Mary McNamara
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For 488 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 3.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Mary McNamara's Scores

Average review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Fargo: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Anchorwoman: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 58 out of 488
488 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    With a shorter to-do list and more ruthless editing--far too much time is spent in close-ups on the hosts--Showville could be as good in fact as it is in theory.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Of course, because this is a British production, it goes without saying that the acting across the board is terrific, adding a certain sheen to the well-thumbed plots.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Survivors is torn between the desire to go big--it's the literal end of civilization--and small--how would an ordinary person react to the death of everyone he knows? Regrettably Survivors succeeds at neither, getting stuck instead in a blurry bog of middle ground.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    At its best, The Sons of Liberty captures in admirable detail the cleverness of the rebels, in their smuggling efforts and ability to amass and hide guns and ammunition, their personal bravery and astonishing commitment to a long-odds pursuit. If only their intelligence and ideology had been given the same, or indeed any, attention.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    There's actually no reason this couldn't be a perfectly fine legal procedural, except there's no indication that anyone is attempting to make it one. The script is strictly writing by numbers.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The argument for overturning Ali's conviction has nothing to do with politics or personality. Instead, it had everything to do with the legal fine print, which makes the film's climax more muted than you might hope.... The cast, led by Plummer and Langella, is so fabulous you might find yourself wondering if it isn't time for a dramatic series revolving around this Supreme Court.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Psychological sleight of hand can't fill an hour every week. For that you need complicated, interesting crimes and complicated, interesting characters solving them. The Mentalist seems prepared to deliver just that.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    Cash and Geere are two talented performers selling this mess as best they can, but mostly the show suffocates under its own feeling of brashness.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Fortunately, terrific performances all around quickly ground the tensions in character rather than theme.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Mary McNamara
    Surviving Jack is terrific. Funny and smart, poignant and believable, it is undoubtedly the best new comedy of the season.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny, who created Trust Me (and have been writers on “The Closer") are former admen themselves; they chose the milieu to explore the creative process among a group of people with a collective-neuroses score high enough to maintain a smart and breezy comedy.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Though it never quite hits its stride, the show never pitches us into the abyss.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    It is, by turns, hilarious and histrionic, illuminating and infuriating.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Terra Nova manages to introduce a panoply of narrative threads and themes while telling a remarkably clean story, both in terms of plot line and tone; Terra Nova is whole-family friendly.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Call Girl's greatest flaw is not that it's exploitative but that it's surprisingly dull.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    No doubt there will be many lessons about the importance of pulling together and being true to oneself, etc., but Make It or Break It seems prepared to take on not only the obvious Life Lessons but also the crucial undercurrents that move so many lives well into adulthood. And that, as much as the graceful wonder of gymnastics, will make it worth watching.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Playing it long and lugubrious but with a tantalizing twinkle, Lewis (last seen in the States as the hateful husband in "The Forsyte Saga") may well wrest the mantle of sexiest troubled American played by a Brit away from Hugh Laurie.
    • 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Covert Affairs may not have the revenge factor of "Burn Notice" or the bromantic banter of "White Collar," but it's fast-paced, fun and every bit as charming.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Unabashedly retro, with plenty of high- and low-tech silliness.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Too often Life's Too Short feels like two shows stuck together with a bit of chewing gum.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Grounded in parental reality, it's funny and promises to be funnier. The characters, though presented in very broad strokes, have lots of room for shading.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    For reasons known only to its creators, the pilot for Sleepy Hollow seems determined to jam into one hour what could have easily, and more enjoyably, been spun out over several.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Strike Back unfolds quickly and confidently with brilliantly choreographed fight sequences and the exotic locales. But nothing trumps the friendship of the two male leads.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    It's entertaining to watch, though, distracting in a highly caffeinated way, and Washington and Cusick are especially fun together, but at no point do the characters seem like people or the venue anything but a fast-paced, occasionally clever television show.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    By pilot's end, the tension level is more "Parenthood" than "Homeland."
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    The turn and turn again structure is definitely appealing, albeit a bit self-conscious. The cast is terrific and LaBute knows his way around dialogue.... But watching guys hand-feed their inner cavemen from the table is not nearly as much fun as LaBute seems to think it is.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    The writers seem so concerned with ensuring that their characters are preternaturally decent and likable that they go for sunny skies when there should be storm clouds....But Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw are so energetic and appealing that it's hard to take your eyes off them long enough to worry about such matters, and they both seem up to just about anything.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Mary McNamara
    Alphas deftly balances all the building blocks of great genre--nonhuman abilities, twisty plot, cool special effects, smart dialogue and characters you want to spend more time with. And that's the most impressive superpower of all.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Benched is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is, mainly because Watkins and Jones seem to believe that the endless humiliations of a thin, attractive, previously well-compensated blond woman are all it takes to make people laugh.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    An ambitious character-driven drama over-enamored from the get-go with its tricky structure and coy premise.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    A still pointed but more controlled take on the crossroads of media and culture, The Newsroom is now much closer to the show that many hoped it would be.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Unfortunately, the show seems to be slightly less than a sum of its parts.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Mary McNamara
    It would be great to report here that Devious Maids is not that bad, except that it is, despite a lot of real talent on-screen.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Mary McNamara
    Taylor and Gross balance just the right amount of competence and bewilderment, while Mulroney emotes the pain of a rejected father. The pilot is all but stolen by Joshua Erenberg, who plays the kid Finley rescues.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Mary McNamara
    Such a concept seem ripe with delicious possibility. The show, unfortunately, is not. Played out as a cop procedural, it has a predictable narrative structure that at times resembles nothing so much as a prison.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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?).
    • 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.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 Mary McNamara
    Gracepoint certainly has higher [ambitions] than many broadcast crime dramas. ... [But Tennant] is nowhere near as good in Gracepoint as he is in Broadchurch. ... [And] the coastal-town milieu of Gracepoint, so vivid in and integral to Broadchurch, seems just as fake as Tennant's accent.

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