L.A. Weekly's Scores

For 113 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 59% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 36% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 The Wire: Season 4
Lowest review score: 10 October Road: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 66
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 66
  3. Negative: 0 out of 66
66 tv reviews
  1. A vibrant, masterful work of art, HBO’s novelistic urban saga The Wire is the best show on television.
  2. A rich, intelligent and often moving miniseries.
  3. Insanely watchable.
  4. What's unusually gripping about Five Days is that its tension isn’t derived from depicting the majority of its cast as shifty-eyed suspects, but rather as floundering, flawed human beings unsure of how to move on with their lives.
  5. So far, Everybody Hates Chris has felt like a textbook example of how you fold a comedian’s sensibility into a familiar TV genre.
  6. Don’t mistake the slick-but-not-stupid Life on Mars for brain-bending sci-fi or Austin Powers-style farce. Aside from the psychological stress of its star... this is actually at heart an old-school cops-and-robbers show, with that dash of Twilight Zone to give it 21st-century cachet.
  7. Although it manages to be suspenseful about the journey of its jumbled characters, it is an unrelenting examination of the search for the hidden recipe of me, you and us that makes for a strong marriage, and that's something you ultimately have to steel yourself for in a weekly series.
  8. Where does that leave Season 6, then, when the show has stemmed major disasters for five years running and its intensity level of choice is 11? As well-oiled as before, actually, and, judging from the four hours airing over Sunday and Monday, unafraid of edging its parallel-universe America ever closer toward a world war nightmare of mass hysteria.
  9. [A] richly observed, mirthful series.
  10. This is a meaty show about the complex allure of easy wealth and the traps it sets for one’s personal morality.
  11. [An] exciting, interesting series.
  12. Beyond its title, I have no quibble with this well-made, sly, heartwarming and at times giddily funny show.
  13. Mad Men may thrive on a certain heartless suspense, but it's definitely got a brain, one that's interested in how our lives are a battle between the narrative we imagine for ourselves and the path we happen to be on.
  14. O’Mara’s Sam is incredibly engaging, and I’m pleased with how well this Americanization of an already very fine piece of flinty cop nostalgia is going.
  15. The looseness of the interchanges gives the humor an anti-writers’-room freshness without losing the harshness we’ve come to expect in this Everybody Loves Raymond/Arrested Development age of clashing relatives.
  16. Sons of Anarchy, an unfailingly coarse yet brashly effective series that burrows into the workings of the titular outlaw motorcycle club.
  17. The Sarah Silverman Program is a welcome outlet for Silverman’s brand of outlandishness, blessedly stingy with its desire to breach mores, and much more concerned with decorating its late-night comedy turf so that it can welcome any kind of unexpected laugh: shock, parody, irony, insult humor or absurdity.
  18. A tightly woven, watchable melodrama that connects an eclectic but friendly bunch of women through maybe the only thing they could possibly have in common: being married to the military.
  19. Close’s burnished enigma characterization works beautifully because Damages, which will spend its 13-episode season detailing the six months that led to the opening shots of a blood-covered Ellen escaping a murder scene, is more a well-oiled genre exercise than the stuff of rigorous personality study.
  20. This is the kind of show in which seeing new cast member Timothy Olyphant stare at Byrne from across a grief-support-group circle feels like both an act of violence and empathy, and this is before you even know who the hell he is. Since this is the secret-filled Damages, chances are we may never fully know. Would you want this knife’s-edge thriller any other way?
  21. There’s a formal integrity to the Simon-and-Burns storytelling style--predicated on the theory that details matter, complexity rules and you can’t force momentum--that meshes well with the close-up vividness of Wright’s dispatches from an often chaotic front.
  22. [Merchant and Gervais'] meetings are gemlike exchanges of deadpan incompetence and hair-pulling frustration, worthy of the bygone era of comedy teams.
  23. It's easy to like True Blood, because Ball's episodic smarts are primal, not at a remove, and he approaches supernaturalism by emphasizing the natural over the super.
  24. In Keenan and Lloyd’s world of dizzy, barb-tossing sophisticates, this group is confident and well-armed: Channing’s patented ladies-who-lunch tartness, Winkler’s nervous defensiveness, Burrell’s blasé arrogance, Marshall’s droll delivery and Gorham’s frustrated sensitivity all mix like a well-shaken cocktail, even if it’s the kind that gets tossed in somebody’s face.
