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Zombie Detective: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread

With its campy humor and noir-ish tone, Zombie Detective just might be the most out-of-the-box drama that has premiered this year. It tells the story of a man turned zombie, and jumps from horror to slapstick to mystery to rom-com in the space of a single episode — and it all strangely works.

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

It’s a great mystery of dramaland why some dramas just don’t work, even when they have everything (cast, writer, PD) stacked in their favor. But it might even be a bigger mystery when a drama that sounds like a walking disaster, turns out to be totally viable, fun, and entertaining — and that’s exactly what we have here with Zombie Detective.

When Zombie Detective opens, we’re introduced to two very different storylines. The first is this very dark, noir, and totally campy introduction to our zombie hero (Choi Jin-hyuk). He wakes up in the middle of a landfill and slowly starts to realize that he’s not human any more. All of the narration in this sequence is done in hilariously dramatic inner monologue — because he’s a zombie and he naturally can’t speak but in wheezy grunts. He wonders things like, “Is this the apocalypse or a zombie virus?” or, when he’s trying to walk, “I’m in a rush but why am I so slow?” LOL! Our zombie even lights a moody cigarette in a style that’s so exactly from a noir detective film, that it’s hard not to crack up. There’s something about this gloominess mixed with the comedy that is just spot-on.

Our second introduction is to our heroine, the feisty journalist GONG SUN-JI (Park Joo-hyun). Sun-ji’s scenes are the mother of all tonal shifts from the gloomy noir comedy of our zombie hero. She’s basically like a more ballsy Lois Lane. She’s on a mission to catch a wanted criminal known as Santa, or any other baddie she runs into in the process, and she’s not afraid to throw punches — or helmets — to take them down.

With a pretty solid introduction to our heroine and her pursuit of justice, the story’s attention then falls to our hero. How is he going to survive in a world of vicious humans who kill zombies at the first chance they get? The entire reversal of this hunter/hunted dynamic is great here — and our hero soon decides he has to pretend to be human in order to survive in this cruel, cruel world. Cue a year-long transformation montage that puts Choi Jin-hyuk’s previous crazy transformation scene in An Empress’s Dignity to shame.

Our hero teaches himself to walk, to talk, to use chopsticks, and more, all the while earning these hilarious “Master Level” badges along the way. Our zombie might look and act human now, but it’s not until he re-enters civilization that the real plot begins. Armed with a tube of heavy duty BB cream, and accidentally taking over the identity of a private eye who was murdered in the woods where he was hiding, our zombie man is ready to cover the truth about his past. If he can function among humans, that is.

Between his uncontrollable appetite for living creatures, the way he plows through face makeup, and the frequent misunderstandings that put him in awkward scenarios, just staying conscious is enough of a job for our hero right now.

Our zombie has somehow taken over the identity of the private eye KIM MOO-YOUNG without too many hiccups — people assume he’s Moo-young when he goes in and out of Moo-young’s office, or when he walks around town with a trench coat and fedora on. Instead, the things that trip our zombie up are how he’s going to feed himself, pay his rent, and keep himself safe from the humans that are swiftly closing in.

Zombie Moo-young soon crosses paths with Sun-ji, and it’s a drama-worthy clash of stories and tones. She first assumes he’s a pedophile, but then later, learning he’s innocent, she seeks him out to settle over any damages. She’s used to assaulting and then getting sued, you see. Good thing she has CHA DO-HYUN (Kwon Hwa-woon), her policeman friend who’s not only looking out for her, but crushing on her hard. Why do I already sense a wacky love triangle coming — and why is this drama making me even imagine a zombie-human romance? Well, if there’s a drama that will be able to pull this off, it’s Zombie Detective.

After a strong premiere week, Zombie Detective has really impressed with its sure-handed take on a pretty wacko story. In fact, it’s so wacky that it’s almost hard to appreciate how much skill it takes for a story like this to work, and be so funny and entertaining — but they pull it off. So many giggles!

Also, Choi Jin-hyuk is just brilliant here. I was holding my breath a bit, thinking that this drama (and his performance) could feel like Rugal part two… but it just goes to show what some really good directing (and the right script) can bring out in a performance. From the get-go, Choi Jin-hyuk is 100% committed to playing this role to the max, and it shows. And he shines. Whether it’s the panic in his bloodshot eyes, his gaping jaws of bloody-thirsty desperation, or the moments of comedy that leave you slack-jawed (zombie dance-off with A.C.E. anyone?!) — this will definitely be a performance for the books.

