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 12.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Tom Shales' Scores

Average review score: 52
Highest review score: 100 The Sopranos: Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 Friends: Season 1
Score distribution:
392 tv reviews
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Often engaging, inventive, well acted and wickedly funny, Picket Fences keeps shooting itself in the foot with tastelessness disguised as daring. Irritating as it may frequently be, however, Picket Fences also seems the new fall drama most likely to become habit-forming. You may love it, you may hate it, but you're liable to be hooked. [18 Sept 1992, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Funny, yes. Wildly funny, no...As an addition to pop literature about women in groups, Designing Women appears more derivative than innovative, but being derivative hardly ever hurts in prime-time television. [29 Sept 1986, p.C3]
    • Washington Post
    • 86 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    A glorious bungle. It has been produced on a dauntingly massive scale (by no less than Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, those old war hands) and is at times visually astonishing...Unfortunately it also suffers from disorganization, muddled thinking and a sense of redundancy. [8 Sept 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    If the material were better, she wouldn't have to mug and grimace and cavort so strenuously; push wouldn't have to keep coming to shove. ... It's an in-your-face affair, and after a while, your face gets tired. [15 Apr 2003]
    • Washington Post
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    This is no run-of-the-mill production, but it falls under the heading of "acquired taste." The main inducement to acquire it is to watch Gugino have her way with the title role.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Las Vegas needs all the gimmickry it can get because the basic premise of the show is shaky; we are expected to sympathize with the management of a big Vegas casino instead of rooting for the poor schmoes who are trying desperately to make some wild dream come true at the blackjack tables.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    The show is almost drowning in detail, minute detail, so that the basic plot line and its resolution are a chore to follow and figure out. [22 Sep 2004]
    • Washington Post
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    "My Boys" is the kind of show that you're unlikely to seek out -- it's not TiVo-worthy by any means -- but if you happen upon it while channel-surfing, you could do a lot worse than pause and give it a shot.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Intriguing and confounding though it is, this is anything but easy, funsy television. In fact, there are times when a viewer may feel he's being punished almost to the same degree as Detective Hopper.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    The pilot is admittedly a swift, brisk bit of escapist whimsy, but one has to wonder whether the idea of a heist every week will really prove tenable.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Carpoolers has a certain loopy cuteness to it, but the show lacks a beating heart, some strong central figure to care about and root for.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    The characters are refreshingly non-hostile and converse in something other than brittle, cold sitcom-speak. But the serialized nature of the stories (subsequent episodes begin with the "previously on" feature usually seen on dramas) is no particular plus. And while the characters are sweet, they stop short of being lovable.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    It doesn't go quite far enough into uncharted territory but gets off to a basically promising start nonetheless.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Despite the prestigious presence of stars such as Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli, Lisa Bonet and Gretchen Mol, Life on Mars, a new ABC crime drama, comes off as naggingly undistinguished.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Yes, they're wicked wacky, this group, but they also seem to have been torn from the pages of the Sitcom Writer's Handbook, their status as foils and fools having been measured out in carefully calculated amounts, the final goal appearing to be not so much nonstop hilarity as the reassuring guarantee of No Surprises.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Seriously, it is hard to take the show very seriously. It does traffic in issues and hot topics--and protests, in its way, the general corruption of the legal system--but not in particularly fresh or original terms.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Basically it's a half-baked adventure series, but it's July, and fully baked may just not be the way to go.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    The basic formula is by now so groaningly familiar, and the premise so weak and weary, that there's only the "reality" part of this docu-game, or whatever it ought to be called, to tempt one's interest, and that not much.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Fallon is far from such stature, but though his opening night had disappointments, none were crushing or looked potentially fatal. Once Fallon relaxes, hunkers down and lightens up, the new "Late Night" could win over many a semi-conscious heart and mind.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    There's little about Homeland Security USA that's warmly reassuring in the post-9/11 world. But the agents do behave with commendable civility (at least while cameras are trained on them) and apparent diligence.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Accidentally on Purpose doesn't have the smarts to be the salvation of a genre, but neither does it look like the torpedo to sink the ship. Not great, but nothing heinous.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Perhaps partly because the producers are determined not to let More to Love turn into a jeer fest, the show almost chokes on its own sensitivity and refinement.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Tom Shales
    Leno's funny, but in the safest way. He's adheres to the center of the exact middle road, so it's wrong to expect a revolution here.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Seems too self-consciously and schematically a vehicle for the actor, a vehicle that sputters and stalls when one wants it to zoom. [10 Oct 2000, p.C01]
