Did anyone catch the Zombieland pilot? What did we think? The hit movie, starring Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone, was originally intended to be a TV show, but due to the insane budget it would take to keep a zombie show going each week, it worked out cheaper, and more profitable, to create a movie instead. It was a cult classic. Thanks to the success of the movie (and probably the fact that the Walking Dead is doing so well), the producers have decided to actually go ahead and make the TV show as originally planned.
I am going to be honest. The pilot was under-whelming. I was expecting so much more from a zombie comedy action. Recently, it was decided that the poor pilot was so appalling that there definitely would not be a full season made from it. After a bit of thinking, I came up with three reasons why the pilot wasn’t as good as everyone wanted it to be.
3 – IT MAKES LIGHT OF THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
I have mentioned before how sick I am of horror movies being ruined by comedy writers satirising every aspect of the genre. True, zombies are a lost cause, but I still think that the entire premise of the Infected has been over-done. Part of me wants there to be a rule where only one zombie movie or TV show can be circling the entertainment industry at a time. The Walking Dead maybe be constantly fumbling around with its premise, but it’s doing a good enough job. Leave them alone to handle the Zombie side of TV and come up with a new idea for a comedy.
From the looks of the pilot, Zombieland will basically be taking the piss out of everything about the stereotypical Zombie genre. The pilot sees the four survivors going around trying to start up a community for the sake of it, abiding by clichéd rules that inadvertently pop up in every zombie survival movie. But it is really hard to take the show seriously, when it is constantly making fun of itself. It kind of feels like an apology: we are sorry for giving you yet another zombie show, but let’s laugh at the very idea of it. I am worried that this show will get old, before it has even really begun.
2 – THE MOVIE’S CAST WERE IRREPLACEABLE
The instant problem with the show is the fact that, as soon as the four main characters were lined up, we were craving the movie’s cast to return. They are great characters, but you just want Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin to be playing them. I love the idea of Detroit, the mad zombie-killer, but Woody totally owned that role. He is Detroit (not the best thing to be proud of, but take what you can get!) Also Emma Stone is one of the hottest things going around Hollywood right now, so having a nameless actress try to take on her character, feels somewhat insulting.
It’s too early to tell if the characters are any good. Kirk Ward seems to be doing a good enough job as Detroit (his twenty second mental breakdown was pretty funny), but there is a sense he is just doing an impression of the character from the film. I think that is the nail on the head, actually. This feels like a forced reboot rather than a show in its own right. Maybe if the characters were fairly known in the TV world. I can picture either Nathan Fillion or Alan Tudyk making the role of Detroit their own and Zooey Deschanel would be a good actress to take on Wichita.
1 – THE JOKES FEEL RECYCLED
This is probably just a problem for the pilot, but for the first ten to fifteen minutes of the show, there is a sense that the movie’s script has just been played around with, rather than being re-written. We still have the same clichéd rules (admittedly, they are the basis of the show), and the same flirtatious relationship between Columbus and Wichita. I just couldn’t help wanting to feel something new that would set the show apart from the film. Using the same gags doesn’t give me much faith in the show’s writers.
There is just a major sense that this show is trying to live up to the film and failing miserably. It cannot escape the shadow of the commercial success that made Zombieland such a big deal in the first place. If the writers wanted to be taken seriously, I hope they were planning to give us a shocking and hilarious couple of episodes to build on the pilot. Because believe it or not, I actually wanted to see more from this show.
WHY THIS SHOW SHOULD DO SO GOOD
This is the exact entertainment climate to bring out a zombie parody. There are moments that shine through the pilot (the woman on the car radio, the old people fighting), that just scream genius. We are so sick of zombies by now that maybe it is time for a comedy to come along and make the genre feel a bit fresh. This is not a series mocking zombies; it is mocking these people that are so prepared for the zombie apocalypse that, like Detroit, they kind of fit in nicely in this ‘zombieland’.
If the characters can evolve into something other than carbon-copies of the movie’s cast and the writers can come up with some strong scenarios that make us laugh, then I really could have seen this becoming a success. Part of me is a little tired of watching shows because of good that should be, rather than are (like the Walking Dead for example). But, at the same time, I would have been willing to watch any future episodes of this show. Just to see if they sorted these flaws out and came up with something original and impressive.