I suppose the first thing we have to ask ourselves about Z Nation is “Do we really need another zombie show?” This one premiered on SyFy Channel last week and will air its second episode tonight. The gold standard for zombie shows of course AMC’s The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead has all of the deliciously gory zombie kills, the horror of being overrun by a swarm of zombies, and everything else you normally want any post-apocalyptic survivor story. Walking dead is also one of the best written, best acted dramatic hours on television. Walking Dead earns my highest Must-See Rating so “Z Nation” has stiff competition. If you also include comparisons to such shows as FX channel’s The Strain which although it is a vampire show still people running away from monsters who are trying to bite them. There is also competition from BBC America’s In the Flesh. So do we really need another zombie show?
Unfortunately like most of my reviews, the jury is still out in some ways.
In comparison to Walking Dead I would have to say the special effects, gore, and violence are about on par. They did top Walking Dead in the first episode by having the first zombie baby which was kind of cool. This show is definitely playing it more for laughs than for drama so comparisons to Walking Dead on storytelling and writing and acting are not going to be possible. In that respect it is a very different show. You don’t get that sense of dread or malaise that you get from Walking Dead. On the other hand it’s not as over-the-top as zombie films such as Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead or Woody Harrelson’s Zombieland
The zombies themselves are faster than your typical zombies. Faster than Walking Dead. However they are not superhuman fast as in the Brad Pitt film World War Z.
The basic story takes place three years into the apocalypse. A group of survivors meets up with a soldier who is trying to get from New York to California accompanied by “The only person known to survive a zombie bite”. He was given the only does of an experimental vaccine seconds before the lab where it was being developed was completely overrun by zombies. He bears the scars of multiple bites and has an overall bad attitude that he doesn’t want to be the savior of mankind. Spoiler his military escort gets killed off in the first episode and the other group of survivors decides to take up the cause of escorting the sky to a lab in California where hopefully he can save the world. You know like you do.
They are assisted via radio by some nerdy guy in an underground NORAD like military facility. He got left behind when everyone else bugged out of the base. He runs out to the runway to try to catch the plane just in time to see it take off and explode shortly afterwards.
The bottom line is if you are a zombie apocalypse fan once a good fun ride without all of the drama and angst of The Walking Dead then this is exactly the show for you. In my rating system and giving it a definite “I’m Watching It“. For now I’m recommending it to fans of the genre. That is in contrast to my Must-See recommendation for The Walking Dead in which I suggest anyone who can’t even remotely stomach it, check it out for some of the best drama you’ll ever see. The Walking Dead returns to AMC October 12 for season 5.