Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

For 713 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 66% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 31% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Dexter: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Back to You: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 501
  2. Negative: 0 out of 501
501 tv reviews
  1. It may be hard to believe that "Invasion's" premiere could be touching in the context of Katrina, and effective as a sci-fi drama. But that is the power of high-quality storytelling.
  2. [A] rare work of brilliance.
  3. "Curb" may be ridiculously silly, but, unlike "Extras," its shenanigans are inventive.
  4. The fifth season of this filmlike thriller is metaphorically knocking my socks off. My actual socks remain on.
  5. Scene by scene, "Mrs. Harris" overcomes the rote nature of true crime stories.
  6. There is a challenge to "Smith." It may be wonderfully shot so far. It may be blissfully quiet. And it may be supremely acted. But how much can a viewer care about the bad boys and girls over the course of many episodes?
  7. The show's super strengths are its well-developed filmmaking, smooth pacing and a perfect cast. It views like the first hour of a fun, thoughtful movie.
  8. Fantastic, fascinating, creepy, charming and gruesome.
  9. "Day Break" asks viewers for faith, to believe unanswered questions will not go unanswered forever, and that every episode will be worth experiencing. For now, I'm willing to take that leap of faith, because the action is swift, the acting is taut and the premise is cool.
  10. It's really kind of a glorious little miracle, a half-hour series of little pictures of simple, complex and unfamous Americans breathing everyday lives, with a twist of kookiness, while they search for the Meaning of Everything and The Big Picture.
  11. Californication--the best new TV show in a year.
  12. High School Musical 2 is very good. It's more than listenable. The music is surprisingly catchy, smartly penned and not annoying.
  13. Cute, creative and slick, this is one of the best new shows of the fall season.
  14. It's a lot of fun. It's funny. And stars Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine have better chemistry than most duos on TV.
  15. Pushing Daisies deserves its high praise. It's the best new drama of the fall, finding sweet hope in morbid tragedy.
  16. Dexter, one of the best shows on TV this decade. High praise, indeed. Deserved.
  17. In Treatment is exhilarating.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a beauty--in many ways richer than the Broadway production--and should not be missed.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Everyone has to bring their A-game and, for the most part, they do.
  18. It's the funniest thing you'll see all summer--particularly if you're drug-free.
  19. The series is as compulsively watchable as ever, with Dexter's marriage, stepchildren, newborn son and stifling suburban life complicating his leisure time.
  20. Catch up with the series while you can. These are the glory days, my friends.
  21. Men of a Certain Age is strung together by small moments of triumph that make life worth living--and this show worth watching.
  22. It’s a majestic, 10-part movie medal of honor for every person who ever put on a uniform because he believed he was one of the good guys.
  23. You should feel nervous before any great date, and Don never disappoints. He'll make you feel like you are in on the joke with the innest in crowd on television. Anything these ad men are selling, I'll buy.
  24. This fast-paced mockumentary perfectly captures the experience of parenthood.
  25. The characters are unforgettable, and the history, of course, is more entertaining than fiction. The filming of Boardwalk Empire just may be more decadent than the decadence it's celebrating. It's not TV, and it's not really HBO. It's an event, not to be missed.
  26. Raising Hope already has a little place in my heart. There's something about the downwardly mobile family unit (see: "Malcolm in the Middle," "The Middle," "Raising Arizona") that's just funnier and sweeter than anything else on TV.
  27. It's not for everyone. Let's say that upfront. Eastbound & Down will either make you choke laughing, or wish that you could bleach the profanity from your brain.
  28. Watching it was just bliss, and those of you who experienced the first five seasons in real time will probably enjoy it even more.
  29. The 18th Amendment--that "Noble Experiment" that turned out to be one of the country's biggest civic failures--is the subject of a fascinating new documentary by Ken Burns.
  30. After a dark and often depressing season four, it's refreshing to start things off on a more jovial, lighter note. That's not to say the premiere is devoid of angst, disappointment and drama. It's just buoyed by an unusually high amount of humor.
