REVIEWED: SEASON 5 (EPISODES 1 - 5) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX UK
The TV show-making machine is seldom kind to original ideas. iZombie is perhaps notable simply because it started out as something very different to its source material, becoming its own unique thing while along the way. Season 1’s ‘cop drama with a zombie twist’ was a far cry from Chris Roberson & Michael Allred’s surreal comic book, and after five years it had taken so many twists and turns it had become almost unrecognisable from its pilot. This is a good thing. Alas, it has not lasted.
The core formula is still here - Liv Moore needs to eat brains otherwise she’ll become a ravening, unthinking ghoul. Fortunately, she’s a medical examiner for the police and by eating brains she gets flashes of the victims’ lives. She uses this to fight crime. By Season 5, the city of Seattle has become a zombie-infested ghetto, with humans and zombies living together. Provided the undead get a supply of mushed up brain-food, everything is fine. But there’s a ticking clock as the rest of the world eyes its horrifying neighbour uneasily.
Liv is still fighting crime with the police. It’s just now she’s running the zombie underground while her on again/off again boyfriend runs a mercenary peace-keeping force. Her best friend is the sort-of Mayor. And in the background, human supremacist insurgents threaten to tear down the walls. If all of this sounds like a great set-up, well it is. Sadly, the show needs to keep its more marketable police procedural format at the same time. And that means we have undead-air as the crew faff around with the latest novelty case that week.
Though we’ve only seen a handful of episodes for Season 5 thus far, it’s easy to see that the result of these mixed intentions makes for a dull mess. iZombie has always been a busy show, and it’s never been afraid to change the stakes and add new conflict, but more so than ever the show seems desperate to return to its Season 1 roots. Which is a pity because the arc-plot is more interesting. The problem is partially that all the characters are extremely well-fleshed out at this point. This means that if you’ve been watching it avidly so far, a lot of the scenes seem a bit rushed. They all seem a little out of sorts, and this is because they’ve crammed so much in there is no room to breathe.
iZombie comes to a conclusion this year, and it looks like it’s on a crash course. We’re hoping for apocalyptic shenanigans with healthy doses of dark humour. But instead it’s looking like we’re going to get pedestrian cop-drama and some awkward relationship B-plot up until the very end, and that’s a shame.