Zombieland: “Pilot”

6 Overall Score
Casting: 8/10
Story: 4/10
Appeal: 6/10

Well-written and superbly cast, "Pilot" gives a good slice of what could be a great new show.

Poor exposition, weak plot elements, and predictability plague the episode.

Ever since Zombieland came out in 2009, I have been anxiously awaiting either a sequel or a TV show adaptation of the feature film. Sadly, instead of getting the same cast back together for a follow-up movie, the writers of Zombieland opted for the latter, starting fresh with a whole new cast two weeks after the end of the original film. The show’s pilot is now streaming for free on Amazon along with a bunch of other new shows, and viewers can vote on which ones they want to see work together an entire first season. From what “Pilot” offers, Zombieland has potential to be a great show. However, it’s not quite there yet.

A few weeks after the end of the movie, the four main characters find themselves journeying through Los Angeles, searching for survivors and hoping to find a safe haven. Considering that the cast grew extremely close in the feature film, this is a great direction to head in. However, throughout the 28 minute run-time of the pilot, there wasn’t much development to be found. The plot, despite showing flashbacks and giving the audience a feel for where exactly the show is taking place in time, feels muddled and very forced. This is especially considering the newest addition to the cast: Detroit, an OnStar navigator who seems more like a product placement than a helpful hand for the four main characters in finding survivors. I was also surprised by how predictable the episode was. Good TV shows surprise the viewer and throw them off whenever they think they know what will happen next. “Pilot” does exactly the opposite of that, and it is blatantly obvious to the point that it even veers on the edge of being cheesy.

Zombieland - ScreenshotWhile the episode is extremely predictable and seemingly insubstantial, the excellent writing of producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernicke really shines in “Pilot.” The show continues the movie’s darkly comedic approach, and the pilot is quite funny. I’m also happy to see the continuance of the “Zombie Kill of the Week” and “Survival Tips.” However, the show isn’t able to find a strong balance of suspense, intensity, and humor. Hopefully these three elements can balance each other over time – that is, if a full season is made. The new cast, though being a bit unknown, gives the atmosphere a playful vibe, and they snugly fit the show’s low budget feel. This is considering the replacements for Wichita and Columbus (Maiara Walsh and Tyler Ross), whose youthful spirits and relatable personalities give the show a spark. Just like in the movie, Tallahassee (Kirk Ward) is the funniest of the four, and Ward fills Harrelson’s role effectively – even if he isn’t able to create the same embodiment as the movie version of Tallahassee. For someone who loved the cast of the movie as much as I did, the new cast exceeded my expectations.

As a stand-alone episode, “Pilot” was a bit underwhelming. But considering the great potential of the cast and the incredible writing abilities of Reese and Wernicke, I really hope Zombieland succeeds as a network show. As someone who doesn’t really care for The Walking Dead, a comedic zombie program is definitely a change of pace, and a much more appealing diversion than the heavily dramatic and violent AMC show. The movie captured a perfect vibe, and if it becomes an actual show, Zombieland will have time to smoothen out the kinks. But I have a feeling that the show could be a success, even if it hasn’t made its strongest impression yet.

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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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