Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:00:47 -0400 en-gb TV Q&A: 'House of Cards,' 'The Good Witch' and a departed WTAE reporter http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38939-tv-q-a-house-of-cards-the-good-witch-and-a-departing-wtae-reporter http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38939-tv-q-a-house-of-cards-the-good-witch-and-a-departing-wtae-reporter

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “House of Cards,” “The Good Witch” and a departed WTAE reporter. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I missed seeing the “20/20” "The Sound of Music" special last week.  Is there any chance of seeing it repeated? I have Comcast on Demand, but couldn't find it there.


Rob: No rerun is scheduled but this special is available online


Q: Two quick questions about shows on TV Land: I know you hate spoilers but do you have any "inside scoop" on how “Hot in Cleveland” will end and also, when does the season end? Second, what is the premise of the new show "Younger" that airs at the end of the month?


Rob: I’ll have a review of “Younger” in the Post-Gazette next week but the basic premise is this: Divorcing 40-year-old woman (Sutton Foster) tries to get back into the publishing game after raising her daughter but finds the younger women who do the hiring aren’t interested in her so she pretends to be a 20-something.

As for “Hot in Cleveland,” I have no insider scoop but the finale will air on June 3rd.


Q: I have two questions for you. First, surfing on line with the IMDB website, I noticed that a movie titled “Stonewall” (about the Stonewall Riots), starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Irvine, is in “post production.” I believe that means it will be out soon, but I cannot find a release date. Do you know of one, and will it be out first in theaters, on DVD, or a made-for-TV drama?

Second, regarding the sitcom, “The McCarthys” (now canceled): There were three episodes left. Why didn’t the CBS network finish showing them instead of reruns of “The Big Bang”?  This is now two sitcoms for the Ritter Family canceled after a brief run. (The other being, “The Class,” with Jason Ritter.) 

Always enjoy your information regarding the entertainment industry. Miss hearing you on the old Doug Hoerth’s radio show (may he R.I.P.). Hard to believe it has been four years now.


Rob: I enjoyed being on Doug’s show and I miss talking TV with him, too.

The reason CBS chooses reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” over the remaining episodes of “The McCarthys” is that “BBT” reruns do better in the ratings than original “McCarthys” episodes did.

I’d never heard of “Stonewall” but just this week I received an e-mail saying the film has found an American distributor with an eye toward a fall theatrical release in the U.S.


Q: I've about had it with NBC. For the last two weeks "Allegiance" has been pre-empted for some silly soap opera, despite the fact that most newspaper TV listings show it at10 p.m., and Channel 11's "What's ahead tonight" even showed its being on at 10 following “The Blacklist.” What gives, and why can't the listings get it right?


Rob: NBC yanked low-rated “Allegiance” from the schedule on March 6 after listings had already been printed showing it scheduled. It has been canceled.


Q: What is with Doug Stamper on “House of Cards” consuming bourbon via a wicked-looking syringe, with a long, deadly, sharp needle. Is he playing mind games, self-denial with his brain? Feel like informing him there are easier ways to get drunk, if that's your goal.


Rob: Viewers seem perplexed by this but the speculation on this turn in season three seems to be that he sees it as his pain medication or it’s not really “drinking” if there's no glass or it’s the show just trying too hard to be edgy


Q: Where is Hallmark's “The Good Witch” series filmed? It does not look like a studio but an actual small town.


Rob: The show is based in Toronto and films in the small town of Hamilton, which has hosted enough TV shows and movies to have its own film/TV office


Q: When can we expect to see new "Sherlock" episodes in the U.S.?  Have they even started filming them?

Also, are there new episodes of "The Bletchley Circle" planned and when will those air?


Rob: “The Bletchley Circle” was canceled last year so it won’t be back. 

A “Sherlock” Christmas special recently wrapped production, although its unknown when it will air in the U.S. PBS has not announced an airdate for it, though it seems likely to air in the U.K. on Christmas day.

