Most Disappointing TV Shows of 2017

Kim Taylor-Foster

2017 was a great year for TV. But among the pure gold were a few series that didn’t measure up. Here they are.

Marvel’s Inhumans

Marvel’s Inhumans started life as a movie, but then some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to spin it out into a TV series. The series would follow the Inhuman royal family — a race of mutants — and the fallout following a coup by one of their own.

There was a lot of fuss made about the fact that the first two episodes would be spectacular — and would get an Imax release ahead of the series premiering on the small screen. A special Imax lens was even developed especially for the series. But alarm bells started ringing when some early footage dropped and fans were aghast at Medusa’s hair, which she is able to move as if it were an extra set of limbs.

Director Roel Reine, the man at the helm for the first two episodes, defended the show, saying that the effects hadn’t quite been finished yet. He even told FANDOM that they’d built a physical version of the giant dog Lockjaw to help the actors (the character is entirely CGI), and it wasn’t until this point, when it wouldn’t fit onto part of the set, that they realised their calculations were off. So what did they do? CGI’d in some objects for it to knock over on its way through. Oof.

Despite Reine’s assertions that everything would be ok when the series landed, when it eventually debuted, audiences and critics weren’t won over. Fail.

Marvel’s The Defenders

The Defenders team-up wasn't great.

Another entry for Marvel on the list, The Defenders was the much-anticipated team-up series bringing together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Seemingly having listened to criticism that the individual series were a bit too long at 13 episodes apiece, the series clocked in at a more palatable 8 episodes. And yet that was still too long.

It seemed to take an age for the series to actually bring the characters together, and when it did they just seemed to bicker insufferably. Plus, a villain in the form of Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra wasn’t given the depth of, say, Daredevil’s Kingpin, and was despatched tout-de-suite. For even blander villains to take over.

Messy and dull, it also felt pointless. Let’s hope Daredevil Season 3 and Jessica Jones 2 can redeem this franchise, that also took another hit this year in the form of…

Marvel’s Iron Fist

While some of the other series in the Defenders universe may have sagged in the middle, Iron Fist just plainly took too long to go anywhere. And when it did get there, it was pretty disappointing.

Toss in dodgy dialogue and an annoying protagonist in the shape of Danny Rand and you’ve got all the ingredients for a dud. Oh, and those fight scenes, lest we forget, are some of the worst we’ve seen. In a TV series about a guy who’s really good at fighting.

As Iron Fist actor Finn Jones said in an interview with Metro, “When I first moved over to New York, before I started actually filming, I had three weeks of very intense martial arts and weight training preparation. But then unfortunately once the show started, the filming schedule was just so tight — I was working 14 hours every day, six days a week, days into nights, nights into days — and actually my schedule didn’t allow me to continue the training as much as I really hoped.”

He also said that he was learning fight scenes 15 minutes before shooting them. That’s inexcusable, isn’t it? In one 35-second fight scene, there’s a staggering 56 cuts — proof if proof is needed that the choreography and execution of said choreography is way off. The scene is, unsurprisingly, really hard to watch.

The Orville

the orville fall tv feature
Seth McFarlane.

There was excitement surrounding Seth McFarlane’s foray into sci-fi comedy. But critics weren’t sure how to take it.

Was it a comedy? Was it serious sci-fi? The set-up seemed to suggest laughs, with Seth McFarlane’s bitter and angry character a faintly inept captain coming out of a failed marriage being awarded the helm of a ship called The Orville. And then recruiting his best mate, who likes a drink, to take the ship’s controls alongside him. Oh, and then it throws in the ex-wife as First Officer.

But as the marriage dramas unfolded and Star Trek-style storylines and alien races emerged, people questioned where this series sat tonally. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. Something that can’t be pigeonholed — that’s a good thing right? Not when the jokes aren’t funny, the dramatic stakes aren’t high, and we don’t care about any of the characters or stories.

However, there’s a huge disparity on Rotten Tomatoes between audience and critics’ scores. The show has found a fanbase, which has ensured The Orville is getting a second season, even if the critics are less than keen. Let’s hope it can find its footing further down the line and win everybody over.

American Horror Story: Cult

Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story: Cult.

American Horror Story: Cult was the moment the long-running series disappeared up its own backside. This season of AHS took the 2016 American election as its springboard, and dived straight off it into a mire of smugness and self-satisfaction.

American Horror Story has had some success, sporadically. And with every new season, there’s hope that it’ll once again hit the heady heights of Asylum, the second season of the boundary-pushing series.

The show has always had a twisted and dark sense of humour, which used to be smartly woven into the drama and horror of the show. But it’s become increasingly self-aware, and eager to send everything up. However successful or unsuccessful each season has been, it’s always had an admirable willingness to try different things. But Cult was just transparent and, well, boring. Two-dimensional characters are mere parodies or stereotypes that we don’t care about. Neither are they particularly scary or shocking or sympathetic. The season was a trudge to get through. Unless AHS can recapture the freshness and tone of its early seasons, we’re betting there’s not much life left in the old dog.

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Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.