The police procedural is both a well-worn genre in its own right, as well as a common trope in modern television. It typically features repeated instances of a crime-of-the-week, acting as an anchor centering the plot of each individual episode. Typically, they are standalone storylines, though occasionally the murder du jour subplot will end up tying into an overarching storyline.
Rob Thomas is clearly a fan of this trope. Many have pointed to the similarities between iZombie and the other show that Thomas and co-creator Diane Ruggiero-Wright helmed: Veronica Mars. Chief among the similarities is the tendency of the lead character (in both cases, a spunky/witty blonde with a penchant for voice-overs and a knack for mysteries) to find herself involved in crime-solving from week to week.
While the police procedural aspect certainly doesn’t hurt iZombie, the routine worked better in Veronica Mars. The latter show was a modern teen noir/drama, so the case-solving was woven more seamlessly into the framework of the show at large.
Don’t get us wrong: iZombie quite often manages to fit its weekly murder into the bigger picture. Unfortunately, many times, the killer-catching subplot tends to do no more than detract from the far more interesting main plots and they occasionally veer towards the painfully lame (yes, we’re looking at you, Season 2 premiere dog-owner revenge murderer).
Here, we take a look back at the five instances of murder-of-the-week in iZombie that worked the best and why.
#5 – “The Exterminator” — Dead Hitman Marvin Webster
This was a great example of an interesting, twisty murder mystery that didn’t overwhelm the main plot. The sociopathic brains also allowed Liv to deal with the fact that she was feeling like a soulless monster and helped her prove that–surprise!–she’s not a monster at all. Bonus points for saving Ravi from full-on zombie mode Marcie–an excellent bonding moment in developing the epic friendship that is #Ravioli (Ravi/Liv).
#4 – “Zombie Bro” — Dead Frat Boy Bro Chad Wolkoff
After the incredibly lame murder-of-the-week in the season premiere, Bro Liv was a welcome surprise. While Liv’s frat-brain-induced behavior veered on hokey at times, there were some hilarious moments and Liv’s party-minded behavior was nicely tied into the #Rajor Utopium-and-clubbing subplot. And I think we can all agree that Ravi and Major dancing crazy while tripping out of their minds will forever go down as one of the all-time greatest iZombie scenes.
Scott E. was obviously popular enough that the show creators decided to invent a twin brother in order to bring that actor back. Not only were crazy-Liv’s hallucinations (particularly the Cheezy Puffs Devil) incredibly funny, the murder actually tied in to the overarching plot. Scott E. had video evidence of zombie-Liv’s inaugural brain eating, right after she was turned. Major also knew Scott, as they were both in the same institution, so this murder also served to rope Major further in to the zombie plot and closer to his eventual discovery of Liv’s secret. And let’s not even talk about that totally soul-destroying reveal that Liv had been hallucinating her and Major gradually rekindling their relationship over the course of several days. Oof, my heart.
#2 – “Flight of the Living Dead” — Dead College Pal Holly White
But let’s forget about Liv/Major for a second because LOWELL. “Flight of the Living Dead” introduced us to Lowell Tracy, Liv’s woefully short-lived boyfriend, which on its own is enough reason for this weekly crime to land on our best-of list. On top of that, Holly White was a college friend of Liv’s so this death was personally. And on top of all that, Holly’s death was linked to Max Rager, and served as our first real introduction to the idea that Max Rager would be the real long-term villain of the series. Plus Dick Casablancas Ryan Hansen guest-starred! Basically this episode was nearly flawless.
#1 – “Mr. Berserk” — Dead Alcoholic Reporter Rebecca Hinton
Not only was drunk Liv a hoot and a half, this crime and the subsequent brain-induced side effects provided a welcome distraction from the recent murder of Lowell (for both Liv and the audience). “Mr. Berserk” also doubled down on the Max-Rager-is-pure-evil plot point, introducing Rebecca Hinton’s research into the energy drink’s scary side effects. The death of Rebecca Hinton leads Ravi and Liv to discover Max Rager’s role in the zombie outbreak which in effect sets in motion the major conflict that’s driving the show.
Did we miss your favorite murder-of-the-week in our list? Chime in with your picks by commenting below!
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW and is available on Shomi in Canada.
Caralynn is a freelance entertainment writer. She also writes about all things television for TV Fanatic, Tell-Tale TV, HelloGiggles, and New York Observer. In her spare time, when she's not writing about TV, she's tweeting about it over at @caralynn_marie.