Cleveland Plain Dealer's Scores

  • TV
For 200 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 61% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 38% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 The Americans: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 The 100: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 131
  2. Negative: 0 out of 131
131 tv reviews
  1. Murder One is shrewdly constructed, quickly absorbing and absolutely first-rate - the best new show of fall...Terrifically scripted and perfectly cast, the show gets its biggest lift from the shaven-headed Benzali, whose brilliant performance as the principled, supremely confident Hoffman could be the best advertisement for defense attorneys since Clarence Darrow. [19 Sept 1995, p.9E]
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    • 97 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Anyone who doesn't think this is the best drama on television should have his head examined. [16 Jan 2000]
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  2. HBO made four of the 13 new episodes available for review. Taken as a whole, they stand as compelling proof that the series' creator and executive producer, David Chase, still is in complete control of the brilliantly constructed crime saga. [4 Mar 2001]
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  3. The Americans stands tall in a crowded field of quality dramas. It keeps getting stronger and stronger, a realization underscored by the arrival of the fourth season.
  4. "Justified" and Game of Thrones, each in its own way, has done its share to raise that bar to dizzying heights.
  5. His character is brought low often enough, but no comedy soars higher.
  6. With a cast led by Michael Chiklis and CCH Pounder, The Shield isn't just pushing boundaries. It's bashing through them like police officers wielding those door-destroying battering rams. The results are often quite arresting... Chiklis and Pounder are terrific. Their co-stars aren't even close to being in their league. [12 Mar 2002, p.e5]
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  7. In some ways, the show recalls the early days of "Beverly Hills, 90210." With its exceptional writing and sensitivity, however, it resembles nothing so much as a "teensomething" version of "thirtysomething." [25 Aug 1994, p.1F]
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  8. We have fifth-season banquet of delights spread before us.... With each season, that load is spread out more and more, with young players coming into their own and crafty veterans added to the cast. The storytelling also gets stronger and more assured, pushing Game of Thrones to greater and grander heights.
  9. If some plot elements in the third season seemed forced (and they did), then Fellowes seems to have completely regained his balance in the fourth season. And that balance means expertly bouncing between the upstairs and downstairs worlds of Downton, letting the plot turns flow naturally, carrying us along joyously for the posh ride.
  10. A four-alarm run of fiery performances laced with hurt and hilarity. It means writing that swerves brilliantly from racy humor to lacerating pain, from steamy encounters to brutal insights. And it means spending quality time with some of the most human, street-level, flesh-and-blood characters you're likely to encounter anywhere in the television realm. [30 May 2006, p.E1]
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  11. Travolta's cartoonish Shapiro is the exception, after all, and even most of the peripheral performances court favorable verdicts.
  12. Stylish and briskly paced, Boomtown clearly shows the impact of "Pulp Fiction" in its quirky dialogue. The impact of "Rashomon," Kurosawa's film about a murder recounted in different ways, is most obviously seen in the program's structure. [29 Sept 2002, p.J1]
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  13. Director Michael Apted and writer Michelle Ashford masterfully guide you back into the Masters of Sex story, providing a beautifully textured framework for these wonderfully nuanced performances.
  14. Typical of the series, Yost and his team tackle something deceptively difficult to do well and make it look easy.
  15. Even if you're bothered by the "oh-come-on" moments, you're more than compensated with the sheer number of "oh-wow" moments. They are in huge supply over the course of this opening four-hour run.
  16. Generous with the laughs. A wonderfully quirky and stylish series from a creative team headed by director-producer Ron Howard, this isn't merely the best new comedy of the season. It's the best new show of any kind.[2 Nov 2003, p.J1]
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  17. It easily lives up to its advance billing as the best new show of the fall season.
  18. Weaving the lives of these three towering Roosevelts into one triumphant 14-hour film, Burns has found another ideal prism for examining the American character and the American story.