Season four, consisting of three new episodes, has not yet been filmed, but it seems likely it could air in 2016.


Q: I was hoping to find more information about whether or not the Cinemax drama “Banshee” is moving to Pittsburgh for filming. I am a huge fan of the show! I was also hoping to know if there is any information on where in Pittsburgh the filming is taking place. I would love to try and meet the cast!!!!


Rob: In February we reported that “Banshee” is moving production to Pittsburgh this spring. I’ve not yet heard about filming locations for this series.


Q: I wake up today to find out that today is Amber Nicotra’s last day at WTAE. I am just wondering where she is going.


Q: Saw on the Channel 4 morning news that Amber Nicotra is leaving. Any reason why she is leaving?


Rob: Nicotra took a job as director of development at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

“It’s a chance to work at my alma mater,” she explained. “I’m grateful to have worked at WTAE but ready for a change. And I look forward to not standing in the snow and rain and sleeping past 2 a.m.!”


Q: Can you settle an ongoing argument with my family? I say Wendy Bell on WTAE wears a wig sometimes. They say no. Who wins?


Rob: I was 99 percent certain Bell does not wear a wig, but I hate to assume so I asked her.

“I wish I wore a wig,” she responded. “It would save me probably 45 minutes a day. Nope. Never have.”


Q: I always enjoy your "Keep or Cancel" poll but wonder if I make a mistake by not voting on shows I am not interested in. I don't want to disparage a show others may like so I only vote on shows I feel strongly about one way or another. However, I make exceptions to cancel anything with housewives, celebrities or Kardashian in the titles.


Rob: There is no right or wrong way to fill out the poll. Voting the way Don does is just fine.

The poll is now open for the 2014-15 TV season (through April 26) at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/poll/default.asp.


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:54:00 -0400
Voting opens in PG's annual Keep or Cancel? poll http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38919-voting-opens-in-pg-s-annual-keep-or-cancel-poll http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38919-voting-opens-in-pg-s-annual-keep-or-cancel-poll

Keep revised KC logo 2013

It's time again for the Keep or Cancel? poll to open, giving viewers a chance to play programmer and vote for shows from the 2014-15 TV season to keep or cancel.

Read more -- including a link to voting -- after the jump. ....

For the first time the poll includes streaming series on Netflix.

To cast a ballot, visit http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/poll/default.asp (the poll tends to load a little slowly so give it some time, please).

Votes will be tallied on the Web through April 26, and the results will be published in my Friday Tuned In column on May 1. Results will be sent to the entertainment presidents of each of the broadcast networks before the networks make their upfront announcements in May.

As always, already canceled shows that aired during the current TV season are included on our ballot so that voters can voice their opinions on these programs, even if everyone knows these shows won't be back. A few programs that have yet to premiere but are scheduled to debut during the polling period also are included. 

Today is a soft launch for the poll -- it gets promoted more widely in tomorrow's Tuned In column -- so if you take it today and see a show missing, please let me know so I can add it in: rowen@post-gazette.com. Thanks!

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:23:01 -0400
Tuned In podcast: 'Glee,' 'The Royals' and 'iZombie' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38906-tuned-in-podcast-the-royals-izombie-and-bloodline http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38906-tuned-in-podcast-the-royals-izombie-and-bloodline

tuned in podcast logo

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo and online features editor Sharon Eberson join me to discuss "Glee," "The Royals" and "iZombie."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site or below: 


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 25 Mar 2015 00:00:01 -0400
More TV news bloopers http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38770-another-batch-of-tv-news-bloopers http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38770-another-batch-of-tv-news-bloopers

God bless the person who puts together these TV news blooper reels. One from January went up a while back and it's included below and the February edition can be found after the jump.

The January clip contains some mild, fleeting profanity, lots of Tom Brady saying "balls" and shows what happens when you send a young, inexperienced reporter -- who presumably did not grow up in a snowy part of the country -- out to cover snow.

Here's the YouTube clip:

Watch the February compilation after the jump. ...

