Todd VanDerWerff
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For 62 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 51% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 48% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Todd VanDerWerff's Scores

Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 The Leftovers: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 62
  2. Negative: 3 out of 62
62 tv reviews
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    The mood develops exquisitely from the first frame.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    Hannibal has always been beautiful, and that’s still the case. It’s also always featured dialogue and plots that stay just on the right side of being too pretentious, and that remains the case. If there are any notable steps up from season one, it’s both in the tension that mounts thanks to the great game played between Will and Hannibal and in the better use of the show’s supporting cast.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    Everybody inside and outside of Litchfield’s walls matters. That shouldn’t feel revolutionary. That it does speaks both to how essential this show is and how much most other TV shows will have to do to catch up to it.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    None of this would work without compelling characters. Fortunately, The Leftovers has bunches of them.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Todd VanDerWerff
    From episode three on, [Sheen] begins to give one of the most fascinating performances on TV.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Todd VanDerWerff
    The show’s beauty is not in big moments, or exquisitely written scenes (though it has both), it comes in the pauses between, the semicolons and commas that make up the bulk of many lives, but which TV has trouble giving full heft.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Todd VanDerWerff
    For the most part, Lannan and Haigh have crafted something that’s bittersweet and funny and surprisingly quiet, willing to simply let the characters hang out and try to figure out what the rest of their lives are going to be like.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Todd VanDerWerff
    Orphan Black is better than almost any show on TV at feeling like it’s constantly building toward something, no matter how perilous and rickety its structure becomes.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 91 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s a quiet, deliberate show, but it contains multitudes and a willingness to go for broke with religious symbolism or Southern gothic overtones, right smack dab in the middle of stories about normal people going about their lives.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    In its pilot form, at least, Trophy Wife is surprisingly self-assured and confident, the sort of show that seems ready to hit its stride in just a week or two.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    Enlisted hasn’t realized all of its potential, but that it already has its characters in such good shape suggests much to anticipate for its future.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    True Detective might be finding itself in the first half of its first season, but few processes of discovery are so enthralling to watch.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    The many tones should produce whiplash, but the series works because it’s always able to go back to its central idea of a lower-level government employee living in a sleepy small town and getting wrapped up in something bigger than he would ever have anticipated.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    Getting On captures the drudgery of work and life in this ward, but it also catches glimpses of the beauty, and it’s in those moments that it feels like a series that deserves better than it’s going to get.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 83 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Address ultimately can’t nail its ending.... ut so much of The Address accomplishes what it sets out to do and is so different from Burns’ typical work that it becomes a fascinating sidebar in his filmography.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Togetherness is a really, really well-executed version of this particular story [somewhat affluent white married couple in Los Angeles], with the Duplass brothers' inimitable directorial style meshing perfectly with the sorts of comedies HBO often embraces.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Stories the writers have obviously been wanting to tell for years are ramping up, and the actors are in peak form. Even if you tuned out of this show somewhere in the intervening years, it's worth coming back to see how it all ends.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    Rothenberg and company are sneaking in a surprisingly sophisticated look at a world filled with want.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 Todd VanDerWerff
    Six By Sondheim is just barely more than the sum of its parts, but when it finally adds up, it feels like many of the master’s best songs and shows: a puzzle that assembles itself right in front of your eyes.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    [The pilot is] very much a patch job on a project that needed more than a quick fix, but the direction it takes is encouraging.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    There are four or five different shows crammed into Mom. At least one of them is a potentially great show. One of the others could make for a largely enjoyable time-waster... But the others are all varying degrees of messy to distractingly awful.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    The series seems equally pitched between good--Lowe, a solid writing staff, and that mournful tone--and bad--Michael Socha as a helpful rogue who joins Alice on her quest and is already wearing thin by the end of the first episode--but for those who’ve enjoyed the parent series, even ironically, it stands as just enough of an improvement to recommend.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    While all of the moments when civilization retreats in the face of the apocalypse are nicely handled, the overall plot is filled with pointless mystery, simply there to obfuscate whatever the season’s real story is.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    The series still has several marks against it--particularly in the acting and dialogue columns--but good sci-fi shows are thin on the ground right now, and there’s just enough that works in Helix to make it worth following for now.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    Despite the structural problems, there are considerable delights in each one of these episodes. All of them contain a handful of belly laughs, and the dialogue is sharp and pointed even when it’s not riotously funny.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 67 Todd VanDerWerff
