Santa Clarita Diet (Episodes 1-4)

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson, Skyler Gisondo, Ricardo Chavira, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Richard T Jones. Featuring: Nathan Fillion, Andy Richter, Patton Oswalt, Thomas Lennon

Plot: Inexplicably, Sheila (Barrymore) dies and becomes a zombie. Her husband (Olyphant) really loves her and wants to figure out how to work it out. They’re both realtors, and they have a daughter (Hewson).

What Works: The cast is charming. It’s full of people you want to root for. Even down to the guest stars, like Nathan Fillion and Patton Oswalt, this is a great cast. Barrymore is at home in this goofy role. Liv Hewson, as the daughter Abby, becomes the most interesting character within the first three episodes, which is a problem too, because she’s not supposed to be the focus of the show. Pacing wise, I thought the episodes I watched moved along pretty well. I wasn’t bothered by the gore, but I think a lot of people will. All I can say is that the first episode was far gorier than the next few episodes, so if you can make it through that, you should be fine. That being said, I didn’t see the entire first season.

What Doesn’t Work: At no point did I actually feel like Olyphant and Barrymore were in love, which is a problem, because that’s what they’re selling. Love will cause you to do crazy things. Olyphant also is not really funny. This just is not his thing. At no point did I actually laugh. None of the jokes landed for me. I really REALLY wanted to like this show. I thought it was different, and I was excited to see Barrymore anchor her own sitcom, but I just didn’t thin any of it worked. I’m not a prude. I’m not complaining about the subject matter, but the tone is all over the place. It has this Leave It To Beaver tone mixed with some Serial Mom, and it just is so bizarre. Also, her zombie turn is so abrupt and unexplained that I needed some closure up front. The fact that they decided to make that a season long arc was a misstep. Even if each episode had given us another clue, or a step farther, but Olyphant seems to just keep moving forward without any hints until Episode 4 when he finally gets his first legit clue. That’s too long. You want me to go along on this batty ride, I need more explanation about the rules of the universe where this can be a reality.

Final Word: A rather disappointing Netflix original. I want to solve the mystery, but watching even four episodes felt like a chore. I wish the show was actually funny, but every joke just failed with me.

Final Grade: C-

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