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 Big Love: Season 5
Lowest review score: 0 Stalker: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 68 out of 594
594 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    There's still a lot of craziness and rants designed to resonate with a certain demographic. But an air of if not humility then self-awareness pervades, softening everything it touches, even Will.
    • 63 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The pacing seems, at times, at odds with the narrative’s overabundance of conflict. Universally fine performances keep the Job-like series of events from overwhelming things, but DuVernay is so focused on her main characters that the secondary narratives, including lovely scenes between Ernest’s sister Violet (Tina Lifford) and her husband, Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey), often feel like afterthoughts. ... Even with these distractions, Queen Sugar is an undeniably beautiful series.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Her] presence is what both illuminates and limits Gloria: In Her Own Words.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Here’s the best thing about the second season premiere of The Following: Kevin Bacon finally looks like he’s having a little fun.... Bacon and Hardy are in on the joke.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's the growing tension between Eddie, with his insecure decency and possibly actual mysticism, and the charm-boy con of Cal, that drives the show. Which works well enough--no doubt there will be Emmy nods--but it misses the even more golden opportunity to tell a story of faith and doubt, of the dangers posed by both compromise and rigidity, while examining the underpinnings of marriage and family.
    • 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
    [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
    Better Off Ted is funny, it's just not as funny as it might be, or should be, or, with any luck, will be.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Equally happy to consider the joys of rum raisin and the need for ritualized violence, Wayward Pines veers, at times, toward a self-consciousness one might call Fever Dream Camp. But mostly it's good, creepy fun, a round-the-fire story of a series that may turn out to be about something bigger than it seems.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    "What's really going on?" quickly becomes as big a question as "What will happen next?" as episodes jammed with plot remain often maddeningly opaque.... The stars give the show life--Holloway and Callies play an easily likable married couple with an increasingly complicated relationship, and Jacobson shines greasily as spokesman for the new overlords--but the wall gives the show meaning and potential relevance.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The Honorable Woman is great, in the most traditional sense of the word, which makes its flaws all the more frustrating. The first three episodes are often overwhelmed by soundtrack and studded with near-still-life shots meant, apparently, to offset the shootouts and establish the High Art factor of the series.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Fortunately, the main players are compelling enough to overlook the inevitable strains that come from shoehorning any real life into a television series.
    • 71 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    At its best, it's a well-acted, surprisingly clear-eyed look at the inconsistent relationship between passion and enduring love, and the innovative ways in which people bend their own rules to accommodate their need for pleasure. At its worse, it's a morally and narratively contrived excuse to watch a very entitled Everyman navigate a world of rich but unhappy women, including his own wife and daughter.
    • 54 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 58 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
    The best thing about Go On is, not surprisingly, Perry.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    All of which adds up to a pilot that is much more admirable in its intent than its execution, a better conversation-starter than episode.
    • 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
    Spotnitz takes his time in all things, and the slow pace of the first six episodes of The Man in the High Castle often work against the agitated drama of its imagery.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The well-trod format of Siberia may be its biggest asset, quickly building the kind of sturdy perimeters that horror so often needs; real fear emerges when the familiar and predictable become shockingly distorted (is any ghost as scary as a child ghost?).
    • 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.
    • 71 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.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's all great fun, a feast of eye and mind candy into which a few shreds of leafy greens have been added for content.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though it never quite hits its stride, the show never pitches us into the abyss.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's an efficient if mass-produced engine--every week a different race against crime and time--made a bit more interesting by the most dangerous game gone digital.... But it's the chemistry between Cassandra and Kane that ignites The Player.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Scripted? No doubt. Do the men seem to go out of their way to discuss sex, bowel movements and other "provocative" topics? They do indeed. But they also treat their children with love and respect.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though neither ["Saints & Strangers" and "The Pilgrims"] are particularly notable examples of their genre, they are welcome additions, and perhaps antidotes, to a historic holiday increasingly driven by gluttony and football. Used as companion pieces, they should make excellent viewing for families able to persuade their children to watch historic dramas and/or documentaries.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    A concept with mixed but consistently interesting results.
    • 78 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."
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Overcrowded with plot, character and intent, the production has an earnest theatricality that can be both charming and tedious.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The details of Cheney's fall from grace in the waning years of the Bush administration are fascinating and narratively satisfying.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    White People is more conversation starter than a revelation, but the conversations it could start are limitless and important.
