Mary McNamara

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For 594 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 4.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Olive Kitteridge
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 68 out of 594
594 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Close's performance illuminates rather than outshines with its high wattage.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Refreshingly realistic in some ways (there is much jumping out of high windows, but the jumper is often actually injured) and soothingly romantic in others, "The Musketeers" is a captivating balance of spectacle and story, true enough to the essentials of the original, modern enough to understand the necessity of humor and self-reference.
    • 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.
    • 78 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though undeniably hilarious at times, it is a difficult show to watch (see title).... [Julie and Billy's] friendship is powerful but limiting and destructive, their brilliance hampered by their refusal to acknowledge that the world is not their living room. Which, if Klausner doesn't lose her nerve, makes Difficult People an illuminating sendup of far too many things on television.
    • 69 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.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Casual Vacancy is a heartbreaking, thought-provoking if occasionally simplistic look at the tyrannical power of the picturesque.
    • 81 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Fortitude's only safety net is a cat's cradle of inter-linked, understated and strangely powerful performances.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In Season 2 the issues and tensions remain the same, but perfectly dialed up a notch or two.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 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."
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Don't let the exposition-heavy first episode fool you; this may be a sword 'n' longboat epic with a handsome hero at its heart, but as adapted by Stephen Butchard, it subtly grows more complex with each passing hour until that hero becomes, to a certain extent, a supporting player in the far more dramatic epic of history.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 53 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    For a program known for its harum-scarum pace and keep-up-or-shut-up iconography, the Season 8 Saturday premiere of BBC America's Doctor Who opens slowly--even with the T. rex--and radiates a newly modern self-consciousness, albeit dressed in Victorian garb.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    You either like Odenkirk's nervy, nervous and surprisingly soulful performance or you don't--and it's pretty hard not to like.
    • 70 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.
    • 66 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    American Odyssey is very much its own creation: clever, exciting, colorful without being self-consciously so. Most important, it is only occasionally ridiculous in the way conspiracy thrillers inevitably are.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    For the most part, and in absolute defiance of the odds, Stranger Things honors its source material in the best way possible: By telling a sweet ’n’ scary story in which monsters are real but so are the transformative powers of love and fealty.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though the circumstances demand a higher degree of brutality than in "Downton," the coming revolution is often used simply as a backdrop for romance, and this becomes, at times, a bit silly. Fortunately, Cynthia can be found around most every corner, and it's a star turn for Walters.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hatfields & McCoys is a star-studded, gorgeously produced and astonishingly nuanced look at America's most famous family feud.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Clearly, Ricciardi and Demos are on the side of justice, attempting to shed light on the dangers of imperfect police work and the very real potential for conspiracy. But when they showcase the awful thrill with which some members of the media reacted to the "great story" of Avery's second arrest, it's tough not to see a double standard. It is a great story, which is why they and Netflix chose to tell it.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 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.
    • 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
    Seek, stylish and superbly performed, BBC America's Cold War drama The Game offers more to look at than think about, but then there's something about espionage that almost always calls for a little eye candy.
    • 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.
    • 66 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Sweet, smart and quickly addictive, it's a classic cross-cultural romantic comedy with top notes of satire, but a brave and true heart.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hannibal is much better than it once was, perhaps the guiltiest pleasure on television at this time.
    • 84 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
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It’s a lovely and lyrical premiere, studded with everyday detail, from the realities of soccer parents to the long-term effects of the Challenger disaster. If creator Dan Fogelman (“Crazy Stupid Love”) seems addicted to turning-point sentiment, the performances and the pacing keep each story from getting stuck in the stickiness.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's an intoxicating if precarious concoction, capable of exploding or imploding at any moment, which only adds to the fun.... She is able to keep words like "pathetic" and "deranged" at bay for the first hour through sheer force of will, but now that the concept has been established, the scripts will need to give her firmer footing and a little more room to move.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though the season premiere delivers the power and pathos fans have come to expect, there is, in fact, a slight but still identifiable shift: Game of Thrones is, in more than a few moments, funny.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Unapologetically sleeker and more sentimental than any George Smiley tale, and streamlined to the point of simplicity when compared with the recent "London Spy," it is tense but linear, clearly framed to take full advantage of its stars' strengths and, it must be said, their cross-demographic fan base.
    • 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
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A picaresque, briskly written and quickly captivating series that is neither afraid nor ashamed of entertaining its audience.
    • 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
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though sleeker and more graphically brutal than its ancestor, Roots remains a celebration of resistance through survival.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With admirable economy and keep-up-people pace, creator Peter Nowalk reveals both the imperial nature of his lead and quick sketches of the five students from the opening scene.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It was with the Indian coverage that he both shone (commenting on one candidate's use of holographic appearances, he said, "That’s not just how you get elected. That’s how religions get started") and set himself apart. If Oliver can do for international news what Stewart and Colbert have done on the domestic scene, well, the already-crowded Sunday night DVR queue just took on an extra half-hour.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Raising Hope is funny, sweet, occasionally provocative, and occasionally over-the-top in a regrettable way.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though the pilot of Halt and Catch Fire, AMC's latest character-driven drama premiering Sunday, doesn't hit the gloriously high bar set by the opening episode of "Mad Men," it is provocative and promising nonetheless.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's the miraculous simplicity of creating something from nothing that makes Runway endlessly watchable.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    For the most part, the success of the series rests almost entirely on the revelation of its main character. Fortunately, Braga appears to be all USA could have hoped for, and more.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Tig
    A frank look at the many things that make a life, that change a life, without embroidery or quick-hit editing.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    To say that Broadbent is heartbreaking and Rampling an enigmatic marvel is to state the obvious; when the plot and tone go wandering, as they do with exasperating regularity, London Spy rests almost entirely on the astonishing ability of its cast.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In both time frames, the period is richly evoked, and the performances are universally fine.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    7 Days in Hell is as strange and splendid a bit of satire as you will ever find jampacked into 42 minutes of television.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Shows as thematically and tonally diverse as "Downton Abbey," "The Americans," "Mad Men" and "Madam Secretary" all rely heavily on the changing nature of women's roles in the 20th (and 21st) century to heighten the drama between characters and make larger points about the modern age. Being a product of Marvel and ABC, Agent Carter is, well, a lot more fun.
    • 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.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's a bit of a mess, this first half hour, what with Sarah having a breakdown and quick jaunts to the Weimar Republic, but it gives Transparent more elbow room and the episodes that follow take full advantage. Though still heroic in her decision, Maura is more fully realized.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A show that is visually poetic, normatively compelling and, most important, sustainable for a good long haul.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With the aid of Jacobs' standout performance and just enough humor and insight, [Love] slowly lulls you into a state of theta-wave fascination.
    • 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.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Divide is a tense and thoughtful drama, with what promise to be complex characters and at least one breakout performance.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    An effervescent and super-engaging addition to television's increasingly grim comic-book wars.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Certainly nostalgia is a factor.... But delight may be a better word. It's always good to see an old friend, and an old pro in action. Live Another Day gives us both.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Creators Ed McCardie (the British "Shameless") and Corinne Marrinan ("CSI") understand that characters are what make memorable television, though the shifting moods of the cinematography certainly doesn't hurt either.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    For as long as it has, 12 Monkeys works beautifully as a fast-paced sci-fi thriller that is actually far more complex.
    • 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.

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