ABC Braces for Deep Impact With ‘Idol,’ ‘Inhuman’ Challenges
[snip]...The same level of enthusiasm does not, however, exist within many at ABC for “Inhumans.” Reviews thus far have been largely negative, reflecting the sentiment inside ABC. Network executives expressed concerns early on to Marvel Television, which produces the series. Subsequent work by Marvel to fine-tune the visuals did little to allay concerns at the network, where executives felt that the scripts were as problematic as the effects that had been mocked by the Marvel fan community on Twitter after a trailer was released. As Slashfilm’s Peter Sciretta wrote on Twitter when scenes from the show were screened at Comic-Con in July, “Wow #Inhumans looks worse than I ever possibly could have imagined. Badly written, horrible costumes, [cheap-looking] designs, film … school level looking visual effects, unmotivated overlit [cinematography], unnecessary slow motion shots. The crowd laughed at the footage.”
“Inhumans” showrunner Scott Buck has already taken a drubbing from fans for steering Netflix’s widely panned Marvel drama “Iron Fist.” In her review of “Inhumans” for Variety, critic Maureen Ryan wrote, “‘Iron Fist’ looks like ‘Citizen Kane’ next to this slapped-together, incoherent, cheap-looking mess.”
When ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey faced questions about the quality of the show in August from reporters who had viewed the premiere at the Television Critics Assn. press tour, she responded, “I think that the episode that you guys have seen is still a bit of a work in progress.”
Thanks to an innovative financing deal with Imax, “Inhumans” comes to ABC with most of its production costs covered, reducing the pressure for the show to perform well when it debuts Sept. 29. The first two episodes of the program were screened in Imax theaters for a week starting Labor Day weekend. The stunt grossed about $1.5 million domestically in nearly 400 theaters, but it also generated more tepid buzz for the series, which revolves around a society of superpowered people who live in a secret colony on the moon.
“Inhumans” has not been the only source of friction between ABC and Marvel. Earlier this year, the mandate came down from Disney for ABC to renew its other Marvel drama, “Agents of SHIELD,” despite the desire by some at the network to end the series after four seasons. Having aired on Tuesdays since its inception, “SHIELD” is shifting to Friday nights this season when “Inhumans” finishes its initial eight-episode run.
With linear ratings across television in decline, ABC is not alone in facing a host of challenges this season. But if the network has any hope of improving its lot in the ratings race, it will likely need “Idol” to perform in superheroic fashion, and for internal instability to come to a swift conclusion.