“Zombieland” seeks to be the antidote for folks still clamoring for a zombie television series, but hate the drama and politics of “The Walking Dead.” Where as Robert Kirkman’s pop culture smash is more of an adult take, “Zombieland” takes all of the best road trip movies and adds some zombies for good measure. Folks claiming this is an attempt to market off of “The Walking Dead” are half right. Originally “Zombieland” was pitched to every studio as a weekly series, but when it was turned down left and right, it was transformed in to a horror comedy feature film that would hopefully transform in to a movie series. When Woody Harrelson pulled out of ever playing hero Tallahassee again while stars Emma Watson and Jessie Eisenberg’s careers took off, the hopes of having a “Zombieland” movie series collapses.
Thankfully though, with the success of “The Walking Dead,” Amazon took a second look at “Zombieland” and here we have the series. The show instantly tries to distinguish itself from both “The Walking Dead” and “Shaun of the Dead” adding its own spin on the zombie apocalypse while also dodging the emotional process behind the end of the world. We already saw what happened in the original movie, so it’s only shown for a few minutes in a brutally clever opening sequence where two office drones complain about their lives while zombie carnage ensues in the background. Unlike “The Walking Dead,” this series adds an adventurous almost consequence free take on the zombie apocalypse. This world looks like fun, and even when people die, you can do nothing but laugh and move on with your life. When we first meet Tallahassee he smashes a zombie’s head in with a food cart, and strolls out in to the undead warzone with a wide smile like a kid in a candy store.
There are some really interesting spins on this world, adding more explanation to the concept. They identify each other by their city names to prevent one another from getting too intimate should one of the foursome accidentally die during a zombie siege. There are also many more rules that detract from the blatant plagiarism of Max Brooks’ “Zombie Survival Guide” that many accused the creators of cribbing from. Not to mention the inclusion of “Zombie Kill of the Week” promises to offer a new and outrageous death of a walker every single episode. The pilot takes place a few months after the original movie where very little has happened between the foursome. There are new characters and side players though. I love how in the cities there are various out posts with different survivors that have abilities to help this group, and I enjoy the presence of the ex-OnStar operator who acts as a beacon for survivors around the country to help them find food and shelter. The group finds it impossible to settle down and look for help when every single outpost they arrive to ends up being attacked by zombies and killed before they even get a chance to celebrate.
After their third mishap, Tallahassee begins to think the group is cursed and doomed to bring down their saviors. Meanwhile Columbus is still rather obsessed with Wichita as the pair dated briefly between the movie and show, and now they basically linger back and forth between longing looks and cold stares as they struggle to figure out why every safe haven the on Star beacon points them to ends up tragically mauled by zombies or undead. The pilot promises a lot of zombie action and comedy, and makes good on both orders with an interesting body count and some close calls that keep our heroes on the edges of death. You have to wonder if these people are cursed or just too damn self-involved to look out for anyone but themselves. Or maybe the series will examine down the road that they’re too close to one another. In either case, “Zombieland” seems to be intent on individuating itself from the Robert Kirkman juggernaut, and as a genre palette cleanser, I can see it going on for many seasons with new characters and various methods for offering audiences laughter and ideas on eliminating the dead. I hope to see this series develop to its full potential as the movie showed it could.