Image: ABC

ABC troubled Inhumans television show premiered on network TV last Friday to passable ratings, despite being widely-panned by the press. The show is, by most accounts, a mess from top to bottom, but there are a few moments where you get the distinct sense that in another universe, it could have been great

The easiest way of describing what wrong with Inhumans as a whole is that too many corners were (obviously) cut to produce the show on a tight budget. The show’s costumes, sets, and special effects all feel like they belong on a web series and not a multimillion dollar production meant to compare with the likes of Agents of SHIELD, a Marvel television show that’s shown off just how important spending money on VFX is.

Some of the cut corners, like Medusa’s hair, end up making Inhumans look like an ill-conceived attempt at adapting a story too large for television. Others, though, like Karnak’s powers of perception, come off as genuinely clever and inventive. In the comics, despite not having undergone terrigenesis, Karnak is able to sense and exploit the structural weaknesses in things to his advantage. Inhumans riffs a bit on Karnak’s powers by turning him into something more akin to probability calculator who can think his way through multiple scenarios at superhuman speed. Instead of simply punching things where they’re weakest, this Karnak visualizes the world around him as a series of choices and potential outcomes that he keeps track of with a series of glowing sigils only he can see.

Though Karnak’s big fight scene in Inhumans’ first episode is nothing to write home about, this take on Karnak and his powers are a solid example of the sort of good ideas that are sprinkled all the show—albeit hidden beneath a plethora of other problems. It’s obvious that Inhumans isn’t working with the funds that the project deserves, but hopefully the remaining episodes of the season make an effort to smartly work around their budgetary constraints in a way that makes the show worth watching.