Salon's Scores

  • TV
For 517 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 45% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Louie: Season 5
Lowest review score: 0 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 303
  2. Negative: 0 out of 303
303 tv reviews
  1. Veep remains one of the most rapid-fire and linguistically playful shows on TV— neologisms created in just the first episodes include “exhuastipated,” “procrasturbate” and “gestictionary.” But in the new season, the physical comedy is just as strong.
  2. One of the major strengths of "The Unit" is its ability to tackle the blurry ethical lines and confusing behavioral codes of the military during a time of war.
  3. The Americans is delightfully cunning, exactly the quality, along with fight scenes and ridiculous disguises, one desires in a spy show.
  4. This is a sumptuously produced, beautifully executed show, and if the story doesn’t always make sense, the metaphysics always does.
  5. Carefully crafted performances balance the hilarity with notes of trauma lurking within, adding a winning sincerity to People of Earth.
  6. Making a Murderer doesn’t have that arresting peg of the audience surrogate, which can so often be a galvanizing force in and out of a dense journalistic tale. But it’s worth observing that while Making a Murderer is more detached than those other docuseries—with a very uncinematic, nonfiction, brass-tacks style—the series also can’t help but evoke some other critically acclaimed series of the past few years.
  7. You'll find an important (and rare) thing: an off-kilter show that's at once smart, outlandish and very funny.
  8. Although every second of this comedy is far from genius, the disturbed mood and unique mean-spirited flavor of it all points to what the network comedies are so often lacking: bold choices that border on the absurd.
  9. Perhaps this third one will exhaust the audience’s desire for sharks sliced in half by chainsaws; perhaps not. (Oh hell, no.)
  10. Even if it slices and dices art into something consumable and therefore disposable, I love the audacity of Bravo's Work of Art: The Search for the Next Great Artist. This show takes all of the petulance and nastiness and passion of "Project Runway" or "Top Chef" and applies it to the rarefied realm of fine art.
  11. Happily Star Trek: Discovery strikes a balance between what diehard Trekkies love about Roddenberry’s universe and what J.J. Abrams injected into its theatrical resurrection. Ethical dilemmas and a clash between cultures and traditions comprise the fore of the narrative, but the hours don’t skimp on phaser blasts and broadcast-appropriate carnage.
  12. Literally everything in the show is ridiculous, in a way that is not even necessarily funny, just confusing; what eventually makes it work is how seamlessly it all fits together, from the cold opens in each episode to the completely absurd situations that Todd gets himself into.
  13. A show that grows more confident with each new outing but never loses its sense of heart.
  14. Combining intelligent layers of mystery with sly dialogue and a steady flow of action, Whedon has crafted a provocative, bubbly new drama that looks as promising as anything to hit the small screen over the course of the past year.
  15. Spielberg's unabashed honesty about his accomplishments, failures and frailties ties a bow on all of it.
  16. The premiere does feel a tad stretched at times. But next week’s episode gets deeper into the girls’ money troubles with the help of guests Rachel Dratch and Janeane Garofalo as oddball yet oddly authentic employers. By then, the humor is humming along nicely and--what do you know--Broad City” has found its rhythm.
  17. Bunheads pilot is largely a a showcase for Sherman-Palladino's best stylistic and thematic trademarks.
  18. Combining the breakneck comedy and sly farce of "Arrested Development" with the pop-savvy wit of "Ugly Betty" and the twisted humor, odd soundtrack and deadpan voice-overs of one of the greatest movies about high school of all time, "Election," Glee is bold, silly, demonic and addictive--one full hour of very good (but not very clean) fun.
  19. While the orgiastic madness of Season 2 might be hard to top, the first three episodes of Season 3 look promising indeed, serving up one juicy twist after another, plus a steady flow of great dialogue, intense conversations, brutality, blackmail, mystery, suspense and, best of all, some wickedly funny moments that are beyond compare.
  20. Mad Men is smart, funny, eye-opening, and probably 10 times better than anything you'll see this fall, so don't miss it.
  21. In its fourth season, Friday Night Lights is just as thoughtful and restrained as it's ever been, with its focus firmly planted on the small-town disappointments of ordinary people.
  22. With its patient pace and restrained style, Rubicon may take a while to get to the truth, but at least as viewers we suspect that there will be something weighty to discover once it does.
  23. Look a little closer, though, and what you'll find is a truly strange cop dramedy with lots of sharp dialogue, jocular banter and offbeat scenarios.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The characters are more finely drawn than on most cop dramas, and the dialogue is refreshingly digressive and true-to-life.
  24. Armisen and Browstein's masterstroke is showing how certain flavors of modern leftist sensitivity/engagement can seem (to outsiders) like passive-aggressive self-absorption laced with contempt for the unenlightened.