Here's the February YouTube clip:


As an added bonus, here's link to a fan tribute to Ann Curry (some profanity).

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 24 Mar 2015 00:00:01 -0400
HBO debuts Scientology doc 'Going Clear' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38880-hbo-doc-explores-scientology-in-going-clear http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38880-hbo-doc-explores-scientology-in-going-clear


However one feels about Scientology as a religion, HBO’s “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (8 p.m. Sunday) offers devastating testimonials by former high-ranking church members about the alleged operating principles and alleged abuses by church leaders.

The church has denied the film’s allegations in print ads, through a Twitter account, online article in a church publication and somewhat childish-sounding take-downs of the film’s participants. (Rather than responding directly to charges made in the film, a church spokesperson ignored questions from The Hollywood Reporter and instead tried to dish dirt on the movie's participants, which does little to help the church's credibility.)

Based on the book by Lawrence Wright, who appears as an on-screen talking head, “Going Clear” is written and directed by Alex Gibney, who previously made the sex-abuse-in-the-Catholic-Church documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.” It's an interesting and damning film but not as engrossing as HBO's recent "The Jinx" series.

Read more after the jump. ...

Clocking in at two hours, “Going Clear” may not provide a lot of new details about the creation of Scientology for anyone well-versed in the Scientology episode of “South Park,” and the accusations against church leaders have also been reported in multiple publications before (Wright’s book began as a New Yorker article several years ago) but there is an immediacy to hearing former church members' stories from them.

For those not attuned to past reports, “Going Clear” offers a compelling indictment through the words of former, long-time adherents, including the church’s former second-in-command, Marty Rathbun; former church spokesman Mike Rinder and former John Travolta handler Spanky Taylor as well as actor Jason Beghe (“Chicago P.D.”) and writer/director Paul Haggis (“Crash”).

“Going Clear” can be broken into two halves. The first introduces the backstory of the religion as created by author L. Ron Hubbard (to create a personal source of income for Hubbard, according to the film) and then reveals some of the church’s higher level teachings.

The second half looks at the church under current leader David Miscavige and suggests Hollywood stars are essentially being blackmailed into staying in Scientology after divulging their deepest, darkest secrets as part of church “audits.” Wright calls for the IRS to reconsider the religious classification and tax-exempt status for Scientology and says celebrity members should act as agents of change and call out the church for allegations of human abuse at the hands of church leaders

Although “Going Clear” offers an eye-opening account of Scientology, celeb-watchers may come away somewhat disappointed. While the film offers details on the church’s alleged involvement in the breakup of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s marriage (as well as a “Homeland” actress who was positioned for a time to become Cruise’s new girlfriend), it ignores Travolta’s marriage to Kelly Preston and doesn’t mention Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:39:01 -0400
TV Q&A: 'CSI,' 'Homicide Hunter' and The Weather Channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38912-tv-q-a-csi-homicide-hunter-and-the-weather-channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38912-tv-q-a-csi-homicide-hunter-and-the-weather-channel


Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “CSI,” “Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter” and The Weather Channel. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: What happened to “CSI” on CBS Sunday Nights?

- Barry, Pittsburgh

Rob: CBS produced fewer episodes of “CSI” than usual this season to make room for “Battle Creek,” which is currently airing. “CSI” had its 15th season finale on Feb. 15. Now we wait to see whether CBS will cancel the original show in favor of “CSI: Cyber” or keep both shows running because “Battle Creek” is not faring well in the ratings. We’ll know one way or another come May.


Q: Any idea when the new season of “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda” begins?  Thanks for your help.

- Cindy, Pittsburgh

Rob: I wrote about this Investigation Discovery show starring a Western Pennsylvania native in its second season and I must have been the only one because to this day a month does not pass without a phone call or email from someone wanting Kenda to investigate a crime. (I figure folks are Googling for contact information on him and my article pops up.)

The next season of “Homicide Hunter” will air on ID in August.


