David Zurawik
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For 168 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 60% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 38% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

David Zurawik's Scores

Average review score: 67
Highest review score: 100 Mad Men: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Do Not Disturb: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 22 out of 168
168 tv reviews
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    The smartest and funniest sitcom on television. [19 Jul 1995]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    It's better than ever. [David] Simon has always been good, but he seems to have truly matured this year as both a writer ... and executive producer. No one is making richer television drama than he is right now. [18 Sep 2004]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    In its first season, I thought it was the best cop drama on television. Last year, I thought it was the best drama - period. What's left, the best series in American television? It almost goes without saying. [3 Mar 2001]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    Mozart wrote finales for his operas by focusing on a theme sounded in the opening notes, then expanding and building upon it through repetition and the amplification of other voices for a glorious ending. So is David Chase, creator and executive producer of The Sopranos, writing the finale for this landmark TV series - and if this isn't art, then neither is Mozart.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    There is little precedence within television history for the rich portrayal of working class life as depicted by The Wire. [1 Jun 2003]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    I love The Shield so much, I spent the two weeks since I saw it wondering if I could bring myself to actually say in print what I thought after screening the first three episodes: This is better than "Homicide: Life on the Street." If you've been reading The Sun for any length of time, you know I face East, bow my head and light incense in an act of worship at the mere mention of that late, great, ratings-challenged NBC drama. [12 Mar 2002, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    The final scene is a moment of pure TV story-telling mastery straight through to the sounding of "Tobacco Road." And you can feel the surge of energy it releases in Draper's psyche--and the series--practically radiating off the screen.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    While there is no shortage of narrative theorists who talk about detective fiction as being most successful when it is like a puzzle, no one on network television has ever managed to create a series that could make viewers feel as if they were actually putting together a puzzle piece by piece as they watched. Perhaps the nearest anyone came was the writing team of Richard Levinson and William Link with their pilot for Peter Falk's Columbo, but Boomtown is light years beyond what Levinson and Link were doing in the 1970s. [28 Sept 2002, p.1D]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    Case closed: 24 is the best drama on network TV.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 20 David Zurawik
    The university setting is intended to lend some intellectual weight to all the sexual imagery and conversation, but the road to mediocre TV drama is paved with such disingenuous intentions.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    While the police story line has never been stronger, the first seven episodes made available for preview contain nothing that matches the emotional power and sociological insight of the show at its best--namely the classroom scenes from Season 4.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Rock deals with a harsher teen reality than Cosby did in his Fat Albert days, but he is hitting the same universal notes of conflict, love, weirdness and strength found in close-knit families.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    It's Sutherland's performance that so elevates the hour. This is a feature film star at work, and his performance demonstrates why the folks who fill the big screen make much more money than most television stars. [6 Nov 2001]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    As hard as it might be to imagine after last year's dazzling debut, this period piece about life in a mid-sized Madison Avenue ad agency during the early 1960s returns tonight looking and feeling even stronger, smarter and more focused than it was.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    It is every bit as smart as you would expect something from Chase to be. It's built more on the limited-run model of British television than standard network fare. [9 Jan 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    I'm not saying "Treme" is necessarily in a league with "The Sopranos," "The Civil War" or even "Homicide" at its best. But the pilot moved me as those productions did--and in the world of television, that is something special.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    Ed still believes in the realm of possibility, and perhaps even in magic. And that's part of what makes Ed Stevens such a welcome addition to the prime-time landscape. [7 Oct 2000, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    I have now seen the pilot for Felicity four times. The first two times were just for enjoyment. The last two were reality checks to see if it is really as good as it seemed during the first two viewings. It is...Felicity is not just the best pilot. It is the one joy of the new network season. [29 Sept 1998, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Abrams brilliantly exploits several genres simultaneously - including reality TV with all that viewers have come to learn (or think they have come to learn) about group dynamics by watching CBS' Survivor the past four years. What's most impressive is the way that Abrams - through the skillful construction of character via credible dialogue and camera work that makes one feel almost situated within the group - makes Lost feel as if it is the real thing. [22 Sept 2004,p. 1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    This is television taking us on a journey into shared memory and the national past. This is television near the top of its game as the Great American Storyteller telling us who we were at one of our finest hours and, so, reminding us of what can be. [9 Sept 2001, p.2E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    At its best--during several moments of exquisite longing between the adult Ned and Chuck--Pushing Daisies feels so right that it almost redeems all the wrongs of such wretched new series as Cavemen or Carpoolers.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    But as perfect as Leary is in some ways to play the wounded and angry working man in midlife crisis, it is a one-note act...Leary is simply not an actor capable of other notes, let alone nuance. Anyone who saw him in the ABC cop series "The Job" has seen this character.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Offers a smart, sensitive and funny look at the first year of college life. [25 Sept 2001, p.3E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 85 Metascore
