PopMatters' Scores

For 471 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 7.2 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 171
  2. Negative: 0 out of 171
171 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Again, Breaking Bad promises to be quite a ride.
  3. A fast moving mix of physical comedy and wry dialogue articulate this friendship, revealing its complexity and its depth.
  4. 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.
  5. Nurse Jackie offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.
  6. Treme sketches and interweaves stories and desires, hopes and disenchantments.
  7. Its layered and nuanced analysis of male identity makes Men of a Certain Age worth watching.
  8. Densely plotted and epic in scope, full of graphic violence and lots of sex, it's tremendously entertaining.
  9. Simon's Treme is an equally astute portrait of "an urban people" still struggling to come back from a brink.
  10. On Freddie Roach [is] Peter Berg's extraordinary six-part HBO series.
  11. Herzog listens and interjects his own helpfully perverse insights.
  12. 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.
  13. The brilliance is precisely a function of its incongruity.
  14. The show doesn’t only deliver fast-paced action and fine performances, but also, increasingly, poses questions concerning responsibility.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Perhaps the most satisfying element in the series is its patience.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Although Brown repeatedly manipulates behavior, Mind Control ultimately comes across as a refreshingly honest endeavor. The tricks are entertaining, and the explanations revelatory.
  21. The girls, though, look promising. Granted, the initial Sarah-Jamie fight scene occasions the series’ first spectacular special-effectsy scene.
  22. Like Wright’s book, the series is disjointed and disturbing, a story of youthful workers who are underprepared, underequipped, and underinformed.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Paul’s sessions this time around are sometimes soapy--as they were last year--but they are always mesmerizing.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  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. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. The conspiracy here is grounded in human activity and ambition, rather than aliens or supernatural forces.
  34. Terriers teases out both the pleasures and the perversities.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The most effective scenes focus on characters' interactions, the sorts of moments Torchwood always did well.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. The Oedipal quagmire only enhances the political treachery.
  47. Each episode moves her closer to some sort of insight, demonstrating that enlightenment is a moving spot on the horizon.
  48. In many ways, it was where the series ought to have begun.
  49. The hallmark of all three films has been their understanding and embrace of subjects' self-presentations./
  50. 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.
  51. It's an exhilarating take on a couple of familiar genres, balancing horror, humor, and heart.
  52. So far, its mix of spirituality and science, familial and global struggles, is galvanizing.
  53. 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.
  54. With its precisely drawn characters, winning performances, and frank, well-observed humor, Girls is a knockout.
  55. 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.
  56. Weight of the Nation encourages viewers to feel responsible for their own lives and to make informed choices.
  57. Louie is back, as raunchy, candid, and hilarious as ever.
    • 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.
  58. 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.
    • 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.
  59. 1600 Penn's tone may be apolitical, but it is also very funny.
  60. 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.
    • 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. The jokes fly furiously during the first episode, and the delivery is impeccable all around.
  66. 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.
  67. The show is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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).
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. The Practice should have been this much fun.
  75. Sure, this has all been done before, but familiarity doesn't make Just Legal any less fun.
    • 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. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. The soap operatic set-up is both efficient and florid, laying out both familial continuity and class distinctions.
  79. Details of color and composition do the work usually handled by too much expository dialogue, granting access to Dani and Charlie’s thinking.
    • 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.
  80. This effort to bring Sarah’s Chronicles both back and forward to our current moment is both awkward and smart.
  81. The formula set in motion by the Fringe pilot is familiar. That’s not to say it’s not also devious and often delightful.
  82. 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.
    • 58 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. Even as Dollhouse sounds like other TV shows and movies, it is also utterly strange, its premise literally ridiculous and intriguingly metaphorical.
  86. Combing broad strokes and detailed color on an extensive canvas, Kings makes the rewards and costs of ambition plain for all to see.
    • 75 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.
  87. Even in the face of all this men’s realm intrigue, the most compelling aspect of Big Love remains the women.
  88. 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.
    • 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.
    • 47 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.

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