What I'm Watching: Zombieland Pilot
Awhile back, I shared my thoughts on the awesomeness that was Zombieland. It was widely known that they originally wanted to make a series, hence the Zombie Kill of the Week would've been a real thing, and other little touches. But that didn't work, and they eventually got it to launch as a theatrical movie.
So, the wheel turns, and we come back around to...Zombieland being made into a possible series! Go figure. At Amazon, of all places. But hey, if they get the tone correct, it's all good, right?
Well... How can this feel so wrong and so right at the same time? I really think the main problem here is the cast. Now, there was NOOO way they were going to get the movie's cast back, clearly. And other properties have transitioned well enough from movies to tv with a changed cast, like Stargate. But Zombieland has SUCH an iconic cast, that it is tough, at least with this first episode, to get over that. I hope that lessens as time goes by, because I would really hate to be constantly bothered by that.
Because really? This was good. This was GOOD. This was, quite frankly, more Zombieland. If you were to read the scripts, or if these were two separate chapters of a book, you would go, "Ah, yes. These are two parts of a whole. These are both of a piece." I would be hard pressed to find someone who loved the movie that didn't at least like this, and at least be willing to give it a chance.
The cast is not bad, not really. But yeah, hard to get by not having Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and the rest. And it's been awhile since I saw the original, and I know Tallahassee was never the sharpest blade in the scabbard, but did they dumb him down, or is it just me?
I get they're going for comedic effect, and it's like Randall getting a slight IQ downgrade between the Clerks movies and animated series and whatnot. It's funny to have a guy that's clueless. And the guy playing Tallahassee was pretty good, and the way they wrote him suited the actor's protrayal, so it all works in the end.
They also did a funny bit opening the episode, which was maybe a little on the slow side but it's easing you in I guess... But they open up with a joke that ONLY works because they recast the role. The whole joke is, you don't know the guy, but if you knew this was Tallahassee, FL, then you would know that was who that was! That is so meta, and pretty brilliant, and a great way to say, "Yes, we know they're not the same actors, live with it."
Little Rock came off as a poor man's Chloe Moretz to me. And that's not a bad thing. She was probably the closest to the original actress, in my head. But being compared to Moretz is a plus, in my book.
I don't really have much to say about Columbus and Wichita, but they did decently enough. Columbus as our returning narator works well enough, and isn't terribly jarring, which is a plus.
Aside from Tallahassee being dumbed down, Wichita's casting throws me the most. She is SO different from Emma Stone, but she delivers the lines well, as some decent awkward chemistry with Columbus, and is pretty funny. So it's the most distracting, but she does a good enough job of both making the role her own, and feeling at home at the same time, that it almost works. And will surely grow on me if this goes to a series.
But the biggest question I have on the plot side of things...who the fuck is keeping OnStar going in the zombie apocalypse?! That's almost crazy to me, and almost demands having a story told just to explain the hows and whys, before my suspension of disbelief snaps like a rubber band.
But in short, this is good, VERY good. Especially for a pilot, and one that has such expectations breathing down its neck. It hits all the right notes, and has the same tone as the movie. You get that mix of humour and horror that the movie excelled at, and knows when to switch between the two. It gets right what it needs to get right, and the stuff it gets wrong can be ironed out. No pilot is perfect, and while the cast is different, the story remains the same.
Definitely worth checking out, and giving Amazon your feedback.