For 113 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 59% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 36% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Robert Abele's Scores

Average review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 The Wire: Season 4
Lowest review score: 10 October Road: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 113
  2. Negative: 16 out of 113
113 tv reviews
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Robert Abele
    A vibrant, masterful work of art, HBO’s novelistic urban saga The Wire is the best show on television.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    A rich, intelligent and often moving miniseries.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Where does that leave Season 6, then, when the show has stemmed major disasters for five years running and its intensity level of choice is 11? As well-oiled as before, actually, and, judging from the four hours airing over Sunday and Monday, unafraid of edging its parallel-universe America ever closer toward a world war nightmare of mass hysteria.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Treachery and action still abound on 24--its brand is crisis, after all--but the nail-biting, espionage-like first four hours erect a scenario that promises a recharged season built on smarter suspense gambits than the tiresome 24 (and, by extension, Bushian) tropes of outlandish risk, torture and Armageddon-mongering.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It’s something of a feat that the makers of Big Love are willing to put the ugly side of this phenomenon up against the mainstream sheen of Bill’s setup, and -- thanks in great part to the marvelous acting on display, from Paxton’s rugged haplessness to all three women’s unique variations on maternal stress and wifely sensuality -- still offer up a family to root for, warts and all.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A series that seems to get better and better with each season, exploring issues of openness in religious belief, economic betterment and emotional escape that are as relevant and chilling as ever.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    At times it plays like a hybrid of the ticking-bomb thrills from ["24"] and the moral thorniness that undergirds HBO’s excellent crime series The Wire.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It’s easily the most interesting of the three [new alien shows], taking the emotional chill and confusion that accompany a family divorce... and lacing them with a narratively complementary dose of body-snatching paranoia.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    [Merchant and Gervais'] meetings are gemlike exchanges of deadpan incompetence and hair-pulling frustration, worthy of the bygone era of comedy teams.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    In Keenan and Lloyd’s world of dizzy, barb-tossing sophisticates, this group is confident and well-armed: Channing’s patented ladies-who-lunch tartness, Winkler’s nervous defensiveness, Burrell’s blasé arrogance, Marshall’s droll delivery and Gorham’s frustrated sensitivity all mix like a well-shaken cocktail, even if it’s the kind that gets tossed in somebody’s face.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The looseness of the interchanges gives the humor an anti-writers’-room freshness without losing the harshness we’ve come to expect in this Everybody Loves Raymond/Arrested Development age of clashing relatives.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    So far, Everybody Hates Chris has felt like a textbook example of how you fold a comedian’s sensibility into a familiar TV genre.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Insanely watchable.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    [An] exciting, interesting series.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Don’t mistake the slick-but-not-stupid Life on Mars for brain-bending sci-fi or Austin Powers-style farce. Aside from the psychological stress of its star... this is actually at heart an old-school cops-and-robbers show, with that dash of Twilight Zone to give it 21st-century cachet.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It’s old-school silly, filmed--defiantly, in these laugh-track-less days--in front of a studio audience, rich with sublimely broad performances, appreciative of the well-timed one-liner and the pratfall, in love with jokes of camera placement and confident in the healing power of a running gag.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our times.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Close’s burnished enigma characterization works beautifully because Damages, which will spend its 13-episode season detailing the six months that led to the opening shots of a blood-covered Ellen escaping a murder scene, is more a well-oiled genre exercise than the stuff of rigorous personality study.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    This is the kind of show in which seeing new cast member Timothy Olyphant stare at Byrne from across a grief-support-group circle feels like both an act of violence and empathy, and this is before you even know who the hell he is. Since this is the secret-filled Damages, chances are we may never fully know. Would you want this knife’s-edge thriller any other way?
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    You might think you’ve seen this story before, and yet you haven’t seen it quite this way.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A tightly woven, watchable melodrama that connects an eclectic but friendly bunch of women through maybe the only thing they could possibly have in common: being married to the military.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    This kind of brittlely accurate performance is something to watch in the hands of an actress like Bening, who seems incapable --even during the film’s most blackly humorous moments -- of a false, Fatal Attraction–like note.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    What's unusually gripping about Five Days is that its tension isn’t derived from depicting the majority of its cast as shifty-eyed suspects, but rather as floundering, flawed human beings unsure of how to move on with their lives.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The Sarah Silverman Program is a welcome outlet for Silverman’s brand of outlandishness, blessedly stingy with its desire to breach mores, and much more concerned with decorating its late-night comedy turf so that it can welcome any kind of unexpected laugh: shock, parody, irony, insult humor or absurdity.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    This is a meaty show about the complex allure of easy wealth and the traps it sets for one’s personal morality.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It affects a frisky aura of gamesmanship with its tight-knit friends (played by Lucy Liu, Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Bonnie Somerville) as they send their distress-text signals to each other, meet up, hash out their obstacles--cheaters, competitors, cads and the clock--and plan their counterattacks.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Beyond its title, I have no quibble with this well-made, sly, heartwarming and at times giddily funny show.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It's a whimsical, romantically inventive and darkly funny pop-up hour about a man (Lee Pace) whose touch can bring the dead back to life (but also, yikes, vice versa).
