The end of summer doesn’t just mean more comfortable weather and a pumpkin flavor invasion, it also marks the beginning of the new TV season when we are inundated with new and returning shows and TV fans have to ask themselves which ones are worth watching. So let’s take a look at some of the new shows I’ve caught thus far and what I thought of them.
Son of Zorn
The newest FOX comedy poses the question “what if the world of Who Framed Roger Rabbit was full of He-Man-type characters?” The titular Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), who might as well be He-Man, returns to the non-animated real world to reconnect with his flesh and blood family- his ex-wife Edie (Cheryl Hines) and their teenage son Alan (Johnny Pemberton). Looking to finally be there for his son, he decides to stay in the real world and gets a desk job as he tries to fit in to suburban life.
And that is where much of the humor comes from. “Oh look! Zorn slashed a conference table in half! It’s funny because he’s a warrior with a giant sword working in an office!” This fish-out-of-water humor is limited in its potential and sadly provided few laughs for me here. There are only so many times that Zorn can be overly masculine and warrior-like at inappropriate times before it grows stale, so I hope as the series progresses they focus on other aspects and don’t rely so heavily on Zorn’s inability to fit in with the real world.
I would also love to know how this universe works because there were references to Edie and Zorn’s early years together and it sounded like she was in the animated realm with him going on some crazy adventures. So how merged are these two realms? There were no other animated characters in the real world but no one really seems surprised to see this giant sword-wielding cartoon, so they must be somewhat common. Their apathy towards him just seems so odd for a world in which we are given literally no other animated characters interacting with the humans.
Overall, I found Son of Zorn rather underwhelming. It was funny, but not overly so. I’ll give the second episode a shot but so far, I’m not hooked. I hope the comedy style evolves and some of the inner workings of this universe are expanded upon because as of right now, the comedy is getting old fast and while the world of the show is intriguing, it’s not as fully fleshed out as it could be.
This new political drama looks to set itself apart from the others by kicking off with a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is a low-level cabinet member who is about to be let go by the newly reelected President. As such, he is chosen as the designated survivor, who is the one person kept from attending the State of the Union speech just in case an attack were to happen. Unfortunately, an attack does take place and everyone in the chain of succession is dead, so now Kirkman must become the new President of the United States.
Not wholly confident he is the right man for the job, Kirkman decides to stick with it despite being in way over his head. His detractors, General Harris Cochrane (Kevin McNally) and the former President’s Chief of Staff Aaron Shore (Adan Canto) decide to take measures of their own to secretly oust the new President for someone they find more fitting. Meanwhile, Kirkman's wife Alex (Natascha McElhone) and his Chief of Staff Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci) work to support him in his new role. All the while, the FBI is looking into the bombing and Agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) suspects there are more to come.
The series premiere did well in setting up the story moving forward, providing us with multiple antagonists, whether it be all of the people within the government that doubt Kirkman is a viable President, or the mysterious masterminds behind the attack on the Capitol Building, or even other governments that might seek to take advantage of America’s perceived weakened state. The biggest issue for me is the somewhat stereotyped characters thus far. The General is a short-tempered bully that just wants to bomb the people he thinks (without any evidence) were responsible...say it ain’t so! Kirkman’s teenage son lied about going to a friend’s house and really went to a party? SO unexpected!
Ultimately, the premiere got my attention. There’s intrigue and mystery in addition to the vastly underequipped Kirkman struggling to cope with not only this tragedy, but also his newfound position at the top. The performances are great all around, even if some of the characters are fairly stereotyped. While not my favorite new show of the season, I will certainly keep watching to see how it unfolds.
I’m not sure what’s up with movies getting turned into TV shows over the last couple of years. There was Minority Report, which I had hopes for given I enjoyed the movie but I gave up on that after the first episode. And then there was Rush Hour, which I skipped entirely, despite my enjoyment of those films too. Now, one of the most famous buddy cop movies has received the same treatment and I was very skeptical going in.
Lethal Weapon opens with the wild detective Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) chasing after some bad guys when he gets a call from his pregnant wife telling him that she’s in labor and driving herself to the hospital. Her vehicle is then T-boned by a truck, killing both her and their unborn child. Time passes and we cut to heart surgery recipient and veteran detective Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans), who is celebrating his 50th birthday while trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle for the sake of his health.
