Review: ‘iZombie’ – ‘Virtual Reality Bites’: Mmm… forbidden doughnut

Senior Television Writer
04.22.15 13 Comments

A quick review of last night's “iZombie,” along with thoughts on the season to date, coming up just as soon as I drive you into the sea and hear the lamentations of your women…

The CW sent critics four “iZombie” episodes before the series debuted. I wanted to wait at least a couple after that batch before weighing back in, and “Virtual Reality Bites” turned out to be both a good installment of this young show and a good illustration of why it works when it works.

Even stripping out most of the monster cosmology from the comics (and I appreciated the hat-tip of making Ravi's avatar be a were-terrier), Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright are working with a lot of moving parts here: case of the week, Ravi investigating the nature of Liv's powers and the possibility of a cure, Blaine expanding his zombie business model, relationship angst, etc. They also have to hit a very narrow tonal sweet spot, in that they're doing a show with a lot of death in it – including a main character struggling with the reality of her own living death – that's also light and goofy and has its heroine posing as a fake psychic while she eats brains slathered in hot sauce.

The last couple of episodes struggled a bit to balance the tones, in part struggling because the cases of the week got too serious, first with Liv's paranoia about Clive, then with her sadness over the death of a sorority sister. Having her eat the rotten brains of an overweight, agoraphobic hacker troll was a much lighter, funnier idea, and one that gave Rose McIver a lot to play, yet when the moment came for the story to turn serious with the brother's confession, it didn't feel disjointed. They don't need to go comical with every brain she eats, especially since there's humor (albeit much darker humor) from the details of Blaine's business, but this is a show that sounds ridiculous when you try describing the premise to anyone, and it helps when the creative team embraces the absurdity and makes it work for them.

(Along similar lines, I don't know that having Major investigate a series of child murders is perhaps the best use of Robert Buckley, a funny actor who hasn't gotten much opportunity to show it in this role, but I appreciate that it's incorporating him into the zombie mythology so he's not just there for Liv to feel guilty about. Presumably, this season ends with him learning the truth and becoming a part of this show's version of the Scooby Gang.)

The ratings have been very good for the CW – particularly the week where it held steady even when “The Flash” episode before it was a repeat – so I suspect this one will be around for a while. Creatively, it's off to a strong start.

What did everybody else think of “Virtual Reality Bites”? And how are you feeling about the show as a whole so far?

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