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Friday, October 7, 2016

I Have The Powe—What? Wait, So I’m Not He-Man? Really? #SonofZorn #3weekroundup #FOX

I Have The Powe—What? Wait, So I’m Not He-Man? Really? #SonofZorn #3weekroundup #FOX

All pictures courtesy of FOX 

Time for another three-week roundup review on a new show. Next up, Son of Zorn. A high-bred of animation and live action, Son of Zorn joins FOX’s already crowded Sunday night block of half-hour comedies. But is it a sword-slashing, rip-roaring, barbaric good time, or is it just one of the many shows destined for defeat at the paws of the cancellation bear? Son of Zorn is certainly gonna fight like hell against that bear, kinda like that hiking guy that survived that grizzly bear attack twice. Like, can you believe that guy? Holy crap! Is Leo gonna play him in a movie, too? Is he now gonna go seek vengeance on the guy that killed his boy? So many questions and no reasonable answers. Let’s start the review.

Zorn and his pimp cup.

Son of Zorn (#SonofZorn) is the latest addition to FOX that tries to bridge the gap between the Animation Domination days of Sunday nights, and the newest live-action addition of Last Man on Earth. A show in which the main (though, not the title character) is animated, Zorn is voiced by familiar comedic face and SNL alum Jason Sudeikis. Zorn is a barbarian warrior who hails from the land of Zephyria, a foreign land where everything is animated and they’re stuck in the fictional times of what strongly looks like He-Man territory. The character even looks like a longer-haired He-man with kickin’ Junior-High bangs and blushed-tomato-red hair. His muscles are huge, and, because they’re animated, they always seem to glisten in the real world. At the start of the first episode, we meet Zorn in mid-battle when his cellphone reminds him that it is his son’s birthday. Rather than stay and finish the battle as his friends die in horrifying agony, he’s gotta take a rain-check to hop a flight to go and see his son for his seventeenth birthday.

Titular Character Son of Zorn Alan (he's small one)
His son, Alanugulon or Alan for short (played by Superstore’s Johnny Pemberton), lives with his ex-wife Edie (played by veteran Cheryl Hines) in Orange County, California. Both are totally not animated, regular suburbanites. As any rippling-machismo mound of muscle and testosterone would feel, Zorn still has feelings for his ex-wife and borer of his seed. Upon his arrival back in the OC, he winds up at her house an hour before Alan is set to arrive back home. They catch up on her sofa as she is now a far cry from the young, wild woman he used to know (they had a past filled with drugs, war slayings, conquerings of foreign lands, and copious amounts of sex) but still has glimmers of that carefree teen, twenty, and thirty-something he used to know. He thinks that she still has feelings for him, and judging by the way she is constantly caught staring at his body, it’s clear she does. But alas, she is engaged to be betrothed to another.

This Isn't Awkward. 
Yet another SNL and comedy alum, Tim Meadows (The Ladies Man) plays Edie’s fiance Craig. An online college professor who gives lectures over his cellphone and is constantly emasculated by everything related to Zorn, he specializes in psychology and breaking down the mental/emotional needs of Alan and Edie and now Zorn. Think the black version of Neil from The Santa Clause minus the circus sweaters. Zorn would love to slaughter Craig and his people and sacrifice him on a Zephyrian altar while holding his beating heart in his palm, but he doesn’t do that, because, you know, that would put a damper on the whole family vibe.

Strangely, it is because of this barbaric and old-world thinking that Alan is embarrassed by his father who, last time he visited, came to his school slinging his huge sword around for everyone to see. No, that is not some sort of innuendo about his dangly cartoon parts; the guy actually carries around a humongous gold sword that we find out has powers in the second episode. With our society being the way it is (killing frowned upon) Zorn slays everything he can that won’t wind him up in jail: tables, chairs, vehicles, other things worth stabbing (slays more than Beyonce). Yeah, he gets it in. Admittedly, part of the fun of this show is waiting to see just what crazy problem he’ll try to solve or create by wielding his sword. Standing back to look big picture, maybe that could become a problem.

Alan is so embarrassed by his dad’s always-on warrior instincts that he skips out on seeing the man. As it turns out his birthday was three weeks prior, demonstrating how terrible Zorn is at modern technology (that phone reminder was way off). Edie explains that Alan isn’t excited to see Zorn because the man was never around during his childhood. Zorn missed about a decade of the boy’s life and is only now back because... um... huh? Outside of the birthday thing, I got nothin’! Maybe they said it but I didn’t catch it, but I’m thinking that the age of 17 is important in Zephyria culture. Even with that assumption, Zorn schedules a flight back to his land within a few days. It is not until he and Edie talk about how Alan doesn’t want to see him that he realizes he’s missed too much of his son’s life. A mid-battle call from one of his gladiator buddies back home who loses his son on the battlefield (the boy is cut in half lengthwise) cements the idea that he needs to stay around to bond with Alan.

She Looks Like She Used To Be Wild

So, Zorn rents a cheap apartment from a skinny pervert and sets off on a normal, non-soldier life in modern suburbia. He gets a corporate desk job as a telemarketer selling industrial soap dispensers, a job he only gets because he is a diversity hire. His boss Linda (played by Artemis Pebdani of Scandal fame) makes the smooth transition into the role of overworked, apathetic mid-management type who gives semi-inspiring speeches about how everything that Zorn knows from the field of battle can be applied to his new work environment: his war is getting high sales, his pent-up aggression should be used to get high sales, he can move on in life and possibly get over his ex and get closer to his son by getting high sales. I enjoy her performance.

