For 436 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

  • TV
Average review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 The Normal Heart: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 52 out of 436
436 tv reviews
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    If there's a better written, better acted, more originally conceived show on television, I defy you to name it.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Downton Abbey, which premieres Sunday, is this generation's "Upstairs, Downstairs," both in theme--the daily dramas of a titled British family and their many servants--and in stature.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Though some of the visual cues will be very familiar to fans of "Lord of the Rings" or even "The Tudors," Game of Thrones quickly finds that rare alchemy of action, motivation and explanation, proving, once again, that the epic mythology remains the Holy Grail of almost any medium.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    In early episodes, Big Love quickly reclaims its astonishing ability to balance the insightful and the absurd, hilarity and heartbreak and the personal with the political. The hours race by and already the final season seems far too short.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Many heads bend over this adaptation, each belonging to a master of his or her craft, and what emerges is a truly new, and miraculously accurate, definition of epic television.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It's the first telling of a post-9/11 story that is all the things it should be: politically resonant, emotionally wrenching and plain old thrilling to watch.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Smash is a triumph.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It isn't just good TV, it's revelatory TV. The genre's biggest potential game changer since AMC debuted the one-two punch of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Once your eyes adjust to the bedazzled opulence of Liberace's life in '70s and '80s Las Vegas, Behind the Candelabra becomes a darkly moving and provocative look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love before the maelstrom of fame, money and drugs, all churning within the confines of the sexual closet, blew it apart.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It's an exquisitely rendered and masterfully acted film on Lifetime.... Underwood and Williams are eloquent and fine, but this is Carrie's story. With her shining ageless eyes and effortless physical grace, Tyson is quietly but relentlessly hypnotic in all she does.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It is a moment of fury and grace and wonder that this Heart, in which a brutally specific story is deftly re-tailored for another medium and time, loses none of its original passion or pointedness.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    The acting is sublime, the writing wicked sharp, the sets and camera work astonishing, and in terms of ambition, be it narrative, creative, logistical or geographic, no other series comes close.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Neither prequel, sequel or remake, this Fargo is instead a tonal accompaniment, a little more than kin, a little less than kind and a whole new breed of television.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    This Sense and Sensibility is truer not only to Austen's narrative, it more successfully captures the quiet precision of her singular mind--she was the master of finding poetry in domestic detail, and for that, the small screen is much better suited than the large.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    "Weeds" is odder, darker and more suspenseful than ever.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    It is, to put it bluntly, a cast to die for. Each story line is well-drawn and compelling and each subtly represents a thread of Paul's own issues that come together in Gina's office even more effectively, if a bit more sentimentally, than they did last season.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Mad Men has found a strange and lovely space between nostalgia and political correctness and filled it with interesting people, all of them armed with great powers of seduction.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    For those Americans who have fallen through some wormhole and have never seen "Law & Order," the British version is as good a place to start as any--Walsh, Bamber and Agyeman in particular deliver fine performances. And those put off by the new "Law & Order: Los Angeles" or just jonesing for the good old days, will no doubt find a trip to London positively...brilliant.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Terrific acting, crackling dialogue and geek-hip crime are not the only things that make this the most electric drama to premiere this fall.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    With Treme (which refers to a New Orleans neighborhood and is pronounced treh-MAY), Simon, co-creator Eric Overmyer and their team of writers (including the late, great David Mills) have proved that television as an art form cannot only rival Dickens, it can hold its own against Wagner.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    There are only three patients this time around, and their stories, written by executive producers Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, offer a thematic cohesion that seems richer, though perhaps more familiar. More important, the show remains a rare and wonderful opportunity to watch fine actors work their way through excellent material, earning it consistent praise and HBO's commitment, despite low ratings.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    The filmmakers do not beat a political drum, they do not use an impassioned script or a soundtrack comprising brass and strings; they do not attempt to incite anger or outrage, sorrow or resolve in any way. Instead, they present the facts, simply and gracefully, and the result is devastating.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Haynes has created not only a rich and nuanced vehicle for his A-list cast--among them Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood and Guy Pearce--he has given us a rare and valuable gift: an American melodrama about class.