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It's so funny! Bb cream > food

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This show can actually make people look forward to Monday.

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Best. Show. Ever. I'll never look at a zombie the same way again. Or listen to him grunt, and wonder what he's saying.

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*not wonder*

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Yes, I wouldn't have started to empathize with the zombies on the "Fast Bus to Busan" (?), but now I do. Poor dudes. If only they had a handy training facility like our main lead, fresh tripe stew and a lot of BB cream, things wouldn't look so grim for them maybe.

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I wanted to watch this series based on that thumbnail! Looks like riot and fun XD

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It is indeed a fun watch. I never expected to be laughing out loud at the antics. And the parodies are hard to miss too (bus to Busan as an example), which adds to the fun element.

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This has got to be the funniest show I've seen in years. I was wheezing and howling the first half of the show. I loved the strings in the background, kind of like an old western, all lazy and laidback with a lot of silences.

The parts that made me laugh so hard are when he cracks his jaw open with that creaky sound effect, and his eyes...they're so huge and black-rimmed and filled with fear... they made me howl. The long convulated monologues he carries on with himself in his head..lol.

The best drama ever. CJH is brilliant. Everything about him is perfect. Almost died laughing when he staggered out into the world, after spending lord knows how long slapping his body with a ton of BB makeover cream. And the pasty-white sunblock...I am laughing again remembering the scene.

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Thank you, @missvictrix! I was waiting for this, I almost wanted to beg you on OT to weecap this. I am so happy you are recapping this! This could help me get over my Forest- inspired PTSD. Do you know, there was a shot panning up to the tall trees in the forest with our zombie lurching and looking for food, and I got the chills...it reminded me so much of Forest. *SHIVERS*

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I'm pretty sure my third joke is official and it involves Clam Zombies.

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I remember your first joke, LT. Who could forget? What was your second joke?

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The thing you think is her first joke is actually her second joke. Just saying.

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Oh LOL @mindy when I read YY's comment I was about to say, "no, that's my second joke" and tag you. Thank you for maintaining the order of my jokes.

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@leetennant I only know because it involves me and I'm selfish, LOL.

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And just when I thought we were done with the clams... /cry

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@mindy I remember!!...
@leetennant's ONE good joke, and her desperate attempts to think up another.

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@yyishere Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the forest...

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"You can take the girl out of the forest, but you can never take the forest out of the girl..." *GULPS*

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If this is anything like the movie Warm Bodies, I am so in.

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It actually is. I mean it's a mashup of a lot of things (sorry *ahem* INSPIRED BY) but Warm Bodies is definitely in the mix.

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I don't really want a love story. I wasn't expecting a romance, until that ending. I would have been perfectly happy if he had remained a grumpy, growly zombie throughout. Maybe, the girl could get bitten by him. Then they could be zombies together. I'd like a zombie romance.

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Haha. Warm Bodies is one of my mother's favorite movies. If this drama continues this way I will be sharing it with her.

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It's like Warm Bodies x Arang and the Magistrate, what with the amnesia and mystery surrounding his death.

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@sailorjumun Yasss please do watch! I think I can hear you laughing already ^^

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Just finished the second episode. I feel really sorry for Mr. Zombie. He has had a really bad break along the way, and he has no control over his undead life. Some of the other characters are semi-interesting, but his story is the most riveting. Hopefully he can get some money, poor guy -- he can't buy make-up, food, nor pay the rent.

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He is the classic Noir, down on his luck detective albeit with a "Life altering" difference.

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The first puff was so noir...and then he turned around and stared at the smoke swirling through all the holes in his body. I laughed and that was it, laughed all the way till the first half ended. The second half was boring, my interest waned when they shifted to the other characters, but Episode 2 started off so crazy funny I am in it, will watch to the end.

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Yeah I thought the female lead would be interesting, but it's not holding me. I think it's because I've seen her story many times before. In fact it's common in most family dramas. But Mr. Zombie is not only a fish out of water, but we get to enjoy watching this fish learn to navigate the waters of humanity but with the deck stacked totally against him.

