PopMatters' Scores

For 481 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 33% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 62% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 6.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
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 177
  2. Negative: 0 out of 177
177 tv reviews
  1. 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.
    • 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.
  2. That effort to seem "contemporary" carries over into the plot too: the new task force has "immunity" from the Governor to do whatever it takes to catch the bad guys, the better to keep up with shows like 24, one presumes. They aren't just detectives, they're a special arm of the law that doesn't have to adhere to "procedure" and "regulations."
  3. Frankly, the premiere's funniest don't focus on weight (these are also the lines featured most frequently in trailers, suggesting that someone is aware of the line the fat jokes are walking). Let's hope for a time-soon-when Mike & Molly runs out of fat jokes and moves on to explore the dynamics of two people falling in love while working to overcome personal demons.
  4. Running Wilde demonstrates a distinct lack of its predecessor's lightning speed and intense saturation of jokes. This may be a structural issue: Running Wilde doesn't offer an intricate ensemble cast, but only the usual sit-commy supporting array, a wacky neighbor and a couple of crazy servants.
  5. At times witty and always good-looking, Undercovers needs to figure out how to balance its serious, silly, and gimmicky inclinations.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    With a focus on success at all costs, The Apprentice is not exactly feel-good viewing, but it's always compelling. And the heightened intensity this season's contenders bring to the game may leave viewers feeling like it's both fascinating and troubling to watch people on television scramble in the name of money.
  6. Each member makes a case for his or her status as the team's "linchpin," allowing the rest of us to see a little more about all, rather than the series' usual focus on Bones and Booth. A love letter to group synergy and the fruits of hard labor, the entire episode makes its own case for the team's existence. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.
  7. Traditional sitcoms get mileage from the characters acting the same way in a variety of situations, and much of Cougar Town's warmth comes from that sort of predictability. However, the show got better when individuals changed a bit, and the premiere hinted at more of that to come.
  8. By turns treacly and rapturous, pedestrian and insightful, the documentary submits that, as Howard Bryant observes, "Most people have found a way to make their peace with the sport they love." Still, the history rankles. And here, too much of it is noted only briefly.
  9. To viewers new to the franchise, L&O: UK might prove a fine introduction. For dedicated watchers of the original, it might function as a kind of recap of the "best of" episodes from the series' entire life. But for the truly addicted, it will always be a paler, politer, well-bred echo of the Real Thing, better left on the side of the Atlantic where it originated.
  10. All this worries Fiona, of course, and her compassion keeps Shameless--a remake of a hit British show--from being a glib mockery of poverty. She is the yin to Frank's yang, organized, focused, and efficient.
  11. Of course, satire doesn't need to rely on realistic or three-dimensional characters. (In fact, it most often relies on two-dimensional types.) But it does need a fresh and consistent point of view. Absent that, ONN is best when it indulges in simple absurdity.
  12. The Chicago Code appears to be aiming for a heady mix of action and political drama, and it mostly works. But it also takes itself very seriously, offering precious little levity to ease tensions.
  13. Burnett's veteran producers and editors know their way around casting and cutting this type of show, and they've hit upon a good formula here.
  14. 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.
  15. As the film's "50 state road trip" reveals the multiplicity of these experiences, it shows as well that some "freedoms" have costs.
  16. What follows shows how Johnson exploits and also struggles in this "element," but the problem, as usual in The Closer, is that the cops' experience here is more familiar than believable.
  17. Ari's misfortunes and an event at the end of this season's third episode hint that Entourage may yet drift back to Season Seven's darker and potentially more cathartic territory, a conclusion for the series that tells us something new about the industry, perhaps. Another possibility is that the show's makers are preparing for a future movie.
  18. If the show has the courage to probe this very contemporary evolution, Abby's tenure at IA might provide grown-up drama for women of an age more often served by sexist sitcoms. And if not, Lifetime may be delivering just another old-fashioned family drama with nothing new to say.
  19. Dark Matters has something for viewers who are easily titillated as well as those interested in history.
  20. Ringer is at times cleverly handled, suggesting numerous plot avenues for the future. Unfortunately, Gellar's wooden performance in the premiere episode doesn't bode well.
  21. From a storytelling standpoint, though, the real juice of the show is going to lie in its long-form arcs. It's a delicate balance to maintain, and it will be interesting to see if Person of Interest is up to the challenge.
  22. Set in 1963, Pan Am's production is highly stylized, neat, and dreamy, perfectly suited to the nostalgia it is eager to evoke.
  23. There's a lot of clunky setup, a lot of piece-moving to send the main characters back to Terra Nova, and a lot of explaining of rules once they get there.
  24. The result is a show that's more ABC Family than Tina Fey.
  25. Even if it makes for far less gripping viewing in its sophomore iteration, Luther remains notable in the police drama pantheon for this stark perspective.
  26. As ordinary as this plot sounds, How To Be a Gentleman has a couple of things going for it, namely, Hornsby and Dillon.
