(CNN) "Son of Zorn" is built around a gimmick, which always raises concerns about a show's longevity. Yet the pilot, at least, extracts its share of funny moments from the sight gag of a He-Man-like animated character in a live-action world, as he seeks to reconnect with his ex-wife and the 17-year-old son he barely knows.
'Son of Zorn' drops animated He-Man into live-action Fox sitcom
Voiced by "Saturday Night Live" alum Jason Sudeikis, Zorn is part Conan the Barbarian, part Buzz Lightyear -- standing about seven feet tall, rippling with exaggerated biceps and talking freely about drinking "the blood of my fallen enemies."
In TV sitcom terms that makes him the ultimate fish out of water, especially when his ex, Edie (Cheryl Hines), prods him to spend more time with the slightly dorky Alangulon (Johnny Pemberton), or Alan for short, who has more reason to be embarrassed by his old man than most high-school kids.
Created by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, "The Lego Movie" team that also sired Fox's improbably durable "The Last Man on Earth," "Son of Zorn" features occasional glimpses of Zorn's fully animated home of Zephyria, where his action-figure-type pals cheerfully engage in battle with hordes of monstrous foes.
For the most part, though, the series hinges on super-imposing Zorn onto a live-action setting, as he tries to navigate a white-collar job ("Scandal's" Artemis Pebdani plays his skeptical boss) and continues to hit on Edie, who has moved on to a new fiancé (Tim Meadows).
If there's anyone to shed a tear for here, it's Hines, the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" co-star who is practically cast in the exact same role. Once again, she's playing opposite a guy prone to saying wildly inappropriate things -- only here, he has a full head of hair and carries a sword.
Fox has a long history of animation on Sunday nights with "The Simpsons" as its ageless mainstay. More recently, the network has begun mixing in more live-action comedies, usually designed to be so over the top as to approximate a cartoon.
Like its central character, "Son of Zorn" basically attempts to bridge those worlds. Fox will introduce the series coming out of an NFL doubleheader, a promotional boost that should benefit any aspiring Master of the Universe. While "Zorn" gets off to a mildly promising start, there's room for skepticism about the prospects of a series whose legs could be a lot scrawnier than its leading man's.
"Son of Zorn" premieres September 11 at 8 p.m. on Fox.