Warning: This review contains spoilers for the Sept. 25th episode of Son of Zorn. If you don’t want to know what happens, you have the power to click away right now!
Fish-out-of-water stories are usually good for a laugh, but Zorn, the lead in Fox‘s new series Son of Zorn, takes the concept to an unusual extreme, in that he barely lives in the same plane of existence as those around him.
For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s new show centers around Zorn, a He-Man-like cartoon warrior voiced by Jason Sudeikis,who has returned from the animated land of Zephyria to real-life Orange County in an effort to develop a relationship with his carbon-based son Alangulon (or Alan, played by Johnny Pemberton). The muscle-laden sword-wielder also tries to rekindle the lost love with his ex-wife Edie (Cheryl Hines), who is now engaged to Craig (Tim Meadows), a far more conventional man than he.
The first episode of the show, which aired on September 11, established the basic setting and premise: Zorn initially flies in after a battle for a quick visit, he realizes how damaged his relationship with his family is and makes an effort to correct it by getting an apartment and a job (as a soap salesman) in town. Now that the show has charted its course, it’s time to find out if it can get past its hybrid format gimmick and deliver an entertaining half hour on a regular basis.
Sunday night’s episode, “Defender of Teen Love,” shows potential, but as of yet, much of it is unrealized. Zorn is tasked with getting his boxes of old stuff, like his trusty Game Boy and an assortment of drawn mythical items, out of Edie’s garage, and while over at the house, he embarrassingly ruins Alan’s encounter with love interest Nancy, a classmate who lives down the street. Feeling bad, Zorn uses the Stone of Sight, a magical tablet that allows its user to untraceably spy on whoever it chooses, to gain intel about Nancy for Alan’s benefit. After the supernatural stone causes mishaps between Alan and Nancy and between Zorn and Edie, Zorn experiences some personal growth, realizing that being considerate, a concept he learned from his boss Linda, is a strong tool in his quest to be a better father and person.
It’s still early in the show’s life, but as it stands, it seems like Zorn may be the only character who is set to experience any sort of evolution. Son of Zorn has a variation of the problem that brings down The Last Man on Earth, on which Lord is an executive producer and in which Sudeikis has a role: In The Last Man on Earth, Phil Miller is borderline unlikable as a protagonist because he’s an underdeveloped character, both personally and comedically, while those who inhabit his world are far more appealing and fun to watch than he is.
Inversely, Zorn is an instantly enjoyable figure, far more so than the one-dimensional personalities he’s surrounded by. His quips are actually funny (like his misogynistic insistence that Linda is a man due to her being his superior) and his predicament makes him interesting; He has personality, but nobody else on the show really seems to yet. Alan is recessive and has trouble with girls, Craig is a modern man whose interests and goings-on aren’t “masculine” in the traditional sense, and Edie used to have a wild past, sure, but now there’s not much of note about her.
The supporting characters are well-worn archetypes that provide little for the vibrant personality of Zorn to play off of. Son of Zorn is supposed to be a fish-out-of-water story, yes, but stepping outside of the show’s narrative, Zorn is so far removed from his peers that there’s nobody around him to match his energy and play up to his level of humor.
It’s tough for a program to live up to its potential in the first two episodes, and while Son of Zorn definitely hasn’t done that, it has at least proven that’s it’s capable of more than is currently showing. So long as it’s able to stop relying on the unusual format as its main appeal and give Zorn a more dynamic supporting cast, it should therefore give us a more watchable show.
Featured image: Fox
Rating (for now, at least): 3 out of 5 burritos.