Q: Are you doing the annual Keep or Cancel poll again this this year? Just checked the website and saw nothing yet. I always get such a kick out of it.

Rob: Yes, the 16th edition of the online poll officially launches one week from today. At that time you’ll find a link at post-gazette.com/tv and in next week’s TV Q&A column.

Q: Which company do I contact to point out an error in scheduling of "Person of Interest" - CBS or Comcast?
In recent weeks, it has started at10 p.m. but on TV screen says it starts at10:01 p.m.  I DVR the show and the recording starts 1 minute after it starts. It’s irritating.

- Kathi, Bridgeville

Rob: It could be either one. Or the problem may be with the listings provider if they’re getting the start time wrong. You can set your DVR to start recording a show early and set it to record a little beyond the scheduled end time. My advice: Do that.

Comcast spokesman Bob Grove said the company’s engineers are looking into this matter and working to find a solution.


Q.  Verizon has dropped The Weather Channel. When I called to complain I got a recording that they just didn't renew with them. What they have now never has local weather. Anything we can do?

- Carol, Allison Park

Rob: Switch to Comcast or a satellite service that carries TWC?

We covered Verizon’s business decision to drop TWC last week and so far Verizon has not reversed course on that decision.


Q: I have noticed over the last month or so that I cannot find 3-D NET on Comcast anymore. Did they change the channel or drop the network all together?
That would be a shame since it is the main reason I purchased a 3-D TV. There were many interesting programs and a series I enjoyed called “Fields of Honor” that was only half way through its series.
- Bill, Pittsburgh

Rob: 3-D TV has turned out to be a bit of a bust, at least for the time being. 3net was shuttered last yearwhich is why Bill can’t find it on Comcast (or on any other cable system).

There are no 3-D linear channels on Comcast at this time but there is still some 3-D programming available through HBO and Starz on Xfinity On Demand.



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 20 Mar 2015 23:59:01 -0400
The health risks of binge-watching TV http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38771-could-binge-watching-tv-be-a-health-risk http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38771-could-binge-watching-tv-be-a-health-risk

HOC s2 

We're in an era of binge TV viewing by some viewers thanks to outlets like Netflix that usually make all episodes of a show's season on the same day. Last month the streaming service debuted a new season of "House of Cards" (see above), earlier this month it was "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and as I write in today's Weekend Mag, this week it's new drama "Bloodline."

But research suggests watching TV shows in a binge may not be in the best interest of viewers' health.

Read more after the jump. ...

For a while we've known about research that suggests sitting in front of the TV for long stretches is not healthy and can lead to early death or diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found a connection between binge watching and feelings of loneliness or depression:

The researchers conducted a survey on 316 18- to 29-year-olds on how often they watched TV; how often they had feelings of loneliness, depression and self-regulation deficiency; and finally on how often they binge-watched TV. They found that the more lonely and depressed the study participants were, the more likely they were to binge-watch TV, using this activity to move away from negative feelings.

This does not surprise me. I'd definitely say I watched more TV at lower points in life when I was feeling less fulfilled. And just the sedentary nature of binge-watching has always struck me as problematic. I've never been one to just loose a whole weekend watching one show. At most, I'll watch three episodes of a one-hour drama in one evening. I just can't do more than that, although that may also have to do with the particulars of my chosen profession.

How do you watch TV? Do you like to binge TV or watch in a manner that's closer to the old-fashioned way? Log in via Facebook and post your TV viewing habits below.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:23:01 -0400
'Empire' ends its first season on Fox; show's soundtrack a hit, too http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38895-empire-ends-its-first-season-on-fox http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38895-empire-ends-its-first-season-on-fox

empire s1 cd

Fox's soapy "Empire" (8-10 tonight, WPGH) turned out to be a bigger hit than anyone at the network expected, which is why the series will end its 12-episode first season in March rather than running through to the end of the TV season in May. By the time the show got on the air in January and subsequently became an unprecedented hit, it was too late to order more episodes for this season (also, the producers don't really want to do that many more episodes per season).

