The pilot episode of Zombieland is available today to view on Amazon’s instant video service. Before you read this review, I encourage you to watch the episode yourself. Make up your own opinion about it before your view is tainted by the one I present in this review. In order to watch the show you can visit this link.
Then, after you’ve seen the episode, be sure to leave a rating on the video. Amazon is only going to produce the show if the reaction to it is positive. Whether you love it or hate it, let your voice be heard.
Alright, now let’s get to the review. Zombieland is based upon the widely popular movie of the same name that follows a group of four as they traverse a zombie infested world. It was an incredibly simple premise that was made unique through it’s use of characters, style and humor. Does the TV show manage to rustle up the same sort of charm or is it a pale imitation?
Here’s the biggest problem Zombieland faces: The chemistry shared between Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone really contributed to the appeal of the film. Even more problematic is the character of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who stood out as a fan favorite and became a pretty iconic figure in the world of zombies. How do you duplicate that without feeling like you’re doing your best impression of those characters?
To some degree, the show manages to create characters that feel in tune with their movie counterparts. Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock more or less feel like the same characters that were introduced to us in the movie. Tallahassee, however, feels completely different. Maybe it was Woody’s charm or his natural bad ass attitude, but this Tallahassee seems more like a goofball than the film’s version. Perhaps the characterization is the same, but Woody’s persona gave the character a bit of a cool factor which is completely lacking here.
That being said, Kirk Ward who plays the TV version of Tallahassee does an admirable job of portraying the character. He has a natural comedic talent that translates well to the sort of slapstick humor that Tallahassee gets up to in this episode. However, fans will probably have a great deal of trouble accepting this version of the character.
The pilot does a lot to set up a possible story arc. The main idea for the first season seems to be that the crew is looking to join a community of people. To accomplish this they introduce a new character in the form of an OnStar operator who communicates to the crew through their SUV and serves as a guide. It’s a little hokey and took me out of the narrative but it’s also a necessary mechanic to progress their story.
Overall they managed to keep the general tone of the movie intact. There’s a strong comedic charm embedded in this first episode. It’s not “laugh out loud” funny, but it does enough to keep you entertained and amused for the half-hour. It’s not something that was inherently apparent to me at the onset of the episode, but as it went on I really began to appreciate what it was trying to do.
Considering that they had a half-hour to convince me that this was a good idea, I think they made an admirable effort. At some point my mind stopped making comparisons to the movie and instead focused in on and enjoyed what I was watching. I could easily imagine a world where this series grows and becomes an entity worthy of the name Zombieland.
It’s free and only 30 minutes long, there’s no excuse not to watch it. For my money though, I think it’s a good attempt at tackling a nearly impossible challenge.