On the eve of Marvel's Inhumans series premiere, ABC's big interstellar investment (which has been many years in the making by the way), is shaping up to yield very few returns; at least, that's if the critics are to be believed.
The pilot episode (and the extended IMAX release) was pre-screened for people whose sole purpose in life is to tell viewers which shows are worth their time and which are not. Unfortunately for Inhumans, critics pretty quickly decided on the latter after seeing only two episodes. And it isn't pretty.
Marvel's Inhumans — based on a comic book series about a race of mutants who live on the moon but decide to come back to Earth, and features a king who can't talk, a queen with prehensile hair and a giant teleporting bulldog — currently has the lowest score of all the new fall shows on review aggregator Metacritic, at a dismal 29. That's even lower than Fox's panned The Orville (36) and the super-panned Netflix pot comedy Disjointed (41). Here's what critics are saying about Inhumans.
"There are so many boring ways to portray a fantasy civilization, and Marvel's Inhumans has them all," Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly writes. "...The action spins vaguely off from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but you could jump in cold and be just as bored as the rest of us."
Even IGN, a mecca for out-of-the-box shows, comic fans and nerd culture, couldn't find anything nice to say about the extended pilot, and the criticism goes beyond just the plot. "The Inhumans are a secret society of superpowered people who live on the moon, and while that is admittedly a weird concept, it's not what holds the show back. It's the crummy costumes, wooden dialogue and all-around dull delivery of the material," writes Joshua Yehl.
Okay, but how does it stack up against other Marvel shows? "Inhumans may be the worst thing Marvel has done for TV," Deadline's Dominic Patten says in his review. Don't get too cocky Iron Fist, he said may be.
Dan Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter probably sums up the new show's failings best: "Marvel's latest venture (on ABC) combines poorly developed characters, confusing superpowers and lovely Hawaiian scenery into a leaden dud." He continued, "Run through the regular pilot process, nobody could possibly have looked at the first hour or two hours and seen any real potential. So yes, there's a critical dog-pile on Inhumans, but it's one that was completely and easily avoidable."
"The story simply doesn't have the sophistication to sell the premise," IndieWire's Liz Shannon Miller says, which was the nicest way we found a critic said the show wasn't that good.
The only positive through line in most of these reviews is that the IMAX presentation of the show made it moderately more watchable. On a larger-than-life screen, the landscapes and complicated fight scenes somehow seemed more impressive, even if the dialogue and characterization didn't. The only problem there? TV viewers aren't going to get an IMAX release for each new episode; ABC needs them to sit down in front of their regular-sized television and still want to return again every week.
The question left after all this talk is whether or not viewers will actually be inclined to do that or if they'll side with the critics. And it's obvious viewers don't always listen to critics. So far The Orville is one of the highest-rated new shows of the season.
Marvel's Inhumans premieres Friday, Sept. 29 at 8/7c on ABC.