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10th of December 2018


10 Times Bizarre CGI Hurt TV Shows (And 10 Times It Saved It)

It's a different time for television. While it was seen as a secondary medium to cinema in the past, the tables have turned. Now, it's the preferred model of entertainment as more and more people refuse to venture outside of their homes to get their story fixes.

As a result, networks and production companies are spending astronomical amounts on their television shows. According to a report from Variety, each episode of the final season of Game of Thrones will cost a staggering $15 million – that's a bigger budget than most Adam Sandler films (though the comparison is unfair based purely on the fact that even a cheaper Game of Thrones would be superior).

The bulk of a television show's budget flies out of the coffers to big stars, producers, directors, writers, locations, and CGI companies nowadays. The latter, in particular, plays a massive role as the audience expects the visuals to be up to the same scratch as Hollywood blockbusters. In some instances, the viewers get more than their money's worth, whereas there are other times when the final product makes you wonder what the showrunners were thinking.

All things considered, let's take a gander at the 10 Times Bizarre CGI Hurt TV Shows (And 10 Times It Saved It).

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Start Now advertising 20 Hurt: Terra Nova's Dinosaurs

Terra Nova was an ambitious sci-fi drama series. From the get-go, it was evident that it would need a massive budget to match its big desire. After all, no one wants to watch a show where dinosaurs appear as if they were created on Windows 95. (The Asylum already does enough of that type of CGI.)

Unfortunately, there were more than a few iffy moments with the prehistoric creatures looking less than spectacular on the small screen. Corners were cut to hurry up the series – since it had already taken so long to produce – and it was glaringly obvious in the final product. Despite a strong showing in the international market, Terra Nova was made extinct after 13 episodes.

19 Saved: The Flash's Speed Force advertising

Much has been said about The Flash's special effects. At times, they're really good – such as the rare appearances of King Shark and Gorilla Grodd – but they can also look equally bad, especially in the speedster fights. Thankfully, the show seems to have nailed down its depiction of the Speed Force after five seasons.

It's simple and involves using the different colored lightning for the relevant speedster. Unfortunately, with the nature of speedsters, it'll always be difficult to display the superpower in a way that appeases everyone. Just look at 2017's Justice League as an example – many critics voiced their displeasure at how Ezra Miller's Barry Allen ran in the end sequence of the film.

18 Hurt: The Capitol In Pretty Little Liars

To be honest, it's surprising to be including Pretty Little Liars on this list. The popular television show was more about drama and backstabbing than anything else, so why would it need CGI? As it turns out, the series didn't have an unlimited budget and required some computer-enhanced effects that fell rather flat.

Rather than film on location, it was decided to use the fabled green screen to recreate the U.S. Capitol in season six. The shot features Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) sitting on a bench in front of the recognizable building in D.C. Despite the best of intentions here, the scene ended up being so bad and fake-looking that some fans demanded it be reshot.

17 Saved: Werewolf Transformation In Hemlock Grove

Hemlock Grove is the perfect example of being ahead of its time. Produced by Eli Roth and featuring an all-star cast consisting of Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Lili Taylor, and Bill Skarsgård, this horror show debuted too soon and would've found more success in a climate that embraced the genre.

Even so, it tried to do things a little differently than its contemporaries – particularly the werewolf transformation. Yes, it was absolutely brutal to behold and you wondered how it didn't snap someone's neck in the process, but it largely did the job and left an impression. If anything, it made turning into a werewolf a cool thing again after Twilight had left a bitter taste in fans' mouths.

16 Hurt: Bones' Driving Scenes

Bones had one heck of a run, lasting 246 episodes across 12 seasons. That's a mean feat in an era when people's attention spans last as long as a politician's promise. The procedural drama, starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, delighted a generation of fans and many are still sad the show isn't on the air.

For the most part, Bones made good use of practical effects and grounded itself in realism and simplicity. However, it was also caught fiddling with the green screen a few times. Whenever the leads got behind the wheel of the car, there was often something a little strange with their scenery. It turns out they weren't really driving anywhere at times.

15 Saved: Once Upon A Time's Creatures advertising

It's weird how fairy-tale productions have struggled outside of the Disney animation sphere. This is why Once Upon a Time was a welcome change to the norm. Sure, it might not have left as big a dent on popular culture as some of its peers, but it provided quality entertainment for the most part.

