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TV Series Review

It can be tough to be a dad even in the best of circumstances. But some fathers have extra challenges. Divorce can drive a huge wedge between a father and child. Time away can test even the strongest of bonds. As children grow into late adolescence and increasingly define their own identities, the tension can stretch almost to the breaking point.

And when Dad happens to be an animated warrior who wants to bond through heroic carnage, well, that just adds a whole 'nother layer of messiness.

Not the Sharpest Sword in the Armory

Zorn isn't used to failure. He's a champion back on his home island of Zephyria, where he slays 100-eyed wooginators and razor-tentacled biffucrants without so much as raising his heart rate. He's a big deal back there. I'm sure many Zephyrians (Zephyrites? Zephyromulans?) have posters of Zorn hanging up in their dining rooms. (Zephyria is not known for its subtle interior decorating sense.)

But when Zorn flies back to Orange County to celebrate son Alangulon's 17th birthday—the first time he's seen his boy for four years—he feels the tension between the two of them. He's mystified by Alangulon's newfound vegetarianism, his reticence to chop baseballs in half with Zorn's mighty sword, his all-around peevish attitude. Ex-wife Edie tells Zorn that if he's not careful, he could lose Alangulon—Alan, for short—altogether.

So Zorn forsakes his life of heroic blood-shedding and moves to suburban Southern California, getting a job as a pencil-pushing cubicle dweller that gives him plenty of time to reconnect with his boy.

Well-intentioned? Yes. But it also results in, well, tension. Because for Zorn to bond with his son, he'll need to spend more time with Edie and Craig, Edie's new fiancé (and mild-mannered psychology professor). He'll need to get used to the office grind, where indiscriminate slaughter is typically discouraged. And he'll somehow need to convince his son that, even though the two of them seem to have little in common, there's a little animated hero lurking in Alan's soul, just waiting to be inked and colored.

Drawing From Experience

In a broadcast television landscape that relies so heavily on crime procedurals and medical dramas, Son of Zorn is one of the most unusual, most creative shows to splash across the small screen recently. It's almost as if the executives took a peek at the edgy creativity being lobbed around on cable and streaming services—TBS's Angie Tribeca and Netflix's Bojack Horseman come to mind—and shouted, "Hey, we can be weird on network TV, too!"

This show is weird. But Son of Zorn is, in its own off-kilter way, also weirdly traditional. Strip away Zorn's two-dimensional look, his previous career and his penchant to buy Alan gigantic falcons, and you have a timeless story of a father and son trying to reconnect. There's even a hint of sweetness hiding under the show's animated hijinks.

But oh, those hijinks.

Due to the apparent influence of shows such as Bojack and South Park and Archer, I think society's moved well past the idea that cartoons automatically make for kid-friendly television. But just in case, let me stress: Son of Zorn isn't aimed at your sons (or daughters). Animated blood is shed by the bucket-load. Creatures are sometimes savagely killed. Moreover, lewd sexual themes and drug references show up with frightening frequency. And we quickly discover that profanity is universal, uttered both by real people in Orange County and their animated cohorts in Zephyria with equal frequency.

Jessica Rabbit, the buxom bunny from 1988's groundbreaking, partly animated movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, once told us, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." The same, I suppose, could be said of Son of Zorn. In his own strange way, Zorn means really well. But alas in this show's case, the drawing is very bad indeed.

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Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

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Profanity/Violence

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Episode Reviews

Son of Zorn: Sept. 11, 2016 "Pilot"
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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