For 408 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 3.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

  • TV
Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Downton Abbey: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 45 out of 408
408 tv reviews
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    You will laugh, you will cry and if it seems a bit treacly, it is.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    His style of filmmaking--to obsessively explore his subject from as many points of entry as possible--is the cinematic definition of thought-provoking.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The value of the series, then, is its, well, weight, its relentless attempt to remind us of what we know, to connect many important dots and clear away the emotional and cultural fog that often blurs discussions about obesity, and to offer hope in the form of personal stories, regional projects and past success.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hatfields & McCoys is a star-studded, gorgeously produced and astonishingly nuanced look at America's most famous family feud.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    What sets Push Girls apart [from other reality shows] is that these plots, and these women, are actually interesting.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Nashville is big, bold, wildly ambitious and great fun, with top notes of Robert Altman's "Nashville," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "All About Eve."
    • 73 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    NY Med is a surprisingly addictive medical docu-series, fascinating as much in form as it is in function. The third in a series of similarly-themed programs prod
    • 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.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Given a boatload of fine performances and an attractive milieu, it remains very much worth watching even when it feels like the writers are depending on your inattention or forcing their characters to act improbably in the service of a puzzle-plot that at times feels held together with string and tape and white glue.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Ben and Kate is a sweet, smart new show from Fox that may turn out to be the best new comedy of the fall season.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Smooth without being slick, textured but not self-indulgent, Arrow reminds us that the best stories we tell are both revelatory and a whole lot of fun to watch.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    If early episodes are any indication, Season 3 will provide a glorious payoff for those EST-ian weeks down on the farm.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Bel and her staff are no longer young Turks shaking up the fusty old BBC; now they are, for better or worse, part of the mainstream news media, forced to question their own motivations as well as those of the Establishment. In the first two episodes anyway, this makes for a more sophisticated storytelling, a drama of adults who must take responsibility for decisions of the mind as well as the heart.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    If the rest of the series is as good as the two episodes released early for review (the fact that Netflix made only the episodes directed by Fincher available is slightly worrisome), House of Cards will in all probability become the first nontelevised television show to receive an Emmy nomination, or four.... [However,] not everything in House of Cards lives up to the standard set by its leads; for all its cutting-edge delivery system, it is at times surprisingly pat.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In both time frames, the period is richly evoked, and the performances are universally fine.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    "The Wire's" Snoop would definitely not fit in. But this is the most impressive group of female characters ever assembled in a series, and it's not just window-dressing; each woman has a story and that story will be told.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Thematically ambitious with a strong and nuanced cast, Being Mary Jane, which stars Gabrielle Union, combines daytime television talking points with cable-worthy character depth.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Creator Jon Bokenkamp matches up a deliciously absurd uber-story (20 years later, rogue spy turned freelance criminal comes in from the cold...) with the mother of all procedural shticks (and he's going to bring all his friends and enemies with him). But the ace in the hole is Spader.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Not only is Gregg a beloved actor playing a beloved character, Coulson is the perfect guide for Whedon's vision. He's a super-power-adjacent Everyman who may be able to make the television series just as good, in its own way, as the film franchise.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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
    It's precisely the lack of traditional stage-managed drama that makes early episodes of the show so fascinating.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It is less a portrait of two combustible stars, played with empathy and breathtaking control by Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter, as it is a surprisingly thoughtful excavation of a love that is both undeniable and untenable.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Elizabeth and Philip react with the appropriate amount of fear for and protectiveness of Paige and Henry. No doubt, this will further widen the cracks already forming in their political/professional resolve, but there is no going back: The Americans puts the kids front and center.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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").