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Its premise is humdrum, its two co-stars lack chemistry, and it seems essentially indistinguishable from most of NBC's other slipshod tripe. [21 Sep 1998]
    • Washington Post
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    It's a pity the writers and producers suffer so badly from groin lock, because the show has promise, mainly in the person of John Lithgow. [9 Jan 1996]
    • Washington Post
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Perhaps the writers, director Debbie Allen and executive producer Quincy Jones are afraid to show America how rich people in L.A. really live. As for the new arrival's "outrageous" behavior, that consists mainly of using slang expressions, playing a tune on the drinking glasses at the dinner table and wearing a funky tux to the party. Gracious goodness sakes alive, what next??? [10 Sept 1990, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    It is earnest, well intentioned, based on a beloved book by Catherine Marshall, handsomely photographed, wholesome as a tea cozy, cute as a kitten and almost unspeakably humdrum. Part of the problem is the casting. ... Martin ... brings precisely nothing to the screen. She has a grand total of two expressions and always seems to be looking for a mirror in which to admire them. [2 Apr 1994]
    • Washington Post
    • 78 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    At an hour in length, Parenthood seems like a prolonged, and rather melancholy, sitcom. There are too many characters, and it's hard to keep the relationships straight. Replacing the irreplaceable Steve Martin as the father of a 10-year-old problem child -- and a man who remains something of a problem child himself -- is the capable but unexciting Ed Begley Jr. [20 Aug 1990, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Firefly does some pretty fancy flitting now and then, but for the most part it's a trip that's been taken too many times before.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    The din of familiarity is fairly deafening. Brown's dead wife pops up for posthumous chats with him the way departed loved ones have already done on "Providence" and, more notably, "Six Feet Under." The town is right off a Christmas card -- picturesque and cozy and full of quirky locals. [16 Sept 2002, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 70 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Writer-director Murphy seems willing to do anything to startle viewers and introduce outrageous elements into the script, but as he pushes the envelope up, down, backwards and sideways, the characters become less and less believable. It becomes shock for shock's sake and, in addition, extremely overwrought, with lots of screamed accusations and lamentations.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Joan of Arcadia may mean well, and it showcases a charming new star, but the premiere suggests viewers are being asked to wade heart-deep into a drearily portentous muddle. [26 Sept 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 60 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    One problem is that sometimes Cohen seems less interested in attacking funny bones than in appealing to sadistic streaks. [21 Feb 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    There's so little happening in "The Apprentice," NBC's new reality show, that it's hard to work up an opinion about it. [8 Jan 2004]
    • Washington Post
    • 39 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    She's not bad, just flat; not annoying, just weak.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Where the previous movie aspired to be a camp classic, "Martha Behind Bars" takes itself more seriously, and less entertainingly.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    For all the rewriting and reworking, the show needs a better premise and funnier dialogue and, most of all, a more commanding performer in the starring role.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    At least [it] has possibilities and a good excuse for a giggle now and then.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Several steps up from "Becker."
    • 33 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Big Shots tries way too hard to be shocking and raunchy. The actors resemble kiddies at school trying to impress one another with the latest naughty word learned in gym class.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Despite plenty of surface sparkle, there is something discomforting about the show, and not just because it borrows tone and form from other sitcoms with youthful heroes, especially Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle."
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Peeps of sentimentality only serve to emphasize the film's uneven mix of the sardonic and the heartfelt. Tin Man unfortunately seems as bereft of an efficiently functioning ticker as is the titular character himself.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    There's a sort of comfort that comes from knowing you won't run into anything disruptively unconventional in a sitcom, and that would make Engvall as pleasantly lumpy as a dying couch.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    As light summer fare, most of it done with a campy wink at the camera, Flash Gordon is by no means unbearable. But the fonder one's memories of the original, the more likely the viewer will want to send this Flash back.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    At present it suffers from a problem that predates not only television but radio and theater as well: Too many cooks, or at least too many ingredients bubbling to a busy and irritating boil.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    The costumes and sets are just ducky and highly evocative, but the people in and around them spoil the show, gum up the works and shatter veracity.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    It has a promotable gimmick that could help it find a few fans--literally. If only the premise or the show were as bright as the light in the heroine's eyes.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Worst Week has the primal simplicity of a Road Runner cartoon but less depth and, of course, far fewer laughs.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    It takes the stuff of legend and imagination and makes it dry and commonplace. You look forward not to the next exciting chapter, but for the whole enterprise to go "poof" and disappear.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    There are errant laughs floating around, but for the most part Gary Unmarried is Gary Unfunny.
