PopMatters' Scores

For 491 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 7.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 The Office (UK): Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Get This Party Started: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 183
  2. Negative: 0 out of 183
183 tv reviews
  1. It's more subtly, and more forcefully too, a quest for understanding, specifically an understanding of how the world works.
  2. The Amazing Race typically features interesting contestants from a variety of backgrounds and thrown into a high-pressure, high stakes race set in unfamiliar environments. This opening leg of Season 17 feels like a warm-up for difficulties to come.
  3. Even with selective choices of what reality to include in its fiction, Sleepy Hollow is effective, biting like a vampire, infecting with simultaneous thrill and dread.
  4. The general integrity of the first episode offers some hope that it won't become a Procedure of the Week melodrama.
  5. The new episodes present an almost a too intricate meditation on power. Game of Thrones demands that you pay attention or be left behind.
  6. The soap operatic set-up is both efficient and florid, laying out both familial continuity and class distinctions.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In their certitude, the villains are more compelling than their wishy-washy heroic counterparts. The real excitement of “Villains” is its promise to expand the series’ assortment of baddies: their unabashed queerness and freakery make for more fun.
  7. A compelling mystery, it maintains a measured pace, inviting viewers’ patience.
  8. It was disappointing that this premiere lacked a lot of fun, usually Community's strong suit. Still, it reminded us of the distinct joys of the first season, offering cartoonish physical comedy, densely written jokes, and obscure pop culture references.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    While some subplots are trite (a nurse turns down a paramedic’s romantic overtures, saying she’s “damaged goods"), the premiere hums along whenever Hawthorne is driving it.
  9. Despite its gratuitous nudity, double-crossing gunplay, and growing pile of corpses, Bored to Death is a remarkably gentle show and its characters surprisingly lovable.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    This relationship between king and subjects is the driving concern of Season Three, and marks a welcome departure from the show’s previous focus on the personal drives and desires of Henry VIII.
  10. A lean moral thriller, Inside Men considers the core impulses of such justification, and draws out severe implications with considerable skill.
  11. Even if it slips into generic tropes here and there, Whitechapel's own veneer of nicely crafted entertainment remains intact.
  12. Even as Dollhouse sounds like other TV shows and movies, it is also utterly strange, its premise literally ridiculous and intriguingly metaphorical.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Death Comes to Pemberley works so well because the characters are so perfectly realized. Affairs, unwed pregnancies, and murder all abound, but at the heart of the series is the story of a marriage.
  13. While the designated flawed hero John espouses an essential grasp of the purpose of medicine and the workings of disease (“Despite what you may believe,” he tells Cornelia, “Sickness isn’t a result of poor character, germs don’t examine your bankbook”), he’s also stymied, by his own prejudices as well as money concerns. That these might take him in different directions suggests the series has some sense of the difficulty of medicine then and still.
  14. Even though Archer does occasionally overwhelm its sharp wit with violent fight sequences or simplistic shocks, it usually recovers with a one-two punch of cool animation and skillful wordplay.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    As effective as the big numbers can be, they don't always pay off. The show also has a bad habit of delivering easy solutions to the kids' problems.
  15. Twisted combines a handful of stereotypical ideas about romanticized teenage criminals with fresh perspectives on how humans understand or fear one another under intense stress.
  16. Despite character-based faults and multiple narrative cul-de-sacs, [Parade’s End] does come around to revealing the consequences of maintaining public status and reputation at the cost of personal realization.
  17. Copper reveals not only the grim living conditions of 19th century New York, but also the implications of unchecked police power.
  18. With its deft writing and sharp performances, the show is a telling snapshot of how families live now.
  19. If Smash lacks the benefit of Aaron Sorkin's hyper-literate and unmistakable dialogue, it follows Studio 60's format, observing the producers, writers, and actors who collaborate on a show, particularly what happens backstage.
  20. Though some action is depicted outside the two therapists' offices, most episodes are dominated by the sessions themselves, which unfold as brilliantly performed one-act plays.
