AMC has their zombie show, an adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead; BBC has one of their own, In the Flesh; and damn it, Syfy wants one of their own. And what Syfy wants, Syfy gets, in this case in the form of their new zombie show Z Nation. You can see the obvious allusion to Max Brooks’ World War Z in the title.
The undead are everywhere, from movie screens and TVs to video games and marketing for cars and candy, and it takes a lot to set a new project apart from the pack. Syfy seems to be hanging their prospects in this area on one fact, that while the zombie apocalypse genre is usually rather depressing, Z Nation plans to offer viewers a more hopeful outlook. That certainly is a different approach than the overwhelming bleakness of The Walking Dead.
Karl Schaefer, who worked on the criminally underappreciated Eerie, Indiana, as well as Eureka and The Dead Zone, will serve a showrunner—let’s hope he has more of a lifespan in that capacity than his counterparts on The Walking Dead. He says,”Z Nation will take viewers where no zombie has gone before,” and that the show adds “a sense of hope to the horror of the apocalypse—our everyday heroes take the fight to the zombies. It’ll be an epic journey unlike anything you’ve seen before.”
Chris Regina, the Senior Vice President of Programming adds, “Z Nation is a unique new journey into the long established zombie genre. Instead of existential despair, the series offers hope that somehow, some way, humanity will not only survive, but triumph. In producing their first ever weekly series, our long-time partners The Asylum have created a different way of telling an iconic story.”
And yes, you heard that right, Syfy is once again teaming up with The Asylum. That might sound familiar because they are the schlock factory responsible for many of the notorious creature features that the network has become known for lately, like Sharknado. They’re also responsible for Titanic 2, which is definitely a thing that happened in the world. Their involvement is enough to give you pause. Not exactly known for the high quality of their work, it will be interesting to see what they can do with a weekly series, their first.
While that detail may cause concern, the story sounds like it has potential. An ensemble cast will take viewers through a post-zombie America. Dropping you into the action three years after a virus has caused a widespread zombie pandemic, a team has to move the only known survivor of the plague across the country, from New York to California, to the last functional viral lab. But of course it isn’t as simple as all of that, the survivor may be the last hope for humanity, but he’s harboring a dark secret.
The set up is a sort of zombie road trip, maybe like Zombieland without the comedy. Staging the show like this, where the reluctant heroes are in a different place every week provides the opportunity to show a more complete picture of the world created by the show. This approach has positive and negative aspects, but if done well, it could yield interesting results.
The 13-episode action-horror series is tentatively scheduled to debut this fall.