The Ninjabot

Zombieland – Pilot Review

Posted on April 20, 2013 at 11:01 am by Jess Hicks

zombieland-tv-show-posterAs streaming video rapidly continues to take over the Internet, we will see a rise of more original content. Netflix is already doing well with this with both of its original series: House of Cards and Hemlock Grove. This week, Amazon aired several different pilots that can all be watched on Amazon Prime Instant Video and be voted on by the public. Since this is a fairly new concept, they don’t plan on wasting money on things people aren’t going to watch; but the one pilot that everyone is most interested in is the Zombieland adaptation.

So last night, I made some popcorn and sat down to watch the new version of Zombieland (this would be a good time to stop reading if you wish to avoid spoilers) and it was…something. When I hear bad things about a new show/movie I try to take it with a grain of salt, I also do everything in my power to have the opposite view, especially if it is bad. While I didn’t hate the pilot as much as some people seemed to, I just couldn’t get into it at all. Sure, there were a few chuckles here and there; but compared to the film, that is next to nothing.

The basic premise of this episode, and I think the whole series, is the gang of ragtag survivors is now in search of a place they can call “home” and people they can call “family.” I completely understand the motivation behind this, but the pessimist in me says “No, stop! You’ll just find the Governor!” So the group goes in search of new people and fail at saving anybody they come across. They are told of a village on the east coast (about 50,000 miles away) by their trusty navigator, a former employee of OnStar (was that even in the movie??).

My first complaint with this series is that they seem to muddle the line between dark humor and just plain depressing. As the group discovers people, they end up taking them along. It doesn’t last long, though, as every one of their new companions succumbs to a grisly death. I understand that this is “the apocalypse,” but mostly this just seemed like a sad slapstick knock off of killing Kenny from South Park, but done in an incredibly sad and unfunny way.

zombieland-screen shot

Secondly, this show would have done so much better if they had decided to create and follow another group of characters, rather than the ones from the film. The movie Zombieland is funny, not only because of the writing, but because of the actors who did so well portraying their characters. These people could easily play new characters, and probably do a great job, but unfortunately they have some big boots to fill, especially the character of Tallahassee. Woody Harrelson did an impeccable job playing this rough around the edges character, whereas Kirk Ward comes off as a bumbling caricature of him. Ward is funny, but he would be better suited for a different kind of character.

Finally, the tone of this series just seems uneven to me. I realize that the film had serious moments coupled with the overall humor, but it just seemed to work then. With this show, it seems like it doesn’t know what it wants to be—a drama or a comedy. Also, the use of the “rules” just seems kind of lame in this series. I don’t know why but they just don’t hold the spark that the film did.


Is it unfair to compare the two? Yes, it totally is. However, when the series is following the same characters and the same general format, it is extremely hard not to draw comparisons. Unfortunately, this will undoubtedly be the downfall because the viewers are going to go in expecting the film and be disappointed that they aren’t going to get it. The series has potential, and if it got a chance, then I could see some of these problems working themselves out during a series-long run. Now we just have to play the waiting game and see if it has a future.


    • Stephen-Alva

      Great review Jess! I totally agree with what you said. Having the movie come out before is only hurting this show's chances and they should have cast them as their own characters. As much as I want to enjoy this, I just sit there it wishing I was watching the movie instead. Ill still give it a try if it gets picked up but ill simmer my expectations down hoping they could surprise me.

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