When Zorn takes Alan to a restaurant as a forgiveness plea for missing his entire life, they run into Nancy an Asian classmate and crush of Alan. (I can’t say the actress that plays her because two actresses are still listed most everywhere I look, probably from the original actress being recast when the show went to series). Here, Zorn learns not only that his son is a vegetarian but is ashamed of riding the school bus. The thoughtful and caring father he is, Zorn decides to get his son a vehicle. But instead of a car, he purchases a battle bird from Zephyria, equipped with harness, gut-ripping talons and a wingspan of a small plane. When Edie objects to Alan keeping his dad’s gift, Zorn decides he must kill it to get rid of it instead of shipping it back to his homeland. He stabs it, it doesn’t die, he has to keep stabbing it, it’s funny until it’s not, and then we see the bird twitching in the garbage as the credits roll. Remember, this show is meant to be on the same humor level as Family Guy or whatever other Seth MacFarlane offering that FOX has.

Episode two deals with Zorn moving his crap out of Edie’s garage and soon-to-be marital house. As Zorn deals with his past, Alan tries to woo his crush Nancy. With Zorn’s help and Zorn’s sword’s help, Alan uses a seeing eye sword addition to non-cyber-stalk cyber-stalk her. He can see everything she does and tries to glean her favorites and dislikes before he and Zorn realize it is wrong to spy on people and Alan decides he’ll just be normal and try to get the girl. Does it work? Eh! He’s taking the long route but he’ll probably get there.

Meanwhile, Zorn continues to attempt to relive the old days with Edie who doesn’t budge off her declaration that she is over him. But when he uses his sword to spy on her in the shower, he realizes that she still has the Z, R, N tattoo across her butt cheeks (think about it). He’s got a chance, but he’s still gotta move all that crap from her garage. His crap is quickly replaced by Craig’s pity-purchase of more than a dozen industrial soap dispensers. Such a Neil thing to do.

Episode three sees our hero dealing with the boredom of corporate American work-life. Battle-starved after a week or two away from Zephyria, Zorn seeks out the closest thing to slaughtering his enemies that he can: he picks a prank-fight/real fight with a guy who stole the office hot sauce and works in one of the other companies that occupies the same building as his work. From tricking the man into drinking blood to nearly decapitating him in the middle of the office, Zorn will conquer until the subject of his ire is stopped by his boss and forced to apologize like a bully-child. Now Zorn can’t kill him because... Ethics! And he learns that his real battle... is getting high sales.

All-seeing Eye Sword Stone Sans-Sword

As Zorn holds his own warring frustrations, Alan suffers through gym class bullying by a fat kid that looks like White Shrek. Unsolicited advice from his parent triumvirate gives him three things to do: slay this bully in a battle to the death, fight back with one or two good punches, or tell him that he is loved and get on his back to act like an overturned turtle kicking and struggling to right himself off his shell. Guess who said the last one? Guess what Alan chooses? That’s right, Alan first tells the bully he is loved, then, when that doesn’t work, he gets on his back and flails his legs in the air like an irritated baby on the changing table. But it is revealed that he has cartoon Barbarian legs like his father. And, just like his father, his legs are super strong. One tiny kick flings the boy across the room into a rack, thusly ending his bullying problem. Granted, now everyone knows that he has weird cartoon legs, which probably won’t help in the long run, but if they say something he can just kick their butt, and probably kill them in the process.

What is my grade? I’d give it a C+. Will this survive the season? Most likely, yes. As I stated in my initial preview, this looks like a show that could be really good for two years, then peter off. My problem is that this is not the stone-in-the-water ripple that, say, Family Guy was. Back when Family Guy first came out, it actually got me to start watching FOX’s animation offerings again. And then it got canceled because so few people saw its brilliance. But through Adult Swim it revived and when it did, it truly became a generational phenomenon. Everybody was watching and talking about Family Guy, cementing its place in pop culture. While I have moved on from my Family Guy-days, as I think most people have (not to say it isn’t still popular), I tend to judge FOX’s animated comedies by that rubric. I don’t see this as a must-see comedy like some of the other FOX shows were in their prime. This is akin to Bob’s Burgers in that people will like it but I doubt it will turn into appointment-viewing on a weekly basis.

Should you be watching? If you’re still enthralled by The Simpsons, Family Guy, Brooklyn-9-9 and some of the other comedy offerings of FOX, then I say go for it. It serves its purpose as a decent slapstick family comedy with a slight edge, and with the guys behind the 21 Jump Street remake and the Lego movie as producers, it has unlimited potential for heartwarming humor. But if you want something a little more thought-provoking, then look elsewhere. Son of Zorn airs on FOX Sundays at 8:30pm EST.

What do you think? Have you ever heard of Son of Zorn? Have you seen it? If not, do you think you’d tune in now? If you have seen it, what is your favorite part of the show? Do you think Zorn will ever take the family back to visit Zephyria? And when the heck is Alan going to get his own sword? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

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If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER#BrandNewHome or  the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Both season 1 and season 2 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 3 coming summer 2017. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary to premiere sometime this winter on Amazon and my blog. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said... What? You mean I’m still not He-Man? Well ain’t this about a bit--”

P.S. How many more years will we be bombarded in entertainment with things that reference the 80s? When will it stop? Ahhhh! I’ll think of a better sign-off next time.

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