    • 19 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Momma's Boys is truly and sometimes horrifically fascinating, a deluxe example of sumptuous trash that takes the concept of "guilty pleasure" to a new extreme.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    The parts of the show that don't seem recycled from previous medical dramas seem recycled from previous crime dramas, with just a few changes of vernacular and gadgetry.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Those who wade into Carrier might not want to be quitters, either, but after four or five hours, they may find they'd really rather be checking out who's survived on "American Idol."
    • 42 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    If only these little dears were fascinating, or at least more interesting than they are on the first installment. From the looks of the previews at the end of the hour, things will be heating up in future episodes, and the first might be viewed as a scene-setting preface to battles, tattles and conspiracies to come.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Poehler's show unfortunately isn't worthy of her. It's dry and hesitant when one longs for it to be raucous and madcap.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    They carry on like mischievous scamps, and while they are fun to watch up to a point, the point is reached well before the shenanigans peter out.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    The new series seems to share a perhaps fatal flaw of that now-canceled show, which is that the premise becomes so byzantine and the complications so arcane that eventually people just give up on trying to make sense of the darn thing.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    If you can tolerate one more word on the beaten-senseless subject of weight loss, then, and you don't mind hearing generic cliches yet again, you could conceivably become a Huge fan before the summer is over.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Unfortunately, Defying Gravity will have to be listed as one of its well-intentioned mistakes, another of the many peculiar oddities churned out by broadcast and cable every year, every week, every moment of our earthbound little lives.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Although Justified qualifies as cryptic, and its mouth is plenty potty, it definitely lacks edge, the most important quality of the three. In fact, it can get downright sleepy between killings. It moseys. It meanders.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    The problem is that the little scenes from the old shows seem so much more intriguing than the new show they interrupt. [7 July 1990, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
    • 43 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    What we really have here is just another in the long line of TV private eyes, an attempt at film noir whose lurking campiness rather quickly becomes film mauve. ... This dialogue is ancient now; imagine how old it will be in 2042. [22 Jan 1994]
    • Washington Post
    • 65 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Yet another blandly generic family sitcom. This one is supposedly based on the life and syndicated columns of Dave Barry, but it has all the fresh, distinctive flavor of dust. Probably the worst thing about the show...is its star, Harry Anderson. [20 Sept 1993, p.B4]
    • Washington Post
    • 60 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Outsiders is clinically designed to flatter a teenager's sense of isolation and persecution. Adults are likely to find it boring, but then, they're supposed to. [24 Mar 1990, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
    • 40 Metascore
    • 40 Tom Shales
    Strictly as a sitcom, My Big Fat Greek Life, despite its unusual origins, comes across as blatantly ordinary. It's shamelessly similar to "Everybody Loves Raymond" but so far not nearly as good. [26 Feb 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 70 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's not quite sci-fi, not quite fantasy, and yet not quite realistic either. It's not quite a show, is what it's not quite...You may get an urge to take a hike too, but pity the poor critic who has to sit there with a big grin on his face and watch the whole stupid thing. [10 Sept 1993, p.G7]
    • 51 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    For what seems like the hundredth time, the network's nitwitty entertainment division is trying to go the blue-collar route, but the show comes off as neither authentic nor amusing, just another lame exercise in recyclery. [21 Sept 1998, p.D01]
    • Washington Post
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    But when it's not literally up in the air, "JAG" sinks. It's bottom-of-the-barrel "Top Gun." The exploits of a Navy lawyer who walks around as if he's balancing a chafing dish on his head prove to be yawnable and predictable. [23 Sep 1995]
    • Washington Post
    • 47 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Considering the ways it's been scaled down for TV, "The Adequate Seven" or "The Essentially Competent Seven" might have made more accurate titles. [3 Jan 1998]
    • Washington Post
    • 62 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    To say that the series is not for everyone is lavish understatement. The real question: Is it for anyone? [13 Aug 1997]
    • Washington Post
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    A nasty-minded, overacted and poorly cast sitcom, Married ... With Children gets the schedule off on a rousing limp. [4 Apr 1987, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Sarah Jessica Parker has an in-your-face face. In her new HBO comedy series, Sex and the City, she always seems to be thrusting it forward. She's in love with the camera. Unfortunately, it's unrequited...Parker, with her scraggly hair and jutty jaw, is certainly not the worst thing about this smirky-jerky sexcom, but she usually seems so light and funny that it's dismaying to see her in bad form, looking like a walking flea market and coming across about as subtly as a tsunami. [6 June 1998, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 36 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    "Mr. Belvedere" is the sort of thing people have in mind when they say they hate situation comedies. [15 Mar 1985]