  19. This trio of tales uses plot elements from the original stories in wonderfully inventive and deliciously brilliant ways. In other words, knock the dust off of 221B Baker Street.
  20. The show wins points for innovation, intelligence and solid production values. [6 Nov 2001]
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  21. So funny that you might not notice it doesn't have a laugh track. [8 Jan 2000]
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  22. Russell brings great subtlety and appeal to the role, in an engaging show that captures the exhilarating and sometimes scary possibilities of a time of life when everything feels new. [29 Sept 1998, p.1E]
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  23. It's where quirky meets quixotic, and the mix is enchanting - equal parts wit and whimsy. [8 Oct 2000, p.11]
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  24. As brilliant as many of the storytelling flourishes are, the narrative frequently suffers from awkward construction, clumsily bouncing among three time periods.... It's a brainy drama, to be sure, and it's a challenging one. The riveting lead performances are what keep you engaged when the going gets static--something more than engaged, actually.
  25. The remarkable thing is that, even with a bigger cast, Kohan never sacrifices a whit of clarity or energy. Orange Is the New Black is as fresh and as vital as ever, and you don't always see that in a fourth season.
  26. It's a sentimental journey, to be sure, but it never gives in to sentimentality. And while Tyson leads the way on this trip of a Lifetime, she is surrounded by co-stars adding illumination at every turn.
  27. An intense, intriguing and exciting mix of action and horror. [22 Sept 2004, p.E1]
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  28. Although technically listed as a drama, make no mistake, it's one of the funniest programs on TV this season.
  29. Like "Freaks and Geeks," however, Undeclared is considerably smarter, sharper and slicker than your average network series. If at times the comedy strays below the belt, it justifies these moments by appealing to our hearts and minds. [25 Sept 2001, p.E1]
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  30. No drama mixes the profoundly painful with the profanely funny more expertly than Rescue Me, Denis Leary's FX series about New York City firefighters. As laughter wraps itself around anguish on this Manhattan landscape, you wonder if what's unfolding is an epic American tragedy or a raunchy workplace comedy. [12 June 2007, p.E1]
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  31. The marvelously textured performances and addictive narrative remain the most compelling reasons to watch Outlander.
  32. Serve up enough great moments (and The Normal Heart certainly does), and Ryan's occasional missteps are easily dismissed as mere annoyances, not major gaffes.
  33. In the past, the slower season premieres crackled with energy. You could feel the tension. Traveling through Time Zones, you experience something of a power failure.
  34. A rich, risky and satisfying adult drama that could be the next "Wiseguy" - and there isn't much higher praise. [26 Oct 1996]
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  35. Still standing magnificently tall in its fifth season, Justified more than justifies its place as one of television's best dramas. That's a crowded field, of course, but, in this critic's opinion, it is not just one of the best. It is THE best.
  36. Already TV's most literate and stylish horror drama, "Penny Dreadful" is adding new and intriguing elements to the ambitious structure as the third season begins.
  37. '24' is back in top storytelling form, spinning an intricate new web of mystery and suspense. [29 Oct 2002]
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  38. It is packed with towering performances that boldly and magnificently reinterpret characters who have become part of our national folklore.
  39. From the first frame, it's clear that Jackie Robinson is a genuine labor of love. The warmly crafted two-part, four-hour PBS documentary from filmmaker Ken Burns positively glows with its admiration for the man and his accomplishments. ... Another mighty home run for PBS.
  40. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this stylish, wonderfully atmospheric British production is how fresh it seems. It's not as if this is a tale rarely told.
  41. Loco is the right word for this amiably goofy and endearingly dumb comedy. [8 Nov 2001, p.E11]
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  42. Writer David Farr updated le Carre's novel with expert care, and his script is stunningly realized by a sensational cast guided by the unerring direction of Susanne Bier. Indeed, just about everything goes right in this sexy, riveting and suspenseful miniseries.