  31. This is a show worth watching, and worth the effort it might take for newbies to get up to speed.
  32. Few television shows are as addictive as this pensive, wonderfully paced suspenser.
  33. The beauty of this series is that it's so entertaining and so well-executed.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The season five pre­miere "Live Free or Die", more than maintains the series' record of excellence.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Reunited with "Family Ties" creator Gary David Goldberg, movie star Michael J. Fox scores a landslide victory in his terrific TV comeback. [16 Sept 1996, p.35]
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Take away the nude lovemaking scene, the revolutionary level of potent cussing, the curiosity-stirring controversies surrounding Steven Bochco's premeditated shock elements, and NYPD Blue remains one helluva cop show. [21 Sept 1993, p.35]
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The quality of talent in front of the camera matches the high standards behind the scenes. As a cop ensemble, the Homicide squad has the spice, dry wit and ethnic diversity of the "Hill Street Blues" crew, with even more eccentricities and a heightened sense of realism. Like the New York partners in "Law & Order," the Baltimore detectives grind it out with street-tested police procedures. [29 Jan 1993, p.55]
  34. Ed is, unabashedly, a feel-good show that dangerously flirts with being too eccentric, too sentimental and way too whimsical...It's nothing short of a miracle that it manages to toe each of those lines without crossing any of them -- the kind of miracle that has you thinking all good things can happen and ultimately will. [6 Oct 2000, p.54]
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With its viciously sarcastic view of shameless business deals in sports, Arli$$ is ready for instant victories as a champion of television satire. [7 Aug 1996, p.53]
  35. '24' looks to be appointment television. [6 Nov 2001]
  36. The sometimes laughable soap opera aspects of the first year have been minimized. The pulse-racing, adrenaline-fueled suspense has been ratcheted up. If anything, this white-knuckle joy ride now moves faster than the clock that ticks steadily through each episode. [28 Oct 2002]
  37. An utterly dry and brilliantly written dissection of life behind the host's desk. And with its unflinching but affectionate inside look at the pettiness, narcissism and deceit that characterize the TV business, it's probably truer than most of the networks' fact-based miniseries. [22 Jun 1994]
  38. It's mean. It's nasty. It's dirty. It's sick. It's addictive. It's "The Larry Sanders Show," the funniest comedy series on television. [19 Jul 1995]
  39. Television's funniest, nastiest comedy series. [13 Nov 1996]
  40. The "EZ" dialogue is terse, suggestive, pointed and often ambiguous. The complicated "Streets" story deals with issues of truth, honor, justice, vengeance and loyalty. Its stark moral conflicts, set in a shady criminal underworld, deserve positive comparisons to "On the Waterfront," "Serpico," "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and the first year of "Wiseguy." [25 Oct 1996]
  41. "The Sopranos" ... continues to shock, stun and amaze. It is why you get HBO, why you get cable, why you get a television. [12 Jan 2000]
  42. It takes a while to get into the rhythms of Gervais' writing and seemingly improvised acting, but once you've become a fan, it's the kind of show you can watch over and over. [10 Oct 2003]
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It takes a little while to get into it (episode two clinched it for me), but once you get used to the accents and dry humor, you're hooked. [23 Jan 2003]
  43. The best miniseries in the history of television..."Roots" remains the most important miniseries ever in terms of its impact on our culture--but for overall quality and artistic reach, Band of Brothers is a superior piece of work. I've seen virtually every major theatrical film released this year, but I'm not sure any of them has resonated with me in the way that Band of Brothers has. [9 Sept 2001, p.6]
  44. Not for the squeamish, the second season debut of this raw, unrefined Western takes about 10 minutes to get wound up and then it zips along with the first signs of civilization -- outside government and the telegraph -- threatening to invade. If the language doesn't make you wince, the stinking mud of the vice-filled mining boomtown will practically make your eyes water. What creator David Milch is saying about the foundation of U.S. expansion west isn't always easy to take, but it's often poetic just the same. And the performances led by Ian McShane, Brad Dourif and Timothy Olyphant are something to behold. [4 Mar 2005, p.57]
  45. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson should star in everything, always--that’s how mesmerizing they are as Louisiana criminal investigators in HBO’s new anthology True Detective.
