Third-episode verdict: See (Apple TV+)

Possibly the worst TV programme ever made

Apple TV+'s See

Available on Apple TV+

The thing about sci-fi and fantasy is that no matter how terrible it gets, somebody somewhere will think it’s great. Objectively speaking, there are mops used for wiping the floors of hospital wards of diarrhoeic patients that contribute more to world culture than certain sci-fi shows, but they’ll still gel with some aspect of someone’s subconsciousness, light some imaginative spark somewhere or get someone’s blood flowing because of a tiny-costumed actor or actress. And they will watch, long past the point when sanity, decency or the human soul should have stopped them.

How else to explain the success of Uwe Boll?

I’m assuming that either a TV commissioner at Apple is aware of this fact or the above rule applies to TV commissioners as well as audience members, because there is no other explanation for See.

Or the fact that in a good seven to ten months, some Internet denizen will come across this review, ignore the posting guidelines and accuse me of having a personal axe to grind, no taste, a hatred of all things good and pure, a love of panning things (despite my having recommended more than 100 TV shows in my time), or being in the pay of the Illuminati, Microsoft or Netflix (who may all be one and the same) – because all independent and fair-minded thinkers will agree it’s The Best Show Ever.

It will happen.

You see, See is not the best TV show ever. Indeed, it’s a candidate for the worst TV show ever. But that won’t stop somebody somewhere from ABSOLUTELY LOVING IT. BE QUITE YOU PTHETIC H8TERS! Or a TV commissioner at Apple from already having renewed it for a second season. It’s sci-fi.

Jason Momoa in See
Jason Momoa in Apple TV+’s See

Oh say can you See?

See stars Jason Momoa. You may know him from Game of Thrones, The Red Road or Aquaman, as well as the metric fuck-ton of terrible TV shows he’s also starred in (Baywatch, Stargate Atlantis, Frontier). He’s a charismatic and extremely good looking actor. He is literally the only reason to watch it.

It’s set 600 years after a virus has wiped out all but a couple of million members of the human race, all of whom are now blind. Society has evolved and regressed to deal with its new situation, with technology a thing of the past, groups living together in small villages and a religion centred on oppressing everyone by telling them vision is evil.

Momoa plays Baba Voss who Let’s stop right there in the middle of that sentence because you should already be laughing your socks off. Yes, Baba Voss. Maybe you aren’t. Maybe there’s something about it being written down that means you’re not laughing yet. But after you hear it for the third or even fifth time, you’ll start to snigger. That’s even before you hit the likes of “Tamacti Jun”, “Gether Bax” and “Haniwa”.

Let’s stick with ‘Momoa’ in print, then. Momoa leads a village in the middle of the American wilderness. One day, a woman pregnant with the children of would-be revolutionary Tamacti Jun comes to the village. Despite the risk of the ‘witchfinders’ coming to the village after her, Momoa takes her in and looks after her and her children as they grow up.

However, it’s not long before the new family discovers that the children have a secret ability: the ability to see. Will the witchfinders come for them and what will they do with their ability?

Do you honestly care? And if you do, can you be helped?


See stars

I must confess I blinked a couple of times when I saw that BAFTA-nominated writer Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Amazing Grace, Eastern Promises, Peaky Blinders) was responsible for this ejection of cliché, stupidity and minimal research. Sure, he also gave us The Detectives with Jasper Carrot, Who Wants to be A Millionaire, and Taboo, but all the same, it’s not like he can’t write at all, is it? He’s not “six episodes of Holby City and a B-movie filmed in Bulgaria”, is he?

So let’s charitably assume that some monster somewhere ripped his scripts to shreds during production, which is why we now have something that feels like it’s been licking lead paint off soldiers since it was first born.

Imagine a world where no-one can see – but used to be able to. What would it be like? Would all technology have disappeared or would we still have access to electricity from renewable sources? Would all knowledge have disappeared or would talking books, braille and oral traditions have enabled it to have been preserved?