    • Washington Post
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    A good idea has been largely bollixed through crummy execution. [18 Sep 1989]
    • Washington Post
    • 72 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    First, the good news: It's handsome, scenic and colorful, produced with a lavish flourish rare for television. Now, the bad news: It's a rompety, clompety bore. [4 Mar 1992, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
    • 51 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Navy NCIS may not be ghastly, but it's a mutation, gratuitous and clunky. We don't need another criminal investigation show and we don't need another military justice show, and this series is those two, two, two shows in one.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    [A] gimmicked-up adolescent soap opera that's faux sensitive, faux funny and, most of the time, even faux faux. [7 Oct 2004]
    • Washington Post
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    No matter how often we're told how unbearably fascinating it all is, it isn't. It's more likely to trigger horrifying flashbacks to algebra class. [22 Jan 2005]
    • Washington Post
    • 44 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The characters' lives just aren't fascinating, and by reverting to a more traditional way of telling crime stories, Wolf simply reminds us how superior his other version is.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    One view of the skyline against Lake Michigan is breathtaking. It's kind of a bad sign when you wish there were more scenery in a show and fewer scenes with characters and dialogue and stuff like that.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's an imitation of something already being imitated here, there and everywhere.
    • 23 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Actually, the calamities and catastrophes occur with such frequency and ferocity that, yes, indeed, "Apocalypse 10.5" suffers the curse of being unintentionally funny -- even hilarious -- no matter how guilty one might feel about laughing even as hordes of extras are being turned into Kentucky Fried People.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It might sound callous to say that "Jericho" has managed to make nuclear war look boring, but there you have it.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's nearly a certainty that someone will call Lipstick Jungle, NBC's new drama series about sensual and successful women, a "guilty pleasure," but it's really more of a guilty horror.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's not so much a narrative as a collection of character studies, and the characters aren't particularly fascinating.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    If the prospect of accompanying comedians on a comedy bus does have a certain allure, don't get too excited.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The two Samanthas are simply irritating and hyper in different ways, and don't add up to one complete, compelling kook.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The facetious drama series--not quite a comedy, not quite not one--gathers together an annoying collection of eccentrics and misfits, all of them rich and greedy, few of them worth knowing.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Although Winfrey might imagine she's doing something fresh and innovative, the trite staples of competitive reality pop up predictably.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    There's not "a lot" of heart in the unhilarious Unhitched--in fact, barely any.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's not so much an exercise in socialization as the indoctrination of children into a consumer culture.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Regardless, what made it to the screen is something that is no stranger to television--whether it's aired or wired, blogged or beamed, uploaded or downlinked--and that something, sad to say, is mediocrity, with a portion of sheer annoyance thrown in.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Just about everything in Privileged has popped up before, and what hasn't popped up before should never be permitted to pop up at all.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    If Dollhouse, a pretentious and risible jumble premiering tonight on that most quixotic of national networks, were a piece of music, it would have to be some sort of funky-junky, hip-hop, rinky-tinky, ragtime madrigal.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Throughout the show, his behavior is quirky and smug in cloying and annoying ways, which seems a self-destructive miscalculation.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    None of this is really funny, most of it is excruciating, and the half-hour would be entirely abominable if Craig weren't such an unruffled good sport.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Fox is plopping the series into its Sunday-night animation pit starting this weekend, with executives presumably hoping the audience won't notice that it isn't any good and will numbly sit through it.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The premiere is filled with flaws that may well be endemic to the series, one of them being that the characters behave so stupidly that one loses sympathy for them.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    My Own Worst Enemy can be recommended only to people who can imagine themselves saying, "I'm in the mood for a mediocre version of a fairly good spy movie."
