“Inhumans”: Inhumane?

Marvel Television’s Comic-Con and TCA presentations for anticipated series fall way short of expectations

In the words of Kramer from Seinfeld“You blew it, boy!”

That’s the message Jeph Loeb received recently during the Television Critics Association press tour, as Marvel’s The Inhumans – ABC’s eight-part series – was critically panned with a ridiculously unprepared presentation and unfinished footage, actually rivaling CBS’ bi-annual executive session for the most-hated panel at the press tour.

You wonder Marvel was better off if Loeb used only a point pen and Powerpoint slides.

During the Q&A, Loeb became so visibly annoyed, he was turning into Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on stage (another person who doesn’t seem to like press conferences.)

“I can tell you that it was written on the material that you were given that the show that you have seen is not the finished product,” Loeb said to TV critics. “If you’re asking me whether or not it was done, it’s not. 

Then he really let a reporter have it when asked if the project was good enough to be screened in IMAX theaters, starting Friday: “I think you’re making an editorial statement, and I’m wondering what the question is.”

As some in TCA trotted out the usual “this ain’t Comic-Con” line when it comes to panels, the trailer for Inhumans wasn’t well received at the San Diego gathering either – not good for a show with already one strike against it as the drama has been banished to The Friday Night Death Slot – meaning ABC has about as much faith in this project as it does for one starring a vacuum cleaner.

In fact, you probably seen more promos for upcoming new comedy The Mayor and new drama Kevin Probably Saves The World than for Inhumans, which is approximately zero.

And no wonder: the thesis of the show is absurd. For one, a character named Black Bolt has no dialogue in the series – none at all. Yes, I know he isn’t supposed to speak, but what’s the point of having Black Bolt in the show to begin with? This is television, after all. Unless you’re Teller from Penn and Teller, being silent is hard to pull off and even harder in a scripted series.

And I won’t talk about the big computer-simulated dog. Or the woman with the hair that can whip people.

Moreover, if you are presenting to television critics at a press tour – you better have your material ready. First impressions are lasting – a lackluster presentation means disaster. If you were to give a presentation to your boss and had half your slides missing, your stuff would be sitting on the curb within the next hour. Only in the world of television (and radio) where mediocrity and doing things half-assed are rewarded – any wonder why ABC is in third place?

This is a huge miss for Marvel – especially given how well-produced, written, and reviewed much of its Netflix product is. But The Inhumans seems to be a lost proposition from day one and it’s little wonder why this is only scheduled for eight episodes on a night most people don’t watch television. It won’t be the first cancellation of the new fall season – but likely be the first to land in The T Dog Media Television Hall Of Shame, given the already poor reviews and likely low ratings the show would achieve.

Inhumans premieres September 29 on ABC, with the first two episodes being screened in IMAX theaters Friday. Here’s the trailer as screened at San Diego Comic-Con in July: