PopMatters' Scores

For 492 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 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 184
  2. Negative: 0 out of 184
184 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. 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.
  2. Louie is back, as raunchy, candid, and hilarious as ever.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The networks have been wondering how to compete with the no-holds barred nature of cable programming. This is it.
  9. Treme sketches and interweaves stories and desires, hopes and disenchantments.
  10. 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.
  11. With its precisely drawn characters, winning performances, and frank, well-observed humor, Girls is a knockout.
  12. 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.
    • 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.
  13. 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.
  14. With its deft writing and sharp performances, the show is a telling snapshot of how families live now.
  15. Its layered and nuanced analysis of male identity makes Men of a Certain Age worth watching.
  16. 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Not only does Show Me a Hero deal with the same type of intricate institutional power struggles of city government--this time in 1987 in Yonkers, NY, where a battle over the desegregation of low-income housing is waged with newly elected mayor Nick Wasicsko (Oscar Isaac) caught in the crossfire--but it does it with the kind of nuanced, ensemble-driven, character-based stories that made The Wire one of the most acclaimed television series of all time.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Paul’s sessions this time around are sometimes soapy--as they were last year--but they are always mesmerizing.
  20. 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.
  21. Simon's Treme is an equally astute portrait of "an urban people" still struggling to come back from a brink.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Again, Breaking Bad promises to be quite a ride.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  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 Oedipal quagmire only enhances the political treachery.
  28. 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.
  29. Weight of the Nation encourages viewers to feel responsible for their own lives and to make informed choices.
    • 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Like Wright’s book, the series is disjointed and disturbing, a story of youthful workers who are underprepared, underequipped, and underinformed.
  32. It's a lively conversation that's nicely balanced between oral history and behind the scenes anecdotes.
  33. In many ways, it was where the series ought to have begun.
  34. Densely plotted and epic in scope, full of graphic violence and lots of sex, it's tremendously entertaining.
  35. 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.
  36. Although Brown repeatedly manipulates behavior, Mind Control ultimately comes across as a refreshingly honest endeavor. The tricks are entertaining, and the explanations revelatory.
  37. 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.
  38. On Freddie Roach [is] Peter Berg's extraordinary six-part HBO series.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
    • 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. A fast moving mix of physical comedy and wry dialogue articulate this friendship, revealing its complexity and its depth.
  46. Herzog listens and interjects his own helpfully perverse insights.
    • 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. Despite the pleasures of these performances, the series drags. Inside each of Zen's 90-minute episodes lies, one suspects, a crisp hour.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
    • 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.
  53. Even if it slips into generic tropes here and there, Whitechapel's own veneer of nicely crafted entertainment remains intact.
  54. The show is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment.
    • 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.
  55. Nurse Jackie offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.
  56. 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.
    • 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. Terriers teases out both the pleasures and the perversities.
  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. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. Each episode moves her closer to some sort of insight, demonstrating that enlightenment is a moving spot on the horizon.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. This effort to bring Sarah’s Chronicles both back and forward to our current moment is both awkward and smart.
    • 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.
  71. The show doesn’t only deliver fast-paced action and fine performances, but also, increasingly, poses questions concerning responsibility.
  72. At last, Sasha is less a collection of TV teenager tropes and more convincingly a Sherman-Palladino creation.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. The hallmark of all three films has been their understanding and embrace of subjects' self-presentations./
  79. The brilliance is precisely a function of its incongruity.
    • 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. Perhaps the most satisfying element in the series is its patience.
  85. A lean moral thriller, Inside Men considers the core impulses of such justification, and draws out severe implications with considerable skill.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.

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