Mary McNamara

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For 581 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 The Dresser (2016)
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 66 out of 581
581 tv reviews
    • 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
    • 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
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Valerie and Alex are both oblivious and self-involved, but they also love each other, and Watkins and Dewey save them from stereotype with strong sibling chemistry and a surprisingly natural inclination for truth. This emerges slowly, in bits and pieces, often camouflaged by one-liners and set pieces (adjacent blind dates! the first one-night stand! Mom comes to town!), but it is truth nonetheless, hilarious, heartbreaking and miraculously resilient.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The episode has a few sentimentality issues (any plot point involving a music box walks a very fine line), but it doesn't matter much because the characters are so vivid they even outshine House at times, which can only be good for him.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    It just isn't funny.
    • 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.
    • 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
    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.
    • 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'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
    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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Where once Nip/Tuck crackled, it now whines and sighs; where once it shocked, it now plays nice.
    • 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.
    • 76 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Fortitude's only safety net is a cat's cradle of inter-linked, understated and strangely powerful performances.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Raising Hope is funny, sweet, occasionally provocative, and occasionally over-the-top in a regrettable way.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Close's performance illuminates rather than outshines with its high wattage.
    • 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.
    • 75 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    Certainly Fellowes has developed a formula. A solid, dependable and successful formula, with "dependable" being just a few shades warmer than "predictable."
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    In both time frames, the period is richly evoked, and the performances are universally fine.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    In the Motherhood worked as a Web series based on real-life stories but not, it would seem, as a television series based on overused stereotypes.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's hard not to love a show with a comely apothecary, and it's impossible not to love the new season of Grimm.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Best of all, Supergirl is just great television. Even those suffering from mild-to-severe super-hero fatigue will be instantly charmed by Benoist's initially uncertain Kara Zor-El and the slick and witty world Greg Berlanti has created for her.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    Early episodes are strong, if not as shattering as the inaugural season.
    • 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.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show looks to be a smart, stylish crime drama that just happens to revolve around a group of women as so many have revolved around men.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A lively, thought-provoking and often humorous quasi-biopic of a real-life crusader in which there are no angels, or devils either, just a nation in the midst of change for which not everyone is prepared.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 74 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    This main narrative of Humans, which is based on a Swedish series and written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, is solid if somewhat familiar; the truth and beauty of the series lies in the various B plots.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    With all those Emmys, viewers expect a lot, and two episodes in, 30 Rock is prepared to deliver, serving up the self-conscious, fast-moving, quick-witted comedy it has all but trademarked.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    An effervescent and super-engaging addition to television's increasingly grim comic-book wars.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Parade's End must be taken on its own terms, because it is offering something rare and provocative: a poetically precise consideration of what it means to be caught out of time, clinging to the lip of one era or reaching desperately for a foothold in the other.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's just as ridiculous as it sounds, chockablock with clichés, predictable exposition (two taps of the keyboard and entire histories are revealed) and some fairly whacked-out plot twists. But it doesn't matter because Orphan Black isn't so much about plot as it is performance, and as the series continues, the performances are pretty astonishing.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Unfortunately, it is difficult to stay interested in what happens to any of these characters because most of them are so absurdly unlikable.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    This is good summer entertainment, like a Saturday afternoon B-movie matinee transposed to Monday-night TV.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    It's a dark and astonishing gem of a show, with a bravely skillful cast juggling the petty obsessions of the workplace with Much Bigger Issues.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Almost from the get-go there's far more galumphing than trotting going on, and not all of it done by prehistoric feet. Things pick up in the third episode and there are dodos in the fourth, but it's not enough, no, not nearly enough.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Infused with the considerable talents of Bertie Carvel and especially Eddie Marsan in the title roles, Peter Harness' adaptation is, like the book, a deft combination of Dickensian satire, Austenian wit and Gothic anxiety.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Vampire fantasy, murder mystery, star-crossed love story, political satire, True Blood is all and none of the above. Not quite funny, not quite scary, not quite thought-provoking, the show's attempt to question the roots of prejudice is continually undermined by its own stereotyping.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Cleverly conceived, it boasts a star-studded cast (Gabriel Byrne, Dianne Wiest, Blair Underwood) who achieve, at times, theatrical transcendence.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    If Bosch doesn't soar, it's solid enough, and if you like the series, you're just a click away from all the books.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The show mines the long-standing tension between those who believe in fate and those who believe in control while holding all strains of outrageous behavior up for both mockery and scrutiny.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Yet despite the distraction of its media grooming, the basic story of Whale Wars is quite a yarn.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Each of the main pairings could hold a lesser show aloft; that Holland attempts to juggle and then connect them, while also exploring the divine and mundane events that draw people together, is impressive. That he pulls it off with wit and wonder is simply amazing.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    We don't feel anything because nothing is revealed about Moody except that he is depressed, profane and a writer. (We don't even know whether he is a good writer--all sorts of bad writers get upset about how their movies are made too.) And that, I'm afraid, is not enough.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    As is so often the case with "reality television," there's nothing TV producers hate so much as actual reality (bo-ring!), and so everything is tarted up with superfluous soundtracks and staging, with breathless voice-overs, mood lighting and lots of half-baked psychology.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    There are many powerful scenes in The White Queen, moments that illustrate time and again how a woman's body was both her greatest tool and her inevitable prison; a man could control his fate by mind or sword, a woman can do it only by proxy. Unfortunately, they are surrounded by the misty, swampy lands of generic medievalness.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    The problem is that in the pilot and an early episode, the crimes are nowhere as compelling as the characters. For a show like "Castle" that dares to launch a more classic version into an already saturated and tarted-up market, the murders have to be as complicated and compelling as the push-me-pull-you glances between the main characters, and so far, they just aren't.
    • 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.

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