No, HDR is about fucking with contrast in one part of the image and fucking with contrast differently in another part of the image.
It looks terrible every fucking time, and it's less accurate than just linearly plotting everything after setting your curves once for the whole image.
It's absolutely retarded to have a curve that is different over different parts of the same image.
Effectively every sentence you wrote is completely wrong. What you are calling "HDR" is actually "localized tone mapping" it's a filter effect like adjusting the histogram, it's not HDR. Your reaction is like someone looking at a red/green anaglyph stereo image (http://www.designcommunity.com/scrapbook/images/125.jpg) without glasses on and saying "This 3D business is AWFUL, the colors are all weird and the image is doubled. It doesn't look dimensional at all!"
HDR just means "High Dynamic Range". HDR displays are about accurately reproducing the world as captured on a display. So if you have a bright flashlight, the bulb could theoretically be so bright on screen that you have to squint or shield your eyes. That would probably be a poor aesthetic choice but it's not about doing localized tone mapping, it's about reproducing the world as it really exists slightly better. The trick is that they want to reproduce 16+ stops of luminance data and they don't want to break HDMI or BluRay. So their trick is to heavily compress the say 20 stops of dynamic range into only 10 bits. That means they have a gamma curve which is non-linear. And that's nothing new. Almost every single image in existence is gamma encoded in either Rec709 or sRGB's gamma. Because in order to store a SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) image like a jpeg you would be wasting a lot of data on precision the human eye can't see when stored in linear.
HDR photography does not require multiple exposures. HDR photography is just high dynamic range capture. A modern sensor like Alexa or RED can capture 18 stops of dynamic range. That is on the low end but in a single exposure already HDR.
HDR is not shit. HDR is exactly what you want "A wider range" of contrast. Instead of displaying black to gray, HDR can display black to blinding white. It's arguably and in my experience far more impressive than higher resolution.