Rob Thomas Compares Making iZombie To of Veronica Mars

Over the five-year run of iZombie, co-creators Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright -- both of whom worked on the cult-hit Veronica Mars and its movie and novel follow-ups -- have brought in members of the Neptune High community to play guest and recurring roles on the DC Comics adaptation. The shows have certain quirks that make them feel similar and appeal to a similar audience, most obviously having a young, blonde girl in the role of an especially-gifted crime-solver in a town where weird things happen all the time and mystery blends pretty freely with humor. That said, Thomas told during an interview on Friday that there were some key differences in his approach.

His starting point was the mystery of the week. While Veronica Mars had, as a TV series, a mystery most weeks to drive a smaller part of the plot, it was all a part of a larger uber-mystery that had to be solved each season. On iZombie, they took on a more "police procedural" approach. Each week, Liv (a high-functioning zombie) eats the brain of a murder victim in order to get psychic insight into what caused their death. Along the way, she picks up personality traits of theirs -- everything from obsessive sports fandom to compulsive lying to picking fights. As the series has progressed, and the world of New Seattle becomes more of a big-picture narrative, we asked whether they had considered limiting the procedural elements in order to give the other parts of the show more breathing room.

"We have discussed, do we drop the procedural elements? Do we play that Seattle is so FUBARred that the daily grind of solving murder cases is behind us, and it just is, will the city survive and we just play the serialized story of that?" Thomas said. "I mean, that has gone through our mind. One of the things that we keep coming back to is that so much of the fun of the show is the brains of the week -- Liv consuming the brain, taking on the personality. It provides so much of our comedy. I think if you look at episodes toward the end of our season, that murder of the week case goes from occupying 50% of the episode, to 40% of the episode, to maybe a third of the episode. One of the differences between doing something like Veronica Mars and iZombie is that on Veronica Mars, we try to be meticulous about the case. The case is important, and doing a mystery show, we're not trying to hide any of the clues. You see the same clues that Veronica does, so you can play the home game of solving the mystery. Doing iZombie, where Liv can have a vision at some point, we've often likened it to -- this is too much self-congratulatory and that's not how I mean it, but The Big Lebowski. The first time I watched The Big Lebowski, I thought, 'I don't get it. Who kidnapped Bunny Lebowski? How was this solved?' I was very worried. I now have watched that movie 65 times, and I don't watch it for who solved the case."

Bad news for the iZombie/Veronica Mars fans in the audience who were hoping to see members of the New Seattle Crew in Hulu's forthcoming Veronica revival after actors like Enrico Colantoni and Francis Capra showing up on iZombie: the productions overlapped too much to make it work. But it isn't all bad news: "We really couldn't do it, otherwise you probably would have [seen them in Veronica Mars], because I love that cast. The iZombie crew wrapped right around the same time as we started shooting the finale for Veronica Mars, so for most of the season they were overlapping. The only roles left in Veronica Mars, because season finale, all the main characters are in play, were three-line roles. If I were going to do something with it, I'd want to offer them something bigger and better. So, no, unfortunately there is no overlap there. I promise you, if and when I have a next show on the air, you'll see some of those cast members because I do adore them."

iZombie airs on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. The fifth and final season premieres on May 2. Veronica Mars is coming to Hulu this summer.



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