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The indignant heart of Canterbury's Law is that of a case-of-the-week procedural--a suitably suspenseful one at that--and within those institutional boundaries it's nice to see Margulies shake off the martyrish mien of Nurse Carol Hathaway on ER for somebody whose self-destructiveness gives her a nasty, intelligent severity at work.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Although it manages to be suspenseful about the journey of its jumbled characters, it is an unrelenting examination of the search for the hidden recipe of me, you and us that makes for a strong marriage, and that's something you ultimately have to steel yourself for in a weekly series.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It's actually a kick to watch. Its joys are broader and self-consciously zanier than the CW series.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Kevin Smith directs the pilot episode with his typically expert comic timing. But he also handles the dark action bits nicely. Because even though Reaper is generous with its humor, it’s not entirely wink-wink.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    With everyone's motivations in this handsomely mounted but adrenaline-fueled series so on-the-surface, Dormer's enigmatic, time-halting loveliness [as Anne Boleyn] is a boon for The Tudors, and damn near worth losing your head over.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    O’Mara’s Sam is incredibly engaging, and I’m pleased with how well this Americanization of an already very fine piece of flinty cop nostalgia is going.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    [A] richly observed, mirthful series.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Mad Men may thrive on a certain heartless suspense, but it's definitely got a brain, one that's interested in how our lives are a battle between the narrative we imagine for ourselves and the path we happen to be on.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It's easy to like True Blood, because Ball's episodic smarts are primal, not at a remove, and he approaches supernaturalism by emphasizing the natural over the super.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    What this sharp if unsettling show wants to meet head on is middle-class angst, the quiet desperation that starts to unravel in the upstanding when their obligations suddenly seem insurmountable--or what happens when the folly of controlling one's destiny starts to resemble the riskiest of lab experiments.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Written with an eye for telling detail by Danny Strong, and directed in surprisingly nimble fashion by blockbuster-comedy wrangler Jay Roach (of the Austin Powers movies and Meet the Parents fame), it has the peculiarly alchemic structure of a nail-biting tragi-farce.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    There’s a formal integrity to the Simon-and-Burns storytelling style--predicated on the theory that details matter, complexity rules and you can’t force momentum--that meshes well with the close-up vividness of Wright’s dispatches from an often chaotic front.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Sons of Anarchy, an unfailingly coarse yet brashly effective series that burrows into the workings of the titular outlaw motorcycle club.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    This could be a brisk and bruising weekly fix.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    I was initially concerned that this was going to become a male Grey’s Anatomy... but Love Monkey creator Michael Rauch... keeps facile wisdom to a bare minimum, and a certain urban energy level turned up.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    There are glimmers of something refreshingly different.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Time will tell if viewers take to this quintet as completely as they did [Friends'] Central Perk crew... but it seems as if How I Met Your Mother is the most legitimate knockoff yet of that youthful-urbanite juggernaut.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Because Hopper can radically rejigger events for better or worse -- a decision that prevents one disaster might cause another - Day Break... feels like the first video-game-era series.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    What’s intriguing about the series is the absence of a visible enemy -- with a citywide communication breakdown, hardly anything is known about the status of the rest of America -- and the focus on keeping citizens from becoming their own worst enemies
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Don’t get me wrong, I like the new show: its workmanlike verve, its professionalism. But its joys are simple, the kind of laughs that don’t feel new so much as pleasantly old-fashioned.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    At the root, this is essentially Perry Mason redux, only the vibe is less ’50s genteel murder mystery than 21st-century shock and awe.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Drive quickly asserts itself as an enjoyably diverting peel-out — brainless but not stupid, a well-stirred conspiracy/action mixture in keeping with Fox’s no-seat-belts hits 24 and Prison Break.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    It’s really a sentimental looking-for-love show after all, albeit one with a wonderful lead actress who will surely do her best to bring nuance and spark.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The Nine doesn’t quite feel like a Lost knockoff since its missing-piece, jigsaw-puzzle construct has a basis in reality: the unknowable feelings of those who have weathered personal crisis.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    And while the quest story has the inevitable whiff of The Lord of the Rings about it... the episodes almost feel more like sci-fi Hitchcock than anything else.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Mesmerizing and entertainingly confounding.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Oddly enough, as much as I like In Treatment and its theatrically deft interplays, it doesn't get off to a great start with its Monday patient.