For 392 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 45% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 12.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Tom Shales' Scores

Average review score: 52
Highest review score: 100 Arrested Development: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Family Guy: Season 1
Score distribution:
392 tv reviews
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Even if the new season's shows weren't the blah, bland blanks that most of them are, Ed would stand out. For one thing, it isn't often that the season's best new comedy is also its best new drama. Ed is. [8 Oct 2000, p.G01]
    • Washington Post
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    So rousingly well done that it seems to come from a different solar system than most contemporary episodic television shows, and yet too many rapturous panegyrics could spoil some of the fun. The two-hour pilot for the series...is so terribly and industriously entertaining that you hate to see the program lumped in with things that are supposedly "good for you." This isn't a John Chancellor commentary. This is living, breathing matter -- clever, thoughtful, ribald and hard-boiled. [15 Sept 1986, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    "The Larry Sanders Show" is brilliantly brilliant, wonderfully wonderful and hilariously hilarious, the next step in the evolution of the television talk show and a contribution to the betterment of viewerkind. [14 Aug 1992]
    • Washington Post
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    "Larry Sanders" seems to be continuing waspishly along on track, blurring the line between reality and fantasy in wry, inventive ways, using a show biz milieu to comment on a lot more than just show biz. [2 Jun 1993]
    • Washington Post
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    This brilliant and aching and achingly brilliant series is the best original sitcom in the history of cable TV. [15 Mar 1998]
    • Washington Post
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    A compelling and sometimes harrowing hour of high-tension urban trauma, different from Bochco's "Hill Street Blues" and at least as good as any other drama series now on the air. It delivers a good, stiff shock now and then, and what's wrong with that? It's surely preferable to shows that lull you into numbness. [21 Sept 1993, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    The story's a good one, all right, and beautifully related--but there's a lot more going on in "The Sopranos" than good storytelling. This is one of the most unpretentiously profound and troubling dramas in the history of American television. [16 Jan 2000]
    • Washington Post
    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    The show is as darkly gleeful as ever, shrewdly and even elegantly put together and, in a way that perhaps no other TV drama series has ever been, troublingly seductive and irresistible. [3 Mar 2001]
    • Washington Post
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Television's greatest drama series has only gotten greater.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Sparse, tough, nuts-and-bolts, hit-and-run TV. You'd need a magnifying glass to find a nuance. But it works, and grippingly.
    • 100 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    A series that started out merely good and has now become, like NBC's "Cheers," a comedy essential, a good reason to stay home and laugh. [18 Sep 1989]
    • Washington Post
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    A captivating blend of the existential and the pulpy, the surreal and the neo-real, the grim and the farcical, Twin Peaks is new age music for the eyes, a show that careens off the wall and out into left field and yet supplies some of the basic satisfactions we humans have demanded of our storytellers since we first wriggled out of primordial goop.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Six Feet Under establishes from the start that it will be unflinching and brazen and, as it happens, scorchingly brilliant. [3 June 2001, p.G01]
    • Washington Post
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Even though Scrubs is the best of the season's new comedies, it may not have the most laughs. But oh mama, it has the most heart. Scrubs is to the average sitcom as a steak at the Palm is to a Big Mac. We are talking an entirely different, and superior, species. [2 Oct 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Each episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" flies by in a dizzying blur of neurotic delight. [14 Sep 2002]
    • Washington Post
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Brings new energy and respectability to the "reality" genre popularized by the same network's "Survivor" -- and surpasses it in spectacle and human drama. Great TV lives. ... There is so much more to this show than there is to most of its ilk. [5 Sep 2001]
    • Washington Post
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    So is "The Wire" as good as ever? Perhaps even better.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    An outstanding crime drama. It has all the trappings of a good show and then, of course, one staple of a great one: An absolutely terrific star in the lead role. Kathryn Morris can go through my files anytime. [27 Sept 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Arrested Development is very animated but it is not a cartoon. Cartoonish, perhaps, but it is filled with real actors playing surreal people, all of whom have frighteningly identifiable traits and tics. Together they are the Bluths, the latest and at this moment greatest of TV's dysfunctional families. Dysfunctionalism has rarely been as ingratiating or, certainly, as hilarious.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Arrested Development is, in fact, "Dynasty" as it might be rewritten for the Three Stooges if there were a dozen of them...Sly, wild, clever and just plain nuts, Arrested Development makes you think as it makes you laugh, and one of the things it makes you think is, "Why the hell am I laughing?" Deep in your subconscious, you know. You've slipped on the appeal of a frozen banana. [6 Nov 2004, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    The most electrifying new main character to hit television in years. [16 Nov 2004, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 58 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    The show truly teeters on wonderful. This is probably TV's most poignant half-hour comedy in years, a masterfully modulated combination of shrewd satire and a tender, even tearful, central story. [5 June 2005, p.N01]
    • Washington Post
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Wright says. "After the Vietnam War ended, the onus of shame largely fell on the veterans. This time around, if shame is to be had when the Iraq conflict ends--and all indications are there will be plenty of it--the veterans are the last people in America to deserve it." Generation Kill makes that point so powerfully as to stand among the truest and most trenchant war movies of all time.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    You needn't be the least bit interested in sports to enjoy Sports Night, the best new ABC sitcom of the season. [22 Sept 1998, p.E01]
    • Washington Post
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    Calling Steven Bochco's Murder One the best new series of the season is too easy and over-understated. The episode airing tonight on ABC is one of the classiest, best-written and most assured dramatic pilots ever seen on television, and next week's installment, "Chapter Two," is nearly as good. This is super-gripping, diamond-bright, edge-of-your-couch TV.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    The Corner is strong, solid storytelling, but it's more than that. It's an act of enlightenment, raw and shattering and strangely, inexplicably, beautiful. [15 Apr 2000, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Tom Shales
    My love for Undeclared is unconditional... There are many different kinds of funny, and Apatow aims for one of the hardest kinds -- the humor of rueful recognition. You may not laugh till it hurts, but it'll hurt a little when you laugh, because you may recall your own awkward moments of defeat, embarrassment or disillusion. Undeclared is shrewdly observant and richly detailed, and the fact that it's funny, too, is the icing on the cake. Great cake! [25 Sept 2001, p.C01]
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Tom Shales
    The fact that Barr's show seems cut so authentically out of middle-class experience gives it a solid familiarity from first encounter. ... "Roseanne" is really different and really funny. [18 Oct 1988]
    • Washington Post
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Tom Shales
    Gripping ... It sure gets off to a spine-tingling, heart-pounding start. [19 Sep 1994]
    • Washington Post
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Tom Shales
    The reason it works so well is that performers and script are ideally matched; they join forces to obliterate resistance. [14 Sept 1985, p.C1]
    • Washington Post