As I don’t have cable, I’m missing my usual campy genre awesomeness. Oh, don’t worry; I take advantage of friends and family by parking my keister on their couch for extended marathons of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. I have my priorities. (And no sense of pride or common decency.)
So when Google Play made the pilot episode of Z Nation a free download? Hello! I should have known better. Here’s what happened:
The Good: DJ Qualls! Harold Perrineau! Tom Everett Scott! I love that I get to see Garth, Augustus Hill & Andy McDermott in one show! Qualls, as a left-behind soldier stuck waaaaaay up north. Boyfriend doesn’t realize how good he’s got it, until he decides to just hang it up and go all pirate radio. I’m sure he’ll be the voice/connection for all the other folks running around with the zombies.
There’s a baseball bat in Z Nation, and it’s not Lucille (though I’m sure somebody here has read TWD and thought a spikey bat would be teh kewl.) But it gets points for looking like something that someone would actually be able to cobble together. Plus, it’s pretty sweet. Oh, and there’s a zombie baby that I’m sure you’ve seen in the trailer.
The Bad: See: zombie baby. Great idea at the start, but the idea that the little posthumous punkin’ can zoom around at light speed just because it’s undead? Nup. Also, the dialogue made me weep. “Let him go or I will send you to walk among the dead.” Yeah, poor Harold Perrineau had to deliver that clunker. And that’s only one of many tidbits scattered all over Z Nation. But you can forgive bad dialogue when the FX are so amazing…sike! The makeup and CGI here is nothing less than subpar. Again, this is from SyFy, the station whose catchphrase seems to be “SyFy: Getting RTVF Majors To Do Our FX Since 2009”.
But the main thing that makes me shake my head in sadness is that the plot seems to have no idea where it’s going. It’s as if whoever pitched this decided that zombies were awesome (that’s not an incorrect assumption), and that simply throwing a few rotting undead on the small screen would be enough to have genre fans a’runnin’ (that’s the incorrect assumption right there.) The Walking Dead delivered action, gore and character development in it’s pilot ep. Z Nation delivered…a zombie baby.
The Result: Think of this not as competition for The Walking Dead, but as something zombie fans can watch/make fun of while they wait for their Darryl fix. (What? Who doesn’t love a man with a bow?) I’m not gonna lie, I’d love to see another ep to find out if this first episode was a hiccup. Considering this is from the folks that gave us Sharknado — yep, this is a The Asylum joint — I’m thinking there’ll be more of the same sad dialogue, strange pacing and hiccupy continuity. Ah well. But it could be fun for a drinking game Netflix night a year from now.