The Worst TV of 2017
Ah, another year gone by, another myriad of awful shows to whine about when I could just turn off the TV and get some bloody fresh air for a change. If you’re wondering why there are no movies on this list, my worst-of list for the world of cinema will be up on No But Listen later this week! But for now, let’s focus on the disappointments of the small screen, and count down the worst shows of the year.
As soon as I saw everyone wanking themselves silly over this German fantasy/sci-fi show and calling it “Stranger Things for grown-ups”, I knew I had to give it a shot. Shame, then, that it was such an unremitting pile of bollocks. No, okay, that’s not true: the direction was pretty solid, and the story had some interesting twists, but this was a show completely devoid of character. I don’t mind unlikeable leads, but every character in this show was so inadvertently repulsive or pathetic and just stuck in that stolid stasis that I found myself all but booing every time any of them wandered on screen. This, plus the inherent and unavoidable smugness of the central plot, pissed me off enough to finish it but hate every second.
5. Doctor Who
I reviewed every episode of this season, and re-reading those recaps is to follow my despairing path into realizing that a show that I once loved more than anything else on TV has turned into hot garbage. Compassionless, dry, boring, smug, and often times just unfathomably awful, this isn’t just on this list because it’s a drop-off or a disappointment: it’s here because it truly was one of the weakest, most turgid seasons of TV out in 2017. And it pains me to say that. I’ll have you yet, Moffat (in just over a week, in fact, when you’re done with my precious baby show for good).
4. Iron Fist
Yup, this is far from an unpopular opinion, but I’d be doing a disservice if I left it off here. There have been more strikingly bad shows than this one, but Iron Fist had a certain grinding awfulness that the rest of these entries lack. It’s bad in a really, really uninteresting way – it’s not that it shot for greatness and failed, but was content milling about in the shallow waters of mediocrity. If it hadn’t been for Finn Jones’ surgically charisma-free performance, it might have snuck by as just underwhelming, but with his almost inspired blandness, Danny Rand and company earn a spot on this list.
Look, I’m a big-ass fan of the Preacher comics and I really wanted to love the TV adaptation – looking back at my review of the premier, it’s just oozing hope that this is going to be the adaptation I wanted it to be. But it wasn’t, and it isn’t: stuck in stalling for two straight seasons and grotesquely underusing the excellent Ruth Negga in what should be an amazing role for her, it’s packed to the brim with all the worst bits from the comics (hey, you remember when they played a rape for laughs? Because it was a dude? Excuse me to check to see if my sides have split) but ignoring the breathless forward momentum that kept that story afloat. This? This is stagnant, boring, a grasping parody of what made the comics so anarchic, fascinating, and compelling.
2. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has been bullshit for years now (I write at least nine despairing articles a year on this, trust me), but this year – both the end of season seven and the beginning of eight – have just been staggeringly, almost unbelievably awful. How can a show that has this much budget, this many talented actors, this much history of alleged competence, fail to produce even entertaining episodes of TV? For the momentary flashes of good in this show, it seems committed to getting it wrong, with Jeffery Dean Morgan trying to fucking limbo his way out of the show at every opportunity and even Andrew Lincoln looking exhausted by the dozenth “the REAL monsters are HUMANITY” monologue he’s had to deliver this season. The Walking Dead is so exhaustingly bad in so many ways I almost commend anyone still watching it for being able to make it through that flaming dog turd of a show this far into the game.
Fuck Sherlock. No, not just this season, not just that awful Christmas special: fuck Sherlock. We all fell for it, didn’t we, that glossy, ostensibly clever take on the classic Conan Doyle series, but we were fucking wrong. There’s not heart to this, no soul, no anything at this point but Martin Freeman yelling “we’re not gay!” into the void and I’m not sure there ever was. This last season just brought us all to our senses. Mark Gatiss sniffed that people who couldn’t keep up with it getting too complicated shouldn’t watch, but he didn’t address those who just thought it had turned into a convoluted mess. In retrospect, I think the show has always been this bad – I certainly can’t think of an episode that improved or even really truly captured the spirit of the original novel series, but yet was too enslaved to it to really strike out into any meaningful territory of it’s own. Add to that the shameless queerbaiting for a salivating Tumblr audience and the gross underserving of it’s women characters (“characters”), this show is a nightmare of epic proportions. This shit got released in cinemas. You remember that? That’s how much faith we put into it. For reasons I just can’t remember any more. I guess Benedict Cumberbatch looked nice in a long coat?
There’s no effort here, not in script, not in performance from the main cast at least, and barely in direction. Blisteringly, almost aggressively stupid and just all-round a relentless piece of shit, even though these episodes were more than ten months ago, they have seared themselves into my memory as the cringe-inducing nadir of the small screen this year. Let it die. Let it burn.
So, those are my worst picks for the year: what did you hate on television this year? Any performances, episodes, or moments that stood out particularly? Any shows you quit completely? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!
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