A witty erudite blonde solves crimes whilst attempting to overcome the emotional baggage of a previous trauma. For all intents and purposes, Rob Thomas’ iZombie is Veronica Mars – except instead of playing in the shadows of film-noir, Thomas has his feet firmly planted in the ever-popular zombie genre. It’s a welcome mix of the familiar (the aforementioned blonde solving crimes) and the new (said aforementioned blonde is a recently un-dead zombie). Instead of dealing with the murky grey morality of V-Mars, iZombie seems to be concerned with the existential pangs of an existence that has already ended. That the show’s able to ruminate on such meaty topics in between an onslaught of pop-culture jabs and puns shouldn’t come as a surprise. Thomas has always had a deft touch in blending theological musings with a sharp sense of humor.
Such was evident at today’s WonderCon panel for the series. Executive producers Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero-Wright alongside series stars Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley & David Anders were on hand to discuss the evolution of the series and preview where it’s headed. Below are highlights from the panel.
What attracted Diane Ruggiero-Wright & Rob Thomas to iZombie?
- For Ruggiero-Wright, it was getting to do “another take on the zombie genre.” For Thomas, it wasn’t so much the zombie genre but the feminist slant of the show. “Warner Brothers didn’t pitch iZombie as the CW zombie show… They pitched it to me as the CW meets the next kick-ass female heroine. [For me] it was an opportunity to do that more so than a zombie genre show,” Thomas confided.
On The Most Challenging Aspect of the Show:
- For Rob Thomas, the most difficult aspect of iZombie is the action elements. “Most of what I’ve done [as a writer] is quippy people in rooms.” Thomas joked, “This is the first time I’m getting to deal with visual effects and blood and action.”
- For star Rose McIver – the most challenging aspect is getting “inside the different traits of the character’s whose brain Liv [eats each episode]. I spent four months preparing Liv and now I have to pick up all these different traits from other characters…”
On the Evolution of the Series:
- Per Thomas — the original script for the pilot episode was ‘eighty pages’ — far too long for a 42-minute show. Thomas cited one example in particular to illuminate the change between the rough draft and final aired version. In the rough draft of the script, Clive didn’t believe in psychics at all and had to be shown the error of his ways over the course of the episode. But this arc took up too much airtime so in the final version he just blindly believes in psychics. “That’s how television works,” Thomas joked.
On Deviating from the Comic Book:
- “I think you just try to do the best show you can,” Thomas stated, “The places we deviate from the comic — there’s a logic to it. In the comic, she’s a gravedigger… but by making her a morgue attendant, it makes it easier to do the case of the week [structure]. There’s a whole monster universe to the comic — but there was a feeling True Blood had already [done that].” As such Thomas decided to keep the iZombie universe grounded with just zombies.
- Thomas was quick to note though that despite these changes the creators “have been fantastic to the show.” and have their blessing to do what’s best for the adaptation.
On Balancing the Comedy, Horror, Romance and Drama of iZombie
- “We call it a zom-com-rom-dram,” Thomas joked “Just your typical zom-com-rom-dram… Getting a show right at the start is very difficult. But this has been a dream season of television. Getting the network, studio, creators and actors on the same page can be very difficult — but on this show everyone’s been on the same page from day one. If all shows could be like this, it would be the best job in the world.”
iZombie airs Tuesday night on The CW.