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Becoming Chaz is undoubtedly one of the most thought-provoking films you will see on any screen this year, a frankly chronicled tale of Chaz's life as a transgender man that opens a more than occasionally mind-blowing conversation about the essentials of gender, and subsequently, sexuality.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Parade's End must be taken on its own terms, because it is offering something rare and provocative: a poetically precise consideration of what it means to be caught out of time, clinging to the lip of one era or reaching desperately for a foothold in the other.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    A dozen characters, played by the inevitably glorious assortment of British actors, crisscross in an astonishingly fluid game of cat's cradle, bringing this small town miraculously to life but never straying too far, or too absurdly, from the narrative through line.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    It is the best new show of the fall. It's a rapturous mix of absurdly fairy-tale-romance and frantic modern complications, set in the picturesque drear of Yorkshire and brought to life by masterfully shaded performances.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Marta Cunningham's documentary Valentine Road is a profoundly disturbing and extremely effective attempt to make us stop in our tracks and try to answer the questions we so patly ask.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    It's a dark and astonishing gem of a show, with a bravely skillful cast juggling the petty obsessions of the workplace with Much Bigger Issues.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Surviving Jack is terrific. Funny and smart, poignant and believable, it is undoubtedly the best new comedy of the season.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Beneath the twists and turns of Orphan Black's increasingly deep and vivid story lines lie the even more basic theme of revelation: How would you react if you discovered that what you had come to know as your life was based on misinformation.... From the space between wreckage and rebuilding comes much of our great literature, music and art. And now, Orphan Black.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Jack is the glue that holds the show together, and Sutherland, with his pained, superhuman skill set, makes him a physical statement about the toll violence takes, even violence committed in an attempt to save the world.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Ten minutes into the season premiere of Nip/Tuck and you have to wonder what those deeply disturbed plastic surgeons were doing wasting four seasons, and all that unexplored sexual tension, in Miami when they so clearly belong in Los Angeles.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The episode has a few sentimentality issues (any plot point involving a music box walks a very fine line), but it doesn't matter much because the characters are so vivid they even outshine House at times, which can only be good for him.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    But of what actually happens, I will say no more. You'll have to watch it yourself. And you should.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show is crazy, man, now more than ever, and I mean that in the best possible way.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's the characters, and the character development, that continually lift the show out of soap into true opera, in which things writ large resonate with pinpoint accuracy.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's the miraculous simplicity of creating something from nothing that makes Runway endlessly watchable.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Creator Jenji Kohan has kept it all going so far, the supporting cast remains the funniest on TV, and Parker, with her carefully calculated stillness and sudden reckless displays of fearlessness, is more riveting than ever.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With all those Emmys, viewers expect a lot, and two episodes in, 30 Rock is prepared to deliver, serving up the self-conscious, fast-moving, quick-witted comedy it has all but trademarked.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Close's performance illuminates rather than outshines with its high wattage.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The first episode may be a bit rocky in the beginning, what with the reintroduction of characters and story lines, but the second season of Damages promises to be even better than the first.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    This time around everyone, Byrne in particular, moves with an air of confidence that allows you to keep your eyes on the knives being juggled in the air rather than the person doing the juggling. Which is exactly where you want the audience's eyes to be when you're pulling off a con, or a show like Damages.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Dexter is a weekly marvel of writing, acting and conceit.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Because it's fun to watch the rich and mighty stumble and scheme, which novelists as diverse as William Thackeray and Judith Krantz have long known. In the first two episodes at least, the quality of the acting and the writing brings depth to what could so easily be the fetid shallows of life issues of the rich and famous
