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iZombie – The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

iZombieFrom executive producers Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, 90210, Party Down) and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Veronica Mars, The Ex List), Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Entertainment brings iZOMBIE: The Complete First Season to DVD on September 29, 2015. iZOMBIE, the new hit series that nearly 3 million people are tuning in to weekly on The CW, stars Rose McIver (Once Upon a Time, Masters of Sex), Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings), Rahul Kohli (Eastenders), Robert Buckley (One Tree Hill) and David Anders (Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries).  The 3-disc DVD set includes all 13 episodes from the first season, plus deleted scenes and Comic-Con panel.  iZOMBIE is  based upon characters created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred for DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint. The series was developed for television by Thomas & Ruggiero-Wright, who executive produce along with Danielle Stokdyk (Veronica Mars) and Dan Etheridge (Veronica Mars). iZOMBIE is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Spondoolie Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

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Season 

Olivia “Liv” Moore, a medical resident on the fast track to a perfect life … until she’s turned into a zombie. Now stuck between half-alive and undead, Liv transfers to the city morgue to reluctantly access the only thing that allows her to maintain her humanity — human brains. But there are side effects to Liv’s new diet. With each brain she consumes, she experiences flashes of the corpse’s memories — including, at times, clues as to how they were killed. Her boss, a brilliant but eccentric conspiracy theorist, encourages her to embrace this gift and to work with an unproven homicide detective to help solve these murders … and quiet the voices in her head.

Never seen the show and want a quick for iZombie?  Its Veronica Mars, but she’s a brain eating zombie that’s more lively and “with it”.  For me, as a big fan of the show Veronica Mars (That movie…eh…well it was nice to see everyone again, right?), this was a very easy sell even though it took me a few weeks to finally get started.  The show leans more toward the “mystery of the week” format with an overarching villain to add some background serial nature to the story with mythology episodes.  iZombie does a pretty good job of balancing the routine of standalone mystery and season-long arc with a decent amount of ease.  Its also a comic book show, based off of a DC property.  No, its not going to cross over with Flash or Arrow or Supergirl, it’ll stick to its own universe.

Former Power Ranger Rose McIver takes on the title role, and she’s quite a natural.  McIver finds that Rob Thomas rhythm with the character and her dialogue instantly.  There is no searching or finding the role for her in season 1, she’s already got it and feels as if she’s been settled in for a season or two.  Zombie purists need to get over playing with the conventions and have fun with this.  The zombie law in this show has quirks and is done to playfully have fun with or expand upon common tropes.  McIver is so damn good and selling and teaching us all about it that I think its easier to go along with and buy into everything in this world.  She’s key to selling us this universe and she does so in spades.  Is it just me, or does she look better as a zombie than as she was when she was “normal”?

The show has its lovable supporting cast members and there are some cool guest stars, but there is one that makes this show fully tick and keep on rocking.  That’s TV mainstay David Anders, who plays the season’s villain Blaine DeBeers.  I was excited when he popped up (He’s had great turns on every television show he’s been apart of), and the man didn’t disappoint.  Anders brings dread, menace and humor to his role and every time the story went back to Blaine, you knew you were in for a treat.

While I did rate this season up at a 4 overall, I was very close to marking it at 3.5.  There was a lull somewhere around episode 6 for about 3 or 4 episodes where the show had too much “mystery of the week”.  The episodes felt like they were getting a tad too repetitive.  On top of that, the mysteries were solvable either within the first scene or by seeing the guest star cast list as it hit the screen.  Yeah, maybe that’s on me because I watch so many movies and TV, but I felt these are things even a more mild television watcher could have picked up on.  However, through these episodes I was still enjoying the characters and the b-character subplots were keeping me interested enough in those episodes to work the score in the show’s favor.

I definitely recommend iZombie’s first season and for people to pick up on Season 2.  This DVD hit this week, giving people 1 week to take in all 13 episodes to catch up or refresh themselves.  Its a good show that isn’t changing television or proving to be a challenging watch or anything like that, but its just really good at what it does and has a fresh cast that isn’t full of people you’re tired of seeing.  The CW is rocking right now in terms of fun genre programming and iZombie is one of those that is a part of the charge.

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Episode List

1. Pilot

2. Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?

3. The Exterminator

4. Live and Let Clive

5. Flight of the Living Dead

6. Virtual Reality Bites

7. Maternity Liv

8. Dead Air

9. Patriot Brains

10. Mr. Berserk

11. Astroburger

12. Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat

13. Blaine’s World

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Well, yeah…bummer, its a DVD.  For a the inferior format, though, this is a really good picture.  Its brings a sorta dim look to it because of the standard definition quality.  Detail is solid and stand still moments impress.

Depth:  Average.  Some decent moments in open areas.  Movements are natural and contain minimal blur.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and do a solid job.  Crushing is minimal and detail can get covered in shadowing.  Objects that are black don’t contain as refined of detail.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are nice and bold.  Whites carry a bit too much shadow and can’t really shine as much as they should because its a DVD.

Flesh Tones:  The show contains a natural look.  Facial detail is ok to average on close-ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  Normal DVD compression and blocking issues.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 2.o Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  This is a solid dolby digital track that I feel could have been a hint better.  Music and vocals at a few times step on each others toes.  Action and dialogue are carried pretty well here for standard definition.

Low Frequency Extension:  Music cues, action crashes, doors shutting and cleavers chopping all feel a thump among other things.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers mainly bring in some ambiance, but do surprise at times with some effective sounds of their own.  The front speakers carry the traveling action on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clear.

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Extras 

iZombie – The Complete First Season contains an insert that serves as an episode guide.

Disc 1

Deleted Scenes (SD, 4:16)

Disc 2

Deleted Scene (SD, :24)

Disc 3

iZombie: Comic-Con Panel 2014 (SD, 29:00) – The entire 2014 panel in full.

Deleted Scenes (SD, 2:19) 

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Summary 

iZombie is a fun take on the zombie genre, basically taking Veronica Mars and making her one of the undead.  The first season is pretty solid and very enjoyable even during a little lag shortly after the first half.  Characters are quirks are enough to make even a dull episode enjoyable.  Its a damn shame this isn’t a Blu-ray release, but the picture and sound on this DVD are about as best as they get for the format.  The extras are a bit of a yawner (No digital copies?), but they’re something.  If you’re a fan and you can scoop this up at a cheap price, nab it up!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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