  25. Hung is much more subtle and charming and odd than its name or its concept imply.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Not only does Angel make sense as an extension of the "Buffy" mythology, it makes Angel seem more alive than he's been in about, oh, 240 years
  26. What “Wizard of Lies” lacks in terms of a broader historical span is compensated for by telling Madoff’s tale as a classical tragedy about hubris and human cost--only in this case we watch as the villain’s wife and children take the brunt of the toll. DeNiro and Pfeiffer are as formidable in their roles as one would expect them to be, and the easy conversational flair with which Henriques squares off with DeNiro is incredible.
  27. As the story draws toward its end, it reframes its original questions about the power and consequences of creation by adding new wrinkles to ponder that echo current conversations about feminism and a woman’s right to choice. ... The relationships between the various clones and the people around them are what grant Orphan Black a level of humanity other science fiction series lack.
  28. But where “Battlestar Galactica’s” story engine ran almost entirely on mystery, The Expanse is a little more like “Game of Thrones,” with its intensely detailed and ever-broadening world inhabited by very recognizable characters.
  29. From scene to scene, Treme is novelistic in the best sense--a long, complex, involving story that takes a while to settle into, but that you can't put down and don't want to end.
  30. Pan Am is nostalgic bonbons for the mind, made with the finest ingredients.
  31. The cast is stellar, you can almost feel the Georgia heat; a show that explores the consequences of violence, rather than serving up a gruesome pile of it, could hardly be more welcome at this moment, but the going is methodical and slow and sometimes painful.
  32. You can't just watch this series. You have to commit to it, the way you had to commit to "The Wire" or "Deadwood" to appreciate them as something other than impenetrable fetish objects. Bear in mind I'm not saying that Game of Thrones is a creative achievement on the same level as those other masterful HBO series, which looked, moved and felt like nothing that had come before.
  33. The eight episodes together make for just four hours of television, which is only a bit longer than a very long movie; the natural breaks of title sequences and credits serve to break up the gleefully disjointed adventures into bookended chapters. And because making a prequel series 15 years later with the same actors set on just one day is patently ridiculous, the style of humor that Showalter and his longtime collaborator David Wain bring to Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp is spot-on: It embraces that absurdity, and pushes it to every possible extreme.
  34. Wootton dips as far into darkness as even Baron Cohen, but instead of merely relying on cursing and butt thongs to create comic gold, Wootton crafts a well-thought-out narrative and puts a few props in place before he meets his real-life characters.
  35. The writing of White Famous is light and scathingly funny, a remarkable trait in what may be the most comfortable uncomfortable portrayal of fame and racism on television this season. Pharaoh, who famously departed “Saturday Night Live” to take this role, exercises a dramatic flexibility that shines through in Floyd.
  36. Some of these moments are memorable and stark. More are soporific. Both lend themselves to The Fall’s tone: these days, slow is what passes for serious. Anderson’s performance is what makes The Fall worth watching.
  37. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” may start in an oddly untethered state, but it is marvelously strange and entertaining enough to warrant sticking around as its heroes and writers connect the dots.
  38. CW's Nikita remake isn't nearly as awful as you'd imagine. In fact, it's remarkably good.
  39. It only takes two episodes to demonstrate that this season is going to be another wild ride, maybe even one that's a little more nuanced and unpredictable than the first.
  40. As adapted, produced and written for the screen by Veena Sud (creator of "Cold Case"), it's a subtle piece of work.
  41. The result is a show that is lushly intimate, the second season building on the foundation of the previous.
  42. For all of the despair the narrative visits upon its characters, Outlander remains as seductive as ever, in part due to the dangled promise of the second season finale that its lovers would one day be reunited. Because of this, the story never sinks under any ballast of hopelessness, choosing instead to spend time allowing viewers to perceive the pangs of loss in order to sweeten the arrival of any uplift fate, or the show’s writers, deem fit to dispense.
  43. The greatest strength of these new episodes lies in Moura’s expansion of his character’s portrait, allowing us to contemplate the chilling dichotomy of Escobar’s personality.
  44. From the opening scene on, the “Selma” director lends her creative strengths to the story, saturating every scene with the sumptuous visuals afforded by the story’s Louisiana setting.
  45. Only one thing is for certain: Even if you're skeptical of science fiction, Battlestar Galactica will make a true believer out of you.
  46. If anything, the depth of the show is enhanced by the humor, and vice versa.
  47. The process of self-discovery is right upfront in Taking on Tyson, and it's fascinating.
  48. Each hour has a drag to it, one that feels hypnotically weird and is interrupted by spasmodic bursts of violence and disarming farce. All of that lends an aura of honesty to this story of life inside the world of intelligence might. ... A taste worth acquiring.
