REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 2

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Adam Rose (IUp In The Air)
Leanne Lapp (Grace Encounters 2)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Justin Prentice (13 Reasons Why)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural
David Starzyk (Veronica Mars)
Brian Markinson (Tribal)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Serge Houde (50/50)
Ona Grauer (V)
Lucia Walters (Stargate Atlantis)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Smallville)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Steven Williams (21 Jump Street)
Rick Fox (Oz)
Kevin McNulty (Timecop)
Natalie Brown (Bitten)
Emy Aneke (The Predator)
Greg Finley (The Flash)
Brooke Lyons (2 Broke Girls)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Lee Garlington (Cobra)
Daniella Alonso (The Hills Have Eyes II)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Bradley Stryker (Smallville)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Kacey Rohl (Arrow)
Genevieve Buechner (Caprica)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Sarah Grey (The Order)
Wesley MacInnes (Power Rangers)
Andrea Savage (Veep)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)

Consistently offering clever, witty and fun episodes, iZombie solidified itself as one of the most entertaining series on TV in its second season. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright had already created an offbeat yet inviting world in Season 1 and in Season 2 they built upon it, putting the characters into more intense and involving situations, all while still maintaining the show’s crucial, knowing sense of humor.The cast continue to be one of the most likeable you’ll find, anchored by the excellent Rose McIver. Okay, it’s one of the show’s reaches that pretty much every brain Liv eats is a very focused, specific type of person, but that’s just part of the deal here. And it gives McIver so much to work with, as she goes all in playing Liv taking on personas as varied as a coach, a stalker, a costumed vigilante or a tough stripper. Every week, McIver is given something different to play and she consistently nails it, with ongoing mileage gotten out of how out there and uncharacteristic Liv gets, depending on her latest brain meal.After his heartbroken ex-fiancé character take a surprising (and awesome) turn at the end of Season 1, Robert Buckley’s Major got a great storyline in Season 2, as he found himself working for Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber), tasked with assassinating zombies – all while actually locking them up instead, which put him in a very precarious position both with Du Clark and the cops and the FBI, who were getting closer and closer to him for his actions in both Season 1 and 2.The fact that those investigating Major’s crimes were Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and his FBI partner/love interest Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon) only increased the tension, even while Clive and Dale made a great pairing – with Harmon effortlessly fitting in on the show, as the somewhat goofy Dale provided a great foil for the somewhat stoic Clive. And in the midst of this, having Clive begin to slowly notice the things that were off about Liv was continually intriguing, since it was inevitable that Clive would one day find out The Secret.Blaine (David Anders) in the meantime had to adjust to life as a human again – for awhile at least, as he never kept his nose clean and eventually became one of the undead again, with Anders always bringing a wonderfully quirky/funny approach to the character. McIver and Rahul Kohli continued to be a delightful duo in all the scenes between Liv and Ravi and Kohli shined throughout the season, though I do hope Season 3 can perhaps give Ravi more of his own storyline at some points beyond the ongoing search for a cure or the burgeoning love triangle between Ravi, Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Blaine. The end of the season, as Ravi began to suspect Major was up to no good – and their big confrontation about it – showed how strong it can be to use the usually comic presence of Ravi in a dramatic manner that would be interesting to explore again.As Season 2 progressed, one really strong element was how it began to bring together several storylines. We began to see Major’s growing interaction with Blaine begin to bring him even more in focus as a suspect for Dale and Clive, while Peyton’s return — it was good to see Michalka, who also fits in great with this cast, get more to do — had her wrapped up with Blaine (in more ways than one) and helping lead us to a new villain on the show, Stacey Boss (Eddie Jemison).

Best of all, the “brain of the week” storylines began to becoming increasingly tied into the main stories as well. And yes, this meant sometimes you had to accept a bit more coincidence on the show, but it still was exciting and gratifying to see how all the different elements were intersecting in different ways and how Liv could learn new info thanks to a new murder victim connected in ways that were sometimes not apparent on the surface.When it came to Big Bads, Vaughn Du Clark certainly delivered. Stephen Weber seemed to be having a ball in the role and was delightfully awful as the energetic, confident mega-douche of a sports drink company CEO. He was also given a great foil in Gilda (Leanne Lapp), his daughter, who was just as corrupt as her dad. Gilda has no qualms about manipulating Major, Liv or anyone else and Lapp brought just the right attitude to the character – even as we saw just how awful Du Clark was as a dad, giving us a tinge of sympathy, or at least understanding, about why she was the way she was, even as it was clear she needed to be stopped. The season also ended in an epic, satisfying manner, with Clive finally finding out the truth, an all-out “Romero Zombie” attack and both Du Clark and Gilda being taken out – all while we met a huge new player on the scene that looks to be upending the show in a huge way.Nearly every week, iZombie continued to deliver in its second season and the show easily overcame any sophomore slump worries. The creators and cast seem to know exactly the right  tone to go for here, offering up a show that has a fun, accessible vibe but can get suitably intense, dramatic and gory when need be. When the CW gave all of their series early renewals last year, iZombie was one of the ones I know I was celebrating the most. Bring on Season 3!