  25. Treachery and action still abound on 24--its brand is crisis, after all--but the nail-biting, espionage-like first four hours erect a scenario that promises a recharged season built on smarter suspense gambits than the tiresome 24 (and, by extension, Bushian) tropes of outlandish risk, torture and Armageddon-mongering.
  26. It’s something of a feat that the makers of Big Love are willing to put the ugly side of this phenomenon up against the mainstream sheen of Bill’s setup, and -- thanks in great part to the marvelous acting on display, from Paxton’s rugged haplessness to all three women’s unique variations on maternal stress and wifely sensuality -- still offer up a family to root for, warts and all.
  27. Written with an eye for telling detail by Danny Strong, and directed in surprisingly nimble fashion by blockbuster-comedy wrangler Jay Roach (of the Austin Powers movies and Meet the Parents fame), it has the peculiarly alchemic structure of a nail-biting tragi-farce.
  28. With everyone's motivations in this handsomely mounted but adrenaline-fueled series so on-the-surface, Dormer's enigmatic, time-halting loveliness [as Anne Boleyn] is a boon for The Tudors, and damn near worth losing your head over.
  29. It’s old-school silly, filmed--defiantly, in these laugh-track-less days--in front of a studio audience, rich with sublimely broad performances, appreciative of the well-timed one-liner and the pratfall, in love with jokes of camera placement and confident in the healing power of a running gag.
  30. It's actually a kick to watch. Its joys are broader and self-consciously zanier than the CW series.
  31. It affects a frisky aura of gamesmanship with its tight-knit friends (played by Lucy Liu, Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Bonnie Somerville) as they send their distress-text signals to each other, meet up, hash out their obstacles--cheaters, competitors, cads and the clock--and plan their counterattacks.
  32. At times it plays like a hybrid of the ticking-bomb thrills from ["24"] and the moral thorniness that undergirds HBO’s excellent crime series The Wire.
  33. Kevin Smith directs the pilot episode with his typically expert comic timing. But he also handles the dark action bits nicely. Because even though Reaper is generous with its humor, it’s not entirely wink-wink.
  34. It's a whimsical, romantically inventive and darkly funny pop-up hour about a man (Lee Pace) whose touch can bring the dead back to life (but also, yikes, vice versa).
  35. A series that seems to get better and better with each season, exploring issues of openness in religious belief, economic betterment and emotional escape that are as relevant and chilling as ever.
  36. You might think you’ve seen this story before, and yet you haven’t seen it quite this way.
  37. What this sharp if unsettling show wants to meet head on is middle-class angst, the quiet desperation that starts to unravel in the upstanding when their obligations suddenly seem insurmountable--or what happens when the folly of controlling one's destiny starts to resemble the riskiest of lab experiments.
  38. The indignant heart of Canterbury's Law is that of a case-of-the-week procedural--a suitably suspenseful one at that--and within those institutional boundaries it's nice to see Margulies shake off the martyrish mien of Nurse Carol Hathaway on ER for somebody whose self-destructiveness gives her a nasty, intelligent severity at work.
  39. This kind of brittlely accurate performance is something to watch in the hands of an actress like Bening, who seems incapable --even during the film’s most blackly humorous moments -- of a false, Fatal Attraction–like note.
  40. A weirdly appropriate and hilarious symbol of our times.
  41. It’s easily the most interesting of the three [new alien shows], taking the emotional chill and confusion that accompany a family divorce... and lacing them with a narratively complementary dose of body-snatching paranoia.
  42. Oddly enough, as much as I like In Treatment and its theatrically deft interplays, it doesn't get off to a great start with its Monday patient.
  43. Drive quickly asserts itself as an enjoyably diverting peel-out — brainless but not stupid, a well-stirred conspiracy/action mixture in keeping with Fox’s no-seat-belts hits 24 and Prison Break.
  44. The series seems to always eschew Hollywood-style courtroom theatrics and gotcha moments for resolutions that seem truer because they involve mistakes, bad timing, compromises, dubious ethics and sweated-out smarts.
  45. Because as much as Baker's suavely sly version of a gotcha artist is a welcome addition, thanks to a few not-so-hidden laws of character-actor placement, you'll guess the pilot scenario's killer before anybody else.
  46. There are glimmers of something refreshingly different.
  47. Leverage isn’t quite as effortlessly intoxicating--it must make do with the dependable but suave-challenged Timothy Hutton--but when it works, the TNT series has a rascally tingle.
  48. Because Hopper can radically rejigger events for better or worse -- a decision that prevents one disaster might cause another - Day Break... feels like the first video-game-era series.
  49. Gary Unmarried is pretty much business as usual, introducing us to a dude of simple pleasures.
  50. At the root, this is essentially Perry Mason redux, only the vibe is less ’50s genteel murder mystery than 21st-century shock and awe.
  51. Time will tell if viewers take to this quintet as completely as they did [Friends'] Central Perk crew... but it seems as if How I Met Your Mother is the most legitimate knockoff yet of that youthful-urbanite juggernaut.
  52. Don’t get me wrong, I like the new show: its workmanlike verve, its professionalism. But its joys are simple, the kind of laughs that don’t feel new so much as pleasantly old-fashioned.
  53. This could be a brisk and bruising weekly fix.
  54. As with any sketch show, it’s all ultimately a hit-and-miss affair, but Ullman’s circus-freak virtuosity as a shape shifter-- and director Troy Miller’s rapid-fire pacing--are enough to carry you past the rough spots.
  55. What’s intriguing about the series is the absence of a visible enemy -- with a citywide communication breakdown, hardly anything is known about the status of the rest of America -- and the focus on keeping citizens from becoming their own worst enemies
  56. Mesmerizing and entertainingly confounding.
  57. It’s a testament to George’s confident handling of the material... that while it touches on many elements of the national crisis... the project avoids feeling like a bulletin-board movie.
  58. I was initially concerned that this was going to become a male Grey’s Anatomy... but Love Monkey creator Michael Rauch... keeps facile wisdom to a bare minimum, and a certain urban energy level turned up.
  59. It’s at its best when it sweats the small stuff of things like "barium meals" (purposefully fake directives designed to smoke out double agents) and the moves and countermoves of smart men trying to outwit each other.
  60. The show’s biotechnological twist on the double life of spies--or any superhero/alter ego construct--certainly satisfies the popcorn-thriller needs of My Own Worst Enemy, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as thematically resonant as it was.
  61. The Nine doesn’t quite feel like a Lost knockoff since its missing-piece, jigsaw-puzzle construct has a basis in reality: the unknowable feelings of those who have weathered personal crisis.
  62. And while the quest story has the inevitable whiff of The Lord of the Rings about it... the episodes almost feel more like sci-fi Hitchcock than anything else.
  63. The irony of a series like Crusoe is that its provenance is a classic, much-analyzed novel, but the creators and NBC really just hope you’ll watch it because it’s Lost without the pretentious reach. And that’s fine, too.
  64. It’s really a sentimental looking-for-love show after all, albeit one with a wonderful lead actress who will surely do her best to bring nuance and spark.
  65. It’s got a low-hum basic-cable charm, fueled by personality, breezy cloak-and-dagger ingenuity and smart-ass dialogue rather than a flashy, budget-driven broadcast network complex.
  66. No one's telling her what to do or say anymore, but it's hard not to look at The Cho Show as the celebreality-era redo of All-American Girl.
  67. It’s a more-than-solid cast, which is half the battle.
  68. Even though it's obviously well-made and Bornheimer has a flinty wit that prevents him from being just another Ben Stiller–ish sap....if I'm being truthful, the original British version of this series was funnier.
  69. Filth too often comes off like a strained attempt at reversing the dynamic of a Marx Brothers movie, with Whitehouse the silly, charming agitator and Greene the insufferable aesthete foil with steam blowing out of his ears.
  70. Eli Stone is another lawyer hour disguised as feel-good rehabilitation fluff, with Eli now compelled to use his sharklike courtroom mojo to take up the causes of wronged underdogs against the kinds of heartless corporate clients his blue-chip firm typically represents.
  71. This is a series about whip-smart heroes, with an outbreak to contain each week, usually involving quick action, rapid analysis and fast wit.
  72. There are intriguing elements here that promise to explore the aches, pains and joys of those committed to rebuilding something wrenched from them.
  73. So far the stern-faced Lake Bell’s independent-minded oceanographer is too conventional a protagonist, while the series’ government cover-up thread... feels globally warmed over.
  74. Serious about its silliness, this show grasps the concept of prime time as vacation time.
  75. My Boys has easygoing charm and does feel like the amiably shaggy, hit-and-miss basic-cable cousin of a glossy network one-liner factory, its lack of laugh-out-loud moments not so much indicating system failure, but suggesting a game plan that aims for calmly assembling a group of occasionally witty characters and hoping you find them likable.
  76. She’s turned what assuredly were hurtful years of feeling like a show-biz freak into friendly TV fodder that relieves viewers of the need to point while they snicker.
  77. [It] has a certain instructional dryness.
  78. The oldies amount to a reset button in case you’ve never seen the show before, but it’s a toss-up if the umpteenth appearance of these loonies will make die-hards keep laughing. The new gallery of U.S.-born weirdos is slightly unremarkable.
  79. A pleasantly diverting bumper-car drama of chance encounters, new friendships and random triggers.
  80. Quick confusion in grasping the conspiracy web is understandable, but that doesn’t mean this series’ many hours... aren’t sufficiently tense and jarring to warrant your time. But if you’re even a mildly cynical A-section reader and/or devourer of suspense novels, and especially if you’ve enjoyed the many fine British multipart political thrillers that have graced our airwaves, like To Play the King and A Very British Coup and State of Play, then The State Within will seem either too familiar or too diffuse.
  81. The “look what I can do” element is intrinsically enjoyable, if only because you’re waiting to see celebrity ass hitting ice.
  82. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a serviceable enough addition to this particular pop-culture mosaic.
  83. If you’re a regular of the cable channel’s open-surveillance portraits of damaged-goods celebrity — Breaking Bonaduce, Being Bobby Brown and Shooting Sizemore — you will inevitably tune in to Dice Undisputed for delusion, not inspiration. And there it is in the first episode.
  84. It starts jumping in different directions so quickly that it loses focus.
  85. The problem is that seemingly everything is touched on... but the narrative is little more than a series of snapshots of how a congressperson’s office runs.
  86. Shannon has a power-walker approach to the comedy of unearned positivity--not too fast, not too slow, able to suck up disappointment and move on--and it works for her character. But Blair, who can breathe hot snark on any line, hasn’t quite figured out how to make Kim hideously funny more often than just hideous.
  87. Dexter is too chilly to be chilling, too affected to be affecting.
  88. The timing of a TV show is a different animal from the punchy joys of an in-and-out three-panel strip, and there’s a clunkiness to the pacing of this new Boondocks incarnation.
  89. The entertainment value in this otherwise rudimentary sitcom lies in watching Garrett aim for front-and-center Gleason-ness.
  90. I don't feel negative necessarily about the flaws of quarterlife, but then I don't feel much at all about quarterlife either.
  91. Even when Unhitched isn't funny--and the second episode is definitely an improvement on the pilot, which tries too hard--it at least isn't vile.
  92. I’ll come back to Crash the TV show, but for now, the acting doesn’t exactly induce gaper’s block.
  93. Fringe is a smorgasbord of a show, but one a little too synthetically engineered to allow you the chance to discover what it is
  94. United States of Tara plays like surface feminism with an added gloss of snark and a bewilderingly blah sentimentality.
  95. Swingtown is far from a great show, but until it feels obligated to give killjoy lip service to the downside of sexual freedom--note the transformation on Molly Parker’s postcoital face at the end of the pilot--here’s hoping it has its chance to be rompish and fun and a pain in the side of standards and practices.
  96. While it's got that professional Burrows sheen of unerrant joke delivery--especially from the talented Galecki, who can do this in his sleep--you have to assume the pile of scripts on his desk in this hurting age for the three-camera studio-audience format isn’t what it once was.
  97. I hope future episodes don’t feel as if somebody took three hours of material and reduced it to one.
  98. The show is too diffuse, hokey and self-consciously portentous to suggest suspenseful possibility.
  99. This is one decidedly unfrightening resurrection of the Night Stalker.
  100. 3 Lbs. seems like microwaved leftovers.

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