Hit or Sh**: FOX’s SON OF ZORN
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
For what’s probably the weirdest of the major networks, FOX is disappointingly repetitive. SON OF ZORN does nothing to advance the genre, though it feels like it’s trying to. The blending of animation and reality does very little to make the “hypermale in the modern world” jokes any less stale, and the main characters are all very tired archetypes. I’m not surprised that SON OF ZORN isn’t a top-tier show, but I was hoping that it could potentially reach the heights of BOB’S BURGERS, the shining jewel of FOX’s Sunday night lineup. But sadly it can’t even compete with the withered corpses of THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY, adding yet another show to the list of stinkers that have come out of that beleaguered timeslot. When, oh, when will we finally get a cartoon that can handle the pressure of following football?
And what will Fox do when Bob realizes that he’s too good for them?
Zorn (Jason Sudeikis), our animated leading man, is a mighty warrior from the island nation of Zephyria/symbol of old-timey masculinity. His ex-wife Edie (Cheryl Hines) loved him in her wild younger years but has since divorced Zorn and settled down with on-the-nose psychology professor Craig (Tim Meadows). His son Alangulon (Johnny Pemburton) is a weenie, in a hilarious ironic twist. The majority of the show is spent establishing how dumb and manly Zorn is, and how incredibly incompatible his mindset is in the modern world. But rather than making him a fat slob, he’s a badass superman. It’s kind of a nice change in dynamic, but the jokes simply aren’t there, as the random insertion of cartoon violence into the real world loses its flavor quickly.
The other half of the formula is family humor, and all of SON OF ZORN’s family jokes are tired clichés. Zorn still thinks that he can seduce Edie, but she’s having none of it! He ordered a steak, but his son ordered a veggie wrap, which is feminine! Zorn’s boss is a woman in a position of power, so Zorn thinks she’s a man!! I suppose these jokes might appeal to those watching the post-football cartoons, but I feel like even they want a little variety in their sexism.
Honestly, reruns of THE HONEYMOONERS might be just the ticket for FOX’s target demo
For all its problems, SON OF ZORN was not a complete waste of time. The last scene of the pilot, when Zorn gifts Alan an enormous bird mount, tickled me pretty well. I don’t know if it was the motorcycle metaphor or that they finally made good use of gratuitous violence, but it made me laugh despite being mostly spoiled in the preview. The credits image is also the most visually interesting frame in the entire show, depicting a real world hose spraying animated blood off of the pavement. If SON OF ZORN has more moments like that, it could end up becoming worthy of guilty pleasure status. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but cartoons have been amazing as of late and I think there’s enough material to nurture SON OF ZORN into a worthwhile show. But it can’t afford to take very long to do so.
Verdict: Sh** Probation
SON OF ZORN airs on FOX on Sundays