  27. We never know how fully such a mix might develop, and in this episode, it seemed undercooked by the end.
  28. 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.
  29. While it returns Allen to a Mr. Fix-it style of parenting and some broad he-man comedy, the show offers fewer grunts and more shrieking female voices.
  30. Once it gets past the cumbersome background exposition, The Finder begins to find its specific groove.
  31. Structural laziness detracts from what's good about Lost Girl, its witty dialogue and evolving relationships among Bo and her new friends.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Doomsday Preppers can't seem to help occasionally taking a jab at the undeniable eccentricity of prepping, or generally making light.
  32. The show's formula looks to be this: the silly plots swirl, the brokers scheme, and the minions toil, but in each episode, Liv finds a moment to chat with one of these wise, powerful, and inevitably troubled women. In these moments, Scandal is slightly less tabloidy and soapy, and slightly more beguiling.
  33. The first episode is not a courageous start, despite good acting from the ensemble cast, generous location shooting, and a quirkily realized context.
  34. As White Heat covers so much historical ground--and offers a range of aging makeup effects--it suffers on occasion from a lack of humour.
  35. Despite its early dependence on Western and Gender War clichés, Longmire shows potential.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The Newsroom is timely, well acted, and big-hearted, but offers few surprises.
  36. While this is a lot of plot to deliver in one episode, Revolution manages it efficiently. But still, it doesn't feel very special.
  37. Just when it could've coasted off its accumulated good will and anticipation, Boardwalk Empire raised the stakes instead.
  38. 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.
  39. If Elementary is a standard detective procedural, it is at least well done. This is largely based on the strength of Miller, who brings a rejuvenating energy to a genre full of morose investigators
  40. It's an ingenious first two minutes of a series premiere, actiony and exciting and legible enough.
  41. 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.
  42. The rest of the show goes on to prize sweetness over superficiality.
  43. The mix of appealing nerds and lack of truly grating nerds is calculated for viewers' comfort, but the first episode is decidedly bland, too. Viewers looking for a new take on the reality competition genre won't find it here.
  44. The problem is that the story in between the songs is still inconsistent and muddled.
  45. If Community has been an underappreciated gem for the past three years, its fourth season premiere is sadly lackluster. But if the Dean’s episode-ending prediction isn’t entirely convincing, it could be that Guarascio and Port just need more time.
  46. Zero Hour‘s first episode ends on one hell of a promising cliffhanger, including a shock that comes out of nowhere but still makes sense. If director Pierre Morel can ask for a few more takes (occasional scenes feel like actors are still rehearsing) and if the script turns as strange as that episode-ending shock suggests it might, Zero Hour may actually be more new than recycled.
  47. It is often funny, but it could be funnier if it were wed to more coherent storytelling.
  48. Bates Motel isn’t Hitchcock, and doesn’t try to be. But the show does make intelligent use of what you already know about Norma and Norman in their efforts to “start over.”
  49. If the plot is thin, the show does offer other pleasures, including the actors’ improv skills, revealed in subtle and hilarious flashes of genius.
  50. Instead of wink-winking at the audience about its own cleverness, The Goodwin Games mostly keeps things moving along at a snappy pace, with jokes as well. When the show gets too pleased with its own eccentricity, though, it becomes grating.
  51. It offers largely pedestrian observations of the difficulties of celebrity.
  52. When Falling Skies is clicking, it remains a very entertaining show that fills a niche.
  53. 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.
  54. C.S.I.: Miami is very slick, very clever, and very eager to please.
  55. Somehow, this ludicrous premise and uneven plot elements cohere into a fast-moving, exciting hour.
  56. It’s to this busy show’s credit that the pilot doesn’t feel disjointed. All of these disparate parts are working more or less harmoniously.
  57. The team assembled in the first episode is less a team and more a loose collection of brooding loners.... [Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is] an oasis amid all this peevishness.
  58. If the daily competitions for commissions don’t quite match the savagery of the male-on-male contests in Glengarry Glenross or In The Company of Men, they remain vicious enough to give the otherwise fluffy plotting a little bite.
  59. Walton’s Will is more jovial and goofy, a ladies’ man with at least one good and honest friend his own age in Andy. He’s also the primary reason to give NBC’s About a Boy any sort of chance to develop its formula.
  60. This is pretty much how it goes on Chicagoland: Emmanuel against everyone else.
  61. You’re left to wonder about what she sees, or whether she believes what she sees, a set of questions that might be intriguing (watching her distraught face as she watches herself) or annoying (watching her vaguely worried face as she spots a stranger at the end of her driveway in the dead of night).
  62. While the picture it provides is certainly strange and paradoxical, it is also limited.
  63. It’s a credit to Caspe and Marry Me’s other creators that the series premiere introduces all of these characters and their relationships seamlessly, without clunky, expositional dialogue about how they all met.