    • 61 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    All of which adds up to a nice, moody, entertaining-enough hour and the troublesome question of how interesting this will be by the third episode.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Created by Dan Fogelman it is enjoyable if not impressive--not bad, and almost good.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Comparisons to Barry Levinson's "Sleepers" are inevitable, but with its cartoonish villains, hideously ritualized crimes and general plot-stomping, it is far more reminiscent of all those pulpy TV movies in the late '70s, in which a depraved warden/sheriff abused those in his care. Strangely, this is its greatest strength.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Much of it feels dreadfully slow, not so much moody as stretched for time....Things do pick up significantly with the arrival of Christopher Heyerdahl as John Druitt.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    The crimes of the first four episodes revel in plot twists and medical conditions so ludicrous that they eventually become endearing, as does, against all odds, McCormack's performance.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    A cleverly conceived, at times visually lovely, but criminally long imagining of how Peter became Pan.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    American Horror Story is a big ol' brooding, baffling, ridiculous and occasionally compelling mess of a show.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Every pilot is burdened with establishing character, jump-starting the narrative and hooking the audience, but Under the Dome unnecessarily force-feeds us its first hour to its own detriment.... Which isn't to say Under the Dome won't wind up being fun to watch. All of the performances seem promising.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Even just a half hour in, it's difficult not to wish everyone would just lighten the heck up. The graphic novel noir feel is becoming increasingly oppressive, and everyone is just so grim.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Much of "Drive" is unabashedly derivative.... Much of it is also unbelievable... But two episodes in, it doesn't really matter.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Pretty Little Liars is one of those shows that manages to mildly, and perhaps unintentionally, spoof its genre while fully participating in it, and that's not a bad thing at all.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    This Napoleon Dynamite is all go, go, go, racing, if nothing else, to keep pace with the host of other animated prime-time shows it joins.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    The Tudors remains lush and bejeweled, so much so that at times one fears it will simply collapse under its own weight, and, you know, we still have a few wives to go.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    After watching two episodes, I was left with the thought with which I began: An iconic apartment building full of wacky characters would make a great TV show. Would, though. Not does.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Texas Rising is tonally challenged in a way that regularly undercuts its own inherent drama.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    It's a grand if inconsistent experiment that, from the moment it opens with a definition of magic realism, wears its considerable ambitions on its sleeve.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    In theory, Southland could turn out to be a rich and textured cross between, say, "Hill Street Blues" and "Crash" with a little "Training Day" on the side, but the pilot, for all its horrific crimes and grimy street scenes, is strangely bland.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Bogged down at times by moody re-creations (often unforgivably accompanied by the strains of a muted trumpet) and endless footage of Bin Laden, Manhunt is not a definitive telling either. Indeed, its strength lies in its awareness that there is no way to completely tell this particular story.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    A cynic might think Twisted is a bald attempt to capitalize on the success of "Pretty Little Liars" while possibly adding a Y chromosome to the mix. The non-cynic might see in Danny yet another metaphor for the alienation and "otherness" many teens feel.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    With any luck, subsequent episodes will find a sharper, cleaner stride. All the elements are there, it's just the alchemy that seems a bit off.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Some of the best shows on television are character-driven procedurals, but Borenstein seems so eager to establish the procedural that he underplays the characters.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    It is something less than magical, but it's pleasant and pretty and easy to watch.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Not surprisingly, given the scope of the show, some topics are nailed brilliantly--Chanel, the airport security agent, is perhaps among the greatest TV characters in recent history, and the adoption of an American child by an African actress is equally hilarious--while others, like local newscaster Alvarez or the pregnant senior citizen, are flat and trite or flat and weird.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    It's the fabulous shamelessness, the awful and yet admirable brilliance of the thing. Whether Palin will ever run for office or not, Sarah Palin's Alaska sets a new standard for political ads.
