Zombieland: The Series
Directed by Eli Craig
Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
With the television landscape always changing, the newest player to enter the original programming landscape was the streaming video and DVD rental service Netflix, making a splash with House of Cards and the upcoming Arrested Development, a show they saved from cancellation. Amazon, however, is following suit in an inventive manner; the company recently released the pilots online of 14 shows they were considering picking up for season orders, giving the viewers an opportunity to vote for the shows they were most interested in seeing. One particularly intriguing pilot released was for the Zombieland tv show; based on the 2009 zombie comedy of the same name, the series is created by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the same duo who wrote the movie. The pilot, fortunately, is also an equally entertaining work that manages to set itself apart from the movie while showing promise as a series.
The best aspect of the initial episode is its ability to effectively mask bleakness in comedy. The pilot revolves around the familiar characters Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock trying to find survivors in the Los Angeles area, and isn’t short on both zombies and character deaths, some of which are unexpectedly funny. However, the writers manage to add levity to the proceedings, largely through the characters, that nonetheless doesn’t undermine the ultimate feeling of a zombie apocalypse, particularly in the implication at the end of the pilot that a major metropolitan area ends up devoid of any survivors.
Overall, this is an entertaining way to spend 30 minutes, and hints at a show with promise. The idea of a safe colony indicates a familiarity with zombie tropes, while the addition of Detroit the OnStar operator as a recurring character adds a level of modern-day technology that integrates well with the show. The show also manages to retain the spirit of the characters without drawing too closely to their movie counterparts, as all four actors are able to infuse the characters with enough familiarity to remind viewers of why they liked these people in the first place, yet be unique in their performances, rather than simply mimicking the movie’s cast. The sibling relationship between Wichita and Little Rock isn’t touched on as much as the other relationships between the survivors, but the pilot nonetheless hints at it, indicating that the show would delve into the sibling dynamic in subsequent episodes. The show manages to differentiate itself enough from its AMC dramatic counterpart The Walking Dead that both can run alongside each other and still provide unique viewing experiences. Hopefully Amazon picks up the show, giving Wernick and Reese a chance to showcase their television skills, and the audience more opportunities to spend time with Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, Little Rock, and Detroit.
– Deepayan Sengupta