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REVIEW: Son of Zorn - An Earnest Premise That Doesn't Pay Off

ReviewMerrill Barr

Edie & Zorn
Image - Fox

Every once in a while a concept comes along that’s hard to quantify. An idea that feels conceived on the back of a napkin in a cocktail bar during a bender. When it comes to ideas like this, while they can be praised for the boldness of their creator(s) for even being attempted, they either succeed wildly (see: Orphan Black) or fall flat (see: Defiance). In the case of Fox’s Son of Zorn, it unfortunately runs with the latter.

Starring/voiced by Jason Sudeikis, Son of Zorn features the animated Zorn, a He-Man type protector of his mystical island, as he lives in a live action world in the hopes of trying to connect with his now teenage son.

Already, the premise finds itself harder to explain than should be necessary, and the show does little to make sense of the whole thing. Often times, Zorn feels like a case of “just becuase you can, should you?” Yes, we have reached a point in television filmmaking technology that a show like Zorn can be produced on a network schedule, but that doesn’t make its execution any less frustrating.

Zorn interacts with the “real world” on about a 50% success rate. The actual cartoon character just doesn’t mesh in a way that feels believable. While one should be expcted to understand that’s part of the gag, it doesn’t mean production can have things look as “off” as they do. Moments like Zorn moving a tree branch to get a better view of the road just doesn’t play when his animated hand barely matches the movement of the physical object.

In many ways, we’re left wondering why it’s so important that Zorn be animated. In theory, the exact same premise of a mystical caveman hero coming to modern society to be with his family could have been pulled off in a fully live action setting and make just as much sense. The gimmick of making Zorn animated doesn’t add anything to the series and just makes the characters around him feel that much more hollow as they try to act around an object that isn’t actually on set.

Perhaps the creators were just trying to harken back to the days of Pete’s Dragon, but there’s a reason the remake when full CGI instead of mixing 2-D into live action. Only one property has ever pulled that off successfully, and that was Roger Rabbit, which never turned a blind eye to the fact that the cartoon characters were actually cartoons.

Son of Zorn is an honest attempt to do something truly insane on network television, but it just doesn’t work. Perhaps if Zorn was played by a real person or portrayed as a CGI animated character instead of mimicking a 2-D, ink draw comic book one his appearance would work better. As it stands, the idea of Son of Zorn is much better than its execution. Oh well. Better luck next time.

A special preview of Son of Zorn airs Sunday, September 11th at 8/7c on Fox (USA).

Australian airdate yet to be announced.