Last week, during Salt Lake City’s 2nd annual comicon, one of the last panels of the show premiered SyFy’s newest television show, “Z Nation.” One of the presenter’s had been featured in numerous SyFy feature length films and as she put it, “I’ve been killed, and often.” The second presenter, Michael Welch, is actually apart of the ensemble cast and hosted the ‘Q&A’ format after the credits had rolled on the pilot episode of “Z Nation.”
For those of you that don’t know “Z Nation” is set in upstate New York (at least on the onset of the pilot), but was primarily shot right here in good ol’ Spokane, WA. Even though, they never call attention to the fact that it isn’t Spokane, native Spokanites can spot the thicket of pines, sleepy city locales, and myriad of lakes that make this region famous and unique to the rest of the country.
“Z Nation” is an interesting beast though. It harkens back to old school zombies flicks like any of Romera’s cannon and it does so with gusto. It doesn’t pull the punches in that quirky, dark sense of humor kind of a way. It shouts “campy” at you, but for an old school zombie lover like myself…I loved it. It was catchy and effectively paid homage to the genre. Not every moment has to be gritty and realistic, sometimes you can let go and have fun with it like filmmakers used to, back in the day.
In particular, there is a great scene involving the group cast, the discovery of an alive, intact baby, and the decision making and consequences that ensue. To be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.
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However, like a well-worn and bloodied coin, “Z Nation” does a hold a flame to AMC’s famed “The Walking Dead”— And, it does so quite cleverly. It takes the situations that the characters are dealt and the consequences of a zombie invasion and pits them in a real world context, much like “The Walking Dead.” How the characters’ behave, proceed, and deal with one another is fairly realistic considering the circumstances.
The pilot does an excellent job introducing the main cast, the time frame, setting, and overall goal. As an audience member, you could see the logical line of progression and how several seasons worth of episodes could be produced without breaking away from the plot line (e.g. think Star Trek’s “The Voyager”).
Ultimately, I think “Z Nation” has good odds of striking a dent in “The Walking Dead” market share. “Z Nation” does a little bit of both— It’s campy like the old shuffle and blood zombie flicks and it tackles supernatural problems with real world engagement.
I recommend at least checking out the pilot for the deciding vote. At the very least, I see a strong cult following for this television show, and as for me I’ll be buckled in for the native Spokane scenery and strong allure of the zombie.