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TV Review - 'Marvel's Inhumans' misses mark

September 26, 2017 Updated: September 26, 2017 at 1:01 pm
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MARVEL'S INHUMANS - Create your destiny. Meet Marvel’s Inhumans early in IMAX theatres September 1, and experience the full series starting September 29 on ABC. (ABC/Marvel) ANSON MOUNT

Cast: Anson Mount ("Hell on Wheels""), Iwan Rheon ("Game of Thrones"), Serinda Swan ("Graceland," "Ballers"), Eme Ikwuakor ("Concussion"), Isabelle Cornish ("Home and Away," "Australia Day"), Ken Leung ("Lost," "X-Men: The Last Stand"), Sonya Balmores ("Soul Surfer")

Airs: The two-hour season premiere airs at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC

The premise: A royal family with superhuman abilities is fractured when a coup led by a questionable ally puts them in danger. Forced from their home on the moon, where they've been hiding from humanity, the family escapes to the island of Hawaii. Scattered and unable to contact one another, this band of self-proclaimed "Inhumans" tries to find a way to reconnect and get back to the only world they've ever known.

Highs: "Marvel's Inhumans" has a number of interesting characters you've probably never heard of unless you're a diehard comic book fan. Karnak (Ken Leung) can see the immediate future, then manipulate it to his advantage. He can tell in moments whether a romantic interest will work out and determine the outcome of a battle.

Lockjaw is sure to be a fan favorite. The 1-ton bulldog can teleport people great distances and is quite lovable. Kids will be drawn to him. I found Black Bolt (Anson Mount) intriguing. His voice is so powerful it could destroy a city, so he communicates via hand gestures and facial movements. I initially found this distracting, but once he makes his way to Earth, Mount can express Black Bolt's intentions with accuracy and subtle humor.

The production values for "Inhumans" are first-rate. It's clear that ABC has a lot of faith in the series. And after watching the two-part pilot, it was obvious why they decided to go with an IMAX theater premiere this month. The special effects are stunning, and the production team puts Hawaii to excellent use. You won't find a prettier series on network television.

Lows: While I like the cast, and the series has potential, it's hamstrung by a number of issues that make it difficult to enjoy. Marvel TV programs traditionally have done a superb job of providing a captivating backstory for its characters, but that's not the case here. The viewer must track myriad people, each with his own skill set, but there's not enough exposition. Unlike other Marvel TV series, Inhumans aren't a recognizable mainstream comic book franchise, so a well laid-out narrative is required. Instead, the show gets to business far too quickly, leaving viewers insufficient time to be invested in its characters. This affects the importance of their storylines.

The main antagonist, Maximus (Iwan Rheon), is a good example. He's Black Bolt's brother and stages a coup against his own family. But the true motives for his betrayal are cloudy at best, and how he persuaded people to turn on his brother is never explained. A lot of political maneuvering is intended to justify Maximus' actions, but the plot for it falls flat due to poorly written dialogue and a lack of context.

Grade: (D+): As a fan of so many things Marvel, I really wanted to like this series. But the pilot never finds its footing. With a short eight-episode season, it's unclear how the rest of the series can amend a rough start. Instead of taking a lesser-known comic series and elevating it for a broad audience, Marvel has created its own version of the "Star Wars" prequels. "Marvel's Inhumans" has plenty of style but little substance.

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Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.

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