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 The Normal Heart
Lowest review score: 0 Cavemen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 68 out of 594
594 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Kyle gives Outcast dimension, but Anderson makes it vital. Unfortunately, the crowded script slows them down. Too often, Outcast, like it’s demons, depends on the terrifying seductions of possession to hold our attention.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Yet silly and unsurprising as it seems, Miss Guided has something going for it that many predictable sitcoms do not: a uniformly talented cast.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    Lipstick Jungle wrongheadedly wants to have it both ways--to celebrate and explore the lives and loves of women at the top through protagonists who don't have the drive or the depth to make it there.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Anchored by the sensible sensitivity of Nick, Dirty Sexy goes over the top and back again, as brightly fun and cheesy as a carnival ride.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Viewers will sigh with relief to see this trio actually get along with one another. They listen, share in the laughs and coolly talk through decisions--it makes for a captivating panel that’s fun to watch.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    For fans of "Silence of the Lambs" there is some pleasure in gathering the canonical Easter eggs planted throughout the series, but for the most part Hannibal suffers from the same fatal flaw as its main character: It takes itself so seriously that it's no fun at all.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    They all dance and throw punches in a script fast-paced and brimming with literate wit.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Some of these bits work very well, albeit as free-floating shards of comedy.... But parody works best when its subject is either truly iconic or still relatively fresh in the minds of the audience and, mercifully, the B-list miniseries of yesteryear are neither.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Writer and executive producer Jonathan E. Steinberg does an admirable job preserving the smart-mouth humor and ker-pow, splat fun while creating story lines and characters grounded in the alpha-male charm that made guys like Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis and Robert Conrad so popular.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    A picaresque, briskly written and quickly captivating series that is neither afraid nor ashamed of entertaining its audience.
    • 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Haynes has created not only a rich and nuanced vehicle for his A-list cast--among them Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood and Guy Pearce--he has given us a rare and valuable gift: an American melodrama about class.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The smart, insightful writing of Liz Tigelaar, the crisp and vibrant exteriors of Portland and the palpable chemistry between all the leads combine to make it, dare I say, lovable, an entertaining hour that might even offer a few insights into the complicated ties of desire and regret, friends and family.
    • 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.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Leno's got his desk, he's got his guests and no one expects him to do anything but what he's done for so many years: protect the "Tonight Show" franchise. After all that has happened, that may or may not be enough.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    This being a broadcast premiere, Ginny is forced through many predictable expositional and emotional hoops, and Bunbury makes that exercise seem effortless. Though she is the center of the story, Ginny remains something of a cipher.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    There are moments when Big Time in Hollywood, FL is very funny, indeed, and enough of them to form a bread crumb trail through the forest. But the forest can be pretty tough going when the trouble with your show lies with the leads. Jack and Ben are, of course, nowhere near as talented and fascinating as they think they are; that's part of the joke. Unfortunately, it's also true in the larger sense--the man-child slacker-artiste character is overfamiliar and trite, and neither Anfanger nor Jacobson knows how to transcend this.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    With a talented ensemble and exquisite location work, it’s a solid night-time soap with top notes of consciousness-raising and the added bonus of returning Winfrey to the flat screen (albeit in a co-starring role).