  21. With the relationships among MacMillan, Clark, and Howe in the foreground, Halt and Catch Fire makes impressive use of its time period without treating it as an elbow-to-the-ribs joke.
  22. Details of color and composition do the work usually handled by too much expository dialogue, granting access to Dani and Charlie’s thinking.
  23. Although the nature documentary elements are the focus, the added color of travel show features as well, as the general feeling of spontaneity (however carefully cultivated) adds a peculiar appeal to the package.
  24. Human Target will never be mistaken for a great, complex or provocative show, but it does provide a consistently fun hour of action. And there's definitely room for that on network TV.
  25. No such show has come even near to Glee's success. Nashville may be the exception, with its clever, even cynical, mix of middle-aged crises and youthful ambitions set in country music's Mecca.
  26. Sure, this has all been done before, but familiarity doesn't make Just Legal any less fun.
  27. The Amazing Race is at its best when it anticipates our assumptions about other people, overturns them, and then invites all new judgments.
  28. If it strains our credulity at times, Copper also assumes our intelligence, specifically, for introducing us to an unfamiliar world and, rather than explaining every simple detail, expecting us to keep up with plot and context.
  29. The lack of cynicism is at least a bit unusual in the current sitcom universe, conferring novelty and a genuine, rather than confected, sweetness.
  30. The Flash sports a great cast, visually well-designed sets and effects, and the pace and atmosphere reflect the deft hands of directors and crew. But a superhero show can’t live on those elements alone.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Millman is closer to Gervais than Brent ever was, and Extras teases out compelling tension from his desperate efforts to enter the world of the glitterati.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Ultimately, House of Cards Season Three is a great continuation of a show that remains deliciously dramatic even with a few glaring flaws.
  31. Even in the face of all this men’s realm intrigue, the most compelling aspect of Big Love remains the women.
  32. The River plainly evokes Lost.
  33. It is returning to its own past, that most effective masculine melodrama. Two, it is making that return meta, arranging plot points to emphasize official repetitions and narrative redundancies. And three, it is yet again making torture its most salient focus.
  34. The film is about effects--about anger and guilt, pain and exasperation. It's about that "wish to remember" and also to know, or even just to be able to live with not knowing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    While I expected the obvious jihadist jokes and Muslim stereotypes, the good news is that Aliens in America doesn’t just fall into such jingoistic scapegoating. Instead, it shows and complicates the process.
  35. For these all-too-brief moments of sheer visceral exhilaration, all of the related backroom machinations, self-destructive manipulation, and blithe dishonesty of the characters seem completely justified.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Love Monkey is an anomaly, an intelligent, well-written dramedy for adults about adults, even if some of the chords it hits are in a minor key.
  36. As before, The Bridge loses its own focus frequently, sliding off into multiple storylines that follow pairs of characters, some less interesting than others, some downright distracting. But for all the time that feels misspent on Charlotte and her idiot boyfriend Ray (Brian Van Holt) or the self-deluding addict reporter Frye (Matthew Lillard) and his long-suffering partner Adriana (Emily Rios), The Bridge offers brief moments that resonate and sometimes, even chill.
  37. These initial 23 minutes offer a promising mix of rapid banter, smart cultural references, and delightful absurdity.
  38. While Keating is immediately a compelling character, it is unfortunate that so much of the pilot episode requires the viewer to suspend disbelief, starting with the idea that a top-notch defense attorney would allow a class of newbie law students unfettered access to all documents in a case that she is currently defending.
  39. Even in the areas of its strength--the give-and-take between strong-minded friends, the camaraderie of colleagues, and the bonds of a multi-generational family—the show tends to probe lightly the critical issues it consistently raises.
  40. If it’s not an ingenious or very new device (see: Nina, Tony, Curtis, et. al.), the damaged soul who is Jack’s Self Reflected re-raises and continues to complicate the questions that are typically understood as resolved in Jack. Patriotism and heroism, bad choices and hideous torture in the name of a big picture: it’s 24 repeating.
