Sunday, 21 April 2013

Zombieland: The Series - Pilot (2013)

A new Dead has Dawned - courtesy of Amazon

Continuing on from the 2009 hit film, Zombieland tells the continuing tales of Tallahassee (Kirk Ward), Colombus (Tyler Ross), Wichita (Maiara Walsh) and Little Rock (Izabela Vidovic) as they fight to survive the apocalypse on a zombie infested Earth, now named 'Zombieland'.


Adapting a film to a televisual landscape can be a pretty tough balancing act. While it is a chance to expand on the world and the characters that have already been set up, the following question remains: how can you guarantee that the finished product will satisfy not only returning fans of the film, but also entice those new to the world?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Stargate SG-1 got around this well, helped by how the films they were adapted from weren't received very favorably. But the task is a harder one when you're adapting from a well received film, as you'll be constantly compared to the film, especially if the actors are different. That's the risk Zombieland: The Series has faced since it was announced Amazon would be releasing a pilot ep, with the viewers deciding if it gets put to a full series or not (a fantastic idea, by the way).

The episode opens with a man in an office telling his coworker about his day, all while a zombie apocalypse goes on behind their backs, without them knowing. The mundane nature of the conversation is contrasted nicely with the action that happens in the background, as zombies are hit with trucks, cut with chainsaws and set on fire. It's a strong start and a good set up to the show, as well as to one of our main characters.

The pilot is directed by Eli Craig, a little known name who's best known for the wonderful horror comedy Tucker & Dale Vs Evil. He utilizes his experience from that to deliver a number of sudden kills for newly introduced characters, and does a pretty good job overall.

The timeline of the show is apparent, following on from the original film by a month, just with the characters re-cast. This is where the main problem comes into play, as the characters manage to feel like little other than poor imitations of the original cast.

Tallahassee appears to have been dumbed down considerably. While he couldn't have been considered the most intellectual of the group before, he's now turned into someone who asks for a price check in a 99 cents store. Kirk Ward's take on the character has him coming off as a southern lunkhead with a hard edge, like Bobby Cobb from Cougar Town mixed with, well, Woody Harrelson.

The real outbreak was Herpes

Wichita's softening from the end of the film seems to have been reversed, as Desperate Housewives' Maiara Walsh portrays her as pretty hardened, especially towards Columbus, leaving her to come off as pretty unlikable. Speaking of which, Kirk Ward has somehow managed to make Columbus into an even more awkward character than Jesse Eisenberg managed. The main bulk of his characters storyline seems to be his infatuation with Wichita, it's just a shame that the two of them don't have any chemistry together.

As for Little Rock, well, she's just there. She plays video games, has a run with Tallahassee and swears at the sight of a pair of zombies with their heads bashed in. Izabela Vidovic barely registers in this pilot.

Colombus' rules for surviving Zombieland do come up, but they're used in such a heavy handed manner, as if they're not informing the user but shoving it in their face to remind them of it from the film.

It is good to see that the show hasn't been toned down for the series, as it comes complete with swearing and blood. Plus, the make-up used for the zombies is pretty darn good. The episode highlight comes from the 'Zombie Kill of the Week', which is as insane a kill as the Piano drop seen from the film. If this goes to a full series (which I expect it will, considering the publics love for zombies), I could see this becoming a good weekly addition.

Zombieland: The Series boasts some great direction from Eli Craig and a number of good moments, but its cast are far from impressive. This may be due to them being stuck in the shadows of their predecessors, but it doesn't help how bland they manage to be.Also, do yourself a favour and hit the stop button before the credits roll, as the overused vagina count joke manages to get stretched out even more than it needed to be.


Zombieland: The Pilot is available now from Lovefilm and Amazon Instant. Subscription is required.

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