Monday, 12 September 2016

Review: 'Son of Zorn' is surprisingly and relentlessly funny

I'd argue that the 2016-17 TV season, in its traditional and almost entirely outdated form, doesn't really start until next Monday when all of the networks bring back and premiere about seventy zillion shows. But FOX premiering Son of Zorn means that, technically, the season has now begun. It's both an exciting and exhaustingly terrible time, as while I'm relieved to have a deluge of TV to watch after a relatively quiet summer (in which I got pretty much nowhere with my watchlist), it also means that I'm going to be spending a lot of time trying to follow it all.

But I digress. Let's talk about Son of Zorn.

"Roger Rabbit" has never much interested me, and the odd moment I've seen while someone else has been watching it left me baffled by the concept, at best. The idea of an animated character appearing in a human world and for both to blend naturally is jarring, particularly at first when seeing how the two sides are paired on screen. Despite being 28 years on from "Roger Rabbit", Son of Zorn's animation still looks tacky. And while that feeling never goes away throughout this pilot, it certainly becomes easier to cope with.

It helps considerably that the episode is funny - far more than I had expected it to be - and the humorous content allowed enough distraction for me to not throw my hands up in the air at the sheer ludicrousness of it all. Better still is the show's attempt to play its animation into its own hands; specifically, the scene where Zorn brings Alangulon (aka Alan) a bird for transportation. The show knows exactly how dumb the whole scene looks, but it just doesn't care. It takes great pleasure in an ability to be unrestricted in scale and being able to do over-the-top things and explain them easily, and do so in a way that is laugh-out-loud funny; the shot of the table Zorn cut in half was wonderful.

I'm impressed, too, by the consistency of the comedy. There was rarely a dull moment, with scenes often finding throwaway lines to provoke a chuckle to bridge the gap between two more overtly funny scenes. Everything about Zorn's attempt to integrate himself in the real world and his confusion as to the way people live in 2016 is great, from his belief that his boss must be a man pretending to be a woman (he's not entirely wrong, generically speaking) to the bemusement over Alan's vegetarianism. He may have his father's legs, but a fierce warrior he is not. The final scene's reveal, while obvious, does present a through point for the series to explore during its first season, which at least gives the story something to base itself on - it was oddly touching to see Zorn try and do what he thinks is good parenting, and seeing him take at least something of a step towards achieving that goal.

With series co-creator Eli Jorne having exited the series and co-creator Reed Agnew having stepped down to executive producer, and Reed Agnew coming in to run things, I'm curious to see whether the show can sustain itself under a new showrunner, given that Jorne and Agnew wrote the pilot. And if the second episode can keep up the momentum, then I'm in for a while.

Some favourite quotes:
"This guy just offered me a baby wipe, can you believe that? I know you're fake sleeping."
"The point is, I'm here now, and that... erases everything I did."
"You know what I drink? The blood of my fallen enemies out of the skulls of their children."
"It's an older model, so it's going to have some parasites living in its flesh."

What did you think of the pilot?

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