  43. There are moments (like the aforementioned withdrawal episode) where you think about giving up on it. But those thoughts disappear once the show's surprise is revealed and Elliot recognizes his true purpose. That leads to Season 2's premiere being a thrill ride. ... Mr. Robot has the potential to be [as good as "Breaking Bad."]
  44. A wild joyride of cultural and generational dissonance, Dharma & Greg captures lightning in a bottle and looks like a hit. [24 Sept 1997, p.6F]
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  45. There is a warm sense of family in this series. There is a distinctive sense of style--of being its own kind of show. And there is a sly sense of humor. On all three counts, Jane the Virgin delivers.
  46. The Walking Dead still has a strong grip on our imagination as it continues to aim at all three levels--brain, heart and stomach--with deadly accuracy.
  47. Frasier is also that rare supporting character who appears able to support his own series. Tonight's pilot gets Frasier off to a smartly written and deftly acted start that is especially lifted by the effortless pairing of Grammer and Pierce, who was a standout from the short-lived political sitcom "The Powers That Be." [16 Sept 1993, p.1F]
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  48. Matching last year's blistering pace is a dizzying challenge for Netflix, but this is the team that can get them off to a flying start.
  49. Part prime-time soap opera, part wicked social satire, this unpredictable newcomer has a blast poking around at the dark edges of a sunny and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood. [3 Oct 2004]
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  50. Sarcastic yet engaging, edgy yet heartfelt. [2 Oct 2001, p.E1]
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  51. Stark and disturbing, The Wire, like HBO's "Oz" and "The Sopranos," is not for those of tender sensibilities. It is often violent and vulgar. But, make no mistake, it is often brilliant. [1 June 2002, p.E6]
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  52. '24' seems to have smartly reinvented the intriguing formula, getting itself back on track for what could be the best season to date. [9 Jan 2005]
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  53. The two-tiered, supersized season premiere tells its compelling story with flashbacks intercut with what's happening in the present.
  54. Meticulously detailed and seamlessly crafted, it has the look of a feature film and a sense of behind-the-scenes authenticity, and it could be the season's best new drama. [22 Sept 1999, p.6E]
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  55. Amber Tamblyn (yes, she's the daughter of "Twin Peaks" star Russ Tamblyn) shines in the title role. Her Joan is a delightful adolescent mix of hope, doubt, joy, anger, anxiety, yearning and skepticism...Viewers searching for a promising new drama will do no better this season than Joan of Arcadia, which walks that tricky line of being spiritual without becoming preachy, touching without turning treacly, humorous without going for the cheap jokes. [26 Sept 2003, p.E1]
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  56. The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiere also was full of surprises, taking oddball twists and turns with, not only Rebecca, but the supporting characters as well. All in all, an impressive prime-time debut for Bloom as star, co-creator and executive producer of the slyly crafted show. That's the good news. The great news is that, from what the CW has revealed of future episodes, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend appears to be staying on the wild and unpredictable track.
  57. The documentary not only is a moving tribute to the prolific director who died at 84, it's a reminder of what's too often missing from so much of television and pop culture--conversation... real, in-depth, smart, respectful, insightful conversation.
  58. A low-key, deadpan program that is very amusing and unusually engaging. [27 May 1995]
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  59. There is one depressing symptom noticeable throughout tonight's opener. Even with the dialogue blazing by us, we can't help noticing how tired cliches, awkward observations and anemic lines are seriously reducing the script's overall vitality...What this show needs is an emergency transfusion of fresh writing. It needs scripts as strong as the acting and directing. Without that, Gideon's Crossing will remain this simmering cauldron of potential - a potent mixture waiting to be brought to full boil. [10 Oct 2000, p.9E]
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  60. Better Call Saul is an offbeat drama with moments of quirky humor. The drama is wonderfully heartfelt. The comedy is a little more hit and miss.
