Mary McNamara
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For 447 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 2.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Behind the Candelabra: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 53 out of 447
447 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It's the first telling of a post-9/11 story that is all the things it should be: politically resonant, emotionally wrenching and plain old thrilling to watch.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In Season 2 the issues and tensions remain the same, but perfectly dialed up a notch or two.
    • 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
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Many heads bend over this adaptation, each belonging to a master of his or her craft, and what emerges is a truly new, and miraculously accurate, definition of epic television.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hannibal is much better than it once was, perhaps the guiltiest pleasure on television at this time.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    With Treme (which refers to a New Orleans neighborhood and is pronounced treh-MAY), Simon, co-creator Eric Overmyer and their team of writers (including the late, great David Mills) have proved that television as an art form cannot only rival Dickens, it can hold its own against Wagner.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show is crazy, man, now more than ever, and I mean that in the best possible way.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Easy Money (9 p.m. Sunday on the CW) is easily the most intriguing new show of the season, if only because it relies on neither the great wealth, modern science or female bonding for its narrative thrust.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Modern Family is sharp, timely and fresh, complicated enough to be interesting but with a soft, sweet center because, and I'm speaking loudly so even cable channels can hear, there is nothing wrong with that.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It's an exquisitely rendered and masterfully acted film on Lifetime.... Underwood and Williams are eloquent and fine, but this is Carrie's story. With her shining ageless eyes and effortless physical grace, Tyson is quietly but relentlessly hypnotic in all she does.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Dexter is a weekly marvel of writing, acting and conceit.
    • 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.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    Lost in all the plot and character contrivance is any sense of the city--a few gumbo and bourbon references are most certainly not enough.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Smart but never slick, funny but never glib, dark but never (praise all saints and angels) noir, Breaking Bad is actually not another addition to the Brotherhood of the Made Guy formula, it turns out to be the formula's antidote.
    • 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."
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A show that is visually poetic, normatively compelling and, most important, sustainable for a good long haul.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    There are only three patients this time around, and their stories, written by executive producers Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, offer a thematic cohesion that seems richer, though perhaps more familiar. More important, the show remains a rare and wonderful opportunity to watch fine actors work their way through excellent material, earning it consistent praise and HBO's commitment, despite low ratings.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    The filmmakers do not beat a political drum, they do not use an impassioned script or a soundtrack comprising brass and strings; they do not attempt to incite anger or outrage, sorrow or resolve in any way. Instead, they present the facts, simply and gracefully, and the result is devastating.
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Once your eyes adjust to the bedazzled opulence of Liberace's life in '70s and '80s Las Vegas, Behind the Candelabra becomes a darkly moving and provocative look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love before the maelstrom of fame, money and drugs, all churning within the confines of the sexual closet, blew it apart.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    "Weeds" is odder, darker and more suspenseful than ever.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    It isn't just good TV, it's revelatory TV. The genre's biggest potential game changer since AMC debuted the one-two punch of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad."
    • 82 Metascore
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    You will laugh, you will cry and if it seems a bit treacly, it is.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's the miraculous simplicity of creating something from nothing that makes Runway endlessly watchable.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The first episode may be a bit rocky in the beginning, what with the reintroduction of characters and story lines, but the second season of Damages promises to be even better than the first.
    • 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.
    • 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").
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Though some of the visual cues will be very familiar to fans of "Lord of the Rings" or even "The Tudors," Game of Thrones quickly finds that rare alchemy of action, motivation and explanation, proving, once again, that the epic mythology remains the Holy Grail of almost any medium.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    [Her] presence is what both illuminates and limits Gloria: In Her Own Words.
    • 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
    • 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
    High School Musical 2 s zippier, bouncier, prettier, more soulful and even more musical than its predecessor, and that's saying something.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Although Romano is the keystone of the group, it is very much an ensemble drama buoyed by writing that protects the characters from the perils of self-pity and self-indulgence with quick and gentle humor and plot points that capture the forces a middle-aged, middle-class man might actually battle.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The tone may veer a bit wildly from grim to hilarious for an American audience's taste, but once Hamm and Radcliffe settle into their roles (and Hamm into his accent), it could very well live up to its U.K. rep and provide Ovation with some skin in the game.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Mary McNamara
    Smash is a triumph.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Unfortunately, so smitten are the creators of John Adams with historical earnestness and pedigree they seem to have forgotten how to tell a good story.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Terrific acting, crackling dialogue and geek-hip crime are not the only things that make this the most electric drama to premiere this fall.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    What sets Push Girls apart [from other reality shows] is that these plots, and these women, are actually interesting.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The episode has a few sentimentality issues (any plot point involving a music box walks a very fine line), but it doesn't matter much because the characters are so vivid they even outshine House at times, which can only be good for him.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    At the very least the rather admirable cast should be allowed a do-over with a script that doesn't confuse petulance with wit or meanness with misdirection.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    It just isn't funny.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With the rest of the cast hitting the same high notes as Margulies and the script, The Good Wife promises to be that Holy Grail of television: a good criminal procedural that barely disguises the insightful, multilayered human drama that lies beneath.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 0 Mary McNamara
    I just wanted everyone, including Jones, to rise up as one and throw the cameras and the whole Anchorwoman concept out of the newsroom and back to whatever airport strip bar provided its genesis.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Where once Nip/Tuck crackled, it now whines and sighs; where once it shocked, it now plays nice.
    • 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
    • 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.