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TV Review: ‘Marvel’s Inhumans’

With:
Anson Mount, Iwan Rheon, Serinda Swan, Eme Ikwuakor, Isabelle Cornish, Ken Leung, Ellen Woglom, Sonya Balmores, Mike Moh.

Remember how critics laid into “Iron Fist” a few months ago? The showrunner from that unloved program, Scott Buck, moved over to “Marvel’s Inhumans.” Somehow he’s outdone himself: “Iron Fist” looks like “Citizen Kane” next to this slapped-together, incoherent, cheap-looking mess.

Do not spend any of your limited time on this planet watching this show. If you have a superpower, use it to race away from “Inhumans” faster than the speed of light.

The premise of the story — that a group of Inhumans secretly living on the moon are on the verge of being discovered by humans, who are also finding and persecuting superpowered men and women in their midst — could have been the basis for a reasonably decent action-adventure hour. But there is no reason to root for any of these bland characters.

The settlement’s royal family, the powerful Inhumans in danger in the two-hour pilot, certainly don’t inspire sympathy. The residents of the moon colony are ruled by Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and Medusa (Serinda Swan), who seem absolutely fine with using powerless men and women in their city as exploited labor in the moon’s dreadful mines. As protagonists, they leave much to be desired. As a bad guy, Maximus (Iwan Rheon) mainly gives horrendously stiff and exposition-heavy speeches.

Amid the pallid action, tacky sets and stultifying palace intrigue, a bright spot emerges briefly: a friendly giant dog with powers. But of course, “Inhumans” manages to take the pooch out of the narrative early on. So one has to go back to wondering why the costumes look so uninspired and whether the production got Medusa’s distractingly bad wig in a dollar store’s Halloween bin.

The only possible use for this listless, dreadfully serious and profoundly boring show — call it the “Showgirls” of superhero dramas — is to mine it for unintentional comedy. Use it for group gatherings in which participants must drink every time the powers of Karnak (Ken Leung) are impossible to define, or an actor recites a piece of painful dialogue.

Even for those of us who review TV programs for a living, it’s difficult to capture the breadth, depth and scope of “Inhumans’” awfulness (which had to have been terrible on a larger scale when the pilot was released in IMAX theatres weeks ago). The characters are somehow less than one-dimensional, the story is beyond predictable, and everything looks cheaper than a “Doctor Who” serial from 40 years ago.

The difference is “Doctor Who” — then and now — often boasts the kind of cheeky wit, confident performances and whizzy momentum that allow it to charmingly speed past shaky sets, lame twists or flimsy plots.

But “Inhumans” has nothing at all to recommend it. Its only superpower is its sheer ineptitude.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'Marvel's Inhumans'

Drama; 8 episodes (2-hour pilot reviewed); ABC, Fri. Sept. 29, 8 p.m. 60 min.

Crew:

Executive producers: Scott Buck, Jeph Loeb, Jim Chory.

Cast: Anson Mount, Iwan Rheon, Serinda Swan, Eme Ikwuakor, Isabelle Cornish, Ken Leung, Ellen Woglom, Sonya Balmores, Mike Moh.

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