PopMatters' Scores

For 476 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 7.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Flag: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Get This Party Started: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 172
  2. Negative: 0 out of 172
172 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. If the plot is thin, the show does offer other pleasures, including the actors’ improv skills, revealed in subtle and hilarious flashes of genius.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A good-natured show with a convincing sense of fun and a likeable cast, Chuck also has the wit, confidence, and grasp of the cultural climate to turn a running joke about a celebrity porn site into a major plot device.
  8. 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.
  9. This effort to bring Sarah’s Chronicles both back and forward to our current moment is both awkward and smart.
  10. At last, Sasha is less a collection of TV teenager tropes and more convincingly a Sherman-Palladino creation.
  11. 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.
  12. A joint effort between Showtime and the BBC, it features British humor and American humor. These don't always play nice together, and Episodes appears unsure of how to make them merge or which to privilege.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
    • 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.
  17. It's an ingenious first two minutes of a series premiere, actiony and exciting and legible enough.
  18. 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.
  19. The brilliance is precisely a function of its incongruity.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    It doesn't help that the vehicles reviewed thus far aren't surprising (Lamborghinis, Mustangs, Aston Martins), but the shenanigans the hosts set up for themselves can be thrilling.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    If the procedural plotting in FlashForward was ordinary, all the conversations about destiny and free will--and what any of it means for the poor sap who didn’t see anything during the blackout--made the first episode feel vibrant, engaged with heady concepts and questions.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. The show doesn’t only deliver fast-paced action and fine performances, but also, increasingly, poses questions concerning responsibility.
    • 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.
  24. Perhaps the most satisfying element in the series is its patience.
  25. Molly and her friends spend so much time name-dropping and worrying about reputations, we never feel connected to their pain or joy. The show’s foundational preoccupation with Hollywood does produce some humor, most often in film-based fantasy sequences.
  26. 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.
  27. Dani of the Perfectly Tousled Locks watches Charlie for the rest of us, her responses shaping ours.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. The hallmark of all three films has been their understanding and embrace of subjects' self-presentations./
  31. 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.
  32. Falling Skies' mix of compelling individuals helps to make its early use of formula less troublesome than it might have been. Later episodes develop interesting and diverse motives, as the 2nd Mass begins to figure out what the aliens are up to and how to fight them more effectively.
  33. It is often funny, but it could be funnier if it were wed to more coherent storytelling.
  34. True, the episode threatened to jump the shark when it was revealed that James (Patrick Heusinger), the unsuspecting man Blair corralled to play of the part of her wonderful new boyfriend, had his own secret, ludicrous even by Gossip Girl standards. But in the coming episodes, Blair and Chuck retain their place as the series’ most exciting kids in turmoil, its salacious center.
  35. A lean moral thriller, Inside Men considers the core impulses of such justification, and draws out severe implications with considerable skill.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. The result is a show that's more ABC Family than Tina Fey.
  42. Even in the face of all this men’s realm intrigue, the most compelling aspect of Big Love remains the women.
  43. The Fosters needs more than good intentions and tentative, sanitised handling of its subject to survive once a same-sex couple central to a US drama passes unnoticed.
  44. Even the flashy action is of a piece with all this conventional structuring, as Chance regularly takes a few minutes to run and jump or punch and shoot. Such predictability does Human Target no favors.
  45. If visuals are not mundane in Southland, neither is the dialogue, especially the incidental repartee that oils coexistence in a high-stress profession.
  46. 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The most effective scenes focus on characters' interactions, the sorts of moments Torchwood always did well.
  47. The connections are sudden, relationships shallow, and dialogue glib.
  48. 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.
  49. The conspiracy here is grounded in human activity and ambition, rather than aliens or supernatural forces.
  50. 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.
  51. The show's historical bread-and-butter is accompanied by a thin dramatic gruel, for the most part.
  52. It just needs sharper writing, and the supporting cast needs to be developed. While Kaling and Messina are charming and work well together, the rest of the show needs to catch up.
  53. While the interviewees here can look back and put pieces together, fragmentation and lack of focus may be Gettysburg's most authentic effect.
  54. 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.
  55. It's an exhilarating take on a couple of familiar genres, balancing horror, humor, and heart.
  56. The comedy that does occur in How I Met Your Mother isn't enough to compensate for its inconsistencies.
  57. C.S.I.: Miami is very slick, very clever, and very eager to please.
  58. As George W. Bush describes his thinking on September 11, it's hard not to wonder, well, what he was thinking. It's a mystery that remains unanswered in George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview.
  59. 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).
  60. It's more subtly, and more forcefully too, a quest for understanding, specifically an understanding of how the world works.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    So aggressive is RENO 911!'s low-budget affect (not to mention its inconsistent pace and sometimes flat humor) that Cops looks positively polished by comparison. ... Still, and especially in its improvisational moments, RENO 911! offers occasionally engaging spontaneity.
  63. 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.
  64. Some of this talent is visible in the premiere episode's poetic counterbalancing of empty landscapes and claustrophobic casino back-offices, and actors' convincing performances.... When it comes to plotting and scripting, though, Vegas is far less sure-footed.
  65. 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Those who enjoy Sons & Daughters enjoyed Arrested Development more, and the same viewers put off by the latter's off-the-wall humor will also be put off the new show.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    While the portrayal of the disorder is gimmicky, the show sustains a particular charm, thanks to solid performances and its honest treatment of the complex relationships in this unconventional family.
  69. The formula set in motion by the Fringe pilot is familiar. That’s not to say it’s not also devious and often delightful.
  70. Again and again, Ethel insists she doesn't like to "talk about" her self, doesn't like to be introspective. And so the film offers images for the rest of us to parse, public performances that may or may not reveal what we want to see.
  71. Set in 1963, Pan Am's production is highly stylized, neat, and dreamy, perfectly suited to the nostalgia it is eager to evoke.
  72. It’s a co-production with an outside company, poorly scripted and directed.
  73. Despite its early dependence on Western and Gender War clichés, Longmire shows potential.
  74. As the series continues to complicate the relations among past, present, and future, Ellison’s part in any of them is increasingly difficult to frame.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Smart-ass, angry girls’ solidarity characterizes State of Mind.
    • PopMatters
  75. Structural laziness detracts from what's good about Lost Girl, its witty dialogue and evolving relationships among Bo and her new friends.
  76. 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.
  77. Forceful but also vulnerable, flawed and brilliant, Liz is plagued by her self-righteousness and, judging by a couple of episodes, the show is plagued by her rightness.
  78. What's ultimately frustrating about The Event is not the lack of answers (though the pilot does conclude with Sophie telling President Martinez, "I haven't told you everything") or the dreadfully lazy characterizations. It's the insistence that the plot somehow taps into something that's happening right now in the United States.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. As the film's "50 state road trip" reveals the multiplicity of these experiences, it shows as well that some "freedoms" have costs.
  83. The promos for New Girl suggest that it's something new or at least mildly unusual. But its first episode looks like more of the same.
  84. 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.
  85. Assuming that you share its sense of outrage at what Jim Baker and Supremes wrought (in a decision they declared a one-off, not applicable to any future rulings), the movie offers easy targets and conclusions. But to intimate there was a way to “win” if only everyone had played fair, Recount has to back off the entrenched problems and the more horrific conclusion, that the system is rigged and no matter who plays it, the end is the same.
  86. The story is silly, but not trashy enough to make it your latest guilty pleasure.
  87. If Go On isn't breaking new ground, it does manage to find humor, even among the most dour of premises.
  88. 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.”
  89. 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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