    • 52 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Swayze seems to be taking Charlie Barker seriously, and Charlie's not worth it; he's just another in TV's increasingly populous community of bellicose antiheroes, supposedly macho loners who throw away the book and operate according to their own primal codes of behavior.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's the end of the hour, and we're still waiting for the real show to begin, too.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Trust Me shares another characteristic of those series("Nip/Tuck" and "Mad Men": dumb, numbing soullessness. It has the emotional intricacy of a Ritz cracker.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Viewers who stumble into this misbegotten "Moonlighting" imitation will likely be bored, too, but not because of too much success.
    • 22 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Instead of opting for the trite title, Higginbotham should have looked harder for something more novel. He could have found one suitable title right there in his own dialogue: We're thinking, of course, of "Don't Let This Happen to You."
    • 35 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It has the air of something two teenage pals concocted while goofing around on the Internet, but the result of that would probably be fresher and bolder than Surviving Suburbia is.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    13: Fear Is Real is cruel in its premise, drably inevitable in its concept and supremely dull in execution. No one risks being scared to death, but being bored to death seems a credible threat.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Spun clumsily and greedily off "Grey's Anatomy," the new series seems shallow and smirky.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The film is overwrought and wearying, salvaged mainly by its occasional gory details and a few enjoyably hammy performances.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    A clumsily obvious rip-off of the Barbara Walters sensation "The View."
    • 76 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    A feeble collection of filmed sketches starring a comic clearly not ready for prime time. [26 Sep 1992]
    • Washington Post
    • 63 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The TV version is as cute as a game of peekaboo but not as funny. Indeed it could be argued there's not a single laugh in the pilot, except perhaps when J.C. accidentally kisses her Teutonic nanny goodbye when aiming for the toddler. The Teutonic nanny makes an arguably amusing face.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Hays, who sometimes shows qualities that suggest a young James Stewart, but not enough of them, seems lost in the alien role, and the character has been made so passive that all sense of urgency is lost, too. He stands around wondering what to do, which is never very exciting to watch. [19 Sept 1986, p.D2]
    • Washington Post
    • 29 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    Does Tartikoff think NBC got to be No. 1 with empty exercises like Nothing in Common and tattered producers like Marshall? Boy Genius must be wearing his clapping hat too tight. [2 Apr 1987, p.B9]
    • Washington Post
    • 45 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    It's too bad the filmmakers couldn't come up with original touches instead of recycling stuff that has already become tediously trite. Some of the explosions are pretty, and Easton has sort of interesting bow-tie nostrils -- but otherwise, the trip lacks trippiness. Total Recall 2070 is Total Forgettable 1999. [6 Mar 1999, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 35 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    The wondrousness of the art direction and the oomph in the computer-generated illusions can hold one's attention just so long. Then the pitiful plodding plotlessness of the thing becomes all too painfully apparent. What we're left with is essentially "Dinotopia, the Bore." [28 Nov 2002]
    • Washington Post
    • 75 Metascore
    • 30 Tom Shales
    What may seem funny and colorfully evocative in the book comes across as smug and snide in the series. [4 Aug 1998, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 73 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Silly McDumb. [14 Sep 1997]
    • Washington Post
    • 53 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The most charitable reaction to an enterprise this shallow yet pretentious is, "They've got to be kidding." [20 Sep 1985]
    • Washington Post
    • 69 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The show is jumpy, jerky and scattershot. It has the personality of a nitrous oxide abuser. [21 Mar 1995]
    • Washington Post
    • 48 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Anyone with fond memories of [the] film should avoid "Stargate SG-1," Showtime's oddly enervated series version. ... "Stargate SG-1" will be a treat only for those who love science fiction most when it's done badly. [26 Jul 1997]
    • Washington Post
    • 75 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    This entire personification of Superman is so whiny and self-pitying that it's really an insult to the comic book mythology. [16 Oct 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 35 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    It wasn't much of a movie, but Griffith's dewy-eyed charm saved it. By sharp contrast, the TV version has precisely zero compensations, unless one hungers for further proof that NBC programmers are getting softer and softer in the noggin. [16 Apr 1990, p.B8]
    • Washington Post
    • 72 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The form and format are achingly cliched by now, and the show clearly stands or falls on the strength of the assembled characters. ... On first encounter, the new gang appears to be vapid in the extreme. [28 Jun 1995]