  64. For every step forward (intricate plotting, Wentworth's engaging lead performance), the show also manages to stumble back (rote subplots, incessant lame dialogue as exposition).
  65. If the first offering, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road," is any indication, the hoped-for resurrection of in-your-face frights is still a couple of corpses away.
  66. Tell Me You Love Me begins within confines, its white, middle class, straight couples all dealing with versions of the same problem. That this focus might be "real" is not the question. More troubling, for a series banking on its newness, is that the focus is so familiar.
  67. Kid Nation does not mean to find out whether kids can do what adults could not. It means instead to demonstrate that these kids really would die without the intervention of adults.
  68. Once freed from the scaffolding and backstory constraints of a series premiere, Journeyman may find itself.
  69. With a winning lead player and supporting cast, plus an interesting premise, Moonlight has potential.
  70. The series has laid groundwork for minor and mostly predictable complications.
  71. This is dicey subject matter (especially for those viewers who have struggled to become pregnant or know someone who has), and at times the tone seems blasé, even offensive.
  72. A little tedious for the rest of us, who have seen such exploration before.
  73. Flashpoint works through the distress and damage it lays out here, it gets points for beginning with the difficulty, not with the triumph. Now, if it can just figure a way beyond the scary perp clichés.
  74. While the particulars of these cases are not uninteresting, they are mostly lost amid the swirl of Jerry and Michelle’s careening between romance and competition, betrayal and “crossing the line.”
  75. For the most part, 90210 seems unsure what to do with the Gen-X demographic, fitting in an awkward assortment of teachers, guidance counselors, and big sisters alongside the kid stars.
  76. That the pilot fails to provide a foundation for the show’s future direction does not bode well. The only thing that is clear is how much the Claytons dislike Sam.
  77. Patrick dramatizes his sense of superiority, intimidating and irritating just about anyone who comes in contact with him....The Mentalist does offer its own charms, chief among them Baker’s low-key, apparently complicated sarcasm.
  78. Hood’s methods are unconventional, Eleventh Hour insists, but still, he’s strangely bland.
  79. For its part, House of Saddam provides little insight into Saddam Hussein. Instead, it repeats truisms about well-reported events, many of them best remembered as TV images.
  80. Cavanagh and McCormack bring what you know they will--an effective mix of fast talk and easy delivery to pitch the partners’ situations, which range from silly to predictable.
  81. This sort of banter takes up a good portion of the Castle premiere episode, each instance of it reinforcing the always-already familiar premise.
  82. The series doesn’t mean to dig deeply into contemporary African social problems or politics, instead, it offers up middlebrow mysteries that can be solved in an episode’s time, a heroine who is keenly observant and positively feminine, a vague sort of half-step forward from Nancy Drew or Jessica Fletcher.
  83. All this tightly plotted baby nonsense doesn’t feel at all urgent, because, true to form, Nancy’s playing several angles at once, each with its own possibly lethal consequences.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    This commentary on the emptiness of all-consuming family life might fare better were it not brimming with one suburban cliche after another. These cliches don’t indicate Dexter’s discomfort with the banality of his new environment. Instead, they’re just boring.
  84. Despite these obvious missteps and in between the blatant attempts to appease original fans, Night Stalker shows promise.
  85. Lie to Me offers well-designed (and repeatedly, very white) interiors, utterly formulaic scripting, and familiar characters.
  86. To ensure you understand the magnitude of all this emotional mayhem, Maddux helpfully narrates in generically navel-gazing voiceover.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    How interested will viewers be in its fictional scandals when real life offers much more sensational examples of bad behavior?
  87. Even as this plot pattern bodes ill, Margulies and Panjabi make a formidable team.
  88. Unlike crime dramas, when the body is usually cleanly dead, by its very nature Three Rivers lingers on the processes of death and near-death at both ends of the story. Just how many poignant farewells can an audience take?
  89. The bar is set reasonably low for police procedurals and there is no reason to think that Memphis Beat can't clear it eventually. However, to "save" Memphis, maybe what the show needs is to let loose and have a little bit of fun.
  90. While Hung has its stage set to see some of these types of stories play out, scene after scene positions Ray as a cipher for other characters.
  91. The reason we might stick around is Audrey Parker. She also provides an alternative to the usual dark mystery associated with Stephen King's work.
  92. More often, the show is a show: the camera cranes out to show Cathy's loneliness, the half-hour closes with a bittersweet pop song or the point is made too obviously ("Cancer's not a passport to a better life, cancer's the reason I'm not gonna have a life"). Still, the show does illustrate a useful idea, that what you think is "normal" is only that, what you think.
  93. Like so many plot turns in Outlaw, this one is too convenient, too silly, and not a little audacious. It helps that the show knows it.
  94. Unfortunately, the best bits of the premiere were the flashbacks to the finale, though their impact was watered down considerably in the context of an action-less storyline, filled with Grey's usual rambling pontifications.

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