Z Nation on SyFy premiered on Friday, September 12 and so far most have seen it as a competitor to the AMC hit The Walking Dead, as a sort of network “versus” network, but thus far the faster zombies in the new show has not proven to be a serious threat to the other series. For those who watched the new show’s opener, it should have been apparent that this was not a serious attempt to usurp The Walking Dead or even to provide a valid alternative to the verse. Fans of the Georgia based television show about a stalwart band of survivors in a post apocalyptic world know that the Robert Kirkman vision from the comics has a pretty solid fanbase without the television show or the video game.
It should be understood immediately that any show produced by SyFy is going to have a huge “cheese” factor and that is part of the fun. These shows are not meant to be taken seriously. If viewers are taking this latest entry into the world of post apocalyptic shambling, or running, dead as more than a tongue in cheek show they should get out more, buy a Robert Kirkman comic or go back to believing that Sharknado is a documentary.
So clearly this is not a case of Z Nation versus The Walking Dead and the idea of the running zombies may just be a nod to the Dawn of the Dead remake where the Speedy Gonzales type of zombie made its first winning appearance, but the film’s raw meat eaters were serious not like the SyFy series. Of course the biggest clue that the remake may have influenced the new show is the inclusion of the zombie baby. Of course in the movie, the infant afflicted with the walking dead virus, was creepy, disturbing and downright shocking. In Z Nation it has been done for laughs.
The show’s premiere episode starred Lost alumnus Harold Perrineau and the not-lost DJ Qualls, seen recently on AMC’s Breaking Bad as the young looking cop who busts Badger in the Better Call Saul episode. Sadly, Perrineau does not appear to be a long running player in the new series. Qualls actually makes it to the end but may not make it past the first episode. The only two actors listed as being in more than one or two shows are Russell Hodgkinson and Nat Zang. Regardless of who makes through all 13 episodes, the whole thing is meant to be a giggle.
In all honesty, how can anyone take any show seriously when what should have been a “poignant” and possibly cynical scene at the beginning has the extras jump before the sound of the gunshot. Had the show’s producers really been trying to make anything other than a zombie version of Sharknado, or Sharknado 2, this big boo-boo would have been easily fixable. So obviously it was kept so that the viewer could giggle and/or roll their eyes at the amateurish mistake made by the director and editor.
Another instance of what must have been intentional, was the lake full of zombies scene. As two survivors approach the lake, the body of water has a clear surface except for a few lazy waves. When the men get up to the edge of the water, they find a couple of “inactive” creatures, the lake the suddenly becomes filled with zombies floating on the surface.
Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead have nothing to fear from SyFy’s Z Nation. While it may seem that the idea of super fast zombies could have the new show posing a real serious threat to TWD, “slow versus speedy” is not the issue here. The two shows are “tongue in cheek” vs serious and “flinchy” television. If the reader is wondering why the film Sharknado has been mentioned so many times in connection with the new Z Nation show, there is a reason. Asylum House, the production company who brought the world Boo (2005) and both Sharknado films is responsible for the new zombie show. Z Nation is on SyFy Fridays.
By Michael Smith