    • Washington Post
    • 65 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Insufferable ... for the most part a stylish and incomprehensible bore. [15 Sep 2003]
    • Washington Post
    • 67 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Encumbered by a script that is nearly breathtaking in its imbecilic banality, The O.C. makes one long for the cold comforts of a sleazy-minded "reality" show. Fox is trying to pass off this moody, moon-faced trifle, a drama about rich young brats in Orange County, Calif., as the first series of the new fall season (in August?). But if there's any justice left in television, "O.C. will be canceled by the time the actual fall shows premiere. [5 Aug 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 67 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    A largely dreary dirge.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The script by Shonda Rhimes, nimbly directed by Peter Horton (once an actor on "thirtysomething"), is nothing but a casserole made of equal parts ham and corn.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    A dreary thing it is, and depressing, too.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Hanson might be enough to fill a few paragraphs in an old Reader's Digest "Most Unforgettable Character" featurette, but the thought of spending an hour with him every week is about as attractive as having (place name of your least favorite medical procedure here) with the same frequency.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    "Four Kings" isn't just tediously sitcommy, it's painfully sitcrummy.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The student characters seem weak and inauthentic, and many of the actors look as though they're going through college for the third or fourth time.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The heroine, unlikely in every detail including her name, Temperance Brennan, goes about reassembling corpses and then divining how they got to be that way. It's precise, tedious work and so is watching this show.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Bluntly put, neither the writers nor the actors are good enough at what they're trying to do to justify trying to do it. They'd all be better off making "10 Items" a traditional scripted show, because then it would stand a better chance of making sense.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    If you're looking for the deep emotional truths that the creators of ABC's would-be heart-tugger imagine they're after, well, pro wrestling might be a good choice.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    It's lame and it's limp, and as deployed for "Six Degrees," the conceit would seem to owe quite a bit to the movie "Crash," among such other more antique inspirations as "The Bridge of San Luis Rey."
    • 33 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    What's potentially scary about "Twenty Four Seven" is that the empty, vacuous lives onscreen are apparently supposed to come across as glamorous and enviable.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    One of those slack, campy throwbacks that really ought to be thrown out, Cane, premiering on CBS tonight at 10, tries to bring grand-opera soap opera back to prime time and ignominiously fails.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    The premise is weak and leaky, the star is dull and dreary, and the only trip Journeyman ought to take is right back to the shop for repairs--or off to the dump for a decent burial.
    • 21 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Russo tries to pick up the gaping chasm of slack and get a little energy going, but she just looks embarrassed to be yelling at a car, arguing with a car, flirting with a car, whatever.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Among the many irritating things about today's Exhibit A--Breakthrough With Tony Robbins, yet more trash television from NBC--is that it's another daytime-caliber show that somehow crashed the prime-time schedule.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    This isn't about killing a mockingbird. This is about boring one to death. [7 Oct 1991]
    • Washington Post
    • 84 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    It's achy, moody, glum, stylized and almost criminally pretentious. ... All the performances seem mannered. The show is plagued with arch, actorly acting, the kind that rings false and calls attention to its own falseness. ... Already some critics have hailed the show as a breakthrough. True enough -- it's a breakthrough from tedium into torpor. [27 Oct 1996]
    • Washington Post
    • 56 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Wiseguy deposits blank-faced lump Ken Wahl onto the screen for a preposterous and desultory crime saga about a sullen undercover cop who infiltrates the mob and will spend each episode almost getting found out, but miraculously squeaking through. [16 Sept 1987, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 32 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Baby Talk achieves a kind of perfection: There are no laughs in it. [9 Mar 1991, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 28 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Even though microphones were invented some time ago, most of those in the cast have been instructed, or allowed, to shout out their lines. An old television maxim: The louder the lines are shouted, the unfunnier they probably are. Down and Out in Beverly Hills breaks no rules, least of all that one. [25 July 1987, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
    • 28 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Comes across as corrosive and snide. [5 Dec 1986]
    • Washington Post
    • 45 Metascore
    • 20 Tom Shales