  46. Overall, co-creator Steven Moffat and writer-actor Mark Gatiss have delivered a whip-smart follow-up.
  47. If you're a woman and you want to see a naked male butt, watch Nip/Tuck. If you're a man who values the naked female form, Nip/Tuck is for you...Those two sentences are outlandish. But I'm doing what I can to draw your attention to one of the most exhilarating shows on TV...Nip/Tuck is fun. It's sexy. It's the opposite of sexy. It's existential. It's bloody disgusting. And it's the only series on TV now that deserves to inherit the fans of "Six Feet Under." [4 Sept 2006, p.31]
  48. Based on the first three new episodes, I can continue to put Rescue Me on my list as one of the best 20 shows that have ever been on TV. [13 June 2007, p.51]
  49. Steven Bochco's daring legal serial is the most exciting and innovative new drama since "ER." It's a fictional variation of the O. J. Simpson trial.
  50. Anthony LaPaglia makes a strong entrance as gritty James Wyler. [10 Oct 1996, p.47]
  51. The sharply written, slow-paced premiere ratchets up the tension on what’s reported to be the bloodiest 10-episode season yet.
  52. This cult hit deserves mainstream success in its second season, which wastes no time diving back in to the heart-pounding action.
  53. As good a new drama as there is this fall. [19 Sep 2002]
  54. A vicious and timely show-biz satire. [1 Jun 1993]
  55. I happen to believe Beavis and Butt-head is a work of twisted brilliance... It's cringingly blunt and cheerfully offensive. It's also a richly textured, dead-on satire of teenage life and pop culture, which explains its growing appeal with Generation X and even some baby boomers who haven't lost their senses of humor. [24 June 1993, p.11]
  56. Boreanaz and Deschanel stir good chemistry as a crime-fighting duo.
  57. The show's appeal is its breezy verbiage and well-suited cast.
  58. The casting is for awesome, flat-out too-good-for-TV acting.
  59. What is special about "Ghost Whisperer" is the way it gets everything else right -- casting, acting, writing, directing, pacing, music, you name it.
  60. Finally, a "Sex and the City" clone comes through.
  61. "Heist" is good TV -- not great yet, but good -- from the cast to the suspenseful pacing and a cool musical score.
  62. Despite high praise, there are two serious problems: (a) The first new episode is crazy confusing, and (b) over the course of the first batch of episodes, the story lines don't develop quickly enough.
  63. Fans of Sorkin's years on "The West Wing" will likely enjoy "Studio 60." And there should be enough mature viewers who crave bright writing to make the show a sudden mainstay.
  64. I don't want to spoil the great lines, delivered with perfect comic acting. To me, it's bliss.
  65. If the series doesn't peter out after its first two great episodes, Comedy Central may at last have on its hands a live-action comedy as funny as "Chappelle's Show."
  66. It's hard for an artistic entity to balance that kind of American duality. Mad Men does so in a subtler and more natural way than "Natural Born Killers" did satirically.
  67. As usual, he's demanding, brutal and fearless. He repeatedly insults egotistical managers and chefs and yells, "Just smell that for me!" And they do.
  68. It's very appealing. Aliens in America pulls off its absurd, touchy situation by handling everything with a relaxed tone and excellent film work.
  69. It's really quite good and oddly entertaining, as cynical as it is.
  70. The Sarah Connor Chronicles" begins as an intense, thoughtful, exciting, fun spectacle. The first episode will kick your ass.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    There's nothing objectionable about the messages of the piece: always be true to yourself and treat everyone with dignity and respect. But teens and adults may find it a little saccharine.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Based on the first episode of the second season, "Mad Men" is still one of the best series currently on television, if not the best.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Bloody, sexy and violent, the show is also both occasionally funny and frightening.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    The time-travel element puts enough of a twist in it to move it a couple of notches above all the other entries in the fall season, not to mention all the same-old police procedurals clogging the networks.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    A refreshing dramedy that captures the hard-boiled world of New York City homicide investigators and their twisted sense of humor
  71. The only reason I'm not giving the third season opener four stars is because the show is competing with two earlier, exquisite seasons. Sunday's episode feels like something is missing -- a hook, something to make it physically painful to wait for new episodes.
