The best show on the CW right now, and one of the best shows on TV period, is Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright's iZombie, which remained a relentlessly entertaining delight all throughout its second season due to fantastic character work, inventive and clever dialogue, fun performances and complex, overarching plots that while sometimes a bit confusing, nevertheless stayed un-bothersome due to the sheer amusement value of each and every episode.
The best examples of genre shows, especially ones on a network that demands over 20 episodes a season (in this case 19), combine a longer storyline that drives toward a conclusion with memorable standalone episodes that can entertain you even if it doesn't build on that over arching story. iZombie continued to follow Liv Moore, Seattle doctor turned zombie who works in the morgue and eats the brains of murder victims, which transfers personality traits and memories to her own mind as she helps to solve their murders. This setup rolled along all season in a kind of case-of-the-week procedural style, as Liv teams up with detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), who still thinks she's a psychic, to solve these cases (yes, that means awful lot of people are getting very creatively murdered every single week in Seattle, but as always, you have to overlook tidbits like that in these kinds of procedurals).
The cases could be hit and miss, but what never was was the entertainment value derived from seeing the outstanding Rose McIver's Liv transform into whatever this week's personality demanded, and the endearing chemistry between her and Clive, whose familial interactions always worked in every scene. Add the spark of that duo to the daily confabs between Liv and fellow morgue doctor Ravi (the hilariously upbeat Rahul Kohli), and the frequent banter between all three of them, and it becomes a sparkling trio that could easily carry the show on that premise alone. All three are so quick and wonderful with that witty, snarky and particular Thomas/Ruggiero dialogue that it makes just about every scene sparkle with the fun, sometimes blackly comic humor involving murder victims and brain eating.
But wait, there's more. The season's Big Bad was Steven Weber, brought on board as Vaughn du Clark, CEO of Max Rager, the energy drink company that distributed the ingredient that led to Seattle's zombie infestation, and who now needs to cover his own ass by blackmailing Major (Robert Buckley) into becoming his hired zombie assassin, essentially holding him hostage to his evil whims all year by threatening Liv's life if he didn't follow through. Weber had an absolute blast with this role as the egomaniacal Clark, and got to deliver some of the very best zingers the script had to offer, especially in the hugely satisfying, action-packed season finale. Buckley fared better this season as Major too- he's not on the level of the main three cast members when it comes to energy and rapid fire delivery, but breaking up him and Liv served to greatly enhance the appeal of his straight man character, who suffered from simply being not that interesting once relegated to the love interest role.
And no, that's not even all the plot this season had to offer. David Anders' Blaine is still in the mix, as the former drug dealing sleaze turned zombie turned human turned zombie (trust me, it makes sense onscreen), and he runs a funeral home as he sells the brains of corpses to feed Seattle's zombie population. He also gets into trouble with the other season long subplot involving mob boss "Mr. Boss" and his goons, which puts him into contact and potential romance with Liv's best friend Peyton (Aly Michalka), and mixes up his own henchmen in nefarious underworld dealings to be dealt with in future seasons. This might sound like one story too many, and the truth is it might be- sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the interlocking gang warfare (Clive and his FBI girlfriend Dale are also after Blaine and the mob guys) and who wants to do what to whom, but the reason for keeping Blaine around is obvious. David Anders is dynamite as the shady bad boy, and every bit on the level of our main trio and Weber when it comes to those knockout line readings. When he does get to interact with Liv and especially Ravi, those scenes crackle and are truly hilarious to behold (Blaine and Ravi's fight over stealing his undead cure set to The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love" is one of the season's most memorable moments).
The ensemble on this show as a whole is better than any put together by a Rob Thomas show in the past- they really struck gold with the casting, and even guest stars like Jessica Harmon's Dale Bozzio, Greg Finlay as Liv's new boyfriend Drake and former Veronica Mars alums Enrico Colantoni and Ken Marino come in and steal scenes from time to time when given the chance. Only Michalka and Buckley stand out as potential weak links, but even then it's only because the rest of the cast is so terrific that they look small in comparison. That's a good problem to have overall. When your actors are this fantastic and your dialogue this amusing, the show is always entertaining, no matter what wacky plots are moving in directions you may or may not quite be able to keep track of. You just want to keep watching week to week to hang out with these characters and see what they might say to each other next. Kudos to all involved for producing one of the funnest and most underrated shows on TV.