    Strives hard for dumbfounding inscrutability, and achieves it. [28 Jan 1989]
    • Washington Post
    • 39 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Ferris Bueller is the proverbial lead balloon. [23 Aug 1990, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 54 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Despicably trivial and baldly pandering. [29 Sept 1999, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 46 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    It's apparently part of a new experiment in comatose television -- a show where things almost happen but never quite do. You keep checking your pulse to make sure you haven't died. (...) They've created a vacuum, a perfect void, a black hole in the already vast and empty TV schedule. Not so much a black hole actually as a beige one. [4 Oct 1990, p.D12]
    • Washington Post
    • 27 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Dead on its feet...How anyone can watch this without getting the giggles is beyond me.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    At first glance, Alias appears to be unadulterated garbage. But then you start noticing all the adulterations...Nothing is as it seems except for the fact that this seems like a lousy show and it is one. [29 Sept 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
    • 66 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Excruciating torture. ... The weekly half-hour is at least intriguing in concept... Unfortunately, much of what these kids did and said turned out to be neither worth recording nor worth watching. [28 May 1992]
    • Washington Post
    • 46 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    The show is pure hooey. [21 Sept 2003, p.N01]
    • Washington Post
    • 51 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    "Heist" seems derivative of an imitation of a copy of a clone -- so plastic-coated and phony that it's hard to tell what it's ripping off.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    The characters aren't dimensional, or very involving, and Freddie has a drab sort of haplessness that makes him seem at best a chump, at worst a chimp.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Pitifully awful.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Amounts to a character study of a character not worth studying.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    It's hard to imagine that viewers will be dying to learn which graduate kicks the bucket on "Reunion," mainly because none of them gives the appearance of being, or ever having been, alive.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    This sitcom isn't wacky in an amusing way. It's wacky in a way that makes you want to see it whacked.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    A preposterous and pretentious drama series.... Fortunately, there is a way out: your channel-changing remote, wondrous transport to that blessed refuge known as Anywhere Else.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    "Stephen King's Desperation" is showing on ABC tonight, and Stephen King's desperation is showing, too, even more than it did in "Kingdom Hospital."
    • 54 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Except for a few suspenseful sequences in which women and, occasionally, sympathetic parties try to escape the clutches of the slave traders, the miniseries is muddled, confused and diffuse.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Even though the life of the Polish pope... obviously is loaded with dramatic potential, the film seems listlessly uninterested in exploring it.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    An appalling amalgam of humiliating ridicule, primitive humor and heartbreaking pathos, "American Inventor" flies in on wings of sap.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    "The Class" has very little. Considerably worse than being classless, however, is being laughless, at least if you happen to be a sitcom, and "The Class" does, albeit one that's about as rib-tickling as a migraine.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    No one in the cast is likely to be your new favorite actor.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Muddled and befuddled from the outset, "Drive" represents a new kind of automotive hybrid -- a scripted treasure hunt designed to look like a reality show, well-stocked with the worst elements of both. It's basically "The Un-Amazing Race."
    • 37 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    It's hard to imagine a civilized audience of any significant size wanting to sit through these trumped-up conflicts and lazy-daisy crises week after week.
    • 27 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Dreadful... unwatchable... There's nothing unlikable about the rest of the cast [other than Arquette], but their attempts at farce make you just want to get away from them.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    A halfhearted, feebleminded attempt at a situation comedy about that eternal and ever-fascinating struggle, the battle of the sexes. The creators of ABC's "Men in Trees," though, do seemingly everything they can think of to quash that fascination and declare the battle null and dull.
    • 23 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    The show is as commercial and mechanical as an entry-level Mercedes, but not as emotionally involving.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Almost anything sounds preferable to NBC's "Thank God You're Here."
    • 37 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    Howie Do It not only drags contestants, and viewers, through gratuitous mud and muck but it also is haunted by the aura of plagiarism; the set-up of one sequence is highly reminiscent of a bit that David Letterman has done on his late-night talk show.
