iZombie exec producer Rob Thomas acknowledged he “didn’t hew terribly close to the source material” in adapting the DC comic book for CW’s midseason series. Whereas the comic has a “whole monster universe,” he wanted to the show to “stay strictly zombie” because what the producers really wanted was a “case-of-the-week show,” and having a zombie working in a morgue eating corpse brains gave them that vehicle.
The crime procedural centers on Liv (Rose McIver), a medical resident who attended a party that turned into a zombie feeding frenzy. Liv takes a job at the Seattle coroner’s office so she can snack on the brains of the deceased Jane and John Does that turn up at the morgue. Eating their brains, she takes on their thoughts and skills and memories, which helps solve the mystery of their deaths. Presto, crime-of-the-week drama!
Thomas said there was a “lively and lengthy discussion” in the writers room regarding how much of the dead person’s stuff Liv would retain. If she eats the brains of someone who knows karate, will she become a karate expert?
“At the end of the day, it was more fun to say ‘yes’ to those things,” Thomas said. In the pilot, she eats the brains of someone who speaks fluent Romanian.
“I’ve never been more terrified of getting scripts,” McIver said.
Like Thomas’s Veronica Mars, iZombie uses lead-character voiceover to navigate viewers through each episode. A critic challenged him to distinguish Voiceover Liv from Voiceover Veronica.
“Attitude,” Thomas responded quickly. “Veronica was hardened.”
As a result, the Veronica Mars writers went for a “very Raymond Chandler-esque, hard-boiled cynical world view” in that character’s narration. Liv, while a zombie, is “softer” and “sweetness and light” as she discovers “things worth living for” as a zombie.
While other zombies in the show opt to go “under cover” via spray tan and hair dye, Liv remains pasty; critics asked Thomas to justify.
“The reason she does not spray tan or die her hair to look like everyone else is because she will look great on our poster,” Thomas said. “The truth is, it’s for the CW subway poster.”
Another critic wondered why zombies are so ugly on other networks’ zombie shows, but so pretty on CW’s zombie show – answering her own question. Nonetheless, Executive Producer Diane Ruggiero-Wright and Thomas explained it’s a CW show and CW wants them that way.
“We’re calling the show ZILFs,” Thomas joked, picking up on what fans already have been saying.