The third installment of SON OF ZORN continues the show’s upward trend with sharper writing, better jokes, and sillier premises. With equal parts legitimately clever and subtle jokes (like Craig teaching Alan a self defense move and setting it up with, “Let’s just say a bully pushed you in the mud and she’s coming back to kick you.”) and weird, dumb moments (After Edie almost makes Alan’s head explode while trying to show him the five-strike Zephyrian death attack, Zorn says, “Maybe we should explode your head Alangulon! ‘Cause it’s full of wrong ideas about battling!), the show is beginning to set a unique tone and character that stays true to the outlandish nature of the premise while actually broadening its appeal with better jokes that can stand on their own. This episode’s plot was sillier than ever before, which made everything that much funnier and enjoyable to watch. Zorn’s need to fight drives him to start a war with the office from across the hall over a bottle of hot sauce. The ridiculous nature of Zorn’s plot line is further emphasized by the show’s excellent juxtaposition of Zorn’s animated barbarism against the live action real world. That juxtaposition is obviously part of what the show is based on, but tonight’s episode seemed to really take advantage of it, making sure to show Zorn in various exaggerated states of battle and anger in the middle of his dull, fluorescent corporate office.
The B plot wasn’t as silly, as Alan is dealing with an obnoxious school bully who makes fun of him for always wearing pants in P.E. Alan just wants to hide his animated legs and be left alone but the bully is having none of it. Everyone tries to tell him how to deal with it in their own way. Zorn tells him to kill the bully (not just fight back, definitively kill) while Craig recommends squirming on your back like an upside down turtle. Alan ends up using both pieces of advice, accidentally kicking the bully with his animated legs that turn out to possess extraordinary strength while trying the turtle maneuver. Alan’s plotline isn’t as interesting or funny as Zorn’s conflict, but it provides a nice contrast, as Alan is being forced to fight and doing everything he can to avoid it while Zorn is being forced not to fight, but doing everything in his power to do so.
Many of the concerns I had about the show last week seemed to have been addressed as well. While I think there is still room for improvement, the show has begun to increase the joke rate, leading to less dead time and pauses in between laughs. Any dead space is also compensated for with the quality of the writing. While we’d all love a stream of jokes, I’m more than happy to endure some slight dead time if this is the quality of writing we can expect from now on. The characters are becoming more defined as well. The biggest improvement I noticed was with Craig. I felt confused after last week’s episode about who Craig was. I couldn’t figure out exactly what his M.O. was or how he fit into the family. This episode, however, he became much more defined as wimpy and nerdy but very kind and reliable new husband for Edie, which fits well in the Son of Zorn universe.
The only character that continues to fall behind for me is Edie. For most of the series, she has been the disapproving ex-wife, sick of Zorn’s crap and just trying to lead a normal life. But every now and then there will be a moment that clashes with that description and makes me feel like they’re just winging it with her. In this episode, she remains fairly true to how she is advertised, except for one moment that really bothered me. While telling Zorn about Alan’s bully, Zorn offers to kill him. She says of course not. Zorn then offers to torture him and she responds positively, saying, “Oooo! If you could do it without leaving a mark!” These weird uncharacteristic moments combined with Cheryl Hines’ unenthusiastic and simple performance, makes Edie seem like a puzzle piece that keeps getting flipped around to see if it can finally fit.
Son of Zorn just keeps getting better with each episode. Sure, there are some loose ends, but that’s to be expected with any new show, especially a comedy such as this with a gimmicky premise that needs to develop into a sustainable sitcom. The writing is sharp and sometimes subtle, as the show doesn’t rely on characters to repeat and emphasize every joke in case you weren’t paying attention. With a nice balance between witty and stupid, Son of Zorn is a fun comedy that seems to be growing it’s appeal with each new episode. Hop on the train before it gets too far from the station.
Season 1, Episode 3 (S01E03)
Son of Zorn airs Sunday at 830PM on Fox
Max Ouweleen | Contributor