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show looks to be a smart, stylish crime drama that just happens to revolve around a group of women as so many have revolved around men.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Anchored by the sensible sensitivity of Nick, Dirty Sexy goes over the top and back again, as brightly fun and cheesy as a carnival ride.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Although The Sarah Connor Chronicles has gadgets aplenty, it has what "Bionic Woman" never quite acquired: a brain and a heart.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Cleverly conceived, it boasts a star-studded cast (Gabriel Byrne, Dianne Wiest, Blair Underwood) who achieve, at times, theatrical transcendence.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Playing it long and lugubrious but with a tantalizing twinkle, Lewis (last seen in the States as the hateful husband in "The Forsyte Saga") may well wrest the mantle of sexiest troubled American played by a Brit away from Hugh Laurie.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Gossip Girl is eye candy, and mind candy, as pretty as a perfectly prepared martini--one that some nasty, picture-perfect have-it-all may or may not have drugged.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    High School Musical 2 s zippier, bouncier, prettier, more soulful and even more musical than its predecessor, and that's saying something.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's not your mother's Bionic Woman. It's much, much better.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Gavin & Stacey is a gem of a show -- funny, touching and welcome proof that the romantic comedy can and will survive irony, Botox, Judd Apatow and all the vagaries of the modern age.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Smart but never slick, funny but never glib, dark but never (praise all saints and angels) noir, Breaking Bad is actually not another addition to the Brotherhood of the Made Guy formula, it turns out to be the formula's antidote.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Creator Toby Whithouse takes all the themes associated with the cursed and the damned very seriously, and if his exploration of them is less baroque than other franchises, it promises to be even more effective.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Psychological sleight of hand can't fill an hour every week. For that you need complicated, interesting crimes and complicated, interesting characters solving them. The Mentalist seems prepared to deliver just that.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Scenes unspool, lives unwind, wicked acts are done, but so is justice, and under the lovely and indifferent African sun, it seems there is all the time in the world. It's hard to imagine a better place to be.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Warehouse 13 is unapologetically and delightfully derivative, happily plucking the best stuff from our favorite shows and leaving all the heaviness behind.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny, who created Trust Me (and have been writers on “The Closer") are former admen themselves; they chose the milieu to explore the creative process among a group of people with a collective-neuroses score high enough to maintain a smart and breezy comedy.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    There's something about the terrible lighting, those horrible curtain dividers, the washed-out gowns that makes every patient seem extraordinarily vulnerable. Which, of course, they are, as are we all, including the men and women who provide our last line of defense in this life. This is precisely the stuff of great drama and of great documentary, but it gets a little troublesome when combining the two.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Although Romano is the keystone of the group, it is very much an ensemble drama buoyed by writing that protects the characters from the perils of self-pity and self-indulgence with quick and gentle humor and plot points that capture the forces a middle-aged, middle-class man might actually battle.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Wyle is funny and charming and dispenses just enough fascinating arcane knowledge to keep things semi-educational, the special effects are great, Newhart and Curtin are always great to see, the ubiquitous Davison ("Knight Rider") is obviously having a blast as Lazlo, and really, who doesn't like a good vampire story?
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Berman produces a deft juggling trick of heart and humor, balancing Deb's shallowness with some solid common sense and Jane's inadequate self-esteem with kindness and legal brilliance.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Easy Money (9 p.m. Sunday on the CW) is easily the most intriguing new show of the season, if only because it relies on neither the great wealth, modern science or female bonding for its narrative thrust.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A lively, thought-provoking and often humorous quasi-biopic of a real-life crusader in which there are no angels, or devils either, just a nation in the midst of change for which not everyone is prepared.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    You can't really improve on the story of "Oliver Twist"; the best you can hope for is to bring it to life, which the two-part "Masterpiece Classic" version skillfully does.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Anchored by amazing performances by Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, the Grey Gardens that premieres tonight is, like its subjects, a brilliant, moving, hilarious and mesmerizing mess of a movie that miraculously captures what made the Beales such iconic characters.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    For all its moments of poetry and insight, Mad Men too often feels less like a drama and more like the staging of a really good master's thesis.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Alzheimer’s Project is an ambitious, disturbing, emotionally fraught and carefully optimistic four-part documentary exploring virtually every angle of Alzheimer's disease that can be explored on television
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Yet despite the distraction of its media grooming, the basic story of Whale Wars is quite a yarn.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Funny, yes, but in a revelatory way. It is not unusual for a working mother to view every relationship in her life as simply a matter of fulfilling the next indicated task, but I don't think it has ever been so wonderfully, and painfully, captured on television before.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    As the plot of V progresses, no doubt we will see the subtle strangulation of democracy by fascism--already the press has been corrupted--and that is a story that cannot be told often enough. Especially when it comes, like the V's, in such a fine, fun and attractive package.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Writer and executive producer Shane Brennan has worked on "NCIS" for years; he knows what he's doing and how to do it well; the casting is solid, the crimes international. What's not to like?
