Mary McNamara

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For 512 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 3.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Downton Abbey: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 58 out of 512
512 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Centered on a career-redefining performance by Jeffrey Tambor as a retired professor finally allowing himself to live his true life as a woman, the half-hour, 10-episode series is, quite simply, astonishing to watch.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    [A] lovely, ruthless, masterfully restrained two-night, four-hour contemplation of love, marriage, parenthood, mental illness and identity.
    • 83 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Breathtaking, heartbreaking, awe-inspiring and addictive, it remains the single most remarkable feat of television, possibly ever, increasingly admirable for its ability to grow rather than simply sustain.
    • 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.
    • 92 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.
    • 90 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
    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.
    • 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
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    If there's a better written, better acted, more originally conceived show on television, I defy you to name it.
    • 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.
    • 80 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    With its frank examination of race, gender and class, American Crime is the more thematically provocative show, a gratifying breakthrough for television and a truly golden child of the age.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 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.
    • 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
    "Weeds" is odder, darker and more suspenseful than ever.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    It's a terrific idea lyrically written and perfectly cast.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Cancer is, of course, its own ongoing holocaust, and Goodman is determined to examine it thoroughly, objectively (which is not to say clinically) and fearlessly. The result is possibly the least live-tweetable six hours of television you will ever see and also among the most important.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    But it's Claire, and the Underwood marriage, that makes "House of Cards" more than just a better-than-average addition to the genre of Antihero Drama Being Used to Establish a New Fiefdom in the Television Landscape (see also "Nip/Tuck," "Dexter," "Mad Men," "Vikings" and "Klondike").
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Along with the story line insights, there is a feeling of control overarching the early episodes, a narrative fluidity replacing the spikier, and quickly tiresome, need to shock. Oh, Hannah's still naked and body fluids anchor several conversations, but Girls seems to be maturing as a creative enterprise just as its characters are maturing as people.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    There is a cool cleverness to the show that is both attractive and off-putting; the characters are flawed and hyper-aware of their flaws, the stories so bent on covering every angle of self-examination that there is no real role for the viewer to play.
    • 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.
    • 69 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.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Like the wonderful documentaries of ESPN's "30 for 30" series, The Announcement not only captures a remarkable person and an unforgettable moment, it proves once again the universal appeal and importance of professional sports.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Yet despite the distraction of its media grooming, the basic story of Whale Wars is quite a yarn.
    • 67 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Costars like Daly, Ivanek and Neuwirth promise great things, but Madam Secretary belongs, obviously, to Leoni, who conjures a gratifying mix of brains and heart, humor and flintiness without, and this is important, any sign of mental illness.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    What sets Push Girls apart [from other reality shows] is that these plots, and these women, are actually interesting.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Infused with the considerable talents of Bertie Carvel and especially Eddie Marsan in the title roles, Peter Harness' adaptation is, like the book, a deft combination of Dickensian satire, Austenian wit and Gothic anxiety.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In Witness we are left with far more questions than answers or even observations....Fortunately, they're all good questions, important and worth asking in any format.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    What it lacks in depth, Babylon makes up for in range and sudden brilliant commentary.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's hard not to love a show with a comely apothecary, and it's impossible not to love the new season of Grimm.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Miller is certainly competent and even compelling as this round of newly imagined Sherlock Holmes.... Liu gives her Watson the perfect blend of wariness and admiration--she is clearly brilliant in her own right and while she may be his keeper, she is not his chronicler. And her journey may turn out to be just as interesting as his.
    • 66 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Viewers will sigh with relief to see this trio actually get along with one another. They listen, share in the laughs and coolly talk through decisions--it makes for a captivating panel that’s fun to watch.
    • 65 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Early episodes are strong, if not as shattering as the inaugural season.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The argument for overturning Ali's conviction has nothing to do with politics or personality. Instead, it had everything to do with the legal fine print, which makes the film's climax more muted than you might hope.... The cast, led by Plummer and Langella, is so fabulous you might find yourself wondering if it isn't time for a dramatic series revolving around this Supreme Court.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's not your mother's Bionic Woman. It's much, much better.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 58 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?
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's precisely the lack of traditional stage-managed drama that makes early episodes of the show so fascinating.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show is crazy, man, now more than ever, and I mean that in the best possible way.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Covering nearly five centuries, half a dozen groups and a dozen wars, with interviews from 100 subjects, Latino Americans looks to be exactly what it claims to be: the most thorough documentary on Latino American history yet made.
    • 73 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.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The religious overlap--both Christian and Jewish extremists appear to be involved; the word is still out on the Muslims--lends Dig a certain resonance and depth, just as the location work in Jerusalem gives it authenticity. But in the end, it's about a man who needs to save the world to save himself. Or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, Dig promises to be a whole lot of crazy fun to watch.
    • 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.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's the whole over-the-top insanity of it all, the splendid and glorious belief that if you say even god-awful lines firmly enough, if you look hot while drawing some weapon with which you clearly have no familiarity, if you acknowledge the yawning chasms in plot by saying things like "This is crazy" and "Do you trust me?" often enough, your audience will stay with you. Which is the creative spirit that drives this town, shared by the masterpiece and the utter mess alike.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Beyond the emotional pull of the individual stories, Get to Work breaks down a certain us/them barrier, showing with painful clarity the holes left by the absence of family structure and education.
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    There is plenty of that--the good, the beautiful and the etc. Some of it is conjured by CG magic (the Red Queen's palace is splendid, and the White Rabbit's ears a masterwork), and some by just good storytelling and performer chemistry, which Lowe and Socha have in abundance. Add to that a smattering of witty dialogue, clever character twists and, of course, the Victo-goth steampunk look, and ABC has another shot at redefining the family hour.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show mines the long-standing tension between those who believe in fate and those who believe in control while holding all strains of outrageous behavior up for both mockery and scrutiny.
    • 86 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Looking doesn't make the mistake of arguing that gay men are just like straight women, or straight men, or gay women, or even each other. Instead it tells the story of three guys who are friends in a strangely wonderful and difficult time and what that looks like. To them.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    This one is smartly acted, crisply written and willing to address all manner of issues--marriage, betrayal, family economics, friendship, even the pitfalls of public domesticity--in gratifyingly complex ways.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    When Fellowes allows his characters to show that mettle and strength are not necessarily the prettiest things in the room, Downton transcends its soap bubbles and more than earns its histrionic plot twists.
    • 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
    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?
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    That nonjudgmental, easygoing charm is precisely why the people in Key's life put up with him, and why viewers will be drawn to him. Rake may be the story of yet another anti-hero, but it's difficult to remember one this likable.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Three episodes in, the story is certainly serpentine, at times self-consciously so. But there does appear to be writerly method in the madness. More important, there is Farmiga, and she, like Norma, appears up to any task.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's a powerful meditation on what happens to a community once a galvanizing threat is removed but then returns, albeit in a more benign state.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It is well-written and certainly well-acted, with plot and psychological twists as numerous and tantalizing as the streets on which they occur.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    There's still blood and gore all over the floor, mind you. Not to mention rape, gruesome torture and evil run riot, and that's just the first episode. But there's also a lightness of touch and tone, a backlight of sly humor and, more important, a clearly delineated narrative.
    • 62 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Strain is an old-fashioned, marks-hitting horror quest in which a band of unlikely warriors attempts to defeat a thing of unspeakable evil Before It's Too Late.

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