    • 23 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    The film goes beyond mere mediocrity to a gratuitous, mean-spirited ugliness that makes watching it not a campy hoot but a near-sickening ordeal.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    One of the strangest things about these MacFarlane shows are the mean-spirited "cultural references," all of them shoehorned in as asides and rarely having anything to do with the plot or characters.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    CW's version details the dull, dull doings of the world's clammiest vamps, who may flash fangs and skulk around in dark cemeteries (ever see a bright one?) but who come up fatally flat in terms of mayhem and menace.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 10 Tom Shales
    The temptation is to call "Against the Grain" a well-meaning failure, but I fail to see what's even well-meaning about it. It's a horrid show about dreadful people in a wretched place. So there. [1 Oct 1993]
    • Washington Post
    • 59 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Friends comes across like a 30-minute commercial for Dockers or Ikea or light beer, except it's smuttier. One character says he dreamed he had a telephone for a penis and when it rang, "it turns out it's my mother." And this is in the first five minutes...Another ghastly creation from professional panderers Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the witless duo who do "Dream On" for HBO, Friends is more a scripted talk show than a sitcom. You keep waiting for Sally Jessy or some other cluck to interrupt the jabbering. The show is so bad that Sally Jessy would actually come as a relief. [22 Sept 1994, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
    • 36 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    One of the worst courtroom shows in the history of the genre. Andy Griffith trundles out of the shadows to play crusty, rich Atlanta lawyer Ben Matlock in this abysmally implausible one-hour drama. [23 Sept 1986, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
    • 53 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Utterly excremental. ... May the room in which "Family Guy" is drawn be sacked, emptied, disinfected and burned to a cinder. Anything to keep them from making any more episodes of this smug and amateurish tripe. [30 Jan 1999]
    • Washington Post
    • tbd Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Another living, screaming, blood-thinning nightmare. ... OH PLEASE, STOP! WILL YOU STOP? WILL YOU PLEASE PLEASE STOP? WILL YOU AT LONG LAST PLEASE HAVE THE SIMPLE DECENCY TO STOP?????? [26 Apr 1988]
    • Washington Post
    • 28 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    The problem is not just that it's crude and gross, but that its crudeness and grossness are so pathetically forced and contrived.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    I cannot recall a series in which a greater number of characters seemed so desperately detestable -- a series with a larger population of loathsome dolts. There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Most of the shows now on network television, whether repugnant or tolerable or actually worthwhile, are competently and professionally directed, edited and photographed, but "Head Cases" is a mess even as a piece of storytelling.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Ineptitude haunted "Dance" from the very beginning, when the host made it sound as though various rounds of competition had already been completed and that what we were watching was a documentary about "So You Think You Can Dance," not the show itself. Camerawork was so poor that dancers occasionally vanished out of the frame, and Lythgoe was featured in so many reaction shots that it was sometimes hard to remember who was onstage. [21 Jul 2005]
    • Washington Post
    • 19 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    The miniseries is about as enjoyable as toenail fungus or that sickening commercial for its cure.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    You might think that, considering the technical progress made in the past five decades, at least the special effects in the new version would be good. Oh you would be so wrong.
    • 25 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Sheer, excruciating pain.... "Happy Hour" stands a good chance of being named Worst New Show, or at least feeblest new sitcom.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Probably the most mistitled sitcom of the decade.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    You're likely to find more fascinating figures and intriguing dramatis personae in the latest catalogue from J. Peterman, and somehow Peterman comes off as more emotionally authentic.
    • 24 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    One's first impression of "Identity" is likely to be that it is a miserably tedious mess, a reaction that probably will grow stronger the further one slogs into the Big Muddy that is the show.
    • 19 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    An HD broadcast: Hugely Dumb.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    What's so bad about The Singing Bee? Just about everything; the producers have seen to that.
    • 24 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Dismissable, easily missable tripe. ... The rural setting and the isolated characters suggest a cross between "Green Acres" and "Gilligan's Island." But the show isn't quite as wittily sophisticated as that would imply. [26 Sep 1992]
    • Washington Post
    • 29 Metascore
    • 0 Tom Shales
    Hidden Hills, yet another lame sitcom from NBC, suffers from a virus common to a few other new fall shows: hyper-narratoritis. One of the characters keeps up a pestering voice-over commentary throughout the show, making it seem less like a TV program than a phone conversation...A phone conversation with a blithering idiot, that is.