    • Los Angeles Times
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    When it's not being completely ridiculous, Chasing Life is very good.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    This may not be as touching as "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings," or "God bless us every one," and it may resonate much more with the parents than the kids, but for a Christmas special about an ogre who may have overstayed his 15 minutes, it's actually not too bad.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Although overblown in message and action, The Bridge is well-performed and worth watching if only to see if it will stand by its thesis: that real change comes from people working together.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Skidding through twists and turns aplenty, the intentionally soapy plot generates a lot of fun froth, but Gellar has a hard time playing one troubled and complicated woman, much less two.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    The Gates, on the other hand, starts off with an even greater number of well-worn characters and storylines, but writers Richard Hatem and Grant Scharbo infuse them with a lot more life and a surprisingly high incidence of poignancy.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Zwick and Herskovitz do capture the sweet self-absorption of youth--love is never truer, dreams never dearer and life never as complicated as it is when you are 24--it's just that it all feels so familiar when we were so hoping for something new and exciting.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    There are many fine moments in 'Klondike,' cinematic scenes of grandeur and dialogue that rise to poetry. But too often both then fall prey to self-conscious staginess, many repetitive scenes of dirt and endless conversations about the animal nature of man.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    It is nowhere near as smart as "White Collar" or as strangely touching as "Necessary Roughness" and seems content to hit well-worn marks, though more than occasionally with welcome style.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    But for all its dramatic pulse, historic details and narrative twists, Underground simply takes too long to get going; it isn't until the fourth episode that the show's real story, and potential, reveal themselves.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Larry is getting a little ridiculous... and a little too mean even for Larry. [7 Sep 2007]
    • Los Angeles Times
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    A very far cry from O’Brien’s lanky swagger or Leno’s self-confident poise and, to be frank, the whole "who, me? host 'The Tonight Show?'" seemed laid on a bit thick in parts.... Once Fallon moved behind the desk, and in front of a truly fabulous wooden miniature of New York, he seemed more comfortable.... After presenting Fallon with his own (red) guitar, [U2] sang an acoustic version of their Oscar-nominated “Ordinary Love,” which sounded, as so few late-night performances do, just fabulous. And that is where Fallon will make his mark on the show.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Creator Kyle Killen and executive producers Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser (the latter two best known for "Party of Five") are betting that the callow charm of their leading man, shored up by tailor-made roles for Keith and Jon Voight, who plays gimlet-eyed oil tycoon Clint Thatcher, will overcome the ridiculousness of the setup.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    For fans of the canon, South Riding is "Masterpiece" comfort food, enjoyable enough in the moment, but melting away to nothing but sugar and fat by morning.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Hirsch is, as usual, wonderful and more than capable of taking Abraham's story line wider and deeper than well-meaning banter and bromides assigned him, but in early episodes the story seems determined to showcase its more predictable aspects.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    OK, it's not Chekhov or even "How I Met Your Mother," to which it will inevitably be compared, but it's a lot better than the I'll-do-anything-for-pizza jokes that precede it.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    There is much to like and learn from the miniseries. Alas, executive producer Stephen David and his creative team seem intent on getting in their own way, cluttering up the inevitably fascinating narrative (offered here by Jeremy Renner) with all manner of clunky historical reenactments, hyperbolic characterizations and a soundtrack that should be shot for treason.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Where "The Returned" was content to tell its story in elliptical scenes and character sketches, Resurrection keeps them tightly tied together and bound to an investigative uber-narrative--Marty and Maggie are partners in detection with the requisite possibility of romance. The result is a lot of narrative that often strays too far from the original and much more provocative conceit: Hey, we see dead people.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    A more than occasionally funny show in which Gabi (Emily Osment), an appealing but financially challenged food blogger, becomes personal chef to Josh (Jonathan Sadowski), an appealing but romantically challenged tech-ionaire.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    The collective IQ of the cast is noticeably higher than on the "Real Housewives" while the vitriol is lower.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    A fast-paced, sure-footed pilot that tells the same essential story as the film.... Carpenter and whatever chemistry the two leads have will not be enough to separate Limitless from the stack of new and returning high-concept procedurals.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    The characters take forever to make narrative connections that seem immediately obvious and no one seems remotely curious about what exactly is happening to the world. Yet even as her hours-long insistence that she is nothing “special” grows tedious, Vanessa is delightfully cranky.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 60 Mary McNamara
    Despite the frantic and at times clunky initial execution, there are times when The Mob Doctor shows signs of transcending the typical doc-with-something-extra medical procedural.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    The sets are terrific, as are the costumes, and the rich and saturated moodiness of the production values makes the tepidness of the story all the more disappointing.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    It's a noble goal and one hopes that after viewing School Pride, volunteers spring up, committees form and checks are written. Because to merely watch the show and wallow in its many throat-tightening moments would be to remain a voyeur, and then you're just part of the problem.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    What Swank doesn't bring is any sort of emotional connection, either to Mary, Mary's son or the audience.... Mercifully, Blethyn eventually joins her on the screen and is, as ever, simple perfection, needing to do little more than utter two words with an anguished squint to break your heart into 50 million pieces. When the two meet up, Mary and Martha begins to transcend the drumbeat of its message.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    If you can live through the ridiculous hustle-forward, no-looking introduction to the story, what follows is entertaining enough, albeit in a mildly campy way.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Unfortunately, without a more solid platform, even the greatest performance can go only so far. Oyelowo is mesmerizing in the moment, but each moment dies behind him.

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