Z Nation: Puppies and Kittens
September 14, 2014 9:35 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

An absolute rip-off of The Walking Dead, of course. So what happens? Zombies bite people, they turn. Survivors run.

Writer Karl Schaefer is the man who brought you ‎Eerie, Indiana, Monk, and Eureka. Fine programs, all. Asylum and Syfy brought Sharknado 1 and 2: the films that taught the world that sharks can swim around in a house, snap someone out of a helicopter, and take a bite out of the wing of an airliner. ‎

This lacks the absolute gore of The Walking Dead and has none of its moral dilemmas. To be sure, there's lots and lots of blood splatter, but actual gore? Close-ups of hacking into a skull? Flying brains? Nope, not here.

It does answer some of the criticisms of TWD and whereas TWD is simply surviving, ‎ZN has a goal: get the walking cure to California. TWD vs TWC. ‎
posted by Ik ben afgesneden (11 comments total)
First and foremost, nobody wants to be a zombie so the first priority is telling everybody you have a possible cure. Hell, go old-school medicine and just start shooting people up with the survivor's blood and see what happens. ‎TWC prefers to play coy for much too long. Also, CA is pretty damned big. Me? I'd put the exact address on the body of the walking cure in black marker. ‎‎

The zombie bodies littering the lake was awesome. Not scary, but certainly great and something TWD has never shown. Their lakes are always too pristine. ‎

I like that people are still dealing meth and oxy and that there's a booming trade in weapons that aren't guns and are jury-rigged to allow hit-and-run instead of having to stop and pull your club out of a zombie's head. Again, a response to TWD.

I absolutely fucking loved that a baby turned. That's an answer to every damn zombie show out there that just refuses to go there. I love TWD but they dropped the ball on that. Babies are noisy and can't run ergo they're not going to survive. End of. ‎I don't buy the zombie baby suddenly being able to run (fly?!) and be cunning, though. It's not Damien, people. 

Lastly, for 95% of the episode they teased with the impression there might be a black male in the lead of a show. Guess not.

No real gore, no moral dilemmas, nothing new about the character line-up, no real reason for existence. I'm being generous in giving it a C+ (and that's only because of the zombie baby).

posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 11:01 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is the zombie baby particularly well done, or a new concept for you? I ask because there have been zombie babies before, in the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, and probably others in lower grade zombie films. Was that the only redeeming part of the first episode? I'd like to find some other take on zombies in a serial format.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:32 AM on September 14, 2014

Yup, only redeeming part for me. Not so much well done, even, since the kid starts being cunning and making absurd leaps. I obviously need to go watch the Dawn of the Dead remake.

I bailed on BSG after a while but I have to admit it had great writing, production values, and actors. This isn't BSG. I would call this MST3K level of funny. And it has that weird glossy look that some Syfy shows have.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2014

I liked it. Despite a few nitpicks, I had a blast watching it, and laughed out loud at the 'I hate moral dilemmas' line.

For reference, TWD irritates the crap out of me and I love Orphan Black to pieces.
posted by Mogur at 4:42 PM on September 14, 2014

Still the best zombie baby.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:41 PM on September 14, 2014

Mogur, what don't you like about TWD? Was it Laurie? Cause she's long gone.

Filthy light thief, have you checked out In the Flesh? It's a very different take. Semi-cured zombies being integrated into society (so very British).

It doesn't do it for me because it's more about prejudice and sadness and growing up isolated and an outstander in your hometown than it is out gore, apocalypse, and horror. But it recently wrapped a second series and it is well written.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2014

I didn't start watching until the current season, actually, though I've read about Laurie I've never seen her. It's Rick that irritates me. But that's just me, I know a lot of people who like the show. I'm mainly just puzzled by the Z Nation dissing that I've seen on some review sites.
posted by Mogur at 4:27 AM on September 15, 2014

Well, you're not wrong there. Rick can be irritating. You just have to root for other people--until they die. It's like the Amazing Race, really.

The problem with Z is that it doesn't bring anything new to the table. At the end of the day, it's just silly and unoriginal. Come big or go home, right?

They're not quite going over-the-top like Sharknado*, nor are they exactly bringing anything grounded like BSG or Eureka. Where does that leave them?

*Yeah neither premise is realistic but you know what I mean.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:39 AM on September 15, 2014

Ik ben afgesneden: Filthy light thief, have you checked out In the Flesh? It's a very different take. Semi-cured zombies being integrated into society (so very British)

Oh, I love that show. I posted the last season (belatedly) to FanFare, to little discussion (I was the only one commenting beyond the first episode).

Mogur: It's Rick that irritates me. But that's just me, I know a lot of people who like the show.

Nope, I like the show, but I find that Rick is not a really likable guy, probably by design. He's something of a super-moral person, despite the world being a very messy place in which to use the old moral structure. If nothing else, screenshots of him lend themselves to some great dumb dad jokes. Carl is actually becoming a more likable character than his father.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on September 15, 2014

I have to say that Z Nation is a nice anathema to TWD particularly during the mid-season break of TWD season 5. It allows me to take a step back and remember all the reasons the zombie genre became a genre through Romero; serious threat, bleak glimmers of hope, humor, creative zombie killing, more humor and still maintain some sense of character development that seems somewhat realistic.

I remember playing a Lovecraft inspired role-playing game a couple of decades ago and there was actually an "insanity check" of die rolls. I feel as though an actual zombie apocalypse would require multiple rolls all day, every day. And if you survive that you end up with the sort of morbid humor that anyone who has met any sort of emergency responder, nurse or military veteran has. Z Nation reflects that in a way that TWD doesn't.

I love TWD for its character development and introspection on the cost of daily, massive trauma but I feel as though it misses the mark on the sheer percentage of people who aren't all moody and droopy or opportunistic. There are people who would just plain lose it and become ad hoc psychopaths that enjoy just getting on with life whilst ignoring the trauma.

Z Nation delivers in that sense.
posted by Johnny Hazard at 5:14 PM on January 26, 2015

I will say that I applaud Z's hybrid plot. That's one problem with TWD; they have nowhere to go with their zombies and frankly most of them should have rotted away by now.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:22 PM on January 26, 2015

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