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Tag Archive: zombie series


Review by C.J. Bunce

After more than a decade watching our all-time favorite series take place in Korea (M*A*S*H), it’s refreshing to at last to see in wide U.S. release a quality series set in Korea.  That series is the first South Korean series released by Netflix, a fantastic medieval historic mash-up with zombies called Kingdom, which began streaming this past weekend.  Sprouting from a well-documented, mysterious plague that killed tens of thousands of people in Hanyang (present-day Seoul) during the 19th century Joseon dynasty, this story nestles the viewer in a fully realized Korea of the past, complete with opulent sets, costumes, and production values said to have cost nearly $2 million per episode.  The result matches a stunning script (based on a web series by Kim Eun-hee, who counts herself a zombie aficionado and proves it with this series), top acting from a slate of South Korea’s most award-winning actors, and cinematography showing locations most Westerners have never seen, with an exciting Braveheart of the Far East meets The Walking Dead genre action feast.

The region’s king comes down with smallpox, and on his sick bed his latest wife, a young pregnant queen (played by Kim Hye-jun) schemes with her father and the king’s supposed confidante, Lord Cho (Masquerade’s Ryu Seung-ryong), to seize control of the throne, conspiring with Cho’s embedded clan of thugs to shun the true heir, the Crown Prince, played by Ju Ji-hoon (The Spy Gone North) as an earnest, Henry V-inspired leader.  But is the king really dead, and what other secrets does the queen keep?  Father and daughter bar access to everyone outside their circle, and so the Crown Prince escapes with his trusted and fierce lieutenant Muyeong, played with equal parts grit and humor by Sang-ho Kim (Octopus), conjuring the versatility of Japan’s Toshiro Mifune.  They set out to discover the source of the spreading plague, meeting up with a doctor played by Sense8 and Jupiter Ascending‘s Doona Bae, and (in a twist worthy of a Tom Clancy novel) the realization fosters the Crown Prince’s viability as a real leader against an unthinkable threat.  Rounding out the main cast is a mysterious warrior named Yeong-sin, an angry, defensive villager who buries a group of the dead against local traditions, played by Kim Sung-kyu.  His character is cloaked in his own secret past.

Deception.  Murder.  Conspiracy.  A prince who above all else looks to protect his father the king and be a good leader.  A heroic race to a stronghold via horse cart.  A mother infected who turns on her own child.  Swords and bow and arrow, and early rifles, as the only means of defense.  Gorgeous, truly cinematic imagery.  Western viewers get an incredible look at a beautiful island, forests, waterfalls, bubbling brooks, palatial estates, lakes and mountain views probably never captured for a wide modern audience, thanks to some stunning cinematography.  Fog, night, and fire eerily presented among cinematic storyboarded action sequences.  The music is a blending of traditional, medieval, Eastern themes, and sweeping programmatic action movie cues.  Costume designs in exquisite fabrics and designs at first may seem odd to modern viewers, but their similarity to the garb of Akira Kurosawa films (that Western audiences have had greater access to over the decades) should ease in most viewers.  The production sets and artistry are probably matched only by History’s Vikings of the current historical and fantasy TV series available.  And the expected horror of the zombie genre–sword beheadings were never filmed so believably.

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iZombie brains

It began as a successful comic book series by Masks writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint about a gravedigger zombie gal who eats brains to survive.  This week Allred’s own adaptation of his iZombie world comes to television on the CW Network, but with some changes, like swapping Eugene, Oregon for Seattle, Washington.

Rose McIver plays Olivia “Liv” Moore (“live more”– get it?), a medical student turned zombie who gets a job at the coroner’s office in order to gain access to the brains she must eat so that she can maintain her humanity.  And there will be plenty of brain eating going on in the series.  But each brain she eats brings with it the final memories of the dead, so she shares her visions to solve their deaths with help from the medical examiner and a police detective.  If they can grab some of the spark of Tru Calling, another show about a young woman who gets visions that allow her to solve crimes in a morgue, there could be an interesting series coming our way.  That is, if you’re not yet tired of zombies.

But this series has the one thing that should get you to at least give it a try.  It’s produced by Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, who has proven he knows how to make great stories.  Check out several previews for the series, after the break.

iZombie poster

McIver has been on plenty of TV series, including appearances on both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the 1990s.  Also starring will be Heroes’ Adam Monroe, David Anders (also Arrow’s Cyrus Vanch), a good performer who is always a scene stealer.

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