Most of its success was due to the recreation of various creatures on the series. Even though the showrunners didn't have Game of Thrones money, they took what they had and hired good CGI teams to bring the creations to life on the small screen. Of course, there were a few hits and misses, but all in all, we weren't disappointed.

14 Hurt: Medusa's Hair In Inhumans

Even before it was released, no one gave Inhumans much of a chance. You see, this series was Marvel's attempt at making these characters as big as the X-Men, when they weren't as popular as Xavier's mutants in the comic books to begin with. It didn't help that the CGI in the trailers was laughably bad, either.

Things didn't get any better when the show was actually released. Medusa's hair effects became the subject of many memes, and fans struggled to take her superpower seriously. Coupled with the low ratings and critical bashing, Inhumans was put out of its misery after eight episodes. It's living proof that not all comic book properties will automatically bring in a crowd.

Featured Today 13 Saved: Merlin's Dragon

There have been numerous adaptations of Merlin throughout the years – some good and some bad. However, the 2008 British series Merlin was met with positive ratings and lasted a whole five seasons. Largely influenced by Smallville, it followed the early years of the wizard and all the adventures he went on.

Due to all the sorcery and fantastical nature of the show, we saw special effects fairly often. The biggest usage of it came with the Great Dragon (as voiced by John Hurt). While the animated dragon isn't on the same quality level as Smaug from The Hobbit series, he was incredibly cute. In fact, you'll struggle to see dragons as vicious creatures after seeing this one.

12 Hurt: The Deer In The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead prides itself on its usage of practical effects and makeup. A lot of work goes into making the zombies appear as realistic as possible – even if the show spends half its time following the moping humans as they roam from location to location, whining and betraying each other.

There are times, though, when special effects have had to be used, especially when it comes to animals. One of the most infamous scenes involved the fakest-looking deer you'll ever see in the season seven episode "Say Yes". Fans raged about how awful and unrealistic it looked, but you could probably notch that down to the pent-up anger over the show's decline in quality over the years.

11 Saved: Westworld's Tiger advertising

Remarkably, for a sci-fi show, Westworld doesn't employ a huge amount of special effects for its sequences. It tends to rely more on the deep storytelling, visionary direction, and picturesque scenery to hook the viewers in. That isn't to say that it's ignored CGI altogether, though.

In season two's third episode "Virtù e Fortuna", we encounter one of the loveliest and most dangerous predators on Earth: the tiger. Naturally, a real wild animal wasn't used on set, so a CGI model was utilized instead. While it could've been far too easy for the creature to look inauthentic, this one didn't. In fact, this striped cat replaced Tony the Tiger as our new favorite television tiger.

10 Hurt: Burning Crowd In Spartacus

Spartacus has a warm place in all of our hearts. The acclaimed show was like the perfect merger between 300 and Game of Thrones, as it combined history, action, and drama into the total package. Even to this day, many fans consider it the ideal archetype for future action series.

It wasn't all perfect, though, as it suffered from a host of dodgy special effects. Throughout its seasons, we witnessed more than a few moments that made us scrunch our noses and wonder what the creators were thinking. One of the more infamous mishaps is when bogus fires break out in a crowd. Not only do the flames look suspect, but so do the computer-generated people.

9 Saved: Ghost Rider On Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Despite the odds, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has successfully crafted its own space in the MCU, without relying on the Avengers. Whereas other shows might've lacked the subtly to allude to a larger shared universe, this one proved all the detractors wrong. At the same time, it's also introduced some fan-favorites into the mix – most notably, the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider, as played by Gabriel Luna.

While our previous meetings with the Spirit of Vengeance was in the Nicolas Cage films, Luna's outings proved to have better overall CGI than the movies. You could even argue that it was his character's addition to the show's fourth season that riled up more interest from the general audience.

8 Hurt: Vanity Fair's Backgrounds

There's a new miniseries on the block grabbing all the headlines. Based on the 1848 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair is proving to be the period drama we never knew we wanted. In fact, the 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes only adds further credence to this statement.

Unfortunately, the series' premiere episode wasn't a home run hit for many of its viewers. Fans were left bemused by the usage of sloppy digital effects and why they were utilized for a period piece in the first place. Additionally, there was a lot of anger at the fact that London and other background scenes were brought to life using CGI and not filmed on location.