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So it wasn't just me? Because I felt bored with the second half. Was going to stop watching. But then I thought I'll just have a fast peek at Episode 2 and it was hilarious...his parts, I mean. The other parts, the nosey neighbour and the sidekick can't hold my attention. The girl was slightly better, but the kid part was heartbreaking. The end part was sweet...the cold cold heart with her face pressed against it. It reminded me of Warm Bodies.

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No, I feel the 2nd episode is a little bit boring, unlike 1st episodes. I hope they keep the humor and the pace like in ep 1. It is so funny when they tried to CPR the dead zombie and then thought the monitor that went wrong 😂 Or feel sorry for the zombies for being beaten up and chased over. Zombie will never be the same

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At the moment, the female lead with her money troubles and her family and her quest for justice is just a bit too cliched for me...
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... I think that might be a ridiculous thing to write about a show that was basically a giant gleeful cliche...

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@LT is Irresistibly Indifferent, Dame Judi, We should do a Tally of serials with FL who has money trouble and who does not. Good ole ratio analysis! :-D

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@leetennant if the heroine doesn’t have money troubles and a quest for justice, is it even a kdrama?!

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I am in!

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CJH's voice suits so much his monologues, I love it!

He's funny but he still had "hunger" moments when he kills cute bunny and doesn't really remember it. So I hope, he will be able to find food for the sake of our heroine :p

I guess after The Last Empress and Rugal he must be happy that he finally gets a drama that wants to be funny from the start and not a serious one that ends up to be funny because of the bad writing.

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The monolgue about the pigeon and the virus it's possibly carrying....ROFL. He went on and on and then he thought, And why am I even worrying about this? I'm a zombie!
Died laughing.

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His thoughts are gold!

Seeing building the pizza boxes was so funny.

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I think CJH stayed safe with his previous roles and was pretty much typecasted as the cool, broody hero who doesn't really emote. I've never seen him in an a comedy drama before...Heirs was kinda a comedy with adults playing teens but his role was very flat. In some sense, his broody and emotionless style is suitable for a zombie character hahahaha. Zombie CJH is funny.

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I don’t know what possessed me to pick this up but it was hilarious!! And yes I can’t wait for the zombie romance shenanigans to begin

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My favourite bit so far was the moment where Zombie is like “I’ll just knock that bird’s nest down” and then completely fails to throw even close 😂😂😂

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reading your comment made me laugh all over again at the thought of it!

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Me, too. That was a hilarious scene. His face was so deadpan...lolol

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HOW WILL I PAY FOR MY BB CREAM?!

This show is a hoot, I hope it maintains it.

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I love love love this drama!
Choi Jin-hyuk is killing it!
I'm soooooo looking forward to Monday!

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Gosh! Fake brands and a zombie in a wasteland scene added to my most hilarious and funniest scenes ever made.

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“Is this what I look like if I lose weight?”

- The Last Empress reunion was soo funny! 😂
I hope they keep up the humor until the end.

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This show is straight up hilarious. Definitely in for the ride (it's only 8 episodes, right?)

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(12, but we'll take it!)

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not enough i say not enough. and some you wish were shorter!

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I am so sad, I want 16 episodes.

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This show was literally a highlight of my drama week. So good. Agreed, 16 episodes would be so fun for this show!!

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This series reminds me of 'I picked up a celebrity on the Street' (which, apparently, I was the only one who enjoyed the humor). The same deadpan 'Well, now I'm in THIS situation' male lead, the same impulsive female lead. I could easily imagine Sung Hoon in the lead role

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So happy show lives up to its trailer's promise to be unrestrainedly wacky! Am gleefully enjoying seeing things from our inexperienced zombie's perspective, that "I'm in a rush but why am I so slow?" and him crying over the 'victimised' zombie hordes in the movie cracked me up so bad!

The murder of the real Kim Moo-young in the midst of the funny made me gasp out loud, gotta love that noir moment when our zombie contemplated the evil way of humans. And bless whoever decided on fedora for an added touch of noir detectiveness, Choi Jin-hyuk looks so good in it...

