An inquisitive blonde solves crimes all while narrating via voiceover.
No, we’re not talking about Veronica Mars—though The CW’s somewhat similar new series iZombie does hail from Mars creator Rob Thomas. Heck, even Rose McIver’s voiceover sounds like Kristen Bell’s, but there is one very big difference: iZombie’s Liv is a zombie.
Based on the DC Comics property, the new series stars McIver as Liv, a med student-turned-zombie who works in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she needs to eat in order to keep her humanity intact. Using the memories of the people whose brains she consumes, she then helps solve homicide cases.
“Veronica is hardened,” Thomas explained to critics during the Television Critics Association’s winter TV previews. “I always wanted us to, at our best in those voiceovers, strive for this very Raymond Chandler-esque hard-boiled, cynical world view. Liv in iZombie is more naturally a softer character. Part of the journey for her is a return to sweetness and light and find things in life that are worth going on living for. While we are using [voiceover] for both, I think their attitudes are pretty different.”
In truth, the series could relate more to Orphan Black, in which Tatiana Maslany plays a plethora of various characters. That’s because each time Rose eats a brain, she retains the victim’s memories and inherits some of their traits, meaning she’s basically playing Liv as a new person each week. “I’ve been able to try my hand in all different characters in all different genres,” McIver said. “It just feels like you’re working on a bunch of different shows. We feel like every day we go to work, it’s a new experience.”
The challenge is that McIver is learning a new skill each week, from doing kung-fu to speaking fluent Romanian, depending on whose brains she ingests. “I’ve never been more terrified of receiving scripts in my life,” she said. “I get text messages from them like, ‘Can you do a cartwheel?'”
However, fans of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s comic-book series may notice that Liv is not quite the same zombie they knew from the graphic novel. “We didn’t hew terribly closely to the source material,” Thomas said. “In the zombie comic-book, there’s a whole monster universe [with] ‘were-terriers’ and ghosts. We wanted to stay strictly zombie, so we only have zombies in the show. We really needed a story engine. We wanted to do a case-of-the-week show. In the comic book, the character is a grave digger and that’s how she gets her brains. By making her a medical examiner working in the morgue, it gave us our case of the week.”
iZombie premieres Tuesday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.