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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Son of Zorn is a sitcom focused on Zorn, a (cartoon) barbarian of the He-Man variety who's seeking a relationship with his (live-action) teenage son. Much of the humor in the show is derived from Zorn's violent and sexist ways. We see him in animated battles with eviscerations and beheadings, with creatures who are suddenly cut in half by giant swords dripping with purple blood. Zorn also makes jokes about drinking blood and playing sports with decapitated heads and calls a waitress over by calling her "food whore!" His bad behavior is being sent up, but younger viewers may not get this. Expect mild cursing ("What the hell?"), a joke about being "coked up," and references to "fivesomes" with mythical beasts. The show doesn't lack charm, but like some modern animated shows, it's not made for very young viewers.
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What's the story?
In SON OF ZORN, animated warrior Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) hadn't been back from his battles in Zephyria for a decade when he received a message from his Earth ex, Edie (a live-action Cheryl Hines): His son, Alan (Johnny Pemberton), is about to turn 17. Time to get back to Orange County! Zorn plans to just breeze by, but when Edie clues him in that this could be his last chance to develop a relationship with Alan, Zorn decides to stay awhile. Now he's got an apartment, a soap dispenser sales job, a (really tight) shirt, and a new item on his to-do list: help Alan through the last few awkward years of his childhood.
Is it any good?
Putting aside the gimmick of combining live action with animation, this show isn't without its charms, but the conflicts seem aggressively sitcommy. Alan's embarrassed by his dad in front of a girl, Zorn's threatened by having a female boss, a dad just wants to get close to his son: What is this, My Three Sons? Enough jokes land to give viewers a few chuckles -- Edie explains to Zorn that she and new fiancé Craig (a game Tim Meadows, always great to see) know how to have fun: "We have our own avocado tree in the back and make our own guacamole."
But Son of Zorn insists on trying to flog further humor out of tired topics: Zorn's brutality, Edie's scolding-mom act. A scene in which Zorn clubs a giant Death Hawk goes on painfully long, clearly hoping for an Archer sort of naughty zing, but the writing just doesn't have that show's sharpness. What we have here is a fish-out-of-water comedy with familiar and appealing actors who do their best with limited material. It's fine for families with teens, but it may be a tough sell: Today's teens don't even remember the old He-Man cartoons Zorn spoofs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who Son of Zorn is designed to appeal to. Do you think the fact that it's animated gives it more "kid appeal" than solely live-action shows? Do you think people often assume that anything animated is OK for younger viewers?
Have you ever seen He-Man and the Masters of the Universe? Is Zorn supposed to look and act like He-Man? Why is that funny?
Have you seen any other shows that mix animation with live actors? Do you like this style? Does it add to the show? How?
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