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Wed08122020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Wow! Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet was a show that was just OK in its first season—but not only does it hit its stride in the second; it becomes one of the funniest shows on TV (or streaming, or whatever).

Why? Mainly because Timothy Olyphant’s performance as mildly agitated Joe—husband to recently undead cannibal Sheila (Drew Barrymore)—has gone from slightly off to totally on. In the first episode alone, he has a solid 10 moments that are worth a laugh. He not only gets the laughs; he gets them with pitch-perfect timing. Barrymore is no slouch, either, although she’s simply continuing her great work from Season 1.

The writing on this show is done by a group of people (including Victor Fresco) who have just said, “Who gives a fuck anymore?” All the proverbial stops have been taken out. There are lines in this show that are as nasty/funny as anything you will find in your living room watching things on the rectangular doodad that spits out imagery and sounds and whatnot.

Here’s a line of dialogue for an example: “If this helps you be less murdery … that’s great. My concern is, if somebody sees you running around snatching at rabbits like a coyote in yoga pants, they might start asking questions, like ‘What the fuck is that?!’” Olyphant delivered that line with a combination of deadpan and agitation that was drop-dead funny.

This one gets super-violent, so beware of hardcore gore. As entertainment that gets an equal amount of gross-outs and laughs, this one just crossed into Evil Dead territory.

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

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet begins with Sheila (Drew Barrymore)—a real estate agent along with her husband, Joel (Timothy Olyphant)—getting a little stomachache. That’s followed by some major projectile vomiting during a house showing.

She’s having diet problems … and, as things turn out, she’s craving human flesh. And that human flesh needs to be fresh. Basically, she’s a zombie, and Joel is doing his best to be understanding about the whole thing. When Sheila eats one of their co-workers, however, things get a little intense.

Barrymore and Olyphant make for a funny, bizarre couple. Olyphant seems a little out of place in the first episode or two, but he finds his footing and hits his stride. Liv Hewson is a good find as their daughter, Abby, while Skyler Gisondo adds a nice geek element as the helpful neighbor who knows all about zombies from his comic books.

The show is pretty damn gory (Sheila’s first kill is memorably disgusting), so you shouldn’t watch if you can’t handle stuff that goes beyond an R-rating. Walking Dead and Evil Dead fans … you will have a blast!

Santa Clarita Diet is streaming on Netflix.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Powerless (Thursday, Feb. 2, NBC), series debut: Rebooted before it even premiered: Powerless, which exists somewhere within the DC Comics universe, was originally a deadpan workplace comedy à la The Office, about an insurance firm that handled cases of civilians affected by superhero vs. supervillain battles—real catastrophic damage. Now, it’s about Wayne Security (as in, Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises), a company specializing in tactical-tech personal-protection devices for non-superhumans. It’s a faster-paced, colorful upgrade that the cast (Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches and Christina Kirk) delivers on hysterically—when the material’s there. Unfortunately, Powerless’ writing isn’t as consistent as that of recent NBC comedy breakouts Superstore and The Good Place, so it’ll have to be carried by its stars for now.

Superior Donuts (Thursday, Feb. 2, CBS; moving to Mondays on Feb. 6), series debut: Sitcoms like NBC’s The Carmichael Show and CBS’ Mom have shown that it’s possible for smart comedy, serious issues and … ugh … laugh tracks to coexist. But why, why, WHY?! Same goes for Roman numerals and the Super Bowl; it’s 2017—start using ’Merican numbers before I tweet at Uncle Cheeto to sign an executive order (and you know he’d do it). Anyway: Superior Donuts centers around a crusty old donut-shop owner (Judd Hirsch) in a gentrifying Chicago neighborhood who begrudgingly hires an ambitious millennial (Jermaine Fowler) to update his business. Hot-button issues like race, guns and cronuts are tackled between punchlines, but Superior Donuts tries a little too hard to be Important Commentary. (It is based on a play, after all.) I will just lean into the funny, and maybe forgive the laugh track. Maybe.

Santa Clarita Diet (Friday, Feb. 3, Netflix), series debut: Netflix’s slow reveal of just what is the diet of Santa Clarita was a shrewd move, teasing with an appealing-odd actor combo (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant) and vague hints at suburban shenanigans for almost a year. The plot-bomb finally dropped a few weeks ago: SoCal Realtor couple Sheila (Barrymore) and Joel (Olyphant) see their painfully dull lives upended when Sheila contracts a mild case of zombie-ism and a hunger for human flesh. Thing is, she’s never felt better, and life is a whole new, if murder-y, adventure for the couple. Santa Clarita Diet contains traces of Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Weeds and iZombie (no Walking Dead, fortunately), but remains its own unique, bizarro thing. Most surprisingly, drama vet Olyphant consistently upstages Barrymore, letting his comedic freak flag fly like a loose-limbed maniac.

APB (Monday, Feb. 6, Fox), series debut: Even with 45 cop shows currently set there, Chicago is still a crime-ridden hellscape—will APB finally clean up this town? Probably not, but it’ll at least kill an hour after 24: Legacy for a few weeks. Much like—OK, exactly like—CBS’ now-canceled Pure Genius, ABP finds a tech billionaire (Justin Kirk) buying a failing enterprise (a Chicago police precinct instead of Pure Genius’ hospital) and outfitting it with ultra-high-tech gear to save and/or end people. (Pure Genius only flatlined itself.) Despite all its flashy screen grids, drones and the “game-changing” APB app (you’re outta luck, flip-phoners), APB is just another cop show with an outsider consultant.