    Jack Bauer started this story as a family man trying to get back into his wife’s good graces; now, he’s a grenade with its pin pulled, others diving away from him for cover. Live Another Day is best when it understands that. Pity that it brings everything else about the show along for the ride.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s hard to look at Resurrection and not see all of the nerve that broadcast networks have lost.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    Generic cop heroes aren’t always a problem if the show around them boasts other interesting characters or an intriguing premise. Almost Human has both, but, sadly, everything else in the show’s universe takes more after the Urban side of things than the Ealy.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    There are a handful of lines in every episode that are worth a smile or two (as well as a celebrity cameo in episode two that works surprisingly well in this regard), and the acting is largely solid (though everyone seems to be in different shows). But there’s a serious lack of a core to About A Boy.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s gloriously stupid, but not always aware that’s what it’s doing, which leaves it in a messy middle ground--too bad to be good, too good to be bad.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    In choosing to center its story of Revolutionary War-era spies on relationships (particularly between Abraham and Anna and Abraham and his father), it has a fighting chance at finding its way to something compelling. The problem is that the show has yet to figure out a way to make those relationships fresh or interesting in the slightest.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    Night Shift doesn’t really have another gear, but it refuses to go full Grey’s Anatomy and ramp up the sexy complications so much that it attains the lift off of fun melodrama.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 58 Todd VanDerWerff
    Being like a video game gives The Last Ship some nifty visual aesthetics and some good forward momentum, but it can’t give the series characters or storytelling worth giving a damn about.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    Though Bernthal, Ventimiglia, and Davalos all look their parts, there’s little thought to their characters beyond “detective” and “mobster” and “femme fatale.”
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    This is one that is built so thoroughly around a personality that it seems like someone forgot to fill the actual show in around the edges of that personality.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    There’s enough spooky and goofy stuff going on here to placate the Pretty Little Liars faithful, but it seems unlikely to win any new converts.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s possible that The Mindy Project will settle down a bit once it’s done reversing the course of season one’s cliffhanger, but the flaws of the first two episodes are so similar to those of season one that it’s hard to imagine some sort of remarkable turnaround.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    Black Sails is a handsome illusion at times, but it rarely finds its way beyond that.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    Fallon fits into that dichotomy as a sort of older brother who’d really like to get everybody together just this once, because it would make mom and dad happy. There’s a way to make that work within the more stringent requirements of The Tonight Show, but Fallon hasn’t found it just yet.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    The world has so many series about dark humans doing dark things that it becomes all the more difficult to stand out, and Those Who Kill is so generic it doesn’t even seem interested in trying.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    Gang Related ultimately confuses being grim with being sophisticated, and it too rarely stops to think about what it’s trying to say beyond, “Man, being a dirty cop sure would be tough!”
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    The show is worth watching once to sample what Malkovich is up to, but it ultimately suffers from not following his performance to its logical conclusion and making the whole series a completely bonkers Blackbeard experience.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 42 Todd VanDerWerff
    Witches Of East End has the curious distinction of feeling at once underpopulated and way, way too busy.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 42 Todd VanDerWerff
    It hasn’t yet realized that what was once groundbreaking is now wheezy and clichéd.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 42 Todd VanDerWerff
    Too often subsumed by the show’s desire to make a grand statement and its inability to realize that often gets in the way of just telling a compelling story.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 33 Todd VanDerWerff
    Sean Saves The World is almost completely devoid of laughs.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Todd VanDerWerff
    These jokes aren't funny ones. They're old, threadbare ones that Galavant does nothing to build upon. In fact, they might be Galavant in a nutshell: everything seems different, but this is the same old TV slop in a different suit of armor.
    • 15 Metascore
    • 0 Todd VanDerWerff
    At all times, Dads feels assembled by people who have sniveling contempt for their audience, figuring that this is just the stupid bullshit people who watch network TV might want. They may be proved right by that, but the American public rarely embraces shows as transparently awful as Dads.

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