Todd VanDerWerff

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For 209 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 54% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 44% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Todd VanDerWerff's Scores

Average review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 The Americans: Season 6
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 209
209 tv reviews
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    When it works, there’s nothing like it on TV. When it doesn’t, it’s hard not to watch in fascination as the train flies off the tracks, wondering if it might land back on them or this time finally plummet into the gorge below.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    The thrill of exploration, or the examination of family dynamics, never feels like it arises organically from the action, in the way it might have on the show’s most obvious forebear that isn’t its direct predecessor: Lost.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    Season six, then, feels like it’s finally homing in on the series’ great theme, which is to say it’s about communication, about the gaps that open up when we don’t tell each other what’s necessary and instead stick to what’s self-serving.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    It takes a little while to rediscover its rhythms, but once it does, it feels tuned in to its world and its country in a way few sitcoms are anymore.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    The storytelling here, from a team led by David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, gains strength from its slow burn. The utter desolation and horror of the series’ back half is made more potent by how relatively normal things are for the first few episodes, before reality starts to buck and heave like the ever-shifting ice.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    All the Money frequently felt truncated, its story too sprawling for any of its characters to really connect, only Plummer holding the story together; Trust, meanwhile, feels a little scattered and bulky, constantly distracted by whatever catches its fancy when it might be better off bearing down and focusing on a particular storyline.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Every time you think you have Hap and Leonard pegged, it heads off toward something different. It’s pulp, but with its head firmly on its shoulders.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Looming Tower, despite its high stakes and its ostensibly true story (though many details have been changed), is a cop show. A really well-done cop show, admittedly, but a cop show. And more power to it.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    Like so many prestige dramas right now, then, Here and Now lacks a strong reason for any of its individual episodes to exist. The show is just a chronicle of stuff that happens to this family, with a vague promise that something important will happen somewhere along the line.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    For a series that makes a lot of basic storytelling stumbles and often seems to feature characters who can only speak in exposition, Altered Carbon’s first season is surprisingly gripping, especially in its superior back half. This is probably the best first season of a Netflix drama since The Crown’s first year dropped in late 2016.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s in the interactions between the Branch Davidians and the federal government that the Dowdles best capture the sense of an easily avoidable yet nonetheless inevitable catastrophe. Where they struggle is in conveying how it would feel to live a life so tightly entombed in cataclysm that manipulation and abuse become simple facts of life, not dark horrors to overcome.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Alienist might go very, very wrong in future episodes, and it’s already clear how the series might be more interesting if it took the plot of the novel as a suggestion instead of a road map. But there are enough pleasures around its edges to keep me watching.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s a slower burn than you might expect, but it also grows a little more rewarding with every episode. It’s one to keep an eye on.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Blue Planet II will be one of your favorite TV events of the year, and its deep dive beneath the waves of the world’s oceans will prove both soothing and engaging.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s a cliché in TV criticism to say that the real protagonist is the setting, but Corporate flips that idea on its ear: Here, the setting is the antagonist, and every day you can stay alive within it is another day when you might lose yourself completely. I realize that maybe doesn’t sound very funny, but trust me, at a certain point, you laugh because your numbing corporate job has sapped you of the ability to cry.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Assassination may not be as enjoyable to watch as O.J., but it’s striking to see how thoughtfully all involved approach a very different story in a way that gives it its own tone, its own themes, and its own grandeur. This is a more difficult but more ambitious work, and it stands as a worthy companion.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    What’s striking about watching The X-Files in 2018 is just how rejuvenated it feels. While it’s never going to hit the heights of the third or fourth season from the original series (which aired from 1993 to 2002), the 2018 iteration is a damn sight better than the 2016 one.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    The shots are perfunctory, designed to give us just enough information to keep following the story and nothing more. The performances are fine, but they rarely rise above BBC historical reenactment. The scripts are so wrapped up in explaining how everybody’s connected to everybody else that they become exhausting.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Happy! has those films’ [the Crank movies] wild, pell-mell sense of pace and jittery, overcaffeinated style. But the series’ scripts are smart about undercutting the wild mayhem and constant introduction of new ideas with a bittersweet holiday angst.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s beautiful, mysterious, and a little bit maddening, and you’d want to take in every little second of the show even if it wasn’t in German with English subtitles, because every aspect of it matters.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    The show stands as a textbook example of how major filmmakers can and should adapt their work for television: by not trying to rewrite the rules of another medium, but by finding a way to make their signature style flow through those rules.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    But still, slow-moving and enamored of its own darkness as Damnation is, there’s something vital and real in the show’s insistence that the United States’ institutions have failed and are only looking out for themselves.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Polley’s script is sturdy, occasionally leaning too heavily on underlining Atwood’s themes to make sure they come across when viewers don’t have constant access to Grace’s inner monologue. But it’s Harron’s direction and Gadon’s performance that truly drive the work.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Stranger Things hasn’t yet fallen into the Home Alone 2 trap. But it’s telling that the most exciting moments of season two are the ones when the characters evolve and change, and when the world around them does too.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Mindhunter is not, by any means, a perfect show, nor does it succeed at everything it sets out to accomplish. But its intense focus on the inner workings of the human brain makes for a surprisingly fascinating watch that examines the roots of human darkness without seeming to revel in it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    Mr. Robot is finally evolving into the show it always should have been, and you should watch it.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    Like most new comedies this fall, Young Sheldon isn’t yet very good at conveying what it’s trying to do. But what it’s trying to do is more interesting--and potentially more artistically exciting--than whatever first impressions you might have of the show. The series is at once better and worse than what you’d expect.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The whole is much more cohesive, but the individual stories take some shortcuts.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    One of the things that makes Star Trek so good is that it really believes in peace and inclusion and all that good stuff. It really wants to create a world where these ideals have become the guiding principles of humanity and its many interplanetary allies. Star Trek is best when it’s hopeful, but hope shines brightest amid horror. On some level, Discovery knows both of those things, and that’s why it’s a show I’m eager to keep watching.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The show’s six-episode second chapter, debuting this week, is terrific from stem to stern, taking a story that would seem unlikely to translate well to television and turning it into an eerie, Twilight Zone-style tale of suburban conformity, post-high school depression, and the inability to escape the legacy of one’s parents.

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