  72. Next week's episode didn't have me quite as recklessly giddy, but 30 Rock on an off night is still equivalent to the kind of sugar rush you get from eating an entire Nerds Rope.
  73. The new season looks promising. Let's just hope these kids can sing.
  74. The financial stakes get considerably higher this season. Bill's new "casino and family fun center" results in briefcases full of cash.
  75. Things are looking up for the underdog show.
  76. It’s a lot to juggle, but you can count on the payoff to be worth the trouble. Power, weakness, greed, violence--what’s not to like?
  77. The bleakness is a little relentless for my taste, but you have to marvel at the series' dark vision. Odenkirk is working with the best of the best, and he knows it.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It has wit, humor and a set of flawed but likable and offbeat characters not unlike the ones on the sophisticated "Arrested Development."
  78. Alicia's cases are intriguing, and the background drama would be melodramatic if it weren't such a common story these days.
  79. ABC knows that "Lost" is coming up on its last season, and it wants to ease the transition for you with this sci-fi grand-mystery series. On the basis of one episode, it's hard to say whether it will live up to its promise. But there is promise.
  80. The Middle isn't the kind of sitcom you laugh at; it's the kind you laugh with.
  81. The personalities are so appealing, and the jobs are so humbling, that this would have been a great one-shot documentary. Can they keep up the impact week after week? Or will we suffer from empathy fatigue sooner rather than later?
  82. Olyphant's devilish looks balance his white-cowboy-hat principles.
  83. The rest of the original crew is back, in varying degrees of denial, cluelessness, incompetence and narcissism. They have been missed.
  84. It was filmed over four months and distilled into eight episodes, with brilliant results.
  85. The drama can be over the top, and sometimes it feels like one big ego trip for Leary.... But the show is like the comic: imperfect but lovable.
  86. There are some great characterizations and attention to detail. If you stick with the series, you'll be treated to a lecture on the perfect briefcase by the droll Michael Cristopher that's worth the price of admission. And if you think your office banter is entertaining, try swapping in-jokes with the intelligence community.
  87. Ken Follett's 1989 historical novel had a resurgence in popularity as a 2007 Book Club selection, and should finally achieve world domination with this adaptation. Who knew the Middle Ages were so soap-operatically . . . dark?
  88. It's unclear how many more seasons Cathy will survive, and how much humor can be mined from her pain. The visuals just might stay with you, though, as long as you live.
  89. Ah, the joy of Glee. I thought the show had lost its way last season, trying to jam songs into theme episodes ("Hello"). But tonight's season opener proves that "Glee" is back in its groundbreaking groove, bringing music to the masses and making fun of itself in the process.
  90. The charm of the show--and of the Gallagher family--is in its anarchy.
  91. The action is fast, and I was pleased to find that scenes play out unpredictably. I do look forward to less explaining, though, and more insights.
  92. There's some smart slapstick, and I believe that Perry could be the one sane man in an arena that holds 17,505 people.
  93. It's "The A-Team" meets ... really good writing.
  94. Showtime has tantalized me for ages with glimpses of Jeremy Irons growling and groping his way through a role as history's most debauched pope. It finally arrives Sunday, and you won't be disappointed.
  95. With their moody new mystery series The Killing, AMC clearly knows what's good for us.
  96. The kingdoms are gorgeous to look at, down to the last loving detail - you could be entertained just by watching for the inventive suits of armor. The violence is spectacular; the sex is twisted. The producers even had a language invented for the Dothraki, which should please the Dungeons and Dragons crowd.
  97. At the end, Cinema Verite shows how the Louds dealt with the notoriety after the series aired, and where they are now. Cinema Verite blurs the lines even more - but there's a perverse logic to that.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It's "Jericho" meets "V," with the good from both and the bad discarded. It'll raise the summer-TV bar significantly.