A soap about a family running a music entertainment empire, the series has mixed the frothy fun of “Dynasty” with the exploration of homophobia.

“Empire” began when Cookie (scene-stealer Taraji P. Henson) exited prison and re-entered the life of her ex-husband, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who was diagnosed with ALS and trying to decide which son should inherit his kingdom. Would it be bi-polar bean counter Andre (Trai Byers), talented songwriter Jamal (Jussie Smollett) or young rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray)? Lucious has battled with all of them, most notably Jamal, who is gay, much to his father’s homophobic disgust.

The show has also become a music trend-setter with songs from episodes released much the same way as “Glee,” with digital music from each episode sold weekly on iTunes and a first-season soundtrack, pictured above, is now in stores and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200(Take note: There are two versions of the season one soundtrack. The standard, 11-track CD version is missing the season’s catchiest songs, Hakeem’s “Drip Drop” and Jamal’s version of “You’re So Beautiful,” which are included on the 18-track digital deluxe edition of the soundtrack.) 

Read more after the jump. ...

The mix of music, pathos and soapy shenanigans – best exemplified by Cookie’s assistant Porsha (Ta’Rhonda Jones), who even steals scenes from Cookie – has resulted in unprecedented audience growth for “Empire.” At a time when most new series decline week-to-week, “Empire” is now coming off nine straight weeks of audience growth, leading to a number of articles on what TV can learn from “Empire’s” success and what the hit might mean for TV in the future

Writer/executive producer Danny Strong (“Game Change”), credits word-of-mouth and reaching an underserved audience with the show’s success.

“”If people seem to really like the show and they tell other people, and they like the show, and it just keeps moving forward,” he said last week in a teleconference with reporters. “[Another] element is also serving an audience that has been grossly underrepresented in TV for several years, which is an African-American audience. And I remember when we premiered, and I saw our ratings, and we premiered and the ratings were terrific, and our numbers in African-American households were huge, and our numbers in white households were good, they were what is now considered very respectable, opening premiere ratings.

“And I just remember reading those numbers thinking, ‘We could actually grow because we could really grow in white households,’ and I believed that to be the case because I believe the show could have a real crossover appeal," he continued. "What I didn’t realize is not only would we grow in white households, but we would grow more than 60% in African-American households too. So, combining those two, it’s just, the show just kept growing and growing, and it’s still growing. It’s quite exciting.”

And while “Empire” is a wildly entertaining soap, it’s also tackled social issues especially Lucious’ homophobic attitude toward gay son Jamal.

“It was very much in the DNA of the show from the very get-go that we knew we were going to be doing a nighttime soap, that that was going to be the genre we were going to be working in, but that we would be subverting the genre by tackling serious social issues head-on,” Strong said. “I find that it’s also time consuming and so much work to do any kind of  project, and so if I’m going to invest that amount of time in something, I want to be able to work on material that I can talk about issues that are important to me. ... I want to say things that I think matter and explore subject matter that is beyond just entertainment. But, I think simultaneously what that does is I think it makes the entertainment even richer. I don’t think it’s medicine, being like, ‘OK, so we’re going to entertain you, but then also we have to teach you a lesson, too.’ I think it elevates everything and I think it makes drama and comedy more powerful, more layered, and just more interesting overall. It’s what I value as an audience member, and it’s what I love to do as a writer.”

As for tonight’s first-season finale, Strong, referencing “Twin Peaks,” said “Empire” will not resolve all its storylines but it won’t be too frustrating.

“It’s a very explosive finale, not surprising, right, given the nature of our story telling, and many things go down, many things will be resolved, alliances will shift, and yet, it may or may not, be completely resolved by the time it’s over," he said. "A lot will be resolved. We’re not going to Laura Palmer the finale.”

Strong said the show’s writers kept re-breaking the season finale, coming up with new ideas and approaches.