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    It’s got a low-hum basic-cable charm, fueled by personality, breezy cloak-and-dagger ingenuity and smart-ass dialogue rather than a flashy, budget-driven broadcast network complex.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    It’s a testament to George’s confident handling of the material... that while it touches on many elements of the national crisis... the project avoids feeling like a bulletin-board movie.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    It’s at its best when it sweats the small stuff of things like "barium meals" (purposefully fake directives designed to smoke out double agents) and the moves and countermoves of smart men trying to outwit each other.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    As with any sketch show, it’s all ultimately a hit-and-miss affair, but Ullman’s circus-freak virtuosity as a shape shifter-- and director Troy Miller’s rapid-fire pacing--are enough to carry you past the rough spots.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The series seems to always eschew Hollywood-style courtroom theatrics and gotcha moments for resolutions that seem truer because they involve mistakes, bad timing, compromises, dubious ethics and sweated-out smarts.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Because as much as Baker's suavely sly version of a gotcha artist is a welcome addition, thanks to a few not-so-hidden laws of character-actor placement, you'll guess the pilot scenario's killer before anybody else.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    No one's telling her what to do or say anymore, but it's hard not to look at The Cho Show as the celebreality-era redo of All-American Girl.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The irony of a series like Crusoe is that its provenance is a classic, much-analyzed novel, but the creators and NBC really just hope you’ll watch it because it’s Lost without the pretentious reach. And that’s fine, too.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The show’s biotechnological twist on the double life of spies--or any superhero/alter ego construct--certainly satisfies the popcorn-thriller needs of My Own Worst Enemy, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as thematically resonant as it was.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Leverage isn’t quite as effortlessly intoxicating--it must make do with the dependable but suave-challenged Timothy Hutton--but when it works, the TNT series has a rascally tingle.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Gary Unmarried is pretty much business as usual, introducing us to a dude of simple pleasures.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    So far the stern-faced Lake Bell’s independent-minded oceanographer is too conventional a protagonist, while the series’ government cover-up thread... feels globally warmed over.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    This is a series about whip-smart heroes, with an outbreak to contain each week, usually involving quick action, rapid analysis and fast wit.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    She’s turned what assuredly were hurtful years of feeling like a show-biz freak into friendly TV fodder that relieves viewers of the need to point while they snicker.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Serious about its silliness, this show grasps the concept of prime time as vacation time.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The “look what I can do” element is intrinsically enjoyable, if only because you’re waiting to see celebrity ass hitting ice.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    My Boys has easygoing charm and does feel like the amiably shaggy, hit-and-miss basic-cable cousin of a glossy network one-liner factory, its lack of laugh-out-loud moments not so much indicating system failure, but suggesting a game plan that aims for calmly assembling a group of occasionally witty characters and hoping you find them likable.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    It’s a more-than-solid cast, which is half the battle.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    A pleasantly diverting bumper-car drama of chance encounters, new friendships and random triggers.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Quick confusion in grasping the conspiracy web is understandable, but that doesn’t mean this series’ many hours... aren’t sufficiently tense and jarring to warrant your time. But if you’re even a mildly cynical A-section reader and/or devourer of suspense novels, and especially if you’ve enjoyed the many fine British multipart political thrillers that have graced our airwaves, like To Play the King and A Very British Coup and State of Play, then The State Within will seem either too familiar or too diffuse.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Eli Stone is another lawyer hour disguised as feel-good rehabilitation fluff, with Eli now compelled to use his sharklike courtroom mojo to take up the causes of wronged underdogs against the kinds of heartless corporate clients his blue-chip firm typically represents.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    There are intriguing elements here that promise to explore the aches, pains and joys of those committed to rebuilding something wrenched from them.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a serviceable enough addition to this particular pop-culture mosaic.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    [It] has a certain instructional dryness.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Even though it's obviously well-made and Bornheimer has a flinty wit that prevents him from being just another Ben Stiller–ish sap....if I'm being truthful, the original British version of this series was funnier.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The oldies amount to a reset button in case you’ve never seen the show before, but it’s a toss-up if the umpteenth appearance of these loonies will make die-hards keep laughing. The new gallery of U.S.-born weirdos is slightly unremarkable.