If you watched “Sharknado 2″ on the Syfy channel, you probably saw the first teaser trailer for “Z Nation,” a new zombie series starring Harold Perrineau and Tom Everett Scott, premiering on September 12. Syfy is obviously hoping to capitalize on the success of “The Walking Dead,” but this plan could backfire if too many fans of the AMC series decide “Z Nation” is just a cheap rip-off of their beloved show.
Instead of writing it off as a knock-off, fans of “The Walking Dead” should give the Syfy series a chance. Both shows might be about zombie apocalypse survivors fighting to stay alive, but there are a variety of ways “Z Nation” can go different directions and shut down “The Walking Dead” comparisons.
1. Just call a zombie a zombie.
Using the z-word is taboo on “The Walking Dead,” but maybe the “Z Nation” survivors will live in a world where zombie movies exist. Because of “The Walking Dead,” it would be difficult for the creators of the Syfy series to invent an original term for the undead anyway. The long list of creative zombie names coined by the AMC series includes walkers, biters, geeks, lame brains, and creepers. They’re clever and all, but it would be refreshing to hear someone utter the word “zombie” on a TV series about zombies.
2. Introduce fresh undead threats.
There’s a baby zombie in the “Z Nation” trailer, which is something we haven’t seen on “The Walking Dead.” The thought crossed fans minds when Lori gave birth, but baby Judith hasn’t gotten zombified yet. It would also be nice to see zombies with a little more pep in their step, so hopefully “Z Nation” peppers its herds of walkers with a few joggers. Judging from a photo producer Jodi Binstock posted on Twitter, it looks like we will be getting some zombiesicles, too.
3. Keep most of the original cast.
“The Walking Dead” writers continue to kill off main characters, demonstrating a complete and utter disregard for the fans’ emotional attachment to them. It’s nerve-racking knowing anyone could become a cannibal’s main course or get murdered by a marauder. “Z Nation” could make viewers a little less anxious by having its original group of survivors do a better job surviving. Obviously a few of them will still have to die, but maybe they’ll all be Loris, Andreas, and Shanes.
4. Throw in a little humor.
“Z Nation” is the creation of the same production company behind “Sharknado,” a mess of a TV movie that proved that you can still create a smash hit using sloppy special effects and bad jokes. Because of the “Sharknado” connection and the casting of “Road Trip” star DJ Qualls, I’m guessing “Z Nation” will be somewhat campy and comedic. A nice, lighthearted zombie TV series would be a great palate cleanser for all the despair and darkness we witness weekly on “The Walking Dead.” If the Syfy series doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, I’d love to see it occasionally poke fun at its competition, especially the AMC series’ refusal to use the term “zombies.”
5. Keep the survivors on the road.
Many fans of “The Walking Dead” fans weren’t happy about the survivors’ extended stay at the prison – they spent way too much time farming and talking about their feelings. Luckily, it looks like “Z Nation” is going to keep its group in action mode by having them hit the road. Its ragtag bunch of “everyday heroes” are on a mission to transport the only known survivor of the zombie epidemic from New York to California in hopes that he carries antibodies for a cure. Because of the series’ premiere date, it could beat “The Walking Dead” to doing the cure storyline.
Do you think “Z Nation” will survive past one season?
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