  98. As FX's hit series Rescue Me begins its seventh and final season tonight, the melding of comedy and drama is as deft as ever.
  99. The show sometimes lays on the misogyny a bit thick, but Timoney's alienation feels painfully realistic, thanks to Bello.
  100. The cable network's political drama even has my vote for the best new show of the season.
  101. Almost nothing about this series is conventional. That's part of the appeal.
  102. After watching four episodes, I can say that Awake has an addictive quality to it.
  103. Seeing Game Change is like living again through the campaign of 2008.
  104. Its distinctive voice makes it feel fresh and original, and the poignant comedy gets better with every episode.
  105. [Boss brings] back its intoxicating blend of soap-opera sudsiness, Shakespearean tragedy and scathing insight into big city politics, Chicago-style.
  106. [A] witty-but-poignant look at what it means to be a modern family.
  107. This third season is more in keeping with Downton's first [season].
  108. It's a fresh, compelling story about a couple of KGB operatives pretending to live the American dream as a married couple with kids in suburban Washington, D.C.
  109. Grey's wants to offer something for everyone, it seems, and does an admirable job not only of mixing drama, comedy and romance, but also of mixing in issues of today's complicated world of science. [24 Mar 2005, p.47]
  110. The shrewd thing about John Doe is that it uses its fantasy element as an addition, not a substitute for interesting characters and good storytelling. At its heart, this is just a mystery show with a twist. [20 Sept 2002, p.46]
  111. Lost may prove to be a find. It also could go down in flames. For its first couple of weeks, though, there's no question it's quite a thrill ride. [22 Sept 2004, p.65]
  112. The comparisons to "Ally McBeal" and the superior "My So-Called Life" are obvious, and there are plenty of reasons to pick this show apart. But when you're watching it, you don't care. These characters are already like old friends. You want to scream at them when they do something stupid and pat them on the back when they don't. [29 Sept 1998, p.45]
  113. Donnie Wahlberg, Neal McDonough, Jason Gedrick, Mykelti Williamson, Nina Garbiras, Gary Basaraba and Lana Parilla elevate this cop show into something that would be fairly interesting even without the "Pulp Fiction"/"Rashomon"-esque technique of telling stories from a variety of perspectives and in a non-linear time line. It's not entirely clear that this gimmick makes the stories better or more interesting, but it does make them unique. [27 Sept 2002, p.49]
  114. This is a darker "NYPD Blue," "The Job" without the jokes, the LAPD Rampart scandal without, so far, the indictments. Does The Shield need the R-rated language, violence and nudity that FX has allowed it? Probably not. But don't let that scare you off, either. [12 Mar 2002, p.39]
  115. John C. McGinley is a comedic genius. While series lead Zach Braff tries to channel Tom Cavanagh from "Ed" in this single-camera, laugh-track-free comedy about young doctors-in-training from "Spin City" co-creator Bill Lawrence, it's character actor McGinley ("Wall Street") who owns and almost singlehandedly carries the show in his supporting role as mentor Phil Cox. [2 Oct 2001, p.47]
  116. Deliciously disturbing, Hannibal is bound to leave viewers hungry for more.
  117. The series has a cinematic feel, with plenty of stand-alone, poignant moments punctuating each episode.
  118. One serious failing of the pilot is that, well, the group is nearly all white. There's barely a healthy tan in the bunch. Sorkin and Wells claim this is true only of the first episode and that more people of color will be added in subsequent hours....They better be. Not only is their absence an affront to minorities everywhere, it's an insult to our intelligence in what otherwise is a very smart show. [22 Sept 1999, p.47]
    • 70 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    During the first hour of Oz, you aren't likely to grin or chuckle at the shocking pain, cruelty, horror and hopelessness in "The Routine" -- unless you appreciate grim irony and twisted gallows humor. [11 July 1997, p.35]
  119. Half the fun of Behind the Candelabra is watching these two Hollywood heavyweights deftly tackle roles that could have been career-enders not that long ago.
