One of the season’s more intriguing comedies premiered online and although it’s not a flawless piece of television, the unusual concept of a cartoon Barbarian father returning to the Orange County suburbs to reconnect with his live action family is unique and outlandish enough to produce many comical and outrageous situations to keep the viewer entertained and ready for more.
We begin the episode on the Island of Zephyria, where Zorn (Jason Sudeikis) lives with his fellow animated superhero friends and foes. He and his friends are in the midst of a large bloody battle when Zorn’s fur covered smartphone reminds him that it’s his son Alangulon’s (Johnny Pemberton) 17th birthday. He says goodbye to his friends and gets on a flight to Orange County where Alangulon aka Alan lives with his mother and Zorn’s ex-wife Edie (Cheryl Hines) and her new fiance Craig (Tim Meadows). After an uncomfortable flight, Zorn finally arrives at Edie’s house and she introduces him to Craig while they wait for Alan to get home from school. Craig is a psychology professor who analyzes every situation out loud, even if it makes things much more awkward than they need to be. Craig teaches an online course and insists it doesn’t make him any less of a man or professor, but weirdly admits he does bring shame to his family. After Craig leaves to go give a lecture online, Zorn tries woo Edie and mock Craig. Edie is still physically attracted to Zorn, constantly staring at his impressive muscles, but insists she loves Craig. Zorn becomes frustrated and storms off with his belongings to camp in the woods. On his way out of the neighborhood, he passes Alan’s school bus and chases after it until it stops. He starts yelling for Alan and waving his sword like a maniac, embarrassing Alan, who tells the bus driver to keep driving.
Zorn gets depressed that his son doesn’t want to see him and proceeds to camp in the woods. Alan avoids coming home until very late to ensure he’ll miss Zorn. Edie gives him his birthday gift: a brain gouger. Alan of course hates it. Edie later brings out some supplies to Zorn and says he needs to stay in town permanently if he wants to be a part of Alan’s life. Zorn comes around and gets a job as an industrial soap dispenser salesman and an apartment in town. He tries to tell Alan about it but Alan still doesn’t want to see him. Edie finally convinces him to give Zorn a shot. Zorn takes Alan to the batting cages where he describes his boss Linda (Artemis Pebdani), who he is convinced must be a man that simply looks and acts like a woman.
They then go to dinner where Zorn embarrasses Alan in front of the waitress Alan sparks a connection with by brandishing his wrist knife and threatening everyone as a bad joke. The evening is a failure with both Zorn and Alan realizing they are nothing alike. Zorn decides to change though after Linda tells to be more considerate at work and at home. Zorn’s first act as a considerate father is to get Alan his very own death hawk so he never has to take the bus. Edie is having none of it though and forces Zorn to get rid of it. Zorn begrudgingly complies by stabbing the hawk through the neck, upsetting everyone including Alan. Zorn insists it was painless but the hawk starts flailing around, forcing Zorn to violently hack and stab it to death. The episode ends with Craig having to hose hawk blood off the driveway and Edie consoling Alan that he’s nothing like Zorn. Alan says he knows, but as we zoom out, we see his legs are animated, just like Zorn.
The show has many strengths, most notably its use of the animated/live action juxtaposition to create over-the-top, often absurdly violent comedic situations. However, I still felt like they could have done more to accentuate the ridiculousness of a selfish, fast-talking cartoon Barbarian father coming home to the live action real world. Although the supporting characters are funny with strange quirks of their own, I can’t help but think that i may have been funnier to have them behaving more realistically and straightforward, allowing Zorn to come across even more idiotic and out of place. The dialogue could also have been trimmed down, as the constant ad-libbing and fast talking by Sudeikis often buries funny punchlines or forces you to move on quickly instead of thinking more in depth about a particularly funny scene.
Still, these are minimal complaints that may very well change as the season continues. Overall, the pilot episode of Son of Zorn is an original and absurd half hour comedy that keeps you laughing with great lines and ridiculous situations. I highly recommend checking out the first episode and am personally looking forward to the rest of the season.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
Son of Zorn airs Sunday at 830PM on Fox
Max Ouweleen | Contributor