The SyFy channel is known for producing some really great TV series and some really campy B movie quality movies. This type of split personality programming is odd to see on the TV network but has worked extremely well for the channel. Now they have combined the two type of shows that they do really well into a new series called Z Nation. Z Nation is SyFy’s attempt to break into the super popular post-zombie apocalypse genre that is currently dominated by The Walking Dead. But SyFy’s Z Nation is smart enough to set itself apart from shows like The Walking Dead by going straight for the camp instead of going for the drama.
Z Nation is made by the same production company that created the massive schlock SyFy hit Sharknado, and it shows from the moment that you start watching. If you like B movie style entertainment then Z Nation is a fun way to kill an hour, but don’t be expecting any high drama, crossbow slinging rednecks, or sheriffs trying to hang onto their humanity. Although the Z Nation premiere did include a perfectly timed reference to The Walking Dead when the main character mentioned an ex-cop and a bunch of other survivors holed up in a prison.
But the show isn’t all camp either. The executive producer and showrunner Karl Schaefer has worked on some beloved science fiction shows like Eerie, Indiana and The Dead Zone. When asked about what set this show apart from shows like The Walking Dead Schaefer said that this new show for SyFy is focused around hope for humanity’s survival. Unlike dramas like The Walking Dead the tone of this show is light and hopeful and really focuses on how a disaster can bring out the best in people.
The zombies in Z Nation are not like the infamous Walkers in The Walking Dead either. These zombies are more like the zombies that were seen in films like World War Z and 28 Days Later. They are fast and ferocious and seem to have at least some rational thought process that gives them an added element of danger. The makeup and effects are the best type of B movie quality and make up for a lack of artistry with enthusiastic gore. The zombie makeups look a little more Halloween style than the zombies of The Walking Dead but they are still amusing and fit the overall look of the show perfectly.
The premise of Z Nation mirrors one of the coming storylines of The Walking Dead. It is three years after the zombie apocalypse in the US and a ragtag bunch of survivors are trying to make it from New York to California escorting the only man who seems immune to the zombie virus. There is a lab in California where scientists who survived the apocalypse are waiting to get the antibodies from this man’s blood to develop a cure for the virus that caused the apocalypse. They are being guided along the way by Citizen Z, a survivor who has been holed up at an NSA listening station in the Artic. Because of his remote location and stash of supplies he is totally safe from the zombies and he can use all the NSA equipment to communicate with survivors and help them.
Z Nation is the first show on SyFy that celebrates a campy style and it’s the first show of this type in the popular zombie apocalypse genre. Premiering a new zombie show when there is already a hugely popular zombie show dominating the airwaves might have been a risky move for another network. But SyFy knows its audience and has created the perfect zombie show to appeal to the audiences that loves Sharknado. The show can’t even be seen as competition for The Walking Dead because it’s an entirely different sort of show even though both are technically post-apocalypse survival shows. Z Nation is the appetizer to the main course of The Walking Dead. It’s lighter zombie fare, but a great way to whet fans appetites for The Walking Dead which returns from hiatus in just a few weeks.