It seems to be a "Christmas Massacre" for genre shows as SYFY has cancelled Z Nation, the channel's long-running zombie series. The show is currently in its fifth season, with its finale schedule to air on Friday December 28th. Looks like that will be the show's ending as well. The show's producer David Michael Latt announced the show's end late this week on a Periscope video posted on Twitter.
Z Nation might not have the big budget of The Walking Dead, but it makes up for that with sheer creativity and a snarky, irreverent, knowing sense of humour. It has the same basic premise: the zombie apocalypse has happened, the world has ended, and a rag-tag band of survivors trying to survive and restore civilization. Unlike The Walking Dead, they have a man who's immune to the virus that started the zombie-pocalypse and all kinds of conspiracies and factions want him, too.
Like The Walking Dead, Z Nation can actually be quite ruthless at killing off its likable supporting characters. Unlike The Walking Dead, Z Nation does not spend hours and hours showing its characters getting mopey, wringing their hands, and crying. It shows them doing it once and then getting on with it. Unlike The Walking Dead, the show also happily embraces its genre tropes, wrapping its arms and legs around them to throw in government conspiracies, UFOs, nerdy hackers, mad scientists and all kinds of quirky and weird characters who seem to know they're in a genre story.
Unlike The Walking Dead, Z Nation likes to embrace the oddball and quirky qualities of its characters whole-heartedly instead of introducing a potentially interesting and charismatic character, only to then make them so joyless, miserable and dull to the point where the actors playing them quit out of frustration. No, Z Nation was very happy to let its characters' "freak flags" fly. It's a show that has fun and wants you to have fun with it.
My favourite is Doc, the cheerful aging hippie who has done every drug known to man and comments on the craziness of the apocalypse with a bemused shrug before whacking the next zombie in the head with a hammer.
Hey, even Henry Rollins appeared on the show!
The show also follows the Roger Corman B movie philosophy of tossing in overt social commentary to lend some meat to the story, taking in many hot-button current events like border walls, voter suppression, and fake news. There's a refreshing willingness to throw in all kinds of crazy ideas and the kitchen sink as long as it's entertaining. It has evolved and changed its status quo probably more times in five seasons than The Walking Dead has in nine. The CGI FX might look cheap, but the show makes that part of its scrappy charm.
But as Latt says in his video, this isn't necessarily the end. Show co-sponsor Netflix has greenlit a prequel miniseries called Black Summer, featuring Jaime King as a woman trying to rescue her daughter during the start of the zombie apocalypse. The new show will premiere, next year – with all previous seasons of Z Nation currently streaming on Netflix. Who knows? Perhaps Netflix might decide they want more Z Nation.
If you're curious, go sample the show on Netflix. It's bags and bags of fun.