Todd VanDerWerff

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For 154 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 50% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 48% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Todd VanDerWerff's Scores

Average review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Hannibal: Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 8 out of 154
154 tv reviews
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    Rothenberg and company are sneaking in a surprisingly sophisticated look at a world filled with want.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    Halt And Catch Fire has a great cast, a neat title, a solid pilot script from Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, and some intriguing direction from Juan José Campanella that turns both the human face and circuit boards into things to be broken down into component parts and understood. But it lacks a suggestion that it will reassemble the parts of better dramas that it has gathered into something uniquely its own, instead of a mostly functional knockoff.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    The new first episode is good enough to suggest Tolan and creator Peter Duncan will be able to get at least a season out of the world punishing Keegan. There might not be enough here to go beyond that initial episode order, but just watching Kinnear play the sad asshole—wandering around L.A. without a car or getting beaten up due to gambling debts—keeps things rolling smoothly for now.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    For better or worse, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the best network drama pilot of the fall, but that’s mainly because so many of the other network drama pilots don’t even seem to be trying. There’s good stuff in S.H.I.E.L.D.; there are also things that feel curiously muted and cautious.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    Sure, the show’s “politics” feel ripped from a Politico comment section, and yes, the show’s plot doesn’t really go anywhere until the final handful of episodes. But the season also tosses an incredible number of balls in the air and manages to keep juggling them, which is impressive in and of itself.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    While Ground Floor achieves its deliberately modest aims, it also leaves the viewer wondering if something more might have been accomplished with that premise, particularly with the enjoyable Heelan in the female lead.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    The script by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie SenGupta never finds a wholly convincing Venn diagram intersection between period piece and teen soap, but it also doesn’t bother trying, hoping it can turn insane tonal shifts into a virtue by stepping on the gas. That this approach mostly works is thanks to their script being unafraid to unleash the crazy and the surprisingly beautiful direction from Brad Silberling, who makes the most of an Irish location shoot the rest of the series won’t have the advantage of.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    In the grand tradition of Mike Judge projects, HBO’s new comedy, Silicon Valley, is a bit messy, a bit shambling, and often very funny.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    The dialogue often crackles; the educational aspect even makes exposition fun to watch. Zahn is quite good, and the supporting cast already has an entertaining ensemble energy.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Toy Story franchise has always operated best with a note of existential panic, and there’s some of that here, but it feels like the special leans awfully hard on the films that gave rise to it.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    But where the storytelling seems occasionally forced—intent on ending every episode with a moment of heart, no matter how unearned—the dialogue is weird and funny. With time for the stories to settle down and match the performances, the series should find a nice groove.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Too much of those first nine episodes is taken up with vague hints of something dramatic happening just over the horizon.... Chandler, Mendelsohn, and Spacek all give searing performances. In particular, the final confrontation between Chandler and Mendelsohn is filled with meaty moments that both actors sink their teeth into.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    A story demands that it be led by its most compelling characters, and in most cases, that means the oppressed, not the oppressors. Humans can be intriguing, even enthralling. But it’s always held back by its title.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    A well-done cop show that doesn't reach for too much and mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do is the sort of thing just about anyone can have on in the background.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    If Breaking Bad gained dramatic tension from viewers feeling trapped between wanting Walter to redeem himself and wanting him to do even more horrible things, Saul can't really have that tension, because we know Saul's worst impulses will win out.... And yet there's so much about Better Call Saul that clicks, it's hard to hold too much of this against the program.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Sense8 is a show forever trapped between two things--its core artistic impulses and its need to over-explain everything that happens within its confines. That makes it at once beautiful and maddening, either a complete travesty or a whacked-out masterpiece--and sometimes both in the same scene.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Sutherland perfectly captures the dizzying nausea anyone would feel in this situation. ... But there’s every chance the conspiracy stuff takes over, and if there’s one thing about Designated Survivor that gives me pause, it’s that.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    With per-episode running times of 25 minutes or longer (around four minutes more than a standard network animated show), there are some pacing issues and general fuzziness here and there. But for the most part, it's a neat little series with potential to be a whole lot more.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Homeland might have learned how to turn its history into an asset, but it also can’t escape the fact that, like most shows with long runs, it can do little to surprise us anymore. Danes keeps Carrie watchable through the sheer force of her charisma, and Patinkin is always a treat.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    By the time you reach the cliffhanger--which did not leave me excited to check out season two, even though I generally liked season one--you’ll probably have recognized Sneaky Pete for the largely fun, largely inoffensive, largely unnecessary trifle it is. But, hey, TV needs trifles too.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Lots of times, they would baldly state what they were thinking or feeling, leaving nothing to the imagination, and even 6-year-old children were often deeply aware of their buried psychological motivations. The cast’s performances are good enough to compensate for much of this, but it’s still a bummer to get to the end of a juicy scene and have it conclude with dialogue that’s desperate to sum up everything that preceded it.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Mad Dogs, in other words, is trying something that's really complicated and ambitious and failing as often as it's succeeding. But in my book, you get at least a few points for effort. It might not be great television, but at least it's not content to do the same thing everybody else is.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    It's still a little clunky, particularly in terms of editing, and it feels as if all involved are figuring out the right ratio of jokes to information. Yet there's a lot to recommend here.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    For all its obvious weak spots, the show has turned out pretty well. It's silly but emotionally resonant, and able to call back on Muppets lore without getting lost in it.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    In Curtis and Dickens it has two of the best performers the franchise has ever featured, and it knows how to use them. Both are able to balance the sense that they're simultaneously terrified for the state of society and worried they won't be able to save their kids from becoming zombie chow.... Fear probably can't do the slow-pocalypse thing forever, but for a first season of just six episodes, it might be just about right.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The second season of Narcos, Netflix’s historical drama about drug lord Pablo Escobar and the law enforcement officers who worked to bring him down, is a marked improvement over the first.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    As The Walking Dead began its second season, the characters became mired in an endless storyline at a small farm in rural Georgia, a farm where they stayed for almost the entire season. The comics had done it, so the show did too. Fear the Walking Dead tells what appears to be a similar story, but it's over within an episode. Sometimes not having anybody to copy is the best thing that can happen.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    What it wants to be is a surprisingly effective collection of one-act plays that are sprinkled with laughs but mostly dramatic in nature. What it is is an occasionally effective (but always daring) sitcom, filmed before a live studio audience and packed with smutty jokes.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Vinyl feels like it's still doing its mic checks, but somewhere along the way, it just might burst out into a blistering solo. And it's worth paying attention until it does.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Even if One Mississippi doesn’t return for a second season, season one works beautifully as a muted story about what it means to come home and realize the person you once were, the person you thought you packed up in a box and stored away somewhere, is waiting right there for you to discover all over again.

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