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hannibal is much better than it once was, perhaps the guiltiest pleasure on television at this time.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    In recent months, star Denis Leary and his co-creator/producer Peter Tolan have repeatedly promised a different show, one less bleak and heavy-footed than Season 4, and on this they most certainly deliver.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's all very tense and fun, underscored by sirens and ominous techno music, shot in that popular, over-caffeinated jumpiness that here at least makes sense.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Beautifully shot and marvelously acted, Caprica is infused with all manner of intriguing bits of business....After the two-hour pilot, available on DVD last year, early episodes move with an often creaky slowness that seems at odds with its spry and comely cast.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Yet silly and unsurprising as it seems, Miss Guided has something going for it that many predictable sitcoms do not: a uniformly talented cast.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though each episode is entertaining, it's difficult to care what happens because nothing much seems to be at stake. Still, amid all the shattered and haunted leading men on TV today, Chuck is a refreshingly simple guy.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Hunter] captures well the worn-to-the-bone, irritable and slightly skanky buzz of a person living on too little sleep and too many medicinally applied Cokes, while infusing her character with a gentle heart and a sudden, dazzling smile. But much of the rest of the show is tediously familiar.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Indeed, the fleshed-out secondary characters have better material than do Sookie and her vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), who labor under the burden of replaying for the umpteenth time the forbidden love between the living and the dead, the light and the dark.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Of course, because this is a British production, it goes without saying that the acting across the board is terrific, adding a certain sheen to the well-thumbed plots.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    if you're the type of person who needs every little thing, or indeed any little thing, to make sense in a pilot, then you should probably watch Fringe in solitude, preferably with the door closed, so the rest of us can enjoy it for what it is--an uneven but promising jumble of horror, thriller and comedy that is not afraid to reference SpongeBob and "Altered States" in practically the same scene.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Lust because something's almost unforgivably cute ("Holy hottie, Batman" is an actual line) doesn't mean it can't also be very good and very funny, which The Ex List is.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    This is good summer entertainment, like a Saturday afternoon B-movie matinee transposed to Monday-night TV.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's not perfect, but it certainly is different, so why not just enjoy the ride?
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Harper's Island does not attempt to rise above the confines of its genre because it's too busy rolling around in them. It's tense enough, mysterious enough for those of us who enjoy occasionally watching the screen from behind our hands.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Christian] is in rare form here. Which is a good thing since the show's success or failure rests solely on his dramatic agility and general appeal.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Despite some less-than-stellar story lines--Ray's feud with his rich neighbor, his constant referral to how things have changed since his parents' day--Ray comes across as a genuine Everyman. Who just happens to have a certain God-given talent that will allow him to survive.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though filled with far more tender and often tear-jerking moments than actual laughs, the first hour of Parenthood seems a solid and steady enough vehicle for such a brilliant cast.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    In between bouts of underage drinking, texting, girl-bonding, and the inevitable minor-key whine of a soundtrack, that is. "True Blood Lite" or "Transylvania 90210." And you know what? It is. Almost exactly. But this is not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. Because Vampire Diaries knows precisely what it is--a Gothic romance--and doesn't try to be anything else.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Three Rivers seems to trust the drama of its subject matter, the appeal of its characters and the talent of its cast enough to go gently into this Sunday night.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    No doubt there will be many lessons about the importance of pulling together and being true to oneself, etc., but Make It or Break It seems prepared to take on not only the obvious Life Lessons but also the crucial undercurrents that move so many lives well into adulthood. And that, as much as the graceful wonder of gymnastics, will make it worth watching.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Better Off Ted is funny, it's just not as funny as it might be, or should be, or, with any luck, will be.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though funny and fabulous, the tone of the season premiere is as harsh as those famously flung slushies, with an emphasis on girl fights and not nearly enough of Mercedes (Amber Riley), Brittany (Heather Morris) or Kurt.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Nix has more than proved that he knows how to wed comedy, action, satire and real character development, so though the pilot flags here and droops there, "The Good Guys" will no doubt pick up speed as everyone settles more comfortably into the idea that there are no sacred cows, not even the buddy flick.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's not a perfect show--a romance blooms too early and easily between Amber and a counselor, the soundtrack is more present than it needs to be and some moments tip from poignant to overwrought. But the richness of the characters and the story make it easy to overlook the flaws.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Although generating the sort of minor social revolution that the five hosts of "Queer Eye" accomplished is too tall an order for even a long and lovely British gal, Roe does manage to quickly become the stylish older sister you wish you had.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    All floppy hair and Hollywood smile, Kody's way too surferdude to take very seriously as a patriarch. It's the three wives--Meri, Janelle and Christine--who form the solid center of the family and the show.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's difficult to begrudge the producers their poetry--on one level, the imagery begs for similarly breathtaking language. But in this case, less might well have been more; the narration works best when it is relaying information rather than describing a "sun-spangled yearning to move."