7 Saved: The Night King's Flight In Game Of Thrones advertising

We've already mentioned Game of Thrones' sizable budget for production. It's undoubtedly a luxury that allows the series to venture into uncharted territories and make the showrunners' vision come to life on a grander scale. Still, there's a lingering feeling that some CGI might look out of place at some point.

One of the biggest concerns was the Night King's ride on the dragon. It could've been a spectacular failure, but it turned into one of the show's most iconic moments. In fact, the digital effects on display could've made big Hollywood blockbusters blush. It's almost unfathomable to think about how Game of Thrones' final season will top what we've seen, but we think it will somehow.

6 Hurt: Hal Cooper's Green Eyes In Riverdale

At this point, Riverdale doesn't make sense to anyone. While it started out as the teen version of Twin Peaks, it's now devolved into something else – and it's all the better for it. Last season's main arc involved the mysterious Black Hood and all the filled graves he left in his wake.

The big reveal was that the Hood was actually Hal Cooper, Betty's father. There's a moment when Betty looks into her father's eyes and sees they're the same shade of green as the Hood's. The problem is, Hal's eyes are CGIed and they looked bad – like 2011 Green Lantern bad. It's obvious this was one of those times when the show ran out of ideas and just said stuff it.

5 Saved: Supergirl's Martian Manhunter Reveal

To be fair, Supergirl suffers from some so-so special effects. There are some real doozies that you can't excuse and it could benefit from fewer episodes so that the CGI budget could be increased and bettered. After all, shorter season runs seem to be the way of the superhero future.

With that said, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Martian Manhunter reveal in the first season of the show. Combining practical effects with CGI, David Harewood's J'onn J'onzz made every single Justice League fan squeal in delight. The design embraced the comic book roots, while also ensuring that it didn't look too cartoony for a live-action adaptation. Everyone involved deserves a round of applause for Martin Manhunter's terrific look.

4 Hurt: Darkseid In Smallville

Darkseid is the baddie of all baddies in the DC Universe. He's truly the granddaddy of them all and his appearance should shake the very core of any medium. Due to Warner Bros.' meddling, we sadly didn't get to see him in 2017's Justice League, but he did make a live-action appearance in Smallville.

The problem is, he was largely CGI and a non-corporeal being. The showrunners decided to make him more of a shadowy presence than an actual physical specimen and this harmed the villain in the long run. It's Darkseid – make him as incredible and realistic as humanly possible. After all, Marvel envisioned Thanos in the right way, so DC could do the same here as well.

3 Saved: Titans' Beast Boy Transformation advertising

There was a lot of pressure on Titans from the beginning. Not many fans were happy with the first trailer or the look of Ryan Potter's Beast Boy. There were grumblings that the show would be on the cheap side and feature mediocre special effects.

Fortunately, the DC Universe series has dispelled all concerns by showcasing an array of dazzling effects. All the fears about Beast Boy and his superpowers have been allayed as his transformations have been some of the highlights of Titans. While we haven't seen him change into a variety of animals, his tiger is certainly a sight to behold. We can't wait to see how far the show pushes his transformations next season.

2 Hurt: Jeremiah's Joker Transformation On Gotham

No matter what your personal feelings of Gotham are, there's no denying that Cameron Monaghan's performance as the prototype Joker has been exceptional. Whether as Jerome or Jeremiah Valeska, Monaghan has stolen the show in every scene he's appeared in. In fact, he's even made Jared Leto's Joker look like a chump.

That said, it's disappointing that the big moment of Jeremiah's transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime was riddled with comically bad CGI. It was meant to be one of the defining scenes of the entire show, yet it turned into something that could've been straight out of a low-budget '90s movie. Thankfully, it was brief and didn't cause too much pain to the viewers.

1 Saved: Beebo Versus Mallus In Legends Of Tomorrow

While no one really knew what to expect from Legends of Tomorrow, it's safe to say we've embraced the insanity of it all. This show knows what it is and is unapologetic about it. In addition, how could we ever dislike a series that features Beebo?

Speaking of Beebo, Legends of Tomorrow turned into the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for the season three episode "The Good, The Bad and the Cuddly". Beebo transformed into a super-sized version of itself as it did battle with the demon Mallus. Yes, it was incredibly cheesy and a so-bad-that-it's-good moment, but it was unforgettable. Beebo is not the hero that the CW needs, but the one that it deserves!


Tell us, are there any other times when CGI hurt or saved a TV show? Let us know in the comments!

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