  61. The tone of the second season is slightly different from the first, yet he remains remarkably true to his stated metaphoric mission. Have no fear, it's the same Penny Dreadful, but Logan is shaking things up in all kinds imaginative ways.... No if about it. Penny Dreadful works.
  62. "My Name Is Earl" is a good show that doesn't quite have the feel of being the next "Seinfeld" or "Cheers." But like Lee's Earl, Garcia's feel-good concept is strangely effective. If not brilliant, it is ambitious, and it is definitely funny.
  63. Under the guise of fantasy, Roswell manages to be insightful, profound, romantic, eerie, mysterious and funny. It artfully uses the alien characters as engaging stand-ins for countless teenagers who, rebelling against pressures to conform, feel like beings from another planet. [6 Oct 1999, p.1E]
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  64. The show has lost none of its expert knack for building suspense and tossing surprises.
  65. Although some liberties have been taken with the characters and plot, it is an immediately intriguing, wonderfully textured realization of Dick's challenging book.
  66. [These] episodes find the celebrated series running true to form. That means an occasional misstep, to be sure – too much time inexplicably spent with one of the blander characters or a less-than-intriguing subplot. But, for the most part, it means elegant storytelling that richly blends social commentary, comedy, soap opera, romance, intrigue, tragedy, melodrama and razor-sharp satire.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Great fun. Leave your brain in neutral and enjoy the zany ride. When the twisting and turning are over, the briskly paced and visually intriguing Alias glides home as solid escapist fare. Don't ask questions. If logic gets in the way, this material will start unraveling like the proverbial cheap suit. Yet, while comic-bookish and derivative, Alias emerges as a winner because it shrewdly assembles bits and pieces of "La Femme Nikita" and other espionage thrillers. There's even a little "X-Files" trust-no-one paranoia thrown in for good measure. [29 Sept 2001, p.6]
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  67. There is a razor-sharp focus, as well as a renewed sense of purpose, in the six new episodes Netflix made available to critics in advance of the fourth-season premiere.
  68. While the political dynamics have changed greatly, House of Cards remains an addictive mixture of over-the-top soap opera, wicked dark comedy and sly melodrama.
  69. Once this crime thriller lures you in and really gets going, it's an off-to-the-races ride that never forgets to delve deeply into the dark sides of the central characters. Derivative? Yes, but in endlessly sly and fascinating ways.
  70. There are lots of reasons to like visiting Smallville. Welling scores high on the hunk-o-meter, and he and the rest of the young cast are fine actors. Schneider and O'Toole are hipper, younger Kents, and they ooze the love for Clark that's needed from their characters. The writing and production values are first-rate...But, just as Clark runs really, really fast but doesn't yet know how to fly, Smallville never soars up, up and away. [16 Oct 2001, p.E5]
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  71. Weighed down by an uncertain design, the rookie series certainly is off to a rocky start. [5 Oct 1999, p.2E]
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  72. Sharply scripted, well acted and crisply directed by James Burrows, it makes comedy its main agenda, and reaches it with an authentic, matter-of-fact tone. [21 Sep 1998]
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  73. Although the promising drama has its self-conscious moments when the offbeat stuff seems a trifle forced, Laurie delivers a consistently fascinating performance as the abrasive diagnostician. Even with the labored interludes, the series stands as, to borrow an old rock lyric, “a very, very, very fine” House. [16 Nov 2004, p.E4]
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  74. Not all of the plots work at a high level. Still, even when things go wrong, you know the grand performances will save the Downton day. You're always in good company with this series.
  75. The pilot episode for CBS' Supergirl does manage to get off the ground, yet it never really soars to the heights of the supercharged "Gotham" and "The Flash." Nor is it as immediately intriguing as those two DC-inspired shows.
