PopMatters' Scores

For 460 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 7.5 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 163
  2. Negative: 0 out of 163
163 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. 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.
  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.
    • 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.
  7. The networks have been wondering how to compete with the no-holds barred nature of cable programming. This is it.
  8. The new episodes present an almost a too intricate meditation on power. Game of Thrones demands that you pay attention or be left behind.
  9. 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.
  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. Treme sketches and interweaves stories and desires, hopes and disenchantments.
  12. With its precisely drawn characters, winning performances, and frank, well-observed humor, Girls is a knockout.
  13. With its deft writing and sharp performances, the show is a telling snapshot of how families live now.
  14. As a prestige show, it’s so serious, portentous, and polished, it’s not very much fun at all, so intent on wrapping its package in money and style that it forgets to put anything inside.
  15. In its insistence on the chaos of battles and the confusion of downtime, the series also offers another “harsh reality,” that these decent men are exploited by their faceless government, again and again. If this story is not explicit in the bloody surface of The Pacific, it is a persistent, distressing undercurrent.
    • 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Its layered and nuanced analysis of male identity makes Men of a Certain Age worth watching.
  18. Paul’s sessions this time around are sometimes soapy--as they were last year--but they are always mesmerizing.
  19. Hawley’s film noir plot is reasonably Coen-esque in its twists and misunderstandings and character-motivated actions. But it can’t match the extremely particular style of the inimitable and unpredictable Coens, a target Hawley apparently chose for himself and misses by a country mile.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Regardless of historical veracity, though, some of the drama here is shopworn.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    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
    Again, Breaking Bad promises to be quite a ride.
  20. 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.
  21. Simon's Treme is an equally astute portrait of "an urban people" still struggling to come back from a brink.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  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. 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.
    • 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.
  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. We never know how fully such a mix might develop, and in this episode, it seemed undercooked by the end.
  30. Weight of the Nation encourages viewers to feel responsible for their own lives and to make informed choices.
  31. The Oedipal quagmire only enhances the political treachery.
  32. 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.
  33. Freddie's stereotypically hard-hitting reporter's persona is soon tiring and irksome. Still, Freddie isn't so tedious as the show's "villains."
  34. Like Wright’s book, the series is disjointed and disturbing, a story of youthful workers who are underprepared, underequipped, and underinformed.
  35. It does tend to love its sublimely self-confident hero, a quick draw and a smartass who nonetheless walks a sort of moral line that baffles his mostly rube-ish opponents. But the show offers other, pleasures that help to make up for what's predictable.
  36. It's a lively conversation that's nicely balanced between oral history and behind the scenes anecdotes.
  37. 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.
  38. In many ways, it was where the series ought to have begun.
  39. Densely plotted and epic in scope, full of graphic violence and lots of sex, it's tremendously entertaining.
  40. While the characters remain thinly rendered types and the situations predictable, Orange is the New Black veers from melodrama to slapstick.
  41. 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.
  42. Although Brown repeatedly manipulates behavior, Mind Control ultimately comes across as a refreshingly honest endeavor. The tricks are entertaining, and the explanations revelatory.
  43. 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.
  44. A fast moving mix of physical comedy and wry dialogue articulate this friendship, revealing its complexity and its depth.
  45. 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.
    • 79 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. On Freddie Roach [is] Peter Berg's extraordinary six-part HBO series.
  49. 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.
  50. 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).
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. Herzog listens and interjects his own helpfully perverse insights.
  54. 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.
    • 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  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.
  58. 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.
  59. Despite the pleasures of these performances, the series drags. Inside each of Zen's 90-minute episodes lies, one suspects, a crisp hour.
  60. Much like last season, this one already has Adams and Ben standing in for viewers. Their insights, or their reactions, mold yours.
  61. 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.
  62. 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
    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.
    • 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.
  63. When so much of the series depends on psychological nuance, the lurch into Hollywood action thriller confrontations is an outright admission of defeat. Sensationalism trumps subtlety once more. Both Luther and Idris Elba deserve so much more.
  64. Just when it could've coasted off its accumulated good will and anticipation, Boardwalk Empire raised the stakes instead.
  65. Nurse Jackie offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.
  66. 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.
  67. The show is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment.
  68. Even as this plot pattern bodes ill, Margulies and Panjabi make a formidable team.
  69. 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.
  70. As before, the “big picture” plotlines are often the least convincing, mostly because the trippy angel talk is tough to pull off.
  71. 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.
  72. Terriers teases out both the pleasures and the perversities.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode follows Dexter's descent into a routine guilt spiral, blaming himself for Rita's death (he should have "been there" to "protect her"), rather than ruminating on how it feels to be on this receiving end of a serial killing. How a series this smart could overlook the far more interesting angle is as much of a wasted opportunity as it is a disappointment.
  77. 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.
  78. Even if it slips into generic tropes here and there, Whitechapel's own veneer of nicely crafted entertainment remains intact.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. Each episode moves her closer to some sort of insight, demonstrating that enlightenment is a moving spot on the horizon.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. The particulars of the transition involve the usual melodrama, as each regular cast member has a chance to express his or her feelings about Grissom’s departure, however pissy or mundane.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
    • 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. 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.

Top Trailers