  41. For now, the Bowers and Joanna provide enough mystery to maintain our interest, but we're left wondering whether the show's compelling start is actually taking us somewhere, or if instead this, too, is only a deception.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Watching the cast play doubled characters promises to be one of the great pleasures of Fringe's coming season. Certainly Torv and Noble face the biggest challenges, she depicting two characters in flux, he portraying polar opposites. But the alt-world also offers alternatives for all the players.
  42. The formula set in motion by the Fringe pilot is familiar. That’s not to say it’s not also devious and often delightful.
  43. Nick Doob and Shari Cookson’s decision to use such “found footage” makes their film at once immediate and distressingly distanced, as it offers images both ordinary and specific, families and individuals posing for photos, their faces turned to the camera.
  44. Detroit 1-8-7 has a long way to go before it comes close to equaling Homicide, but it's off to a promising start.
  45. The major flaw of "The Great Game" is not allowing Sherlock and Watson to work enough as a team. This flaw makes clearer what the other episodes do well, which is to emphasize the most interesting and important aspect of the original stories, Holmes and Watson's complicated and entertaining relationship.
  46. If you miss Warehouse 13, or liked Friday the 13th: The Series, or Tia Carrere in The Relic Hunter, then The Librarians is worth a visit.
  47. He anticipates pretty much every move made against him, as you might as well, given that they’re made by people designed to remind you of previous people in Jack’s universe.
  48. Everything in the first episode suggests that Forever has a better shot at successfully combining procedural conventions and a high-concept than, say, Intelligence or Almost Human.
  49. At last, Sasha is less a collection of TV teenager tropes and more convincingly a Sherman-Palladino creation.
  50. There are a few elements of Silicon Valley that are still works in progress at this point. The force of Miller’s personality can be overwhelming, and a little of Erlich goes a long way.
  51. Still, the plot that sparks this dramatic energy, as happens too frequently with the ageing L&O franchise, is humdrum, trusting too much to fans' loyalty and anticipation of the closing spectacle, when Goren flays the murderer into confession.
  52. While Grace must seek to do right, The Mob Doctor is most compelling when she has to sort out what that is, and also when she has to justify what she does wrong.
  53. The X Factor is one reality competition show that delivers that experience to its home audience also. At least on this show, when Paula's moved to tears, so are you.
  54. This effort to bring Sarah’s Chronicles both back and forward to our current moment is both awkward and smart.
  55. This season is shaping up to be a good one, with strong personalities and savvy players. The Redemption Island twist is making for compelling duels, and no one knows yet how the winner of the Island challenges will integrate back into the tribe.
  56. Sleeper Cell is compelling television primarily for its excellent performances and chilling premises, rather than its plots. Alarming as these may be, they are rendered here with predictable rising and falling action, a bit of romance, and some tidily resolved conflicts.
  57. Combing broad strokes and detailed color on an extensive canvas, Kings makes the rewards and costs of ambition plain for all to see.
  58. Though it’s unclear in three episodes where such ideas might go in Wayward Pines, the show does provide plenty of unanswered questions to pique our interest.
  59. An intriguing twist suggests her involvement in his scheme is more complicated than the setup suggests, but we knew that. Moreover, she may also be more complicated than Red anticipates, which might make the introduction of this so familiar dynamic more a point of departure than a retread. That will be helpful because, based on the first episode, The Blacklist‘s plot makes little sense.
  60. Frozen Planet recycles some material from previous films from under the same umbrella (I'm pretty sure those duck-hunting wolves were in Life) as well as covering territory very well-trodden by other films.
  61. The animation remains a little crude, but the show is at least trying to be a bit more dynamic in its action sequences this year. And the roughness contributes to the comedy.
  62. Despite the pleasures of these performances, the series drags. Inside each of Zen's 90-minute episodes lies, one suspects, a crisp hour.
  63. These political hiccups are unfortunate, but not deal-breakers. Bored to Death is undeniably smart, and so it could very well be laying the groundwork for all these wincing moments to be properly unpacked by an apt post-modern femme fatale (mom?).
  64. So far, there's no indication that there's enough brewing here to measure up to Season Two, but the show seems to be solidly back on track after the problems of Season Three.
