Worlds of all sorts will collide on Son of Zorn, a Fox hybrid series that seeks to conquer the comedy kingdom by blending live-action and animation. Debuting next season, the show revolves around the Jason Sudeikis-voiced Zorn, defender of the island nation of Zephyria, who returns to Orange County, takes a job selling industrial soap dispensers, and tries to reconnect with his teenage son (Johnny Pemberton) and ex-wife (Cheryl Hines), who is otherwise engaged (literally, to a psychology professor at an online university, played by Tim Meadows).
“He tries to be a family man, but he is a barbarian warrior from another land who doesn’t quite fit in,” executive producer Chris Miller tells EW. “The thing I like about this show is that while the premise is really outrageous and ridiculous, the tone of the show is finding the practical, real, understated minutia of daily life. And the parts of the show that feel the most interesting to me are the [ones that] play it relatively grounded for such a ridiculous concept.”
Adds fellow executive producer Phil Lord: “My favorite scenes are Zorn in the break room at his office, putting cream cheese on a bagel with a sword and talking to weird strangers. Even though he’s a wild character, it’s all just really well-observed, funny, strange details about our life. Because he’s a foreigner, he’s highlighting what is ridiculous about the way we all live.”
Lord and Miller have experience with quirky projects, live-action and beyond. (See: The Last Man on Earth, The LEGO Movie). Still, fusing genres in this show — which was created by Wilfred showrunners Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne, the latter of whom has departed the series — is a Herculean task. “One of the big challenges is that you have to produce an entire live-action show at the cost of a live-action show, and on top of that, you have to animate a character,” says Miller. “It’s almost like you’re doing two shows for the price of one. Or the price of a little more than one.”
And it’s one that should stand out from the network comedy crowd, as you can see in these first look photos. “I think we are addicted to the feeling of getting away with something,” says Lord (who is executive-producing another upcoming Fox series with Miller, the time-traveling comedy Making History). “And when I see this show on the air, I’m going to think, ‘Why didn’t anyone stop us? This is crazy!’”
A version of this story appears in issue #1414 of Entertainment Weekly, available here.