From House of the Dragon to Andor and beyond, there was a ton of great TV in 2022, especially if you were a fan of sci-fi or fantasy. A few years after the end of Game of Thrones, we’re in a boom time for genre entertainment. Everybody wins.
Except the losers. Not every new show can be a hit, and while there were plenty of series to get excited about this year, there were some that came up short, or even fell flat on their faces. Let’s talk about them.
Before we start, I’d like to qualify that I’m here to talk about some of the disappointments of 2022, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as “the worst shows.” Like…Netflix’s Resident Evil show looked pretty bad ahead of time, and then ended up being pretty bad. Now it’s canceled. My expectations were never high enough to be disappointed by it, so it’s not a part of this discussion.
So, with that caveat out of the way, let’s begin the walk of shame:
His Dark Materials season 3
I had such high hopes for this HBO series. The His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman are justly celebrated not only for their imaginative world-building and engaging kids-go-on-an-adventure story, but also for their engagement with weighty themes of hierarchy, maturity and religious fundamentalism, all of it packaged in a way that’s accessible to younger readers as well as older. They’re tricky books, but if anybody could get them right, it would be HBO.
So did they? Well…kinda, here and there. The His Dark Materials show was never bad, but it lacked the punch the story deserved. The storytelling wasn’t nimble enough; way too much of this show felt like a dull slog, no matter how many talking polar bears and angel battles it threw at us. His Dark Materials focused too much on the adults over the kids, stretched out parts of the book it could have zipped through, and generally didn’t feel as whiz-bang fun as it should, or as dark and ominous. The effects were good, the performances were (mostly) good, and the intentions were pure, but there was a blandness to this show it never quite overcame.
The third and final season of His Dark Materials aired this year. And to be fair, it was easily the best yet, and had an ending I thought was actually worthy of the source material. But by that point, it was kind of too little, too late.
So farewell, His Dark Materials. It wasn’t the best of shows, it wasn’t the worst of shows, and now it’s over.