    • 63 David Zurawik
    Mackey is right where I left him years ago: again facing a disciplinary hearing that might mean the end of his career. As The Shield starts its seventh and final season, maybe it is time to say goodbye.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    There is some room for debate as to whether it is the best or only the second best new drama of the season, but there is no doubt it is the most daring. [26 Oct 1996]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 David Zurawik
    Tonight's episode does have a few moments when it goes over the comedy top and seems just a tad too broad. But who cares? Overall, it's a joy.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    If you watched FNL on DirecTV when it debuted Oct. 1 and appreciated the sheer genius of the season, you might be ready to see the episodes again.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    There is a near-perfect symmetry between the sensibility of Wright's book and the work of Simon and Burns.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    The power of the writing and performances are such that after just 30 minutes, you feel as if you know each of these characters intimately--and you find yourself already caring about them. And you wonder what role they will play in the troubled life and journey of Dr. Paul Weston.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    The writing is daring, the editing dazzling and bold... this is prime-time storytelling that pops.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Reading that vague description, you are certain there is nothing in the show to make you laugh. But if you watch, I guarantee you will at least smile in spite of your better impulses. I'm sorry, but this is some of David's best work.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Elizabeth I features two of the finest actors [Mirren and Irons] in film and television inspiring each other to some of the most spectacular work they have ever done.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    One of the most pleasant surprises of the new season. [5 Oct 2000, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    As improbable as the premise might sound, Bell's hard-edged performance makes it work. [22 Sept 2004,p. 1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 68 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    Neither Meloni nor Hargitay is a great actor, and both are guilty of overacting here...The limited range of each is suggested by their over-reliance on one or two basics moves. Meloni purses his lips and bugs his eyes out to tell us he's intense and/or getting mad. Hargitay runs her hand through her hair to tell us she's stressed. She does the hair thing so many times tonight you fear she'll have pulled all her hair out by midseason. [20 Sept 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    It has genuinely funny moments... [but] the biggest problem with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is the unevenness of the improvisation. [13 Oct 2000]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Desperate Housewives' style and dark, comic tone owe much to such groundbreaking cable productions as HBO's Six Feet Under. And, while the writing is no match for that of Alan Ball... several fine performances by an outstanding ensemble cast make Desperate Housewives one of the more wickedly entertaining network pilots of the fall. [3 Oct 2004]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Just sit down in front of the TV and savor the spirited and daring performances of Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as Big and Little Edie.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    While the action genre and, indeed, Friday nights on Fox, are most targeted at young men, particularly adolescent males, I have to admit I kind of like Firefly. I'm not sure, though, whether that says more about my level of maturity than it does the series' potential appeal to older viewers. [20 Sept 2002, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    The banter between Perry and Whitfield... is dazzling enough to make one forget the pilot's storytelling sins.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    Without a Trace is an engaging and resonant adult drama, which means it is just the kind of series that should rate a rave, except for one thing. There is a decided drop in quality between the pilot and episode two. [26 Sep 2002]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    The humor is dark, and the editing is fast-paced and often non-linear. The visual sensibility heightens the surreal quality of life and death with young Dr. Dorian as he careens like a bumper-car through his shift. [2 Oct 2001, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    The Eric character and his sort-of girlfriend, Donna (Laura Prepon), do provide a few sparks of interest in this ensemble of dumbed-down teens, but it's not enough for me...Fox calls the series "retro hip." I think it's retro dull. It probably seems a lot funnier if you are 16 and smoking pot. [22 Aug 1998, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Once again, the producers and writers are creating a show that speaks to and reflects its era more succinctly and dramatically than any other network series.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Its power radiates from the screen as forcefully as it does from the radio.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Let me tell you how much I like TNT's new drama series, Men of a Certain Age. The cable channel sent me five hours worth of screeners, and I watched all five back-to-back Saturday--and would have watched another five hours of the series if they had sent them.