  49. Each related subplot plays out over the course of the first three episodes of season 4, finding three of the show’s characters grappling with existential crises. And as their stories progress, O’Malley, who penned the first two episodes, and fellow producers Luther M. Mace and Paul Oakley Stoval exercise the show’s ability to solidly walk a fine line between aching tragedy and dark, legitimately funny slapstick.
  50. The Starter Wife is fun and clever, but it’s witty dialogue and a great cast, not thoughtful storytelling, that keep this rich-divorcée gaffe-fest rolling along.
  51. These three new episodes, which premiered in Britain last year, are engaging, tasteful and very well-made.
  52. Saving Grace is my second-favorite cable drama this summer ("Mad Men" being the obvious front-runner), thanks to the excellent cast (Kenny Johnson and Laura San Giacomo, among others), and the fact that Hunter plays Grace with so much authenticity and scratchy sweetness.
  53. The first episode of Community features alarmingly smart writing, and the cast is fantastic, from Chase, who can make us laugh with just a look, to McHale, who's believably slippery but not too adorably caddish or cloying (Zach Braff, anyone?) as the antihero.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is genuinely creepy--party "X-Files," part "Close Encounters," with fine performances all around.
  54. A series that grants a measure of grace to a morally challenged female character, Teresa, whose loyalty to Camila is fertilized not by blind trust or fear, but survival and vengeance. These new episodes elevate these ingredients far more than the first season ever did, and the plot and performances are immediately much more compelling because of this new emphasis.
  55. The characters all still feel recognizable and lived-in, but it is true that especially in its second season and going into the third, Rectify is slow.
  56. In place of the first season’s harrowing escape plot is a story of defiance and resistance that clarifies the purpose of each character’s mission.
  57. Life on Mars is colorful and fun and well-written.
  58. The Girlfriend Experience isn’t perfect. Christine’s motivations are sometimes opaque, and sometimes not; the plot is sometimes thrilling, and sometimes not. ... But it is riveting--and sexy--to watch Christine watch the rest of the world.
  59. The purity of feeling in Better Things weaves their stories together in such a way that feels warm and real. Yet many of the most successful moments within the five preview episodes made available to critics stem from Sam’s professional and personal lives crashing into one another.
  60. An unusual holiday trip. Fortunately for us, it’s one worth taking.
  61. Breaking Bad has so many redeeming qualities, from its low-key, almost mean-spirited sense of humor to its stark, artistic shots of the Albuquerque sky to the patient pace with which its story unfolds, that it seems a shame to miss any of it just because we're accustomed to more sugary, cheerful tales.
  62. Where the series really shines is in using its established characters to tell the same story from an array of angles, informed by a medley of experiences.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The whole endeavor could easily burn itself out, but judging by the first three episodes--which never felt stale and constantly kept me guessing--Fox might just have a winner on its hands.
  63. With a careful mix of respect, curiosity and humor, the filmmakers offer a colorful and surprisingly nuanced tour of the day-to-day operations of the USS Nimitz during a six-month deployment in 2005, from California to Hong Kong, Guam, Bahrain and Perth, Australia.
  64. That’s part of the reason the show’s stories and characters feel honest and familiar; even if you don’t smoke, you probably know people who are just like The Guy’s customers. You may even recognize yourself in one of those people.
  65. In the Flesh, which starts strong and gets even stronger.
  66. Simply put, it’s a show long on style, hitting all the right aesthetic tones, but with enough substance and intimacy to allow Ansari and his co-creator Alan Yang to indulge in deliberately tailored visual flights of fancy.
  67. Pete has yet to figure out that the art of winning an audience is perfected through enthusiastically failing again and again. Crashing shows that Holmes has already mastered that lesson and has moved on to quietly, honestly killing it.
  68. Billions hasn’t abandoned any of the various subtexts that make it so absorbing; in fact, the decreased furor means it brings more attention to those themes.
  69. "This American Life" features the same rich, rambling storytelling that makes the radio show so hypnotic, but it's enhanced by cinematography that's lovely and artful without distracting from the story lines or the tone of the show.
  70. Watching Pete ride an emotional roller coaster may be the most entertaining part of Mad Men. Pete beautifully demonstrates the mixed blessing that big responsibilities bestow on the average life.
  71. At the end of a long work week few television diversions look as sweet. And don’t be shocked if you wake up Saturday with a hankering for pancakes--and the confidence that you can make them from scratch.
  72. Hunter is just so good and the writing is subtle enough that we're willing to go along for the ride, from those looming-tornado opening credits to the last scene of each episode, in which a new heartstrings-plucking tragedy is neatly and satisfyingly resolved.
