PopMatters' Scores

For 490 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 34% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 61% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 The Flag
Lowest review score: 0 Get This Party Started: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 182
  2. Negative: 0 out of 182
182 tv reviews
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    In 10 years of reviewing film and television for various publications, no comedy has given me as much pleasure as The Office.
  1. While The Flag ponders the whereabouts of Shirley and Spiro’s flag, it raises other, broader, variously resonant questions too, questions concerning how symbols and icons become significant, as well as how stories are told and myths are disseminated.
  2. The networks have been wondering how to compete with the no-holds barred nature of cable programming. This is it.
  3. The show doesn’t only deliver fast-paced action and fine performances, but also, increasingly, poses questions concerning responsibility.
  4. Nurse Jackie offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.
  5. At the same time [Eros Hoagland is taking pictures], his process is also the subject of a picture--shaped in part by the remarkable work of photographer and cinematographer Jared Moossy, who shoots all four episodes of Witness--a picture that shows both context and effect, the sort of broad view that might emerge from the most specific images.
  6. Perhaps the most disturbing possibility--the subtext that makes Breaking Bad both enthralling and often unbearable to watch--is that Walter is becoming who he always was. He hasn’t changed. He’s been purified.
  7. Herzog listens and interjects his own helpfully perverse insights.
  8. Simon's Treme is an equally astute portrait of "an urban people" still struggling to come back from a brink.
  9. Treme sketches and interweaves stories and desires, hopes and disenchantments.
  10. A fast moving mix of physical comedy and wry dialogue articulate this friendship, revealing its complexity and its depth.
  11. The brilliance is precisely a function of its incongruity.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Again, Breaking Bad promises to be quite a ride.
  12. Densely plotted and epic in scope, full of graphic violence and lots of sex, it's tremendously entertaining.
  13. On Freddie Roach [is] Peter Berg's extraordinary six-part HBO series.
  14. As preposterous as this sounds, Being Human benefits from being reasonably self-aware as well as intelligent in the questions it asks.
  15. Its layered and nuanced analysis of male identity makes Men of a Certain Age worth watching.
  16. So far, the Disney experiment is working, if not always perfectly. Agent Carter‘s tone seems right and its lead seems perfect, helping the live-action wing of the Marvel franchise to evolve as it spreads across time into our current entertainment and its future.
  17. What is abundantly clear by this brutal, swift, and exquisitely yucky scene is True Blood is back, doing what it likes to do best, that is, dumping you into yet another crisis with precious little context or buildup.
  18. In many ways, it was where the series ought to have begun.
  19. Quarles and Limehouse can't replace Mags, but they add new dimensions to Raylan's ongoing dilemma, that is, how to be a lawman when the law seems anachronistic.
  20. It's an exhilarating take on a couple of familiar genres, balancing horror, humor, and heart.
  21. Amid this seeming disorder, Jason Isaacs breathes a wry life into Britten, as a man who slowly feels himself accessing levels of consciousness and perception he never imagined, even as his psychiatrists label them "illness" and his work partners question their relevance.
  22. Even as all of these seeming oppositions are set up, the show insists on the blurring of lines, the bridges as well as the borders.
  23. So far, its mix of spirituality and science, familial and global struggles, is galvanizing.
  24. The jokes fly furiously during the first episode, and the delivery is impeccable all around.
  25. Paul’s sessions this time around are sometimes soapy--as they were last year--but they are always mesmerizing.
  26. The show, adapted from Robert Kirkman's comic book series, quickly moves past its familiar premise. It's about what happens after the apocalypse, in the struggle to remain human after society's collapse.
  27. The girls, though, look promising. Granted, the initial Sarah-Jamie fight scene occasions the series’ first spectacular special-effectsy scene.
  28. This idea--that Sam is experiencing his coma as an “alternate reality” via a TV show--is wickedly clever. It’s a question as to whether Life on Mars can sustain and develop this idea, which is really an investigation of limits.