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    Dazzling...The West Wing is the one new series you do not want to miss. In fact, you don't even want to show up late for its start at 9 tonight. Walk the dog early, shut off the telephone at 8: 55, bribe the kids if necessary to get them in bed, just be there for the one new series that will remind you how exciting the fall network TV season used to be before the networks lost their way in bottom-line thinking and mega-corp greed. [22 Sept 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    But Joan of Arcadia has one other thing none of these had - a hard edge and a savvy sense of humor that keeps the drama from ever feeling saccharine or sappy. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    A well-crafted opening to a television drama is like an overture to a musical. To succeed, it must, however fleetingly, sound the major themes and melody of the piece, as well as suggesting its continuing sensibility. Tonight's opening is a great one. [2 June 2002, p.5E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    John Adams, a $100 million-plus production about the life and times of America's second president, is one of the most compelling miniseries of the decade.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    if you are a fan of Braugher's work in "Homicide" and you crave quality drama, this is a pilot you do not want to miss. [10 Oct 2000, p.1F]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    An engaging and illuminating look at the making of a Hollywood film and the business of manufacturing popular culture. [1 Dec 2001, p.1D]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    The deeper bow to the dictates of prime-time storytelling in this return to Hopkins by executive producer Terence Wrong and his ABC News documentary team isn't a bad thing. In fact, the choices made by Wrong and his digitally armed filmmaking troops result in a faster-paced, more engaging series.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    It's just plain good--fast-paced, emotionally engaging and even transporting at times. Much of the credit goes to Fishburne's performance, but there other important factors, like the way in which Stevens' script captures Marshall's liberating sense of humor, and the rich look of the overall production.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Surprisingly wise and moving.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 David Zurawik
    My Name Is Earl is not a stupid sitcom - that is what makes its sexist and homophobic jokes so maddening.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 David Zurawik
    There are just too many problems with the lead character and writing for this to ever become a PBS staple like "Inspector Morse" or "Miss Marple" had been.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Part science-fiction, part teen soap opera, part Shakespearean love story, with a healthy dose of "The Fugitive" thrown in, Roswell has more than enough to make a believer out of me. It might not be as good as "The West Wing" or "Once and Again," but it is my favorite new series of the fall season. [6 Oct 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    While the social work done by Life Support is exemplary, the production more than stands on its own as entertainment.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Nowhere in the media has the moral question of such [government-ordered] kills been explored with the texture and depth that Homeland brings to [just] one little scene Sunday.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    But it's going to take more than two or three minutes of near-art near the end of each hour to keep this series on the air. [29 Sept 2001, p.2D]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Funny, charming and smart.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    This is the bottom line: If you give this series three hours, you'll start caring about these characters, and that's no small accomplishment by the writers...But, during that time, the series more often feels like a network soap opera than it does a serious, groundbreaking drama. [2 Dec 2000, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 51 Metascore
    • 63 David Zurawik
    Stiller may not be enough to save this pack of wrongheaded cliches, but it will be fun watching him try. [21 Sept 1998, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    The Sheen persona wears thin after a while, and Jones is just another kid actor with a goofy-sweet face. But what could make this sitcom fly is Cryer. He injects Alan with a manic energy that literally lifts the pilot into a higher comic gear each time he begins to catalog or rant about all his anxieties and fears. [22 Sept 2003, p.1C]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    So daring, richly multi-dimensional and culturally provocative that it's almost anti-television. [3 June 2001, p.2F]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    An example of television getting it right. The themes -- teen angst, coming-of-age, puberty, loneliness, intimacy, connection and lack of connection to parents -- are skillfully woven into an engaging story line that reinterprets the 63-year-old mythology of Superman for a new generation...There is a major downside to Smallville -- the acting is pretty bad. [16 Oct 2001, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    With all four [actors] bringing their "A" games to the pilot, it looks as if CBS could have another winning 10 o'clock drama.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 David Zurawik
    Alias is one of the most non-linear and illogical pilots I have ever seen. It's also one of the most exciting television rides I've had in years. I love its energy. The breathless, roller-coaster montage of movement, color, action and emotion never quits. [29 Sept 2001, p.1D]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    Ugly Betty has high spirits, camp, couture, charm and heart.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    In the pilot, at least, Whedon manages to capture some of the same "Buffy" sensibility -- a rare combination of sexual energy, irony, intelligence, hot bodies, cool moves, action, menace and comic relief. The challenge is to sustain that tricky tone for a full season. [5 Oct 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 David Zurawik
    I like this show a lot. [21 Sep 1998]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 David Zurawik
