Previously on “The Santa Clarita Diet”: Joel (Timothy Oliphant) and Sheila (Drew Barrymore) Hammond are real estate agents in a sleepy Santa Clarita suburb when Sheila suddenly transforms from mousey middle-class soccer mom of Millennial teen Abby (Liv Hewson) to an undead zombie that must regularly feast on the living to remain ‘alive’. The Hammonds decide the best way to manage Sheila’s hunger is to act as judge, jury and executioner, preying only on criminals and undesirables, thus justifying their means.

Last year’s strong contender for the pluckiest comedy series is back for a second serving and the good news is that the show’s creator Victor Fresco (“ALF”, “My Name Is Earl”) has used his vast experience to expand the SCD universe, mitigating the show’s previous shortcomings. Whereas season 1 felt like one long pilot based almost entirely on the Hammonds management of Sheila’s condition, here we have each of the gruesome threesome taking separate missions to pursue the cure and being caught in compromising situations along the way. Hilarity ensues.

The supporting cast has been expanded with some incredibly strong and instantly recognisable actors that are able to dip in and out of the show, sometimes just for one episode, to provide background on the Serbian mythology and flesh out (sorry notsorry) backgrounds, rivalries and characters more.

The introduction of the anti-Hammonds, Chris and Christa (Joel McHale and Maggie Lawson), for this season was a great idea and I hope we get more them in future seasons, even if only to give Joel McHale more screen time. By far the stand out support, though, was Nathan Fillion’s ghoulish return as Gary. Drew Barrymore, deliciously playing against her usual type, is still excellent as Sheila, but Timothy Olyphant just gets better and better as her hen-pecked husband Joel.

Although the show is categorised as a horror comedy, if you are expecting a laugh-a-minute romp, you may be sorely disappointed. Rather, what you get is a show that feels like a warm jumper, albeit once covered in brains and gore, that feels more in the vein of “Parks and Recreation”. You gradually learn to love the characters and their idiosyncrasies without realising it as you breeze through each 30-odd minute episode.

If there is to be a Season 3 (fingers crossed – hopefully after reading this you’ll start streaming it too), it would be good to provide more storylines for Hammond daughter Abby who feels like a spare wheel at times, undermining the series’ comic potential. The will they/ won’t they romance with Eric (Skyler Gisondo) never really sparks but the character’s worth keeping around, he just needs something else to do while Abby gets on with her life. The obvious next step – I’d bet my tethered arm that it happens – is the introduction of the Hammonds’ In-Laws into the mix. Start your fantasy casting now!

Watch this if you like: “The Good Place”, “Weeds”, “Pushing Daisies”, “iZombie”

8/10 

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