After a painfully long wait for fans of the series, the CW Network renewed the hit horror comedy/drama iZombie for a fifth season late Friday. Even the folks at TV Guide had their fingers crossed for this renewal, stating, “At last, our long national nightmare is over,” in response to the news. What began as a successful comic book series by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint about a gravedigger zombie gal who eats brains to survive, took on its own life under the deft management of showrunner Rob Thomas, who had already dazzled his target audience with Veronica Mars. Powerhouse star Rose McIver’s Liv Moore has become every bit the ace detective that Veronica was, but she also bridged the audience back to the pop culture references and off-the-wall fun Joss Whedon brought the TV audience with the original badass heroine with his Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And McIver had the added bonus of playing a character that had to change up her performance every single episode while also appearing in nearly every scene, like Quantum Leap’s Sam Beckett and more recently Tatiana Maslany’s several sisters in Orphan Black. And she has met the challenge with high energy along the way. Everyone should be taking a good look at McIver’s performance this year come award season.
That isn’t to say the series hasn’t had a few ups and downs as it found its footing each season, upping the ante for its characters faster than anyone could have predicted… Liv and Major (Robert Buckley) are off, then on again… Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and Peyton (Aly Michalka) are off, then on again… Major and Blaine (David Anders) were zombies, then they weren’t and now they are, etc. The experimentation worked, as the change-ups kept the show fresh and interesting, and as other shows get tired after the first or second season iZombie has taken the road traveled by NBC’s Grimm, a show that kept up the momentum taking major risks and changes only to get better with every new episode.
This week’s Episode 10 of the fourth season, “Yipee Ki Brain, Motherscratcher!” was the kind of crazy fun you might find on an early episode of South Park or Buffy. Mocking shows that run out of funds that then are left to have their action scenes off-screen to be summarized on-screen by a character afterward, in an audaciously hilarious move by the writers, co-star Malcolm Goodwin (last year’s borg.com pick for Best TV Actor) was left to pantomime a recap of his off-screen heroics for the episode. That was coupled with the kind of genre trope episode the series’ fans love: a bombardment of movie references and Easter eggs tied to 1980s action flicks. And Blaine and Bryce Hogson’s Don E continue to surprise us, but never more than in this week’s episode. The excellent villainy of the past four seasons (iZombie has three episodes left in Season 4) has smartly balanced out the heroes’ story: first with the brilliant Steven Weber’s Vaughn Du Clark and his daughter Gilda (Leanne Lapp), then with Eddie Jemison’s mobster Stacey Boss, followed by the return of Veronica Mars lead Jason Dohring as the questionable zombie law enforcer Chase Graves, and meanwhile the writers were furtively building the character arc of Robert Knepper’s Angus/Brother Love into compelling new territory as we prepare for what’s coming next season.
Ten other CW series were renewed way back in April, leaving much doubt for the crew of the series for a future with these characters. Even the cast members had serious doubts about a renewal, with Goodwin and Kohli committing to get zombie tattoos if the show secured the Season 5 renewal. To quote Kohli on his Twitter feed after learning of the renewal, “Uh oh…” and “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Catch three more episodes this season of iZombie on the CW the next three Mondays: “Insane in the Germ Brain,” May 14, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away,” May 21, and the season finale May 28 at 8 p.m. Central. Find past episodes on the series’ website here. We’re figuring Season 5 should start airing late spring to early summer 2019.