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Moffat and his very deep bench of talented performers create characters that defy expectation and grow in complexity with each episode.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    Watching "Tabatha's Salon Takeover," which is unrated, you can't help but wonder if there shouldn't be a "whip it" show for "whip it" shows--in which an expert would review the tapes and offer advice on how to turn a bad situation around. They could start with this one.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hatfields & McCoys is a star-studded, gorgeously produced and astonishingly nuanced look at America's most famous family feud.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Creator Jenji Kohan has kept it all going so far, the supporting cast remains the funniest on TV, and Parker, with her carefully calculated stillness and sudden reckless displays of fearlessness, is more riveting than ever.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    They're a bit too cute. Yet behind all the hipster wordplay, the characters are strangely charming.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Murder in the First, a masterfully paced balance of tricky whodunit and character development, seems to have benefited from both Bochco's hits and the misses, as well as the cable-led experimentation with shorter seasons.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    An emotional, necessarily freaky but surprisingly logical and altogether satisfying story and, one hopes, a reset for future seasons.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    If the vagueness may irritate fans of the first book/film, it works well for the second, making this story a bit more open-ended and universal.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    It's difficult to make cold-blooded and calculating people interesting and empathetic, and yet it must be done. Because fight scenes will take you only so far. Especially when there are no big dance numbers.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    What it lacks in depth, Babylon makes up for in range and sudden brilliant commentary.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Though his [Carlton Cuse's] version is not quite as eerie and enigmatic as the French version, it's still pretty dang eerie and enigmatic, particularly for those watching the story unfold for the first time.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The series opens with an episode so nuanced and thoughtful, so quietly moving and genuine, it's almost impossible to believe it is made by many of the same people who helped build a family empire off the infamy of a young woman's sex tape.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It was an undeniably endearing, energetic and star-studded hour of television.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    This About a Boy is as subtle as a chain saw.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    It tries very hard not to take the expected path. Too hard, unfortunately. So determined are Hunt, executive producer/showrunner Jenny Bicks and Linney that The Big C be unsentimental that they jam early episodes with so many over-blown characters and wacky antics that it's impossible to attach meaning to any of them.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It had a not-bad, pretty good, kinda funny, sort of smart debut.
    • 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    If this seems a hodgepodge of ideas, well, that is the general feel of Mankind--a scattershot catalog of man's greatest hits, lovingly enacted by a cast of grim and grimy thousands and propelled ever forward by a relentless soundtrack and urgent narration by Josh Brolin.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Swayze, his face worn craggy by age and his battle with pancreatic cancer, remains a noble figure despite the ridiculousness that surrounds him. With the bearing and the mien of a man who is fighting for the survival of his own humanity, he clearly could have done much more with less.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The Event seems prepared to make its characters as complex as its storyline, always an event worth attending.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Costars like Daly, Ivanek and Neuwirth promise great things, but Madam Secretary belongs, obviously, to Leoni, who conjures a gratifying mix of brains and heart, humor and flintiness without, and this is important, any sign of mental illness.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    The best thing about Go On is, not surprisingly, Perry.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Everything is presented far too briefly. For all her geographic ambition, Alexandra Pelosi winds up conducting an exit poll rather than telling a real story.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    A to Z is the most promising comedy premiering on broadcast networks this fall. That's not saying much — this is not a particularly good year for new comedies — but it's saying something.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    It's clear that Wells has nothing but respect for the original material; if only he felt the same for American viewers. Unfortunately, [executive producer John Wells] seems to have bought into the notion that Americans need everything to be bigger, louder, messier and drawn in primary colors.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Fear the Walking Dead takes Los Angeles, and itself, very seriously. So seriously that in the first two episodes it is sometimes difficult not to laugh. At the general cluelessness of the characters, at the intensity of the local "realism," at the heavy-handedness of the Cinematic Symbols of Foreboding (Beware the Bounce House) and the sight of so many fine actors trying to keep their feet in a promising but initially borderline-absurd narrative.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    It's precisely the lack of traditional stage-managed drama that makes early episodes of the show so fascinating.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    Canterbury's Law is a Frankenstein's monster of a dozen cop/law shows, a pale, lurching version of the flawed and fascinating women who are taking back television like so many modern Cagneys and Laceys.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Despite some less-than-stellar story lines--Ray's feud with his rich neighbor, his constant referral to how things have changed since his parents' day--Ray comes across as a genuine Everyman. Who just happens to have a certain God-given talent that will allow him to survive.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Once the action leaves the overly Maxfield Parrish-ized world of magic trees and drooping pregnant princesses, things pick up considerably.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    When the only real tension is one character telling another to hurry and the most emotionally involving scene lasts 30 seconds and involves the cop who may not engage with the principals again all season, it's difficult to remain an interested person.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    All floppy hair and Hollywood smile, Kody's way too surferdude to take very seriously as a patriarch. It's the three wives--Meri, Janelle and Christine--who form the solid center of the family and the show.

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