If all the world was blind, would they communicate using pieces of string?

Your profound thoughts are for nothing as See isn’t really imagining such a world. It just wants to do Mad Max with blind people. Not actual blind people, of course. Don’t be stupid. What would blind people know about not seeing things?

Look at the average blind person walking about cities with a stick to help them? It’s not exactly telegenic is it, a whole bunch of people walking around with sticks? Or guide dogs? How dumb’s that when they could just walk around with their hands in front of them or magically being able to hear and feel every single rock around them like Daredevil? I mean you could give them sticks, but only to steady themselves with and only if they’re not the leads, obviously.

And of course any new religion is going to spend all its time saying vision is bad and is going to be based on shagging. You want to pray to God? Then someone would have to go down on you, wouldn’t they? Stands to reason, doesn’t it? That’s how all religions have worked before.

And if you’re going to torture heretics, you’re going to have them in the middle of a vast warehouse hanging in the air for everyone to see, aren’t you? In this post-apocalyptic blind world.


I don’t want to See

See is like a relentless, never-ending barrage of that idiocy. Every few minutes, to its credit, it tries to come up with something innovative. There are actual efforts to come up with political structures, such as village parliaments. There are ‘shadows’, who are people who are so skilled at moving around undetected that they can literally be sitting in the same room as a whole bunch of people for a meeting and they’ll never notice them.

And then you’ll remember you’re living in a world where no one knows there’s a moon (apparently), yet they’re still using visual metaphors like ‘shadows’ for things you can’t sense. Even though you can sense shadows.

Similarly, the show has some pretty decent fight scenes. Someone, somewhere has put real thought into how fighting might work in a world where no one can see. Actors will be touchier, feelier, closer than they would be in most scenes. Momoa even plays a relatively old man with decent sensitivity whenever the script allows him.

And then you’ll notice that everyone’s looking off into the distance rather than at each other, despite their heightened senses being able to pinpoint a rat at 20 feet. Exactly like blind people don’t.

And you’ll remember that See is just the worst.

Alfre Woodard in See
Alfre Woodard in See

See what happens

Let us, though, put all these problems down to blind people somehow being unavailable to Knight during the writing. They’re never around when you want them, are they?

But that doesn’t explain away all the rest of the idiocy. For example, if you’re 12 years old and you’re given some instructions written using string, you’ll be able to use said string to learn how to correctly read and write English, while absorbing the wealth of all human knowledge, in just a few years – as all teenagers are wont to do in agrarian economies, while trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and simultaneously trying to hide from everyone the fact they can see.

Need to make a bow and arrow to hunt by the light of the ball of burning hydrogen 93 million miles away? Then I’ve got the piece of string for you. You’ll pick it up in no time with no practice. Cos archery is easy, everyone knows that.

Now, I could nitpick the absolute nonsense of all of this for a good 2,000 more words if I felt like it. I sat through three episodes of See – I’ve earned the right to rant.

But charitably, let’s just take all this nonsense to by ‘mythic’. It’s not literal, it’s a myth. Myths are allegories. Maybe there’s even a tribe somewhere that Knight has based this all on.

Fine. But myths still need to be good and I could easily spend my 2,000 words ripping to shred the dialogue and the plotting instead.

The script is just hackneyed nonsense about saviour children, trying to get over troubled pasts and the dangers of oppression and religion. Oh no, the priestess is really miffed at the would-be prophet… because they used to be lovers!

Are humans worthy of sight? Won’t we just destroy the planet if we can see? As a moral quandary, it’s a fresh hell that doesn’t need even a primary school class to sort out, let alone two seasons of post-apocalyptic TV.

See you later

I have plenty of Apple devices. I’ve written for every Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad magazine in the UK and some in the US as well, that’s how dedicated I’ve been to Apple in the past. Yet, despite being free, See actually made me want to bin them all and use Windows 10 instead, it’s so astonishingly bad.

Whatever you do, don’t watch it.

Barrometer rating: 5


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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