Upon returning to work, his former partner Brooks Avery (Kevin Rahm), now promoted to captain, pairs Murtaugh with a new partner, recent transfer Riggs. Upon their first meeting at the scene of a bank robbery-turned-hostage situation, Riggs proves to be brash and deadly as he single-handedly takes down the three heavily armed bank robbers. Much to the chagrin of Murtaugh, who doesn’t want such a wild card for a partner, the pair must then investigate a supposedly easy case of suicide, however there is more to the case than meets the eye, resulting in them facing off against drug smugglers.
One of the things I appreciated about this show was that it wasn’t simply trying to recreate Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Certainly there are similarities in the characters but it is clear that neither actor is trying to mimic the originals, which is a good thing. They’re giving their own takes on these iconic characters while still keeping them fun and likable. We also get some fun action in the show. From chases to shootouts and explosions, this episode had it all. Granted, none of it was mind-blowing or particularly special but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Perhaps nobody was really asking for a Lethal Weapon TV show but based on the pilot episode, it has a lot of potential to give us a fun, action-packed and entertaining police procedural. Wayans and Crawford are great as their own versions of Murtaugh and Riggs respectively and as the show moves forward, I hope they continue to go down their own path without feeling the need to just recreate events from the original film franchise, though as I understand it, other side characters from the movies might show up at some point. Either way, this series premiere was enjoyable, if a bit over-the-top and brainless, and I will definitely keep watching for now.
PitchThe final new show I checked out so far this season is one that, for the people who know me, seems like an odd choice- the sports drama Pitch. I am not into sports at all. I enjoy playing basketball but I have never enjoyed watching or following any sport ever, even though I grew up in the suburbs of a city with MLB and NFL teams. This doesn’t mean I’ve never watched sports. I have gone to (and still go to) the occasional baseball game, so I have a basic understanding of the sport and that is how I got into watching Pitch.
The San Diego Padres bring on the first female player, a pitcher named Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), and the show opens with her very first game in the majors where she is the starting pitcher. Most of the team looks at her as nothing but a gimmick, sports analysts debate over her value and young girls all over the world idolize her, so the pressure is insanely high for Baker, which leads her to doubt herself. We also see, via flashback, how Baker got where she did after her overbearing and never-satisfied father (Michael Beach) taught her how to master an incredibly difficult and useful baseball pitch.
Baker finds aid and support from her aggressive and damned good agent Amelia Slater (Ali Larter), one of her former Minor League teammates and current Padre Blip Sander (Mo McRae), his wife Evelyn (Meagan Holder) and team owner Frank Reid (Bob Balaban), whose motive for helping her is unclear. Is it a gimmick or does he actually believe in her and the stride towards equality? Also in the mix is womanizing catcher and team captain Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who is initially skeptical of the new pitcher, but with Blip’s insistence, he eventually helps her out.
For someone that doesn’t really care about sports, I found this to be a great premiere and a solid setup for a series. The acting and writing were all solid and the end, while somewhat predictable, was nonetheless emotionally impactful. This episode was just the beginning and I look forward to seeing where they go with it. Pitch was easily the best dramatic series I’ve seen thus far in this new TV season and if it can maintain its quality, this has the potential to be the best new drama of the year.
There are plenty of other shows I haven’t been able to watch yet but out of the four new shows I had time to try, Pitch is definitely a great new drama with the most potential. If you’re looking for something a little heavier on the action, then Lethal Weapon is an entertaining ride anchored by solid performances and, even though I think Pitch is the better drama, Designated Survivor could be very intriguing depending on how it plays out, although some of the antagonists are a little too cookie-cutter as of right now. Lastly, Son of Zorn is a bit disappointing with only a few laughs that mostly relied on fish-out-of-water jokes. Overall, this new season didn’t offer much that truly wowed me but there is so much potential. Here’s to hoping they find success and continue to improve.
Andy Snyder is a writer and regular contributor for Happy Dragon Pictures. He loves video games, films from all over the world, screenwriting and kittens.