 

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick_
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Daran Norris (Team America)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Elysia Rotaru (Arrow)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behavior)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Elise Gatien (Smallville)
Serge Houde (50/50)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Bradley James (Merlin)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Trezzo Mahoro (Van Helsing)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Barclay Hope (paycheck)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Chad Rook (The Flash)
Sunita Prasad (UnREAL)
Enid-Raye Adams (Riverdale)
Britt Irvin (Hot Rod)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Erica Luttrell (Westworld)
Percy Daggs III (Veronica Mars)
Andrea Brooks (Supegirl)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Brian Markinson (Tribal)
Leanne Lapp (Grave Encounters 2)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)

I’ve been impressed with Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars’ creator) and Diane Ruggiero’s adaptation of iZombie. The comic of the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred inspired the world on The CW show, but the series used the existing story as a launching pad. Thomas and Ruggiero developed the plot and world in new directions and executed one of the best first seasons of a television series in recent memory.One aspect that contributed to the success was how the stakes kept moving. When we first met Liv, life as a functioning zombie didn’t seem like the worst thing ever. The overall tone was more humorous, Liv was more introspective. She learned more about living and embracing existence by being undead. But then, things shifted. Different types of zombies were introduced, character paths started converging, and the stakes grew higher and higher — and much bigger than Liv and her self-actualization.The show followed a case of the week formula, which a tricky thing to manage, but it often worked to the benefit of the series. The new cases added consistency and allowed the relationships between Liv and Clive and Liv and Ravi to breathe. Though some of the cases didn’t particularly resonate, they occasionally tied into the larger story arc. When those tie-ins happened, they didn’t feel forced; they were a natural extension that helped grow the mystery or pushed characters into new territory. And oh boy, were the characters pushed. Liv went through a slew of personalities, sure, but additionally, she dealt with mortality, gaining and losing someone she loved, seeing her friends in danger, and the list goes on. Rose McIver rose to the challenge of portraying not only Liv, but Liv as several people. She did fantastic work keeping a thread of Liv present through all of the character’s various meals.McIver also communicated the weight and struggles of Liv’s problems in a way that was human. Liv put brains in all her food regularly (and I so appreciate how Liv changes up her methods of brain consumption), but she rarely came across as a monster. The entire cast played well together. Each relationship was the right amount of comfortable at the right time. Example: Liv took a little while to warm up to Lowell — as she should have — and then they were in the new couple phase where they were extremely adorable. Ravi and Liv is one of my favorite friendships on television, but then again, so is the Ravi and Major pairing. Clive’s more serious, get the job done personality is a wonderful complement to the group, and Blaine is the ideal villain.When you create a world where zombies are real, telling people the news and seeing how they react to it is a big part of the story. iZombie surprised me in this regard. I expected Clive to find out long before Peyton — and I do think Clive should know by now because he’s too smart and observant to not realize something’s off with Liv — and I didn’t think Major would be the person to react violently to the news. They showed varying responses, which is how it should be. It wouldn’t have been believable if everyone was as accepting as Ravi. Back to Major briefly, he went on the most unexpected journey. Transforming the nicest guy into a gun-toting zombie killer seems like an impossible task, but they accomplished it and made it believable. They found just the right hook to make the turn work.Seattle has a zombie problem, and the first season made us understand the extent of the issue without dumping it into our lap like a memo. We learned slowly as Liv learned, and the reveal of each puzzle piece made the severity of the situation hit home. With Blaine’s enterprising business presumably closed down and Max Rager employees potentially on the hunt for zombies, the pieces are lined up for a second season full of possibilities.iZombie had an incredibly strong first season. It was intricate and smooth in a way most series don’t come close to achieving in their initial episodes. Though a lighthearted tone was consistent throughout, they regularly upped the stakes and delivered emotional moments. The performances were top notch, and I look forward to seeing what this cast can do together in the years to come.