“I never think that coming up with stories to try and outdo something is a way that you’re going to come up with a good story,” he said. “It just needs to come from the characters and the conflict and just the fundamentals of what makes a good story, and if you’re trying to outdo something or be specifically explosive, just for the sake of just outdoing it, I think that’s when things can get hacky.

“So, it was really just a matter of how can we conclude the season that we’ve set up and have been playing out in a way that was exciting and powerful and fun, but then also kept the door open to go into Season 2. And it was tough. Showrunner Ilene [Chaiken] and I wrote the final episode together, and man, there were a lot of re-writes you know, it was pretty tense, and I think that, you know who felt the pressure was, I think  the network and the studio because the show had already hit, and so they were pounding us with notes.  But I have to say that the notes made it better, the notes were really good.

“Here’s the crazy thing about television, it’s just how fast it goes, and how it just moves so fast, and by the time we got to the season finale, by the time we got to writing it, we just ran out of time because of just everything else, finishing production and writing all the previous episodes,” he continued. “So, it was one of the faster written episodes of the season, but at the end of the day, I think we really pulled it off, I think people are going to dig it.”

Regarding season two, Strong said the show may run more than season one’s 12 episodes, but it won’t be a traditional, 22-episode broadcast season (perhaps,two, cable-like shorter runs in fall and spring?). 

“I don’t know what we are doing at this point,” he said. “It hasn’t been decided, but I don’t think 22 is a discussion.” 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:33:01 -0400
Tuned In podcast: 'The Jinx,' 'Community' and 'American Crime' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38907-tuned-in-podcast-the-jinx-community-and-american-crime http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38907-tuned-in-podcast-the-jinx-community-and-american-crime

For today's review of "iZombie" on The CW, click here.

tuned in podcast logo

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss "The Jinx," "Community" and "American Crime."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site or below: 


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:18:07 -0400
The CW introduces its own walking dead in 'iZombie' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38882-the-cw-introduces-its-own-brand-of-walking-dead-in-izombie http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38882-the-cw-introduces-its-own-brand-of-walking-dead-in-izombie

izombie premiere

The CW is on a role this season, launching breakout hit “The Flash” and critical darling “Jane the Virgin” last fall and now the network scores again with the clever, entertaining enough “iZombie” (9 tonight, WPCW).

Based on a comic book and translated to TV by “Veronica Mars” vets Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggerio-Wright, ‘iZombie” offers a cute concept clinging to a stale procedural, spine that’s improved by an unexpected serialized element hinted at in the premiere and expanded upon in the second episode.

Ambitious doctor-in-training Olivia “Liv” Moore (Rose McIver, “Masters of Sex”) always makes the responsible choice until one night her fiancé (Robert Buckley, “One Tree Hill”) encourages her to cut loose and attend a party on boat. The party ends badly when zombies attack and Liv becomes one of the walking dead.

Read more after the jump. ...

No one in the “iZombie” universe seems to be aware of the existence of zombies in the first two episodes – these zombies don’t shamble; they speak normally -- so Liv manages to carry on with her life with a few changes that perplex her family, including a new hairstyle and an abrupt job switch to the city morgue so she has access to brains for dinner.

But when she eats brains, Liv sees what the crime victim saw before his or her death and she also takes on their interests or talents. Liv puts her newfound ability to work helping rookie cop Babineaux (Malcolm Goodin, “Breakout Kings”) solve crimes while Liv’s co-worker Ravi (Rahul Kohli), the only one who knows Liv’s secret, tries to work out a cure.

There’s a cleverness to “iZombie” – a scene of Liv buying bottle after bottle of bronzer offers just one example – that makes it hard to dislike the show, even when it spends too much time on the lame crime-of-the-week story or Liv’s Ally McZombie-style narration (“When you die, life goes on without you. When you’re part of the living dead, you’re around to see it go on.”)

In the second episode the show’s procedural element carries even weight with a serialized story involving another zombie (David Anders, “Once Upon a Time”) who had some involvement with Liv turning. If future episodes can continue to carry this balance, “iZombie” may grow from an OK show to something better. 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:39:01 -0400