  120. Funny stuff. Now if only it could find an audience. [5 Nov 2004, p.51]
  121. This update is well-written, well-acted, well-shot and, well, just darned entertaining. [6 Oct 2000, p.55]
  122. "Desperate Housewives" is, quite simply, a very good time. [30 Sep 2004]
    • 62 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Has as much nerve as "The Simpsons" when it burst on the scene. [11 Aug 1997]
  123. Larry David's greatest asset as a comedian and a writer has always been the ability and, more importantly, the courage to straddle the razor blade's difference between funny and painful. [13 Sep 2002]
  124. Its lack of niceties makes for a love-hate affair for viewers. [2 Jan 2004]
  125. Brenda is the closest thing to a real character we've seen in police procedurals so far. [8 Jun 2005]
  126. Stresses hard-edged realism over contrived climaxes. [19 Sep 1994]
  127. Attains often-sublime lucidity by its second episode. [16 Sep 1994]
    • 63 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Fans of the show can rest easily: The season premiere is quintessential Quahog. Traditions are trampled. Envelopes of taste are pushed -- heck, shoved. Sacred cows sizzle on the grill. [28 Apr 2005]
  128. Reiser brings a gentle sense of the absurd to his strange but affectionate view of modern marriage. [23 Sep 1992]
  129. It's not as nasty as "Larry Sanders," but "NewsRadio" will tickle discerning audiences with its finely tuned sense of irony and its frank handling of office intrigue, power struggles and sexual tension. [21 Mar 1995]
  130. Deserves a medal for daring gambles in timely storytelling. [22 Sep 1995]
  131. A clever combo - sophisticated sitcom meets late-night talk show. [14 Aug 1992]
  132. It is nearly impossible for [The Sopranos] to match expectations, which may be why it doesn't. ... The series has grown coarser, more base. [28 Feb 2001]
  133. An instantly engaging show that seamlessly delivers stimulating dramatic situations and juicy romantic comedy. [8 Sep 1997]
  134. With its cross-culture conflicts, bright writing, amusing co-stars and sizzling chemistry between the two leads, Dharma & Greg could be television's best romantic comedy since "Mad About You." [24 Sept 1997, p.53]
  135. It makes the most of its pay-TV platform by showing plenty of skin, but the sex scenes service a bigger story made all the more compelling by a couple of strong leads in Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
  136. The premiere feels a bit slow coming on the heels of last season’s wild ride, but the second episode will leave you hungry for more
  137. While no one will mistake Helena Bonham Carter for a twin of the legendary violet-eyed actress, she’s more than convincing alongside “The Wire’s” Dominic West, who brings a troubled Richard Burton to life.
  138. It’s eerie, suspenseful and yes, subtitled, but give the premiere a chance and you’ll return for more.
  139. The cult favorite’s fifth season deftly hits the reset button and starts out strong with back-to-back episodes.
  140. This outgrowth of a cult-hit web series is a lighter, wackier and often funnier version of HBO’s “Girls.”
  141. The language and sentiments are often unfiltered and raw, maybe more than you want at times, but Leary is a master at playing guys on the edge and this is an extraordinary showcase, by turns moving, funny and stunning. [21 July 2004, p.61]
  142. In the vein of Bill Murray, [Leary] is now a subtler tragic-comic actor who signals both tough luck and buoyant twinkles with a smirk and a glance. [30 May 2006, p.39]
  143. This haunting six-episode season explores the deep divide between a parochial community and a marginalized Native American tribe.
  144. [An] insightful sketch show.
  145. It’s the thinking man’s serial-killer drama, a twisted tale that never trolls for cheap scares but is plenty terrifying.
  146. This thriller is a fast-paced ride through the minefields of domestic and international relations.
  147. Not only is it funny, it has an air of authenticity thanks to co-creator Mike Judge, who mines his previous experience as a Silicon Valley engineer for laughs.
  148. The premiere lacks the gravitas of last season’s heavily symbolic opener, but it sets the stage for what promises to be a tumultuous, enticing end run.
  149. The show’s pace is slow in spots, but the dark humor and twisted tone make it oddly compelling.