Some Quick Thoughts on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet

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Pets can be a blessing and can bring a lot of joy into your life. Pets can also be jerks that wake you up at 3 in the morning for no real reason. My cat Pumpkin falls into the latter category today as I was awoken by him pulling the blanket off me so he had a better shot of smacking my arm to get my attention. Best I can tell he was hungry – because he’s always hungry – and if he can see the bottom of his food bowl he somehow thinks his life is in mortal danger from starvation. Unfortunately, once I was awake, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I tossed and turned for a while and finally conceded that a return to slumber was going to a long shot, so I decided to check out the first two episodes of Netflix’s new horror-comedy Santa Clarita Diet. The show had just debuted at midnight, so it seemed apropos to give it a try. It should be noted that Pumpkin fell right back to sleep.

My interest in Santa Clarita Diet was piqued once that cast was announced, since I generally find Drew Barrymore adorable and fun and Timothy Olyphant is always great (and swoon worthy). A few weeks before the premiere, the details of the show were revealed and they definitely contained some interesting info: while Barrymore and Olyphant play married couple that work together as realtors, the big reveal is that Barrymore’s Shelia is a zombie. Yeah – I didn’t see that coming either. I was a bit surprised that they shared this info about the show before it debuted – that would have been one hell of a twist – but perhaps they wanted to make sure that people knew what exactly they were getting into when they watched the show. Plus, in the words of Zoolander’s Mugatu, zombies are “so hot right now” so they may have wanted to tap into that particular fandom. Shelia is initially able to sustain herself on raw meat, but once she tastes human flesh there is no turning back. She, Joel, their teenaged daughter Abby (Liv Hewson), and their teenaged neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) must keep Shelia’s secret and figure out how to keep her satiated. A lot of fun guest stars and recurring characters also turn up; only two episodes in and there are appearances by Nathan Fillion, Andy Richter, Patton Oswalt, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis.

The cast pedigree is great, though so far the show’s writing hasn’t quite lived up to its promise. Admittedly, I watched a small sample size of episodes and it was 4 am so I may not have been in peak consumption mode for a new series, but Santa Clarita Diet didn’t necessarily blow me away. While the premise is certainly unusual, the jokes haven’t been all that groundbreaking or edgy. Comedies notoriously take some time to get their footing – worlds have to be established and characters fleshed out (ha!) – so I’m not ready to write the show off despite my initial first impression. There is definitely promise and the show is created by Vince Fresco who is responsible for the criminally underrated Better Off Ted, so I’m hoping that the deeper into the series I get, the more that I’ll enjoy it. This is the kind of wacky role that I think Barrymore could have a lot of fun with and though Olyphant was tremendous as the lead in the dramas Deadwood and Justified, his comedic chops often get overlooked. He was a pleasant surprise on The Grinder and I think that Santa Clarita Diet could provide him with a platform to show his range. I refuse to believe that this many talented people got together for a lackluster show, so I’m hoping that the series settles into its groove after its premise has been established. The first season is only 10 episodes and runs around 30 minutes per episode, so I have no problem taking a flyer on this show and see where it takes me. There are worse way to spend five hours than looking at Timothy Olyphant.

So I’m cautiously optimistic about Santa Clarita Diet; I don’t know that it will be the next big thing for Netflix, but I think it could be a fun little diversion. If over the top gore isn’t your thing, you may have some issues with the series. So far, there’s a lot of bodily fluids on display. I’m personally a little over the zombie craze, but Santa Clarita Diet does offer an interesting spin on the premise. Pairing that with a great cast, the series can hopefully live up to expectations. Perhaps watching it after a full night’s sleep will help.

The entire first season of Santa Clarita Diet is now streaming on Netflix.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Almost Vacation Edition

Just when I thought that winter might finally be behind us, Mother Nature decided that we needed one last storm (I hope!) to make things all snowy and white. I am not a fan. The only thing making this bearable is the knowledge that in less than a week I will be in Florida with some of my favorite people and watching baseball. The idea of sitting in the sunshine and not having to wear a winter coat make me positively giddy. Plus it has been five dark and lonely months since I last saw my beloved Yankees, which feels like a lifetime. I’m ready for our reunion. But never fear, dear readers – you won’t be without the blog while I’m away. I’ve got some posts ready to go up in my absence. I’m just that dedicated.

So while I dream of warm weather while I scrape ice and snow off my car, here’s your biweekly round up of some of the pop culture stories that you might have missed.

  • Today would have been Mister Rogers’ 85th birthday

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  • Christopher Meloni has been cast in a new pilot from Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) based on the book I Suck at Girls.
  • Jimmy Fallon and Selena Gomez performed “Mario Kart Love Song” last night on Late Night:

 

  • I’m not sure that anyone was asking for it, but Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is getting a sequel (my guess is without Jeremy Renner).
  • If you’ve got nothing to do this weekend, MTV will be marathoning old seasons of The Real World. The Real World: Portland will debut on March 27th.
  • Safety Not Guaranteed director has been tapped for Jurassic Park 4. I really enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed – worth checking out on DVD. A sweet and quirky indie.
  • A Walking Dead/Homeland mash-up:

 

  • This dog does indeed resemble Samuel L. Jackson:

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  • The actor who played Captain Peacock on the British comedy Are You Being Served? has passed away.

 

  • The Funny or Die website is venturing into the world of feature films. Their first product is iSteve, a comedic biopic of Steve Jobs and starring Justin Long (which has got to be better than the not intentionally funny Ashton Kutcher version).
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company released a cool short film:

 

  • The blog Thumbs and Ammo has replaced all the guns from TV shows and movies with actors giving a thumbs up. The result is surprisingly positive.

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  • Check out this LEGO paper plane folding machine (it took 600 hours to build):

 

  • I didn’t understand a word of this “March Madness explained with Star Wars” video

 

  • You can watch the first three minutes of the new BBC America show Orphan Black online. The show debuts March 30th.
  • Sigh. I really didn’t need to stumble upon this website of pop culture tribute prints.
  • A Good Times movie is being developed. Not so Dyn-o-mite, though I bet J.J. Walker is available.
  • HBO has released a trailer for the second season of Veep:
  • Vampire Weekend has released two new songs: “Step” and “Diane Young.” Their new album Modern Vampires of the City is out May 7th.
  • Listen to a mix of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” and Daft Punk:

 

  • What every home needs – A Breaking Bad terrarium. I’m not kidding – I would put this in my living room.
  • Filming for the third season of the BBC’s Sherlock has begun.  A fourth season is happening as well. More Cumberbatch for everyone!
  • A Shining/Dumb and Dumber mashup:

 

  • Beyoncé has posted a new song on her Tumblr:

 

  • A new red-band trailer for Kick-Ass 2 has been released:

 

  • This is a good dad – a game developer hacked Donkey Kong so his daughter could play the game as a female character that rescues Mario
  • Whoa – Pete Campbell from Mad Men and Rory Gilmore are getting married (well – the actors that play them are, anyway)
  • Watch Usher and the Afghan Whigs perform together at SXSW:

 

  • I can sympathize with Hitler’s reaction in the video I linked to above – I love Google Reader and am very bummed that it will be retired soon. It’s what I use to keep track of all the links that I share with you in these roundups.
  • A new trailer for Despicable Me 2 has been released:

 

  • Cedric the Entertainer is the new host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
  • And finally – The Princess Bride meets Game of Thrones: