TV Review: Z Nation Season One

Monday 25 April 2016 by

Z Nation, TV, Netflix, Syfy, Zombie

Netflix is my go-to for watching anything nowadays. Without a TV, streaming is ultimately my only option, but Netflix still does it best. And I do love a good zombie story, so when I spotted Z Nation, it was an obvious choice.

Z Nation tells the story of a group of people 3 years after a zombie outbreak as they battle across America to take the only known survivor of a zombie bite to a lab in California in an attempt to rescue the human race. So far, so predictable. The gorgeous thing about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Brimming with black humour, the whole structure of the series is like a video game – each episode tasking our team with various missions and obstacles, with an omniscient voice (Citizen Z, played to perfection by DJ Qualls) directing them. At each point, one of the team must face a new threat and they either survive, or they really don’t.

There are beautiful elements of every zombie story in here – from The Walking Dead to Zombieland. They self-reference and point out plot holes with glee, and the team become caricatures of their roles.

It might be on season 3 on Syfy, but we’ve only got the first season to go by on Netflix. With the cliffhanger ending, there’s something reassuring about the fact that there are two more seasons to come (it remains to be seen if they feature the same cast as I have deliberately avoided finding out). When watching it, it’s hard to decide if this is terrible or awesome. By about the third episode, I went with the latter.

It is the panto of zombie roadtrips. It’s outrageous and ridiculous, and it is laugh-out-loud funny at points, with an often shaky dialogue and some distinctly hammed-up acting, but it also touches on various human emotions that hook you in. After all, humour isn’t funny without a counterpoint of seriousness. The whole thing is the perfect package of mindless fun and emotional blackmail.

The joy of the video game structure is that it finds you strategizing and guessing along with the team. You pick your character and run with them, and there is genuine frustration when it goes wrong. Even the ending – borderline predictable but with a clever twist that keeps you satisfied – holds up against the rest of the series.

Love blood and guts and zombies? Always been a fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? Get watching now. I’ll see you in season two.

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