Son of Zorn S1E1″Return to Orange County”

7.2 Overall Score
Writing: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Voice Acting: 7/10

Perfect casting|Good voice work

A bit clumsy and uneven|Slow start|Concept could wear thin

Son of Zorn Episode One “Return to Orange County”

Written by Reed Agnew and Eli Jorné
Directed by
Eric Appel

Starring:
Johnny Pemberton as Alangulon aka Alan
Jason Sudeikis
 as the voice of Zorn
Cheryl Hines
 as Edie
Tim Meadows
 as Craig
Artemis Pebdani
 as Linda

Featuring:
Rob Riggle as Head-butt Man

Son of Zorn created by Reed Agnew and Eli Jorné

 

Zorn is a mighty He-Man like warrior from the Island of Zephyria. After a battle against his enemies, Zorn leaves for Orange County, California to reconnect with his son Alangulon (aka “Alan”) whom he hasn’t seen in years. He discovers that his ex-wife Edie is engaged to a passive, wimpy academic. After Zorn realizes his son hates him for being mostly gone from his life, the mighty warrior/defender decides to not return to Zephyria and gets an office job in town. By the way, Zorn, Zephyria and all of its inhabitants are animated in a very 80s Funimation style and exist in a live action world.

So this show sort of crept up on me, as I had not seen nor read much about it until recently. And frankly, when I did first hear about it, I found it amusing, but can’t say I was excited. Combining live action and animation can work really well (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) or just be to akward to not work (Cool World). At best I thought it sounded like a good idea for an Adult Swim one-off or a Robert Smigel style Saturday Night Live TV Funhouse skit. But the involvement of Cheryly Hines (who I think was great as Larry David’s long time suffering wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Tim Meadows (Whose  Ladies Man character I have found funny in an odd sort of way) was intriguing. So I checked it out. Turns out the show was little better than I expected.

The first half of the show though does take its time to find it’s footing. Several running gags, like Zorn failing to solicit conversation from indifferent fellow passengers on a plane and his attempts to show off in front of his son’s friends at the school bus stop, fall flat and feel forced. You can feel the ideas being strectched.  It’s also clear the actors are learning to interact with the animated Zorn.  The highlights in the first fifteen minutes are an exasperated Hines and an odd, passive-aggressive, almost creepy Meadows.

However halfway through the show, things start to get a little funnier. The image of the animated Zorn wearing a shirt and tie bottomed out with a loin cloth, sword sheathed on his back, is a just a great visual. Especially juxtaposed with the real world office settings of his new job. I know a lot of people were burned out on The Office, but I could see Dundler-Mifflin inspired segments featuring the clueless Zorn as something really funny. And the bit with Zorn attempting to bond wth his son by gifting him with his own “ride” is one of those jokes that pushes a comedy concept (and over the top violence) as far as it can go (think of the best moments from Family Guy). It works in an odd sort of way.

However, it’s the show’s final shot that not only got the biggest chuckle out of me but also gave me pause. It really is the best thing in the 30 minute running time.  In a strange twist of the tone, the quick reveal adds a whole new level of pathos. It’s one of those moment’s that makes you think “Of course!”. And the concept introduces a whole slew of possibilities at once hysterical, perverse, deep and moving (the hallmark of all great comedy).

Son of Zorn starts out slow and on slightly uneven ground, but ends on (slighlty) more solid landing. I’m definitely interested in giving this show a chance. Here’s hope they achieve and deliver everything that final shot opens up. And surprise us along the way as well.

Son of Zorn airs Sunday nights on Fox at 8:30pm. Check your local listings for Channel number info. 

 

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Author: Manny Gomez View all posts by
Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida's west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, movies, punk rock, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, detective novels and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog. Follow him on Twitter @Manny1138

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