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Filth too often comes off like a strained attempt at reversing the dynamic of a Marx Brothers movie, with Whitehouse the silly, charming agitator and Greene the insufferable aesthete foil with steam blowing out of his ears.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    I’ll come back to Crash the TV show, but for now, the acting doesn’t exactly induce gaper’s block.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The timing of a TV show is a different animal from the punchy joys of an in-and-out three-panel strip, and there’s a clunkiness to the pacing of this new Boondocks incarnation.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    While it's got that professional Burrows sheen of unerrant joke delivery--especially from the talented Galecki, who can do this in his sleep--you have to assume the pile of scripts on his desk in this hurting age for the three-camera studio-audience format isn’t what it once was.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The entertainment value in this otherwise rudimentary sitcom lies in watching Garrett aim for front-and-center Gleason-ness.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    It starts jumping in different directions so quickly that it loses focus.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Dexter is too chilly to be chilling, too affected to be affecting.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The problem is that seemingly everything is touched on... but the narrative is little more than a series of snapshots of how a congressperson’s office runs.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Swingtown is far from a great show, but until it feels obligated to give killjoy lip service to the downside of sexual freedom--note the transformation on Molly Parker’s postcoital face at the end of the pilot--here’s hoping it has its chance to be rompish and fun and a pain in the side of standards and practices.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Even when Unhitched isn't funny--and the second episode is definitely an improvement on the pilot, which tries too hard--it at least isn't vile.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    If you’re a regular of the cable channel’s open-surveillance portraits of damaged-goods celebrity — Breaking Bonaduce, Being Bobby Brown and Shooting Sizemore — you will inevitably tune in to Dice Undisputed for delusion, not inspiration. And there it is in the first episode.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    United States of Tara plays like surface feminism with an added gloss of snark and a bewilderingly blah sentimentality.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Shannon has a power-walker approach to the comedy of unearned positivity--not too fast, not too slow, able to suck up disappointment and move on--and it works for her character. But Blair, who can breathe hot snark on any line, hasn’t quite figured out how to make Kim hideously funny more often than just hideous.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Fringe is a smorgasbord of a show, but one a little too synthetically engineered to allow you the chance to discover what it is
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    I don't feel negative necessarily about the flaws of quarterlife, but then I don't feel much at all about quarterlife either.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    I hope future episodes don’t feel as if somebody took three hours of material and reduced it to one.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    The show is too diffuse, hokey and self-consciously portentous to suggest suspenseful possibility.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    3 Lbs. seems like microwaved leftovers.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    This is one decidedly unfrightening resurrection of the Night Stalker.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Based on the pilot of Emily’s Reasons Why Not, there’s no worry that this half hour from ABC... will be honest, or real, or even funny.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Rarely rises above the level of cut-and-dried cops-and-bad-guys tale.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Unfortunately, the young actors on display aren’t compelling enough to make us care much beyond their sometimes stupidly self-induced crises.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Lipstick Jungle is a strangely dour affair--its shadowy, chilly depiction of New York fits right alongside the NBC house style of Law & Order--and is almost misshapen in its clunky blend of drama and comedy.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Really, I just wish it were funny. Not walking-banter funny, or look-what-I-know funny, but funny funny. Even a little bit.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    In Plain Sight already seems tired with its crime-of-the-week, flawed-protagonist self.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Hunter seems to mostly flail in a show that is too unremarkable for her talents.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Secret Diary of a Call Girl is the kind of hotly lit, coldly stylized dreck that purports to be classy, high-minded softcore but is actually as witless and dreary as, well, paid-for jollies.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 20 Robert Abele
    The series quickly begins to resemble one of those fake sitcoms you’d see in a snide movie that likes to take easy potshots at low culture.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 20 Robert Abele
    Angst is saved for the final two minutes when Hank is alone, driving at night or sitting in the dark, supposedly brooding over his inability to...what, fit one more lay into the day? Because it’s a false dilemma this dishonest, unfunny, dispiritingly crude show presents.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 10 Robert Abele
    Not helping matters... are the wretched dialogue, indiscriminately moody lighting, stock characters (gruff boss, dweeby tech guy, ripped chauvinist colleague), and crushing lack of suspense.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 10 Robert Abele
    It mistakes boorishness for zaniness.
    • 23 Metascore
    • 10 Robert Abele
    It almost seems to thrive on triteness and lack of cohesion.