  29. For all the politics, though, what True Blood reveals most consistently is that Arlene is right: all of them—vampire, human, and were—are enslaved in one way or another, by appetites, gifts, power, and family (or pack) bonds, intimating an uneasy commonality across races.
  30. The show benefits as well from its lack of exposition, focus on present action, and a ruthless economy of editing rarely seen on primetime TV.
  31. The conspiracy here is grounded in human activity and ambition, rather than aliens or supernatural forces.
  32. While Kieren does contend with zombie-style gore, the show isn’t a kill-fest like The Walking Dead. But as it raises the sorts of questions that classic zombie fare, In the Flesh also draws some perceptive connections to our own social and political contexts.
  33. So no, the jokes aren't as haute as the cuisine. But presentation, on the plate or on television, goes a long way, and Confidential has the look of a winner.
  34. Each of the firefighters here reveals a nuanced, complex mindfulness, a sense that what they do is dangerous, but also rewarding, exciting, important, and, in a word, what they do.
  35. It’s not always clear what either woman gains from the friendship, and while maintaining the imbalance of power would feed the show’s bleakly comic seam, the fourth episode’s final scene suggests an impending shift when both Em and Doll audition for the same role, creating new and welcome tensions going forward.
  36. Based on co-creator Tom Perrotta’s 2011 book, The Leftovers imagines a range of responses (and too often, responses accompanied by anxiety-making piano or violin trills).
  37. The series takes some time to put this team together, even in the same area of New York. And while you’re waiting for that plot turn, you’re treated to a series of lurid images, from yucky to jolting.
  38. Louie is back, as raunchy, candid, and hilarious as ever.
  39. Interactions are rendered in smart, layered compositions, with elements that crowd and obscure, colors that distract and focus your attention. Such plot intricacies might appear contrived, but twisting even in the first episode suggests otherwise.
  40. As it poses existential questions, the show benefits from the casting choice of newcomer Wolk and a supple, low-key naturalism in both performances and direction.
  41. The portrayal of Thomas’ decline is visceral from the first moments to the last, evoking that same second-hand queasiness one experiences watching, say, Leaving Las Vegas, with explicit images of obliterating drunkenness, retching, and emotionless, mechanical sex, as well as the spasmodic gasping for breath coming out of a blackout or descending into an asthma attack. Watching Thomas’ experience is riveting.
  42. The perversity of this connection cannot be overstated (Smits makes Miguel both charismatic and creepy, often in the same breath). Dexter sees it, though he also yearns for the friendship, the brotherhood, even.
  43. As it walks a line between between mockery and compassion, Raising Hope most obviously evokes a comparison with creator Gregory Thomas Garcia's last series, My Name is Earl. In the new show, however, the players are more believable and less caricatured.
  44. The season opener, "Transilience Thought Modifier Unit-11," is so incomprehensible that it suggests a no-compromise posture for the remaining episodes. Which is exactly what the loyal fans want and deserve.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As the fifth season begins, Southland appears to be stronger for its ordeals. The ensemble is streamlined to the most compelling characters and the direction is crisp.
  45. The show is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment.
  46. Like King of the Hill, Bob's Burgers makes comedy of daily frustrations, without resorting to cheap gags or surreal asides. With the Belchers, Fox may have found another great family to move in next door to the Simpsons, Hills, and Griffins.
  47. Unlike their previous show [24], Homeland takes its time: it doesn't make clear right away who's trustworthy and who's a traitor. Based on the first episode's strong script and performances, it looks as though the reveal will be worth the wait.
  48. Given the heft of the show’s themes and the crispness of the writing, it’s got to be a brilliant social commentary disguised as a major network sitcom, right? Or maybe Joel McHale really is that likable and we’re all wallowing in nostalgia for a simpler 2002. Either way, boo-yah.
