- Release Date:
- Stars: Drew Barrymore (seriously, it’s Drew Barrymore), Timothy Olyphant (Justified… Deadwood)
- Episodes in Season: 10
- Avg. Length of Episodes give or take: about 45-50 minutes
- Genre: Comedy & light gore
- Language usage: Fuckin’ liberal
In case you’re the one person who hasn’t seen the trailer for “Santa Clarita Diet.”
I saw the teaser pics for Santa Clarita Diet and I wasn’t all that interested. It’s probably because I live too close to the way-too-expensive areas of California and that sounded too real-to-life for me.
Then I saw Drew Barrymore was in it, and I was intrigued. “Wait, a Drew Barrymore sighting? Where the Hell has she been?”
Then I learned her character, Sheila Hammond, dies and becomes a zombie. Now I’m very intrigued. “How can she take a Zombie story and make it original?” That’s almost harder than coming up with an original cop drama.
Then I saw Timothy Olyphant was in it. He plays Sheila’s husband, Joel Hammond. Once I heard that, I was a fan before I saw a second of it. “Raylan Givens fighting zombies? Yes, please!”
“Who is Raylan Givens?”
Only one of the most badass small screen characters in the past 20 years. He was the main character in the TV series, “Justified”. Raylan Givens was based off a character from a short story by american writing icon Elmore Leonard. The story was “Fire in the Hole,” the gist of which served as the pilot episode for the show.
Justified is a top 5 all-time show for me.
Not to be outdone, Timothy Olyphant played another badass, Seth Bullock, in HBO’s acclaimed western, “Deadwood“.
So, yeah, seeing him deal with Zombies was going to be fun.
With all the Zombie TV out there, the show remained surprisingly fresh.
It was like someone saw, “Fear the Walking Dead“, which I liked but could really only get a half-season through, and went, “man, there’s got to be a funnier way.”
Now, admittedly, I don’t watch “The Vampire Diaries, ” “iZombie,” “Penny Dreadful” (yet!), “ZNation” “Ash Vs. Evil Dead,” (also ‘yet’), or the many, many-many-many other zombie-related television shows out right now. I’m not #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob. I can really only approach this from the “I know what I like and I like what I know,” angle, but that said, “Santa Clarita Diet,” didn’t get old to me.
[Review]: What I liked about “Santa Clarita Diet” isn’t that they’re trying to re-write the questions about Zombie stories and mythology, it’s that they have a whole lot of fun playing with the answers.
It took us on a journey, and while it did begin fleshing out the expected angles of a zombie show:
- “How did this happen?”
- “What am I turning into?”
- “Am I dead?”
- “Did I just pass it on?”
- “Is there a way to control it?”
- “Is there a cure?”
- “How do we keep it a secret?”
- “Where should I get my meals?”
- “Does the meat have to be fresh?”
- “Can I just eat beef & pork?”
- “Who do I tell?”
And the questions in season 2 might also be expected:
“Honey, would you like to be turned as well?”
“How can we keep this secret NOW?”
“How close are we to a cure, NOW ?”
“Will the one searching for the clue try to extort us the moment they find a cure ?”
“I’m getting worse. Is it time to put me down?”
“Do you taste like chicken ?”
It stayed quick-tempoed, clever, witty, and satirical.
Now, whether or not they can keep it up for a second season will remain to be seen. They’ve probably got at least another season coming. My guess: the roles will carve a niche into their fans, allowing them to get into a familiar, pleasing rhythm with the show.
And, given how it leaves off, season two is going to start fast.
What surprised in “Santa Clarita Diet.”
I loved how Olyphant’s character was such a California surfer sissy trapped in a high-end realtor’s body. It was complete departure from his signature characters. I’m also guessing that’s what attracted him to the part so he could show some diversity after years as Givens, Sheriff Bullock, and, oh yeah, the original “Hitman“.
What made his performance great was when he’d get mad, you’d see his eyes flare and his snarl come out as he would get mad at someone, act tough, much like he’d do in his signature roles. Here are some samples from “Justified“:
“It’s always about money. Jesus Christ, the one thing every shit-apple redneck is guaranteed to take with both hands and a left foot is money.”
Then, the moment he confronted someone his size or bigger, he tried to talk his way out of it with a cool, raspy, quasi-stoner Californian tone. It kept feeling like an SNL parody because, for those of who who lived “Justified” and “Deadwood“, you’re conditioned to know that when Olyphant’s character gets mad, someone’s about to get it. Then he’d go for his…rhetoric.
He draws his rhetoric in “Santa Clarita Diet” as fast as he’d draw his gun in his past work .
Not only do they play off Timothy Olyphant’s character history, but they totally dance with Drew Barrymore’s public demeanor as well.
And it’s great, because for as many roles where Drew Barrymore plays Drew Barrymore, with her signature quirky smile and soft, sweet voice that borders on a lisp, this is one of those times where she takes that demeanor and spins it on its head when she bites into a victim. It’s pretty brilliant.
When you put together preconceptions the public has about Olyphant, Barrymore, and zombies, and continually put spins to them, you get a show that keeps you laughing and guessing.
The best moment was perhaps Drew Barrymore eating Nathan Fillion in the pilot episode.
I’m hoping there were many, many fellow “Castle” fans out there who were excited to see Nathan Fillion get his punishment in the pilot episode. It probably was a cathartic experience.
“How do you end Castle and not get along with Stana Katic!”
Their ghostwriter for the “Castle” mystery novel series probably felt a similar sentiment.
And, if anything I’ve read or seen about Fillion were true, he probably enjoyed the experience and probably knew they were giving the fans what they wanted. A cathartic moment for all.
PS: Oh, yeah, the kids run a great second storyline.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how the daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson) and Bernard, (Skyler Gisondo) the nerdy boy-next-door who has been their guide through the Sheila’s transformation, was fun & fast to watch.I mean, who else is going to know what’s going on except the comic book nerdy next door neighbor who doesn’t mind if you eat…[spoilers].
If you watch the first episode and think it starts off slow, stick with it. It’s a Netflix series. They play the long game, expecting you to bingewatch.
So, please, watch many episodes at a time. It takes a couple episodes to find its groove. While you’re waiting for the groove, you can delight in the fact that Nathan Fillion was eaten before your very eyes.
And I’ll only stop feeling good about that if he does a “Castle” reunion with Stana Katic, or gets a Browncoats reunion in full swing. Or gets Stana Katic into a Browncoats reunion…