hope they won’t eventually try to force a romance here, or if they do, that it makes sense eventually (chemistry can develop over a series, and it’s too early to judge).
Add to all this a dog-friendly Internet cafe called “Mutt-Bowl Surfers” (did The CW’s target age demo even get that reference?) and you have a show that is, so far, impossible not to get into. The little network’s content has been slowly rising in quality (unless you count Beauty and the Beast which is nine steps backwards) and this program is the best offering yet. If the rest of America latches onto its appeal the way they did with Veronica Mars, I expect Rose McIver to be voicing a Disney princess in ten years.