With a human flush, “iZombie” star Rose McIver, who plays young hospital resident Liv Moore, passes for any endearing sitcom actress — attractive and peppy with an easy smile.
When McIver’s eyes first pop open as Liv Moore, sullen zombie crime fighter, they really pop against that pale skin.
She’s a decomposing Disney princess, a living-dead Tinkerbell (the role she played on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” — minus the brain cravings).
Add to the native New Zealander’s charm a solid supporting cast and the likeable characters they play — including Rahul Kohli as police morgue supervisor Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, David Anders (another “Once Upon a Time” alum) as zombie frenemy Blaine DeBeers, Malcolm Goodwin as cop Clive Babineaux and Robert Buckley as Liv’s lost love Major Lilywhite — and the CW has another hit on its hands.
At least until the zombie genre is fully played out.
Show creator Rob Thomas‘ touch on “iZombie” is a marriage of his tenacious super-sleuth “Veronica Mars” and his irrepressible love god “Cupid” (remember that 2009 Jeremy Piven gem?) with just the right mix of sleuthing and snogging.
Liv takes a girls’ night off from her engagement bliss and hunky fiance to attend a yacht party with a fellow resident.
Which, of course, ends up being the Worst. Idea. Ever.
Liv gets scratched up when drugged-crazed zombies attack the boat. When next she wakes, she scares a young medical examiner, having been declared dead, bagged and tagged.
Months later, she’s broken off her engagement, quit the hospital and taken a job at the police morgue, which provides her access to an unlimited supply of brain for her culinary experimentation.
One side effect, however, is that zombies ingest the memories as well as the brain matter. In Liv’s case, the brains her employment gives her access to are usually the victims of foul play, and she takes on the role of faux psychic to hide the source of her knowledge and partner with Babineaux to solve the crimes.
Her supervisor, Dr. Chakrabarti, quickly deduces her secret — he was with the CDC, after all — and offers to help her find a cure if she will allow his poking and probing of her zombie person.
Blaine shows up as a slick foil to nearly every good effort Liv puts forth.
“iZombie” is a fun police procedural crossed with “Being Human,” not quite as gruesome as “The Walking Dead,” with the smart humor and a reluctantly deceased heroine like “Dead Like Me” and the sweet and seemingly impossible human-zombie romance of the movie “Warm Bodies” (itself owing to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”).
The show is based on the graphic novel series put out by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. Allred’s artwork is featured in the opening credits of the show.
“iZombie” premieres Tuesday, March 17 at 9/8C.