  76. Six Feet Under is as artificial as the AstroTurf funeral directors place around a grave site. [3 June 2001, p.91]
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  77. Might be the fall's funniest and most satisfying show. ... Smartly written and well cast, it sparkles with characters, situations and dialogue that owe more to real life than TV contrivances. [12 Sep 1996]
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  78. The writers do take the occasional misstep along the trail. The series has it didactic moments, to be sure, as well as the occasional cartoonish character (usually among those chasing the runaways). But these drawbacks are more than offset by the riveting narrative, the outstanding lead cast and a seamless weaving of the greater historical context into the ongoing story.
  79. An engaging and promising debut, despite some overcooked acting and the fact that legal complexities sometimes take a back seat to emotional stand-offs. [4 Mar 1997]
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  80. This show manages to give us the hilarious, horrific and heroic... and it has brains.
  81. It may not be the Second Coming, which is how hard-core fans have awaited it, but it's a lavish and inventive spectacle that lives up to "Star Trek" tradition and shows why the franchise has flourished. [7 Jan 1993]
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  82. If you have a strong enough stomach to get through the yuck-and-yikes surgical procedures, the dramatic rewards are great. If you prefer shows with an edge and an attitude, make your appointment with Miami partners Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon)...And if you like your television served up with wit, intelligence and a bit of daring, you won't have much to say if someone asks, "Tell me what you don't like about Nip/Tuck. "[22 June 2004, p.E1]
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  83. And yet, given how derivative it is, (say it with me now), Humans turns out far better than you'd think possible. The performances, pacing and direction are that compellingly good, at least in the first two episodes made available to critics.
  84. Murder One survived on appeal after approaching cancellation. It makes a great case for itself tonight. [10 Oct 1996, p.8E]
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  85. Although not anywhere near as epic in scale as Fox's Batman prequel, "Gotham," The Flash does have a better sense of what it has set out to be: a sturdy superhero drama with an engaging lead character played by likable young star.
  86. Aspects of Battle Creek seem familiar, to be sure, yet it registers high on the giddy scale thanks to energetic direction, clever writing and the comic chemistry generated by Duhamel and Winters.
  87. This is hardly a one-character show. Ray is at the center of the movie-land maelstrom, to be sure, but everything around him is intriguing. And everything speaks to danger.
  88. Both different and diverting, when the self-conscious style doesn't intrude on the storytelling. [8 Sep 1997]
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  89. The show at least moves at a fast clip and blazes past some impressive scenery ... Despite the higher production values, "The Amazing Race" offers little more than a blur of people shouting, "Which way do we go?" [5 Sep 2001]
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  90. It's quite a good one. It boasts a brisk pace, strong direction by Rick Famuyiwa and a superb cast led by Kerry Washington as Hill and Wendell Pierce as Thomas.
  91. The comedy simply doesn't come as fast, as funny or as fresh. [28 Mar 1999]
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  92. While The Strain is pretty much a cauldron churning with familiar ingredients, the dark brew bubbling inside is served up with a great deal of panache.
  93. Drenched in whom-do-you-trust paranoia and dripping with suspense, "Invasion" grabs you by the throat in the opening seconds and never lets go.
  94. Many aspects of the 12-part Rome might leave you cold. While certainly impressive in scope and scale, HBO’s awkward stab at a series is being made with a programming weapon that’s often blunt, dull and unwieldy... Where Rome gets tripped up is in the uneven performances and lackluster writing. This is what truly causes the fall of this particular Roman empire. [28 Aug 2005, p.J1]
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  95. The bigger question will be whether viewers accept the new character - and whether the writing, so far uneven, can match Fox's exertions. [17 Sept 1996, p.9E]
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  96. Eventually, though, the series will need to get past some growing pains and mature into a drama that fully embraces the comic-book elements. You may have doubts about Heller reaching that destination, but, with this blazing a start, you'll want to be along for the thrill ride as he sets out to solve that riddle.
  97. The result is a delightful horror hodgepodge packed with eerie surprises, colorful characters and Gothic plot twists.
  98. It starts at a dead run and never slackens its pace.

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