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Marked by logical elisions, word-balloon dialogue and conveniently located plot holes though it may be, this is a machine for putting its heroes in tight spaces and watching them kick their way free, and it does its work efficiently and with flair.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It is a long journey and at times a slow one, but with more than a few delightful oases.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Steven Tyler] may be all talk, the initial good cheer may wear thin and we may be begging to be slapped around by Cowell in a few weeks, but for now it's just nice to have judges who aren't learning how to be stars themselves. Which means that this year, maybe the show can be about finding a real American idol.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Even when it's irritating, Episodes is funny. And if, at times, it intentionally or unintentionally pokes fun at itself as much as anything else well, that works too.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Traffic Light, like that old Mustang you had in college, splutters more than a bit when you turn the key, but eventually it gets going. And once it does, the splendid refinishing of a classic makes the inevitable bumps much more easily endured.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    "Thought-provoking" is an overused term in criticism, and one that can camouflage many sins. But here, for better and worse, is the real deal.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Just because a show is mix 'n' match doesn't mean it isn't any good. After four years with "Prison Break," creators Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora know their way around this world, and Breakout Kings starts out with a promising blend of character and plot, action and dialogue, sweet and savory.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    America's Next Great Restaurant doesn't have the drama of a Gordon Ramsay show, but it does have a behind-the-scenes factor that is fresh enough--who knew coming up with a logo was so hard?--and the subject matter has universal appeal.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Pee-wee was always a boy-man, but Reubens is pushing 60; when he is flying through the air singing "I'm the luckiest boy in the world" the words "Sunset Boulevard" do come unfortunately to mind. Still, fans of Pee-wee will no doubt delight in a return to those strange and halcyon days before the Wiggles and Blues Clues took over the world, when Barney was still Fred Flintstone's sidekick and not a purple dinosaur and Pee-wee's multi-generational appeal was subversive and unique.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    If the situation of Switched at Birth often seems surreal and at times contrived (seriously, no one is going to even call a lawyer? Or a therapist? Or the hospital?), the performances keep the story grounded as yet another alternative American family blooms under the California sun.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    So, it's not as intrigue-heavy as "White Collar," as satiric as "The Good Guys" or as beautifully located as "Hawaii Five-O"; Franklin & Bash is smart, it's fun and it's summer.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    As it is, some of the sharpness, the performance-art humor of the Web series is lost in translation, but even in the new form, it remains something remarkable, if not revolutionary, anchored by Kudrow, who is not so much inhabiting a character but an ethos--the self-help movement by way of Merrill Lynch and YouTube, with outtakes thrown in at the end for good measure.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Once the action leaves the overly Maxfield Parrish-ized world of magic trees and drooping pregnant princesses, things pick up considerably.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Strike Back unfolds quickly and confidently with brilliantly choreographed fight sequences and the exotic locales. But nothing trumps the friendship of the two male leads.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Fortunately, terrific performances all around quickly ground the tensions in character rather than theme.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Her] presence is what both illuminates and limits Gloria: In Her Own Words.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    They're a bit too cute. Yet behind all the hipster wordplay, the characters are strangely charming.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Despite a diversionary opening salvo of post-feminist raunch and unfortunate racial stereotyping, 2 Broke Girls is a solid, old-fashioned sitcom about two mismatched girls taking on the big city and makin' their dreams come true.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It had a not-bad, pretty good, kinda funny, sort of smart debut.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    While it goes out of its way to cast these soldiers as the heroic equals, if not betters, of their "Greatest Generation" counterparts, the series does not have the same impact--mainly because these images, though at times awful and upsetting, are also much more familiar.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    If you make it to the end, the payoff is sweeter for the suffering. In the meanwhile, enjoy each scene on its own merits, which are not inconsiderable.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    If the vagueness may irritate fans of the first book/film, it works well for the second, making this story a bit more open-ended and universal.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Here he has both--mood galore and a premise strong enough to not only sire a great pilot but to sustain a solid series.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The overall atmosphere of the film is surprisingly kind to all, much more fatalistic than hypercritical and certainly not derisive.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's entertaining to watch, though, distracting in a highly caffeinated way, and Washington and Cusick are especially fun together, but at no point do the characters seem like people or the venue anything but a fast-paced, occasionally clever television show.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's an old-fashioned sort of show, working unapologetically toward wisdom rather than cleverness, attempting to depict its setting as neither romantic nor dismal, the local color rising as much from silence as words.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though it never quite hits its stride, the show never pitches us into the abyss.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The show's episodic nature, however, limits the attachment viewers can form for the teams (and also, mercifully, the level of celebrity these folks can later attain). But there is something to be said for brevity.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The best thing about Go On is, not surprisingly, Perry.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Surely that elevator knows it's you when it decides to do its devilish little bounce. That's one of the jokes of ABC's not-so-scary-but-still-great-fun 666 Park Avenue.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The easy humor and palpable love in the ensemble scenes give this Steel Magnolias just enough buoyancy to survive the pools of syrup over which it must traverse.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [George] is not terribly believable in any of them, forcing viewers to rely on the reactions of those around her to see that she is convincing as an uber agent. Fortunately, the other performances are strong enough to carry it off for the most part, and as the plot divides and subdivides, sending tendrils up through the vaunted British intelligence agency, recalling the Cold War and evoking more current international concerns, Hunted takes on a smart and disturbing personality of its own.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's hardly a new story... But ... 'The Following' is tricked out with enough narrative and casting bling to warrant the huge push Fox has given it.