8. “Time After Time”
Based on the 1979 film directed by Nicholas Meyer, Kevin Williamson’s adaptation addressed the question “What would happen if Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells traveled forward in time to the present day?” — you know, one of those eternally nagging questions we’ve all found ourselves debating. While certainly unique in approach, and sporting two very likable leads in Freddie Stroma and Josh Bowman, “Time After Time” got way too obsessed with Jack’s serial killer tendencies and never really proved what might keep the show sustainable beyond its initial episodes. One of the rare true cancellations of 2017, ABC never let the series finish airing, ending its run after just five episodes.
7. “Marvel’s Iron Fist”
The curly-mopped Danny Rand (Finn Jones) didn’t just try to “ni hao” the Asian girl he was interested in; he basically out-Asianed all the Asians, including trotting out horribly Orientalist cliches like walking barefoot in the city and spouting his own list of honorifics. “I am the Iron Fist. Protector of K’un-Lun. Sworn enemy of the Hand.” Yeah, he’s that guy.
And yet, the white savior trope isn’t the worst part of “Iron Fist.” Creator Scott Buck has the dubious honor of appearing on this list twice, just because the rest of the production is just as shoddy as Danny. From plodding plotting to even worse dialogue, this is a wretched slog that tainted Netflix’s winning Marvel streak. Probably the worst offense is that the action scenes and fight sequences are unconvincing and lame. So yes, “Iron Fist” is both offensive and boring. That’s some superpower.
6. “The Mist”
Chris Reardon For Spike 2017
Though the Frank Darabont film version is applauded for its eerie atmosphere and soul-shredding ending, “The Mist” is not necessarily the Stephen King property that was yearning for the full TV series treatment. Taking that premise of a sinister fog as it rolls through a New England town, the show largely spun its wheels without a clear sense of who stood in that weather pattern’s way. Toss in buckets of unnecessary (and in some places, comical) violence and you have a show that insisted on being shocking at every turn without the emotional connections to back it up. It would have felt familiar, even if it wasn’t a story that most audiences had literally seen before.
5. “Friends from College”
Keegan Michael-Key. Cobie Smulders. Billy Eichner. Nat Faxon. Big-name cameos. Some of our favorite comedic actors coming together for nostalgic, soul-searching laughs sounds like the recipe for a sleeper hit full of insights and moving performances. Unfortunately, that’s some other show, since “Friends From College” never quite gels when it comes to creating characters that viewers are supposed to give a damn about.
It’s almost impressive how the writing is able to take away the natural charm inherent in actors like Key, turning him into a spoiled man-child with little self-awareness. Although Eichner makes a surprisingly funny showing by playing against type, he is a tertiary supporting character who does things like complain about how loud everyone is. And they are. Very loud. And very annoying. Because, of course, that’s how old college friends get when they’re reunited. While growing up isn’t always a guarantee in life, it would be nice to actually want to root for these guys instead of delivering failure after failure and relying on an infidelity plot that is off-putting from the start. Somehow, the comedy has earned itself a second season, so we can only hope that the show takes the lead in showing its characters how to change and grow.
4. “Marvel’s Inhumans”
This was… not a satisfying new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one which exposed the seams of the Marvel approach to television. A major misstep that aimed to make history with its groundbreaking IMAX premiere, “Marvel’s Inhumans” was burdened with a too-complicated premise and a narrative arc which, while well-intentioned, cast its ostensible heroes in a decidedly unlikeable light. The second of two series to be executive produced this year by Scott Buck, “Inhumans” ultimately felt rushed, ill-conceived, and perhaps its greatest flaw: forgettable — except for Lockjaw the teleporting giant bulldog. Lockjaw, we’ll never forget.
3. “The Orville”
Seth McFarlane’s ode to his love of classic “Star Trek” blasted onto our screens with plenty of fanfare. He’s been proven to make some fun homages to properties in the past — “Family Guy” is chockfull of ‘em, including “Star Wars” — and the success of “Galaxy Quest” had already primed us for the potential of a funny riff on “Trek.” Add to that some stellar sets and on-screen attention to detail, and it was definitely high on our list to check out when it premiered.
Alas, good production values and intent don’t necessarily translate into proper execution. If anything, MacFarlane might be stuck in a rut. He’s been trotting out the same sort of humor for so long that transitioning into a new style is proving difficult. The show’s unevenness isn’t the problem, rather it can’t seem to balance its many tones — sophomoric and earnest, reckless and adventurous — into a strong, cohesive voice with likable yet flawed characters. Ambitious? Of course! This is not an easy task, which is why when shows do it well (see: various comedies on FX or FXX), it’s noteworthy. Give us your literal and metaphorical fart jokes if you must, but make sure they work in the bigger context of this aspirational universe. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of hot, stinky air.
The idea is simple: Fear has taken control of America, so why not recreate the politicized emotion via a satirical allegory? Using the 2016 election as a jumping off point, Ryan Murphy’s seventh season of “American Horror Story” tracks a cult leader, his followers, and his next-door neighbors who stand against the fear-mongering regime. But in mocking both extremes of the spectrum — painting the left as overly hysterical and the right as literal murderers — “Cult” loses its edge. What may have worked as a black comedy comes across as a lazily constructed horror show; one that does the exact opposite of the topic its dissecting. There’s no fear here. None at all.
“Gypsy” was a series so inherently fascinating in its premise, casting, and construction, that viewers wanted to like it far more than it proved likable. Its plot turned boring, casting wasted, and construction an utter falsehood of unfulfilled mystery. In the end, it couldn’t live up to the song that inspired it, so below we’ve crafted a short ode to the short-lived Netflix original series, justly canceled after one season, but infectious to the end.
To the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy,” third verse
There is no “Gypsy”
Netflix said “Canceled!”
After just one year
There was no fear
But there was no love
And if “Gypsy” was a child
And the child was enough
Then there’d be more “Gypsy”
But there’s no more “Gypsy”
Naomi Watts is dancing away from us now
She was just a wish
She was just a wish
“Twin Peaks” Janey-E is all that’s left for you now
You see, she’s a gypsy… oh
Should there be more “Gypsy”?
Ooh no. Oooh no, oh no, no, no, no. No more “Gypsy.”
Maybe once, maybe twice
Then it all goes downhill
Well, oh, only if you’re “Gypsy”