  49. Perhaps as the interplay between the World War II setting and other Marvelverses continues, we’ll see that the creative team learned from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,’s early stumbles, so the new show is more mature, and ready to hit the ground with its Enfield No. 4s blazing.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Archer‘s affection for character and craft makes it more likely to be remembered as one of the great TV shows of our time, and not just another dirty cartoon.
  50. Although Brown repeatedly manipulates behavior, Mind Control ultimately comes across as a refreshingly honest endeavor. The tricks are entertaining, and the explanations revelatory.
  51. What has been ramped up in this season are Jackie’s unexpected kindnesses and cruelties. And this is what makes the show so great. She constantly sidesteps all expectations and usually for the worse.
  52. Like Wright’s book, the series is disjointed and disturbing, a story of youthful workers who are underprepared, underequipped, and underinformed.
  53. Drawing parallels between the city’s decadence and that of its inhabitants is a fairly obvious point to make, so using it for more than just establishing shots is overkill, specifically pulling the viewer out of emotional moments. It’s a small quibble, though, and thankfully, the only complaint about this new season so far.
  54. Most viewers will recognize the South Park-like humor, critiquing the problem by critiquing the mainstream response to it. But unlike South Park, which usually offers something like “hope”(however sarcastically rendered), High School USA! is mostly just bleak.
  55. In HBO's miniseries Mildred Pierce, beginning on 27 March, she embodies the sort of ambition and resilience that might seem ideal during a depression-or even a great recession. That is, she's a function of her time (the one first imagined for her by James M. Cain) as well as ours.
  56. Weight of the Nation encourages viewers to feel responsible for their own lives and to make informed choices.
  57. What's so wonderful about My Name Is Earl is that it's a comedy with its heart in the right place and everything else gleefully in the gutter.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The most effective scenes focus on characters' interactions, the sorts of moments Torchwood always did well.
  58. This is not a show that wants to be analyzed. Rather, it demands that you enjoy it. And there is plenty of humor to mine in the premise.
  59. Even the actors in the smallest roles are three-dimensional, a rich tribute to Britain’s theatrical talent. If these are, as Horowitz claims, the last episodes of Foyle he writes, both he and his longtime actor-collaborators are bowing out on a very high note indeed.
  60. In its focus on such details, the show finds humor in the contradiction between the staff's renowned arena and the petty ways they get things done.
  61. 1600 Penn's tone may be apolitical, but it is also very funny.
  62. If the premise is standard--an excellent cop is dragged back in, just when she's headed out, in this case, from the Northwest's renowned rain to California's sunshine--the details are insistently odd and creepy.
  63. The special effects won't keep you up nights, the transformations and the blood remain un-frightening. Instead of such visceral sensations, the show reveals what's human in monsters and vice versa.
  64. Valentine Road features a range of interview subjects who voice conflicting concerns and express their discontents, but it also resists casting judgment against one person or another.
  65. The Escape Artist is unusually willing not to let the audience off the hook, and instead, to help us understand that the pursuit of substantive justice may prove as dangerous as the crimes it seeks to right.
  66. The Oedipal quagmire only enhances the political treachery.
  67. As fascinating as Madam Secretary can be regarding its global focuses, it’s so far less detailed when it comes to McCord, her family, and her colleagues.
  68. Each episode moves her closer to some sort of insight, demonstrating that enlightenment is a moving spot on the horizon.
  69. Though the show occasionally lapses into the “cringe comedy” mode, made popular by "The Office" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Flight of the Conchords" is also quite sweet.
  70. Terriers teases out both the pleasures and the perversities.
  71. The comic commentary may be poking gentle fun at nerds, but the real target of the show's sharp satire is the arbitrary, self-serving stupidity of mainstream culture.
  72. As much as the series' pitch seems clear--it's another period series, with terrific design details, long story arcs, and complex performances--it is also something else, a reframing of what it might mean to be Americans, then and now.
