One difference between The CW’s new drama “iZombie” and most other un-dead-centered properties is that this show’s characters actually realize zombies are a thing.
Executive producer Diane Ruggiero-Wright joined creator Rob Thomas and the cast of The CW drama at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Friday.
“It wasn’t a part of the comics, but it’s something we really enjoyed about the show. If there were a zombie attack, what would you do?” Ruggiero-Wright asked. “I would watch ‘The Walking Dead’ and pick up a lot of useful tips.”
It’s a whimsical approach to the traditional zombie genre that sets the drama apart from other more grisly takes like the popular AMC series. Rose McIver‘s Liv is a med student with a bright future who is bitten and turned into a zombie on a yacht party, changing the course of her life (undead or otherwise) forever.
In order to stay fresh and CW-level pretty, she must consume human brains on the regular, so she takes a job with the medical examiner’s office, where she gets visions from the brains of murder victims she eats. Naturally, she decides to use her newfound psychic ability to help a police detective (Malcolm Goodwin) solve their cases.
It’s the second time Thomas has shepherded a witty detective prone to voiceovers, though there are some differences between “iZombie’s” Liv and Thomas’ cult fan favorite heroine on “Veronica Mars.”
“Veronica is more hard-boiled, she kind of has that Raymond Chandler worldview,” he said. “Liv in ‘iZombie’ is naturally a softer character. A part of the journey for her is finding her way back to the sweetness of life and the things worth living for.”
Being a show on the female-centric, youth-driven CW, “iZombie” will also feature romance, even with an undead heroine.
“It helped a lot that ‘Warm Bodies’ had made it out into the world,” said Thomas of the Jonathan Levine-directed zombie rom-com starring Nicholas Hoult. “We thought, oh yeah, that’s a zombie you can fall in love with. It gave us the confidence to have a zombie you can root for.”
And Liv has very human urges, even though she’s undead. There is, for example, a very attractive ex-fiance (Robert Buckley) who still can’t understand why she dumped him.
“Zombieness might be sexually transmitted, so we have to take that into consideration,” Ruggiero-Wright teased.
“We do introduce a zombie gentleman caller in Episode 5,” added Thomas. “So, Liv’s long national nightmare will end.”
For McIver, coming off “Power Rangers RPM” and a recurring arc on “Once Upon a Time,” the show is an introduction to another universe with a built-in fanbase and potential for even more.
“I loved that I’ve worked in this genres with specialty worlds,” she said. “These shows that have these big followings. With our show we have our universe as well. We have this mythology behind it. A whole humanism we’ve worked to bringing to life.”
“iZombie” premieres Tuesday, Mar 17 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.