Zombieland on its way to the small screen

If we’ve discovered anything about popular culture from this year’s successes, it’s that zombies are here to stay.

As much as I might be tired of them, the mass media public seems willing to tolerate zombie stories ad nauseum. Thus, it’s not much of a surprise to find that another zombie-fighting television series is on the way.

Zombieland was a popular film when it came out, and brought the zombedy genre into the mainstream in a way that previous attempts, including the more cleverly written Shaun of the Dead, couldn’t do. Its combination of gratuitous gore with the humor of a dystopic existence, plus the performances of Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, made it irresistible to American audiences.

Ironically, Zombieland was originally written to be a television pilot, but was scrapped because it was thought that there wouldn’t be the audience to support a weekly series about zombie apocalypse survivors. AMC’s The Walking Dead has shown us that this was not true, and so, the creators of Zombieland are putting forth the effort to make that original pilot. The news comes in the form of a revelatory casting call.

Here are the character profiles, as described by io9, who got ahold of a few pages of the script being used for casting reads:

Tallahassee is still kind of a snarky weirdo, but he seems to have a much less spiky relationship with Columbus. He and Columbus have a pretty amusing thing where they riff on the fact that Steven Seagal movies always have three-word titles like “Marked for Justice” or “May Cause Diarrhea.” But Tallahassee also dispenses homespun wisdom about how to feel happy with your life. He also tells a weird story about being in a trailer park with a perpetually nude Matthew McConaughey. He also has a somewhat heartwarming scene where he tells Columbus that he’s been wandering aimlessly for a long time, but maybe he’s been put here for a reason — to help Columbus and the others.

Columbus is much the same, except that he tracks down his grandma and grandpa (Bubbie and Peepaw) only to find them recently zombiefied. Also, Columbus is trying to deal with his newfound relationship with Wichita, after their first kiss. He has started calling her “Krista,” her real name — but there are some problems, especially after she finds him reading a book about fatherhood. He tries to organize a romantic scavenger hunt for her in the IKEA they’re camping out in, but it goes kind of horribly.

Wichita is still trying to look after Little Rock, trying to teach her math with problems about someone stealing from a liquor store and jumping on a train going 42 miles per hour, with a cop chasing in a car going 88 miles per hour. We also learn a lot more about Wichita’s backstory, including how she ran away from her father after he had her stealing people’s Christmas presents — and later, she found out she had a sister who was also being a grifter with her dad.

Little Rock seems actually kind of excited about meeting Columbus’ grandparents, before they turn out to be zombies. And she shares some of her own backstory, about how her dad parked her at a school while he went off grifting on his own — and then yanked her out of school right before a dance that she was looking forward to.

Fred and Ainsley are two office workers at the start of the zombie apocalypse, obliviously complaining about problems with their iPhones and getting the wrong order at Starbucks, which they admit are “first world problems” with a hashtag — while people are being disembowled just outside the window they’re not facing. Tallahassee shows up to bring them their lunch orders, wearing a green polo shirt.

So, we’ve got the four main characters of the film in here with slightly altered backstories, plus a couple of new characters who are not names after cities. The four leads seem like they will be more friendly in general, and form a more cohesive, less turbulent survivor ‘family’, hopefully, this will not affect the humor of the show, as much of the humor of the film came from the friction among the characters.

It’ll be strange to see the characters played by new actors. Sometimes that can completely kill a concept, but it worked famously for Stargate. Looking back it’s difficult to imagine James Spader and Kurt Russell in the roles. Maybe someday we’ll say the same thing about Harrelson and Eisenberg in Zombieland.

Zombieland has no announced production or release dates. With casting only beginning now, I wouldn’t expect the pilot until the 2014 pilot season at the earliest. At one point the show was tied to CBS, but there is no word if that tie is still in place.