James Poniewozik

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For 606 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

James Poniewozik's Scores

Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Angels in America
Lowest review score: 0 I Wanna Marry Harry: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 62 out of 606
606 tv reviews
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    [The new Fahrenheit 451] is generic, its critique muddled and its tone as subtle as a flamethrower.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    At typical drama length, this series might have been bogged down with plot digressions and expansions. As it is, it sometimes slips into melodrama, but the lapses pass quickly. Life may be too short, but Vida is just right.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It’s become a confident, emotionally rich series--but one that, by nature and obligation, is wrenching to watch. ... Often, though, The Handmaid’s Tale feels so determined not to be misread, to treat its subject with gravity, that its storytelling is heavy-handed and its peripheral characters stiff. Fortunately, the central performance is anything but. ... Without someone as expressive as Ms. Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale might not pull off its balancing acts.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Don’t expect too much improvement too fast from Westworld 2.0. It’s still overly focused on balletic blood baths and narrative fake-outs, and much of the dialogue still sounds as if it were written as a tagline for a subway poster, like Dolores’s “I have one last role to play: myself.” But Westworld remains a glorious production to look at, and there are stretches where it feels invigorated by its new, expanded world--freer to breathe, relax, invent.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    There seem to be two different shows competing for space in the six episodes provided for review. One is a laid-back, affecting comedy about second chances; the other is a clunky mishmash of broad gags. You can see this in the pilot. It’s rough, but it contains the makings of better things.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    The drama picks back up with a strong trio of opening episodes. ... The actors simply do whatever their characters would do in that situation, and the camera watches them. Not a single shot calls attention to itself (even a surprising angle on Philip looking down through the open sunroof of his car has a tossed-off feeling), and the editing is unobtrusive, carrying us from point to point.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Roseanne is a revival that’s willing to grapple with the time that’s passed rather than deny it. It’s feisty and funny and a little sad. And like that old couch you can’t throw out, it may just have a good year or two left in it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    The series, created by Mr. Hader and Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”), ingeniously mixes wetwork and dry irony. ... You don’t expect this comedy to find its target in the way it does.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    The performance cues you to see Lou as blinded, maybe a little ridiculous. But the show, especially early on, treats him as a heroic inspiration. This dissonance with his character makes Rise feel at times like someone remade “Waiting for Guffman” in the manner of “Dead Poets Society.” The young cast is good to terrific, and Rise is better the closer it gets to the kids’ stories.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    It is the same [as Season One]. And it is different. And that’s a wonderful, surreal, hilarious thing. ... Robbin’ Season is so good, it’s almost criminal.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    The resulting frying-pan-and-fire story line forces the three leads to confront how serious they are about being criminals. The problem, as enjoyable as Good Girls often is, is that it seems unsure how serious it is about being a crime story.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    Seven Seconds is good at showing its characters’ pain; it’s less effective at giving them a more rounded humanity, as Showtime’s series “The Chi”--also about the aftermath of violence--has done much better. But there’s a purity of dark vision driving the series, if you’re willing to take it without sweetener.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 30 James Poniewozik
    More often, Our Cartoon President manages to be mean and toothless at the same time. ... The show is just timely enough to be outdated.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It’s a formula, but damned if it doesn’t do the job and generate the tears, most of them happy.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    The Alienist needs to be assessed for its execution of already familiar genres. Judging from the early episodes, it’s fine: lush, moody, a bit stiff. But it’s nothing to clear your calendar for.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    This show’s race-forward sensibility and its older protagonist, conflicted about getting back into the game, give Black Lightning its spark.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    In a series that doesn’t meet its potential, “The Commuter” is the best of alternatives.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The new characters can still use fleshing out. Meanwhile, Ms. Shahidi’s laid-back, dry performance, a great fit with the more antic “black-ish” ensemble, takes getting used to as the focus of a series. What grown-ish does have from the get-go is a sense of itself and a lot to say.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Irony is Mr. Meyers’s thing, and he was deftly funny pointing it out. ... And Oprah Winfrey, accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, took the audience to church with a fervent, personal speech dedicated to abused women inside and outside Hollywood. ... For much of the night, though, it was a surprisingly ordinary Golden Globes. It wasn’t quite a celebration; it wasn’t entirely a protest.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    There is a police story, which moves slowly at the periphery and is so far not too distinctive. But in its best moments, The Chi offers a glimpse of the sort of stories these characters might live in if circumstance didn’t make them players in a murder case.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    A disturbing and delicious beast, a sendup of TV home shows that draws on Ms. Sedaris’s sunshiny comic versatility to explore the dark oddities in the back of the spice cabinet.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Ms. Brosnahan brings her [the character Midge] alive from the opening minutes. ... In word and deed, Mrs. Maisel is expansive and expressive. It talks with its hands.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The 2017 model is more than the sum of its references. More expansive than interior, more defiant than dreamy, it’s a vibrant if uneven work in heated conversation with itself. ... But Ms. Wise is a unifying presence.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    Like some past Showtime comedies (“Happyish,” “Nurse Jackie”), SMILF has an unsteady tone, swerving from emotional realism to quirkiness to slapstick raunch to abrupt fantasy sequences, in roughly descending order of what works best. There’s a riffing, open-mic quality to the first three episodes, as if the show were still trying on personalities.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    “Alias Grace” is a story about storytelling — one character compares Grace with Scheherazade — which makes Ms. Gadon essential to its success. She is mesmerizing.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    I’m not sure Stranger Things creatively needed a second season, and for several episodes it seems like Stranger Things 2 isn’t convinced of it either. But it’s a still a good time, it’s nicely paced at nine episodes and it blends the suspense of ’80s horror with the heart of an ’80s teen romance.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    Discovery feels like it’s adrift between the adventure-of-the-week format of its network-TV predecessors and the kind of complex serial favored by cable and streaming.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Mindhunter, whose first season appears Friday, is more academic than sensationalistic, at least in the two episodes made available to critics. ... Still, the series’ linking of irrational times and unspeakable acts resonates with today’s stories of mass shootings and a widening gyre of chaos in the headlines.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    For nostalgic fans of the original, this might seem like an unnecessary homage. For the CW’s target fan base, born largely after the original went off the air, it’s a retread of themes from more exciting soaps. For everyone, it’s so far forgettable.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Spielberg is laudatory but not unreservedly so. ... Before Ms. Lacy shows you Mr. Spielberg’s movies, she shows you the movies through his eyes. For all its sweep, Spielberg the documentary succeeds most distinctively where Mr. Spielberg the director has: accessing the child in its subject.

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