I guess the lead for this review is that Santa Clarita Diet has been cancelled by Netflix, and, apparently, we won’t get a Season 4.
If the story were finished, I’d feel better about the cancellation. I wouldn’t feel great, because I’ve liked this series. But, I’d feel better.
I like serialized story telling. I like a television show that tells a story which has a defined beginning, middle, and ending. The danger inherent in such a series is that the series will be cancelled and the story will never be allowed to end.
This happened with so many other shows that I’ve liked. Revolution springs to mind, but only because I recently wrote a review about a season of Supernatural. The show Colony is another example. There’s also Awake (yes, I watched that one), Pushing Daisies, The Event, Bored to Death, Agent Carter and Angel (which actually got a comic book conclusion). This is always a danger when you prefer serialized storytelling over the episodic stories where the characters end each episode pretty much unchanged. And I do.
At least we got three seasons. Season 3 was another good one. Even if zombie comedy isn’t your thing.
Yes, there’s an overabundance of blood and gore, enough to satisfy the splatter film aficionado in your life. But, at its heart, the story is about marriage and family, centered primarily around the Hammonds. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) make a formidable couple. Every marriage has its ups and downs, and, at the moment, the Hammonds are working through the issue of Sheila being an undead zombie who needs to eat people to survive. If you’ve watched the first two seasons, you’re already hooked on the premise. It continues to pile on the weird in its last season.
At the end of Season 2, Sheila and Joel were caught in the desert with a gun and a zombie head. The quite-perceptive cop Anne Garcia (Natalie Morales) is the one who catches them, but when she finds out that Sheila is undead, which is proven with a few bullets to her chest, Anne becomes convinced that Sheila has returned from the dead to do God’s work. Since Anne’s character had already been built-up as a surprisingly conservative Christian, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a religion would suddenly be centered around Sheila. But, I was. At least the Hammonds had another ally in their cause.
As Sheila realizes she is effectively immortal, she wants to bite Joel so that the two of them can be together for eternity. Joel isn’t convinced that he wants to become a zombie, so he spends much of the season agonizing over this.
Sheila and Joel’s daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson) and next-door-neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) have to deal with the aftermath of blowing up the fracking site at the end of last season. The crime is being investigated by the FBI. Both of these young actors shine in their scenes. I don’t think either will lack for other work, but I’ll miss seeing them together. Eric is, of course, in love with Abby, and as the season goes on it’s obvious that Abby has feelings for Eric as well.
The Hammond family (and Eric) are the main cast of this show. And in all the ways that matter, this is a family comedy. Just with horror elements.
Honorable mention goes to Eric’s mom, played to the hilt by Mary Elizabeth Ellis, who used to be the waitress on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Joel McHale and Maggie Lawson are back as the favorite Hammond realtor rivals, Chris and Christa. Ethan Suplee, veteran of Kevin Smith movies and My Name is Earl, is hilarious as a Knight of Serbia whose mission is to kill Sheila. Linda Lavin is a foul-mouthed old lady whose life is affected by the charity work Sheila is doing to make herself feel better. And then there’s Ron (Jonathan Slavin), who Joel befriended during his short stint in the psych ward; Ron single-handedly attempts to spread the zombie plague with evangelical fervor.
I was looking forward to seeing where these new cast members would take the story. I didn’t find out that the series had been cancelled until after I watched the season. While I’m not happy about the news and would have liked at least two more seasons for the story to come to a real end that tied off all the story threads, I’ll accept the huge cliffhanger ending that I received instead and move on to something else. If another network or streaming service wanted to pick up the show, I’d celebrate that decision, but it doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
It seems like three is the magic number for Netflix. A lot of their original series have been deep-sixed after three seasons.
These three seasons of Santa Clarita Diet do exist, however, and deserve to be watched. You’ll know after the first episode whether this is your cup of tea. If you get hooked by the story, and the good acting, just know going into it that it will end too soon.
Firewater’s Third and Last Season Report Card: A