And the BB Cream, is it a PPL? If yes, then that's just genius ><

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he is just so handsome! he makes a ridiculously good looking zombie. his eyes are gorgeous no matter what he does. and now i love him even MORE!

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Totally, keep catching myself thinking "he's so pretty" all the time, with or without BB cream ><

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I have never felt for a zombie the way I feel for zombie CJW. I just want his life (if you can call it that) to get better. A man's got to buy himself makeup. Best scenes for me were him dragging his feet realising he cant actually walk fast and that stellar dance cover that would put 2PM to shame. Definitely getting warm bodies feels. I wouldn't mind if theres no romance between the leads, they'll be good partners plus detective homeboy seems nice he can get the girl this time. Just get Zombienim his fresh a grade meat

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Your recap give me Warm Bodies vibes, @missvictrix. I have not watched this--didn't plan to--but you have piqued my interest!

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God this drama has made my year, so relieved that this is as funny as I hoped it would be. I actually ended up pausing the screen because I was laughing too hard.
Thank goodness that this drama is being recapped here!
CJH is so great in comedic roles and finally this character seems like something new! Hooray!

I did get a little confused because I thought he had killed the guy who ordered beef tripe, but they are rival detectives.

I'm not as interested in Sun-ji, her character is irritating but hopefully that will change as she and our zombie work on the case together.

I felt so sorry for the zombie, dancing to Heartbeat by 2pm after all that training and then he doesn't even get to eat!

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I am hoping our Zombie would give in to his hunger and bite Sun-ji's neck one day when he runs out of tripe ramen. She's like the KGE character in TK, yawn. Typical hard-nosed young cop with a heart of gold. Boringggggg.

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"Zombie Detective just might be the most out-of-the-box drama that has premiered this year" - These words were true. That is, until School Nurse Files premiered. Now, that show is just bizarre.

Still, though, this show is so outrageous and so freakin funny, I can't. I'm finding the sad tragicomedy of his existence highly entertaining. As some have already mentioned, there's a spaghetti western vibe that gives a sort of dry delivery to all the gallows humor. I love it.

I do think Park Ju-hyun could be given a bit more to work with, but I am still liking her here.

I've been in bit of a dramafunk since Into the Ring ended and can only seem to enjoy shows that don't take themselves too seriously like this or rewatch old favorites right now (FoS2 is the obvious exception), so I'm very glad for this influx of zany shows. This one, in particular, is perfect for the spooky Halloween season!

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THIS is why you always check new dramas with your fave actors in them no matter how outlandish they are! this is the best funniest show ever! it works so well (is that the director, the actors, the script, the make up )? it is ALL of it and MORE! i dare say i hate zombie shows but no more! i did watch Train to Busan with (because of) Gong Yoo too. this is true CRACK!

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This show is HILARIOUS. The ahjumma pants. And that treadmilll scene/baseball scene is unfortunately SO me, and I don't have an excuse because I'm not undead.
The BB cream was a missed PPL opportunity, though. (unless that's an actual real brand and real endorser doing a parody of their real commercial, in which case it's brilliant.)

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The concept of this drama has always reminded me of this character from One Punch Man, "Zombie Man". I suspect that is where the writer got his/her inspiration from..

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rushing off but I managed to catch ep 1 or half of it (what´s an intact episode anyway in a zombie drama) and I already know I´m gonna like seeing the non-literal insides of a zombie mind!!! Finally a zombie is not just "something that runs and gets killed the end" but we see HIS side of the story.
but why did they blur the rabbit when I just saw a skinned rabbit in a korean cooking show not blurred...

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I'm a bit bummed that so far no one in the comments has mentioned that the rival detective is being portrayed by the same actor who was pre-diet Choi Jin-hyuk's character in Empress.

"If I lose weight will I look like him?" made me carbonate my nasal passages.

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I'm quite new with kdrama and the only Choi Jin hyuk's drama I watched was An Empress Dignity (which was actually funny, with his character's transformation 😂) .. but i never thought he can be this funny (that zombie rap 🤣🤣🤣) Its hillariously cute watching him trying to protect himself against humans. And his inner thoughts are golden 😂

The epic scene? His accidental meeting with Lee Sung-Rok and him thinking "Upclose he (CJH) looks pretty handsome. Is this what I'd look like if I lose weight?" 🤣🤣🤣

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