    His team is formulaic - and that's not a good thing. Omar Epps plays neurologist Dr. Eric Foreman. He's African-American, and even though he had great medical school grades, House says he was chosen for his "street smarts." Jennifer Morrison is immunologist Dr. Allison Cameron, and, while she is beautiful and brainy, in the second episode, she acknowledges some sexual issues. Jesse Spencer, as intensive-care specialist Dr. Robert Chase, is from the WASP world of old money, but nothing he says or does in the first two episodes offers any social-class insights. [16 Nov 2004, p.1C]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Tonight's two-hour movie pilot has major problems in trying to pull off the tricky business of combining drama and elements of high comedy within the fairly rigid conventions of the TV detective drama. But the writing by Andy Breckman (Rat Race) and the performance of veteran character actor Tony Shalhoub (The Man Who Wasn't There) combine to deliver one of the most weirdly appealing television sleuths since Richard Belzer's Detective John Munch of Homicide: Life on the Street. [12 July 2012, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 61 Metascore
    • 63 David Zurawik
    While it doesn't work for me, I'll bet many of the WB's teen viewers who have just finished watching "Dawson's Creek" are going to love it. The girls will feel empowered; the boys, who have been lusting after the three, will be entertained by the violence and havoc they can generate. [7 Oct 1998, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    As entertainment, the pilot is a most impressive work of economic and focused storytelling.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    "Ally McBeal" is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it is bona fide quality TV. [8 Sep 1997]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 David Zurawik
    Don't ask how or why, but it works
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    What a fine piece of work. [4 Mar 1997]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 David Zurawik
    While Traffic: The Miniseries is definitely not in a league with its predecessors, there are still a number of things to like. [26 Jan 2004]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    The recession is driving all the madness, and Fey's genius is in turning our economic fear and anxieties into such a comedy romp.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    But the paranormal is not what counts. It's the FBI agents who matter -- they're one of TV's most interesting twentysomething couples. [10 Sept 1993, p.1D]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 73 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    While the story line speaks to loneliness and celebrates community belonging, the episode ultimately feels as flat and superficial as a mass-produced holiday greeting card.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    I like the way this series cuts to the moral bone and ties so much of the evil men and women do to our culture's excessive materialism, commercialism and obsession with appearances. [22 July 2003, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    True Blood, Academy Award-winner Alan Ball's steamy, sassy, sometimes nasty, but always thoroughly engaging, new HBO drama.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    It's smart, richly textured, complex and filled with suspense and intellectual challenge--in short, it has all the things network television is supposed to have abandoned in favor of cheap reality shows.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 20 David Zurawik
    The worst new high school show I can remember seeing in a while. I am not sure which of the leads I find less interesting -- Sam (Carly Pope), a wannabe journalist who mainly wants to sleep with her journalism teacher (Chad Lowe), or Brooke (Leslie Bibb), the cover-girl- perfect-looking cheerleader with the eating disorder. [29 Sept 1999, p.1E]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    It is not the greatest half-hour pilot I've ever seen, but it is mighty impressive in how much storytelling it compresses and how many cultural buttons it manages to push in 22 minutes. [26 Mar 1999]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    The acting is among the finest on television.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 David Zurawik
    It's all about superficial glitz: Pretty to look at, but utterly devoid of real dramatic meat on its bones. In the pilot, Duhamel's character is sleeping with Big Ed's flirty daughter, and Big Ed doesn't like it. I could care less. [22 Sept 2003, p.1C]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    The triumph of Parker's performance - just like that of James Gandolfini's depiction of Tony Soprano - is that she makes one care about Botwin in spite of all her flaws. [7 Aug 2005]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    Those viewers who can come to terms with Joey's voice will find themselves richly rewarded by the powerful performances of Tucker as Tommy Donnelly and Olivia Wilde as Jenny Reilly.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 David Zurawik
    Despite all the artifice and unreasonable expectations it's selling, "The Real World" is one superb television series. [28 Jun 1995]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 David Zurawik
    Borderline over-the-top moments threaten the sense of verisimilitude usually expected in prime-time drama.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 75 David Zurawik
    Crews is complicated, moody and downright strange most of the time, but in the hands of a talented team of writers and producers, it results in a drama that is funny, edgy and multilayered.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    Braugher's performance as Atwater is intense, scary, seductive and astonishing in its range of emotions. It leaves little doubt that he is still among the best actors ever to grace the medium.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 David Zurawik
    It's romantic, sentimental, sometimes stereotyped and, in the end, a great showcase for the considerable talents of Martin. [2 Apr 1994]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 David Zurawik
    Fairly likable in a bland sort of way - a very, very bland sort of way. [17 Sep 2002]
    • Baltimore Sun
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 David Zurawik
    It is a joy to see a first-rate, high-quality production featuring a genuine star. And this star is bringing his best game to an intelligent script that deals with challenging, knotty, complicated issues and characters that mirror the real world in which we live.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 David Zurawik
    Spin City is television as culture, and I am not sure whether a show like this merely plugs into the cynicism already in place in our country or creates more and more of it by making it seem like the hip, in-the-know way to be.[17 Sept 1996, p.]
    • Baltimore Sun