By Kevin McDonough
Here's a first. After watching the pilot of "Marvel's Inhumans" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG), I really wished I had read the comic books first. At least then I could possibly make sense of it. Or care.
"Inhumans" offers an otherworldly tale of mutant creatures so despised by earthlings that they have decamped for the moon. There, they have created a feudal society ruled over by a mute king, Black Bolt (Anson Mount), and his raven-haired queen, Medusa (Serinda Swan).
Black Bolt's brother, Maximus (Iwan Rheon), seems to have a thing for Medusa. And perhaps a past. But he's really interested in overthrowing the kingdom and leading the Inhumans back to Earth, seen here as a lush paradise not unlike the planet featured in "Avatar."
That's the story, as I understand it. "Inhumans" is a mess. It's literally hard to look at. The dialogue is so leaden that it often sounds as if it were dubbed. A wealth of computer graphics cannot compensate for cheap-looking sets. You can't help laughing when Medusa's clearly animated hairdo takes on a life of its own. But at least her locks have a personality, which is more than I can say for the expressionless queen.
For the record, this is the second new show this week (after Edie Falco's turn in "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders") where an actress is upstaged by her hair.
Too often, the show unfolds like a parody of a comic book adventure. I dare anyone to try to make sense of this disaster.
"Inhumans" is very much in the early lead for worst new network series of the season. It's the worst new show of any kind that I've seen for some time.
• "The Exorcist" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) enters a second season, and the anti-demonic shenanigans move from the skyscrapers of Chicago to a rural setting, where a home for troubled foster children becomes a center of diabolical activity.
I thought the Chicago setting made for chillier atmospherics than pickup truck shootouts. But clearly, the devil doesn't really care about your ZIP code.
• Netflix begins streaming "Big Mouth" (TV-MA), created by Nick Kroll ("Kroll Show") and Andrew Goldberg ("Family Guy"). It essentially follows clueless adolescent boys as they blunder their way through puberty, discussing sex, girls and desire with ignorance and bravado.
Listening to well-known grown-up actors, including Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele and Fred Armisen, give voice to these gross observations is a little disturbing. In the spirit of adolescence, the best word to describe this utterly smug and charmless series is "icky."
• Speaking of grown-ups, Netflix also begins streaming the 2017 romantic comedy "Our Souls at Night" (TV-14), starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford a half-century after they appeared together in "Barefoot in the Park." As you might have guessed, they play characters who meet and fall in love late in life.
• Tim Roth ("Reservoir Dogs") and Emmy-nominated Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men") star in the new 10-part thriller series "Tin Star" (TV-14), now streaming on Amazon Prime.
A remake of a silent film, the 1951 noir thriller "The Racket" (6:15 p.m., TCM) is best appreciated for its cool cast (Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Lizabeth Scott).
TONIGHT'S SEASON PREMIERES
• A soccer ball and a cellphone prove sufficient on "MacGyver" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• Past contestants return to "Hell's Kitchen" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• The 26th season of "Dateline" premieres (9 p.m., NBC) with a two-hour episode.
• A hacker helps an arsonist break out of prison on "Hawaii Five-0" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• Danny mulls retirement on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• "Craft in America" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) opens its season with a glance at the influence of Mexican artists.
• The new documentary series "Active Shooter: America Under Fire" (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-14) recalls mass shootings through the eyes of survivors and first responders. Tonight: Aurora, Colorado.
• "Z Nation" (9 p.m., Syfy, TV-14) enters its fourth undead season.
An elite team fights terrorists on "The Brave" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) * Dean Cain hosts four helpings of "Masters of Illusion" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).
Jerry Seinfeld is booked on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Will Forte, Terry Crews and Jack Whitehall on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Jennifer Lawrence, Caitriona Balfe, Ezra Klein and Elaine Bradley visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Elizabeth Olsen, Maya Rudolph and James Blunt appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
© 2017, United Feature Syndicate