  73. Justified takes a purely procedural setup and turns it into a long-term story arc, a season-long mystery that will presumably get less goofy than it first appears.
  74. Any potential discomfort one may have with the subject is soon overwhelmed by the spirited intelligence and sharp style with which this series is executed.
  75. Students of Marshall's life and times won't find any new information here, but the personal shadings are crucial because they humanize what might otherwise have been dry textbook details. Stevens and Fishburne find a strong emotional through-line for Marshall's greatest triumphs: the desire to right injustices visited upon Marshall, his family and his people.
  76. Aliens in America is packed with actual jokes and the story lines are tight and funny.
  77. It’s a shockingly witty and enjoyable slant on the television romantic comedy. Only here, the romantic lead and hero is a dog for whom there are no half measures.
  78. The story hits the gas immediately in season two, immediately juicing up the excellent comedic chemistry between Campbell, DeLorenzo and Santiago while taking the story into fraught emotional spaces for Ash.
  79. One thing is immediately clear about Stephen Colbert as the anchor of The Late Show: He’s very good at it. It’s impossible to take the measure of a show based on the first episode, but given the most superficial of impressions, the immediate takeaway is assurance. Colbert has this in the bag; it’s now just a question of letting him do his thing.
  80. OK, fine, so maybe the pilot does wrap up with your typical teary-eyed confession. Otherwise, though, Lie to Me is as thoroughly entertaining and charming as its fine-looking cast of characters.
  81. It’s fantastically made--a clearly written, beautifully rendered story of misdirected energy, bad science, megalomaniacs, and the many good intentions on the way to hell.... Still, it’s odd: In many ways, Going Clear is a collection of alleged abuses that have been reported on many times in the past; it’s revealing little to no new information on the church. Instead, it’s really an exercise in effective packaging.
  82. Archer is funny. If you don't agree after the first episode, keep watching. You might try drinking a little coffee or having a doughnut before you tune in, though, because the zingers fly by pretty quickly.
  83. Thankfully, while the reckoning of "The Memory Loss Tapes" is probably necessary, the other documentaries in the series are a little more hopeful.
  84. The drama’s dual flirtations with death and danger add an engrossing unpredictability to the mix that Dhavernas uses to her advantage.
  85. The show--especially by the third episode, “The Shunning”--manages to take a single story and turn it into something uniquely transformative for numerous characters; this is especially true for Eddie and Jessica, who as stay-at-home mom and eldest-immigrant son are, despite their fighting, very close to each other.
  86. A heartfelt, inspiring, uplifting TV show that brings out the best in people? Who could possibly resist that?
  87. As a workplace comedy with a political bent Veep is both fun and funny, its nonpartisan position more a missed opportunity than fatal flaw.
  88. Californication is reasonably charming straight out of the gate, and as the story progresses, the intelligence of the writing gains traction.
  89. The high-caliber storytelling is what separates United States of Tara from just another kooky romp of a dramedy, teetering precariously on a superficial premise.
  90. Getting to know these characters can be incredibly entertaining but, like the pets each keeps at arm’s length in their respective shows, they’re best experienced in limited doses.
  91. The oaken friendship in Hap and Leonard allows the plotline’s racial context to feel more affecting and salient than other higher-profile series addressing similar themes. Williams and Purefoy are an incredible comedy team, perking up the bleakest situations with their back-and-forth bickering. Those moments earn the viewer’s investment in the toughest parts of the story and never allow the energy in Hap and Leonard to deflate.
  92. Getting to know these characters can be incredibly entertaining but, like the pets each keeps at arm’s length in their respective shows, they’re best experienced in limited doses.
  93. The delicious evil of The Good Place, [is] the hidden detail that makes it such a gem worth picking up in season two. ... The first season finale paved the way for a reboot that takes several episodes to settle in this new season but basically remakes the series into a tongue-in-cheek indictment of the office politics and the ruthlessness of middle management.
  94. Originally scheduled to premiere in March, Bright Lights is a mirthful portrait of Reynolds’ and Fisher’s extraordinary connection above all else, even as it reminds viewers of the toll attachment can take on a body and spirit.
  95. But the utter lack of hipness of Men of a Certain Age, the total lack of concern for what's deemed cool and what isn't, the complete disregard for matching the breakneck pace, the action, the swooning romances, the spitty outbursts, the shiny thrills of other TV shows, is exactly what makes this drama so lovable.
  96. Transparent has expanded from its first season’s examination of gender identity, and with that enlarged view come some growing pains. ... But the newest episodes of Transparent also display the perils of a producer reveling a tad too much in a show’s baroque period, particularly in the self-referential first episode, “Elizah.”

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