  65. The Practice should have been this much fun.
  66. While the mystery genre has a rich history of incisive social commentary animating a compelling investigation, this series struggles to balance an examination of women’s place in post-war Britain and a classic race-against-time mystery.
  67. It seems unfair to complain that Childrens Hospital isn't great. But given that what it used to be, good isn't really good enough.
  68. The series is essentially light-hearted: Sam is a sweet-natured superhero with a dust-buster. He may be working for the source of all evil, but one can’t help but cheer him on.
  69. The film offers a version of the real Mitt, performative and authentic, charming and awkward, occasionally at the same time.
  70. It's a lively conversation that's nicely balanced between oral history and behind the scenes anecdotes.
  71. The supernatural premise underlying Bella’s quest may be fantastic, but the urgent desire to find a husband “before it’s too late” is unfortunately all too common.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In its premiere episode, Once Upon a Time offers a mix of hope and cynicism, coupled with familiar television and film allusions (not unlike the Shreks).
    • tbd Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Still impressively detailed and masterfully assembled, the show again focuses on the classed relations among employees and employers, relations that can be both supportive and dysfunctional, and, increasingly, affected by external forces.
  72. American Horror Story: Asylum reintroduces the first season's nightmarish craziness but also sets it within a coherent basic history. It helps too that the new cast appears to be so tight.
  73. The writer-director makes some inspired, insightful cinematic choices. However, the play’s untidiness--it’s one of Shakespeare’s most mischievous--virtually guarantees a final product distinguished by individual performances rather than dramatic consistency.
  74. Much like last season, this one already has Adams and Ben standing in for viewers. Their insights, or their reactions, mold yours.
  75. Amid such generic plotting, the show serves up an extended action sequence in a hotel that's nicely shot and choreographed, establishing the template for other fight scenes. It appears that Nikita is going to be a down-and-dirty brawling kind of series, where martial arts serve a function besides looking really cool.
  76. This season, as before, True Blood employs its supernatural others to signify cultural anxieties about race and sexuality. Now these anxieties are foregrounded in some of the human protagonists. It's a necessary shift: while the show has always portrayed elements of the vampire community as corrupt, we have been assured that Bill, and maybe a few others, were merely misunderstood. As this story has lost credibility, the vampires as a plausible metaphor for "accepting difference" is falling apart.
  77. Things chugged along on the island, even if its temporal hiccups were too often reduced to flip dialogue ("When are we?” was the annoying question du jour).
  78. All this is to say that it's good to see that Season Four starts without any arc in sight. At least until the last minutes of the premiere episode.
  79. Despite its early dependence on Western and Gender War clichés, Longmire shows potential.
  80. Like many prophecies, the show overreaches a little and tends to vague details, but it also offers means with which to think about what lies ahead.
  81. It is often funny, but it could be funnier if it were wed to more coherent storytelling.
  82. So much of the outright horror is recycled from films-The Shining, Don't Look Now, Poltergeist-but the plotting and pacing feel vaguely original, sometimes complicated and sometimes satirical, like American Beauty.
  83. Structural laziness detracts from what's good about Lost Girl, its witty dialogue and evolving relationships among Bo and her new friends.
  84. Although it’s worth reserving judgment on the disposition and spirit of Under the Dome until we’ve seen at least a handful of episodes, it’s fair to say that the pilot embraces the material’s pulpier elements, with none of Lost’s nerdy digression or philosophical trolling.
  85. Ben and Kate has the potential to be a similar sort of low-key, hangout show [like Cougar Town and Raising Hope] that's also very funny.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Smart-ass, angry girls’ solidarity characterizes State of Mind.
    • PopMatters
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The action is set to move to gangster playgrounds like New York and Chicago, and introduce some dangerous romantic entanglements. If Boardwalk Empire doesn't begin in the most thought-provoking manner, its multiple, ready-to-expand stories suggest many avenues to explore.
  86. Celia is facing some judgment of her own this season. Her not-entirely separate saga makes up the other half of Weeds‘ new start, such that the show is cleaved down its center, cutting awkwardly back and forth between Celia now imprisoned and Nancy fancy-free.

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