  73. Summon your patience and settle in for the long haul. By its end, the series' exploration of how ordinary human fallibility is transformed into shocking human depravity is compellingly inventive.
  74. With its precisely drawn characters, winning performances, and frank, well-observed humor, Girls is a knockout.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    What makes Hit & Miss one of the strongest UK dramas to hit US TV so far this year is its reframing of such high-concept premises within unsensational contexts.
  75. Perhaps the most satisfying element in the series is its patience.
  76. If Fringe‘s writers--Abrams, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman--sustain the sharp wit and swift plotting they managed in this summer’s Star Trek prequel, they might maintain the series' high-speed, oddball unpredictability.
  77. As each individual seeks his or her limits, the group is coming together, sharing their difference and their secret. No Ordinary Family is set up to develop these relationships. It is off to a promising start, tweaking a lot of superhero conventions without seeming like a parody.
  78. The hallmark of all three films has been their understanding and embrace of subjects' self-presentations./
  79. One of Gus' thugs (Jeremiah Bitsui) simplifies all of his chemistry class geek-speak in the season opener: "It all comes down to following a recipe. Simple, complicated, it doesn't matter. The steps never change." The same might be said of Breaking Bad: it's a formula made of actions and reactions, choices and consequences.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [Marnie's] one element in the rich vein of personalities that The Hour only began to mine in its first season, and one of the many reasons the second season is looking very good indeed.
  80. The actor’s embodiment of seemingly counterintuitive emotions is riveting, as House’s placidity demonstrates sorrow, while anger represents a kind of giddy id. Even if House isn’t offering new stories or themes, it remains a terrific showcase for a terrific performer.
  81. Falling Skies' mix of compelling individuals helps to make its early use of formula less troublesome than it might have been. Later episodes develop interesting and diverse motives, as the 2nd Mass begins to figure out what the aliens are up to and how to fight them more effectively.
  82. These couple of episodes give hope that Kaling the writer means to continue to skewer her character’s fantasies with the same combination of intelligence and acid wit as before.
  83. Referencing literary works and imitating horror films may seem derivative, but by drawing from the familiar, The Following obviates the need for extensive exposition and jumps right into the action.
  84. Some of the characters aren’t able to achieve the same balance between fantasy and realism as the rest of the show.... Thankfully, Mooney isn’t as central a figure here as Bullock or Gordon, who together are fully capable of carrying the series, even without young Bruce. Logue gives an especially strong performance as Bullock, an exhausted, veteran crime-fighter who remains likable and charismatic even as his various failings seem inevitable.
  85. The Good Guys, true to its genre, presents an opposition between order and anarchy and asks the audience to embrace the apparently crazy cop who, in the tradition of American pragmatism, cuts through the red tape to get things done.
  86. We are afforded perspectives on staff and patients alike. But, this ER runs almost too smoothly.
  87. It's more interesting when Elaine takes aim at the easy-target man's world she inhabits.
  88. This being The Good Wife, a show renowned for complicating what might seem obvious, Alicia's new position as a kind of moral compass leads to a new series of dilemmas. Some of these are predictably topical.
  89. Stick with it through the second episode: it gets moving quickly in the subsequent episodes, and turns into a grim frontier revenge saga, with intriguing personalities and interconnecting storylines.
  90. It's surprising that he's [Cross] written a sitcom so reliant on physical comedy, and cast himself in the rather one-dimensional, repetitive main role. The show's best lines possess a crackling absurdity.
  91. Again and again, Ethel insists she doesn't like to "talk about" her self, doesn't like to be introspective. And so the film offers images for the rest of us to parse, public performances that may or may not reveal what we want to see.
  92. Bruckner takes on the role with gusto, and she and Harron together create someone whose unthinking commitment to the pursuit of “F-U-N” (in Anna’s phrasing) achieves something close to sublimity.
  93. It's more subtly, and more forcefully too, a quest for understanding, specifically an understanding of how the world works.

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