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Sunday, September 11, 2016

PILOT REVIEW: Son of Zorn

SON OF ZORN













Starring: Cheryl Hines, Johnny Pemberton, Tim Meadows, Artemis Pebdani, and Jason Sudeikis

Created by Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne
Written by Reed Agnew & Eli Jorne, Directed by Eric Appel

Despite being the first to premiere, I think it's safe to say that Son of Zorn is one of the most unique new entries of the 2016-17 season. Zorn (Jason Sudeikis) is a warrior from the island of Zephyria in the South Pacific Ocean who makes his way back to Orange County to reconnect with his ex-wife, Edie (Cheryl Hines) and teenage son, Alangulon (Johnny Pemberton). Oh and by the way, Zorn is animated while everyone else is live action. Rounding out the main cast is Edie's new fiance, psychologist Craig (Tim Meadows) and Zorn's new boss in Orange County, Linda (Artemis Pebdani).

Despite the very unusual format, the pilot actually played like a pretty traditional fish out of water concept with Zorn dealing with airport issues, attempting to figure out leaving voicemails, trying to get a job, etc. One thing that confused me a lot in the pilot was how others reacted to Zorn. Yes, I get the fact that there's not really much of an acknowledgment that he's animated (or is there at the end?) yet there didn't even seem to be an acknowledgment that he was dressed like an ancient warrior and carrying around a sword. It must have been a choice but it was weird for example that no one seems to think he's dressed unusually at a restaurant and they only get freaked out when he starts using a sword at the dinner table. It seemed like they wanted to pick and choose when they could play reactions from others. Not that this is going for reality here and a certain suspension of disbelief is necessary, but that seemed to be an inconsistency that messed with the overall concept.

Jason Sudeikis brings a lot of humor and personality to the voice-over role and Zorn really developed an identity quickly. The rest of the cast can't quite live up to their animated co-star. Cheryl Hines was so over the top and entertaining in the otherwise troubled Suburgatory but she's extremely understated here and it seems like a waste of her talents. I found Tim Meadows to be nothing more than an annoying one-joke caricature so far so I hope they find better ways to include him. Johnny Pemberton showed some promise as did Artemis Pebdani though it's hard for me to watch Pebdani without thinking of Susan Ross, her Scandal character.

The show had some funny moments. Perhaps the funniest moment of the episode was when Zorn and Alangulon were trying to order dinner. Other than that, it was more often awkward than funny. I'm really curious to see what kind of show this becomes when it settles into a regular series. If it is going to be a bunch of "look how weirdly Zorn reacts to this everyday concept" plots, then it's going to get old quickly. If it focuses on the relationships, as strange as it sounds given the concept, it could develop into an interesting sitcom. One final question, why did FOX run promos for the show's official "premiere" in two weeks using clips from the episode we were watching? Why not show us clips from future episodes?

WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN?
Yes, I think I might. I don't actually see myself becoming a regular viewer of this show but I found it interesting enough to see what kind of show it settles into.

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