‘Santa Clarita Diet’ and More Netflix Premieres, ‘Penguins’ on Hulu, a ‘Good Guest Guide’


A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:

Santa Clarita Diet (streaming on Netflix): Victor Fresco’s giddily gruesome comedy could just as easily be thought of as The Laughing Dead. As the second season of this suburban zombie farce gets underway, the undead Sheila (a blithe Drew Barrymore) is chained in the basement to curb her cravings for human flesh, while frazzled husband Joel (an equally endearing Timothy Olyphant) yearns for a normal day when he won’t have to come home to declare, “Our kitchen looks like the inside of a shark.” The twisty plot, which early on brings new definition to the phrase “talking head,” makes this one of Netflix’s more agreeable binges. Among the fun guest casting: Joel McHale and Psych’s Maggie Lawson as smarmy rival real-estate agents, who irk our heroes no end. But as Joel helpfully reminds his impulsively to-die-for wife: “We can’t solve all our problems with murder.” Or can they?

The Netflix deluge continues. Among the too-many-premieres-to-count: a new teen comedy, Alexa & Katie, about two besties entering high school while Alexa (Paris Berelc) undergoes cancer treatment. The strident Disney Channel tone and shrieking laugh track kept me from making it through even one full episode. … The Mechanism, an eight-episode Brazilian drama from Narcos’ José Padilha, takes an inside look at corruption within the country’s oil and construction industries. … Requiem, a six-part British psychological thriller, sends a twenty-something cellist (Lydia Wilson) on a quest for identity after her mother commits suicide. … Movie premieres include Roxanne, Roxanne, starring Chanté Adams as Lolita “Roxanne Shanté” Gooden, a teenage hip-hop legend in the 1980s. The cast includes Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, Nia Long and American Crime’s Elvis Nolasco. … The Workaholics gang of Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Adam Devine star in the comedy Game Over, Man!, as video-game nerds caught up in a Die Hard-like hostage situation.

March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step (streaming on Hulu): Opting for quality over quantity, Hulu presents a visually captivating sequel to the Oscar-winning nature documentary, reuniting filmmaker Luc Jacquet with narrator Morgan Freeman. Spiffed-up camera technology takes us back to Antarctica, land of the Emperor Penguin, for a survival story of a penguin father and son.

Inside Friday TV: Disney Junior revives the classic Muppet Babies cartoon series (10 am/9c), with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom guest-voicing in the premiere as Dot the dragon, who Miss Nanny and Kermit help get over her fear of the dark. … The Sweet 16 round of the NCAA college basketball tournament continues in prime time, with games on CBS and TBS. … Stay tuned until the end of The CW’s Dynasty (8/9c) for the grand entrance of an iconic character. … Jennifer Beals takes center stage on NBC’s Taken (10/9c) as Hart, who goes solo to find the mentor who betrayed her. … BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show (10/9c) features the host’s “Good Guest Guide,” with clips from past shows and insights from A-list visitors including Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert DeNiro, Chris Pratt, Jodie Foster and Ryan Gosling. These sound like great guests.