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Writer and executive producer Jonathan E. Steinberg does an admirable job preserving the smart-mouth humor and ker-pow, splat fun while creating story lines and characters grounded in the alpha-male charm that made guys like Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis and Robert Conrad so popular.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With the rest of the cast hitting the same high notes as Margulies and the script, The Good Wife promises to be that Holy Grail of television: a good criminal procedural that barely disguises the insightful, multilayered human drama that lies beneath.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Covert Affairs may not have the revenge factor of "Burn Notice" or the bromantic banter of "White Collar," but it's fast-paced, fun and every bit as charming.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    O'Loughlin's by-the-book performance is buoyed by a fast-paced script and a splendid supporting cast, including and especially Scott Caan as Danno, that radiates enough hit-making energy to render even Oahu's azure waters and perfect sunsets superfluous.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Modern Family is sharp, timely and fresh, complicated enough to be interesting but with a soft, sweet center because, and I'm speaking loudly so even cable channels can hear, there is nothing wrong with that.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The smart, insightful writing of Liz Tigelaar, the crisp and vibrant exteriors of Portland and the palpable chemistry between all the leads combine to make it, dare I say, lovable, an entertaining hour that might even offer a few insights into the complicated ties of desire and regret, friends and family.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The writers seem so concerned with ensuring that their characters are preternaturally decent and likable that they go for sunny skies when there should be storm clouds....But Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw are so energetic and appealing that it's hard to take your eyes off them long enough to worry about such matters, and they both seem up to just about anything.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    All the performers use the documentary setup to their best advantage, shooting the omnipresent camera knowing, comical and anguished glances, and generally treating it as if it were another character.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    If it pulls off what it seems capable of doing, Blue Bloods should be both a good cop show and an evocative family drama. So something for everyone, just like a good Sunday dinner.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Walking Dead, like any good horror tale, still believes in the importance of monsters, perfectly balancing the struggle of basic human decency with those palsied four-in-the-morning moments when we are convinced that everyone around us is trying to eat us alive
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Despite this silly and derivative setup, the pilot is actually a lot of fun. The performances are uniformly good and there are moments of promising depth to balance all the peppy hair-swinging, abs-flexing dance numbers.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Event seems prepared to make its characters as complex as its storyline, always an event worth attending.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Raising Hope is funny, sweet, occasionally provocative, and occasionally over-the-top in a regrettable way.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It is impossible to watch the gravity-defying catches, the Olympian throws, and the hits soaring into the stands and not be moved. Watching professional athletes in the moments of their glory is a wonderful thing; knowing what was at stake makes it even more moving.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Throw in Wysocki's rookie niece, some intra-force rivalry, those great Chicago locations and a Polish sausage or two, and you have a show that breaks the network code, and that alone is worth watching.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show, and its survival, offers proof that quality can triumph in an industry driven by quantity and that even though necessity is the more fertile of the two, poetry can also be a fine mother to invention.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Serious without being grim, uplifting without being saccharine, Falling Skies dares to image what feature films will not--a world in which Will Smith or Aaron Eckhart did not bring down the mother ship in time.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Fairly Legal writers manage to make this intellectually formidable centerpiece lively and intriguing and Shahi, whose timing is just as exceptional as her looks, makes it funny and sexy. The rest of the cast give us characters who may have started off stock but quickly become multilayered and, like the show itself, capable of all manner of surprises.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Terra Nova manages to introduce a panoply of narrative threads and themes while telling a remarkably clean story, both in terms of plot line and tone; Terra Nova is whole-family friendly.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A show that is visually poetic, normatively compelling and, most important, sustainable for a good long haul.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Moffat and his very deep bench of talented performers create characters that defy expectation and grow in complexity with each episode.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Alphas deftly balances all the building blocks of great genre--nonhuman abilities, twisty plot, cool special effects, smart dialogue and characters you want to spend more time with. And that's the most impressive superpower of all.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Viewers will come to see Deschanel but they'll stay for the whole package because smart writing, confident timing and characters that are both familiar yet surprisingly fresh make New Girl the most promising comedy, and one of the most promising shows, of the season.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though both are actors with pasts that border on Hollywood satire, they appear more "real" than any other set of reality drama stars on TV today. No moral compasses here, no self-sabotage, no attempt to brand themselves with a phrase or a fist pump, just a very, very complicated family and fairly reasonable expectations.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The case [A Scandal in Belgravia] is much more complicated than that [photos involving a member of the British family] of course, so much more that it, as with the episodes that follow, occasionally threatens to collapse under its own writhing weight. Fortunately, the thrill of Sherlock Holmes was never so much plot as character.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's a solid enough formula, and if the writers have overly epic ambitions, they also have a collective eye for detail.