Legion (Wednesday, Feb. 8, FX), series debut: It’s an X-Men TV series … but not. Legion, based on the Marvel comics, follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic as a child and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for decades. When a disturbing encounter with new patient Syd (Rachel Keller) explodes his mind-numbed world, David realizes that his inner voices and visions are real. (Don’t say “mutant powers,” because, lawyers.) Like creator Noah Hawley’s previous FX hit, Fargo, Legion looks and feels outside of its defined time, and is more of an inward psychological trip than a blockbuster Marvel flick. Not that there isn’t action and comic relief (like Aubrey Plaza as David’s perkily-unhinged hospital pal), but don’t expect Wolverine.

Published in TV

The Mick (Sunday, Jan. 1; Fox): Broke lowlife Mackenzie (Kaitlin Olson, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) gets stuck raising the kids of her just-incarcerated rich sister. It’s Uncle Buck meets Mary Poppins meets, well, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Ransom (Sunday, Jan. 1; CBS): A good-looking hostage negotiator (Luke Roberts) and his good-looking team resolve kidnapping and ransom cases in Your Town, USA (which is really Canada—shhh!). Ransom moves to Saturdays after tonight, so it’s already canceled.

One Day at a Time (Friday, Jan. 6; Netflix): A remake of the ’70s sitcom—with a Cuban-American twist, complete with single mom (Justina Machado), precocious kids, a sleazy building manager and, unfortunately, a damned laugh track. Almost had it, Netflix.

Emerald City (Friday, Jan. 6; NBC): A dark “reimagining” of The Wizard of Oz that’s been kicked around for two years, with a smoldering Puerto Rican Dorothy (Adria Arjona, True Detective) and a promisingly weird Wizard casting choice (Vincent D’Onofrio!).

Taboo (Tuesday, Jan. 10; FX): Long-missing James (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London to inherit his father’s empire, only to become caught up in a treacherous legacy that may get him killed as well. FX’s sexiest period drama since The Bastard Executioner.

Jeff and Some Aliens (Wednesday, Jan. 11; Comedy Central): Loser earthling Jeff (voiced by Brett Gelman) is observed by, and annoyed with, a trio of aliens crashing in his apartment. As Comedy Central cartoons go … this is one of them.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Friday, Jan. 13; Netflix): Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Aasif Mandvi, Alfre Woodard, Don Johnson, Catherine O’Hara and other erase that trainwreck 2004 Lemony Snicket flick from your meh-mory.

Sneaky Pete (Friday, Jan. 13; Amazon Prime): A fresh-out-of-prison con man (Giovanni Ribisi) assumes the identity of his former cellmate to hide from a vengeful gangster, only to learn that his new “family” is just as dangerous. Smart upvote, Primers.

Throwing Shade (Tuesday, Jan. 17; TV Land): Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi adapt their pop-culture-skewering podcast to television. Wait, you can do that? Any networks out there want to turn my podcast into a TV show? Comedy Central? Telemundo? Anybody?

Riverdale (Thursday, Jan. 26; The CW): The “dark-sexy” Archie Comics drama no one asked for, with CW-ized Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and even Josie and the Pussycats! Sound terrible? More like, terribly entertaining! Bring it!

Powerless (Thursday, Feb. 2; NBC): Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi and Ron Funches star in an (insurance) office-place comedy set in the DC Comics universe of superheroes and villains. The Good Place is no longer NBC’s strangest sitcom.

Santa Clarita Diet (Friday, Feb. 3; Netflix): Husband-and-wife SoCal realtors Joel and Sheila (Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore) lead boring suburban lives … until they don’t. No further details, but it’s probably not about dieting.

24: Legacy (Sunday, Feb. 5; Fox): Another looming terrorist attack, same real-time 24-hour format—but no Jack Bauer! This time, Dr. Dre saves the day! Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) takes over for Kiefer Sutherland; otherwise, same show.

Legion (Wednesday, Feb. 8; FX): The producers of the Fargo series take on The X-Men, even if they’re not actually called X-Men. (Apocalypse just ruined everything.) Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens stars, along with Aubrey Plaza and zero bald guys.

Doubt (Wednesday, Feb. 15; CBS): TV’s latest attempt to make Katherine Heigl a thing is yet another pretty lawyer show—but the cast (which includes Dulé Hill, Steven Pasquale, Elliott Gould, Dreama Walker and Laverne Cox) might save it. Might.

Crashing (Sunday, Feb. 19; HBO): Comedian Pete Holmes stars as a Pete Holmes-like comedian flailing in the New York City comedy scene, along with Artie Lange, Lauren Lapkus and T.J. Miller. A Judd Apatow production; proceed with caution.

The Good Fight (Sunday, Feb. 19; CBS): The Good Wife spin-off no one wants to watch will become even harder to get: After it premieres on CBS proper, The Good Fight will move to CBS All Access, a streamer with about 30 subscribers. Why not double-down and add Katherine Heigl, CBS?

Published in TV