Salon's Scores

  • TV
For 320 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 45% higher than the average critic
  • 1% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 The Office (UK): Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Zero Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 177
  2. Negative: 0 out of 177
177 tv reviews
  1. Pan Am is nostalgic bonbons for the mind, made with the finest ingredients.
  2. What keeps these threads tight and advances the action is the input of Michael Mann, who directed the pilot and set the tone for the rest of the nine-episode first season.
  3. There's great energy and real laughs, and with any support at all from the network, this could mint as many new catchphrases as Chappelle.
  4. McBride celebrates the Southern-fried dirtball culture of flyover America like some "Red State Diaries"; it's a veritable HBO "Hee-Haw."
  5. As a workplace comedy with a political bent Veep is both fun and funny, its nonpartisan position more a missed opportunity than fatal flaw.
  6. Bunheads pilot is largely a a showcase for Sherman-Palladino's best stylistic and thematic trademarks.
  7. What constitutes a nation? This is the heady question that underpins the action-movie thrills of ABC's submarine-gone-righteously-rogue drama Last Resort, one of the most promising dramas of the fall season.
  8. Asylum dives right in on racism, homophobia and sexism, and wrings something emotional out of them.
  9. The Hour's charms are many, but chief among them is its celebration of intelligence and diligence as cardinal, animating virtues.
  10. 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.
  11. Girls has matured leaps and bounds, comedically and structurally, but it has jettisoned some of its ambiguity, its sweetness, its own affection for its characters. It's more coherent, but it's also safer.
  12. The Americans is delightfully cunning, exactly the quality, along with fight scenes and ridiculous disguises, one desires in a spy show.
    • 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. In the Flesh, which starts strong and gets even stronger.
    • 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.
  17. Although Banks has a bad habit of tooting her own horn endlessly while the cameras roll, she may be justified in doing so, since, from the opening graphics to the hip-hop soundtrack, her show has been undeniably imaginative and engrossing.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Band of Brothers isn't a great work. It is above all an act of tribute, and perhaps that prevents it from possessing the independence of the greatest films about war. But it is an honorable project, and one of the definitive film treatments of World War II. It brings a new honesty and depth to the way we remember that terrible war, and the boys from Chicago and Louisiana and Montana and New York who fought and won it for us. Without illusions. With abiding respect.
  18. 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.
  19. Who doesn't want to see Vic Mackey catch bullets with his bare hands? [But] You might be longing for Vic Mackey to crush skulls with his bare hands after a few minutes of this happy-go-lucky, discovering-the-importance-of-family romp.
  20. The suspenseful, unpredictable pilot suggests one of the most intriguing serial dramas of the fall season. [But] We once wrote the same thing about "Flashforward."
  21. The best thing about "Prison Break" is that we've never seen anything like it before.
  22. After two episodes, "The Boondocks" shows promise, defies categorization and, basically, could either evolve into a great show or become repetitive really fast.
  23. If your family game nights tended to end with someone upturning the Monopoly board, then running to their room in tears, and your family trips hit their low point at a national monument in the middle of nowhere when someone abruptly got out of the car and refused to get back in, you're likely to find "Lucky Louie" fairly entertaining.
  24. "Brotherhood" is definitely worth the effort: The acting is solid; the situations are, for the most part, new and unknown; and there are enough twists and plot devices to keep us interested in the short term. Over the long haul, though, I'd like to understand more about these characters.
  25. Sorkin may be self-important, but he's certainly not mediocre.
  26. This enlightening series clearly has an agenda: to help addicts and their families set aside the guilt and anger associated with addiction long enough to do the concrete work of thoroughly treating the disease.
  27. Games of make-believe might be useful, but otherwise, playtime is just a dangerous fantasy that gives children the illusion that their lives won't be a living hell when they grow up. Is that really fair? That's why it's so satisfying to watch as the kids realize that they have to work, and work is hard.
  28. I also really enjoyed NBC's Bionic Woman. There's lots of super-powered action, I like regular-girl Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers, and best of all, Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica") plays the eeeeevil former bionic woman, Sarah Corvus.
  29. All I see is a bunch of reasonable, ambitious types and one kooky hippie. Do you honestly think we're going to hang around just to hear Tim Gunn say "Make it work!" for the fifty-millionth time in a row?
  30. The first episode of this show will probably make you roll your eyes and beg the gods for mercy. Don't give up, though, because In Treatment is sharp and unique and worth the effort.
  31. Lipstick Jungle is just as fluffy and soapy as you'd imagine a show based on a book by Candace Bushnell should be, it's still far smarter and more appealing than ABC's rich-and-powerful-lady fluff-fest "Cashmere Mafia."
  32. Clumsy and tone-deaf as it sometimes is, High School Confidential offers a fascinating look at the challenges and heartbreaks facing today's teenage girl.
  33. Far from epic, John Adams is a biopic as intense and moody as the man himself.
  34. Needless to say, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary are both lively and funny in their roles as members of Al Gore's team, but it's Laura Dern who really steals the movie with her hysterically self-involved portrait of Katherine Harris.
  35. Somehow, this ridiculous show manages to entertain us without any semblance of character development or the remotest whiff of a familiar, relatable scenario.
  36. While you do have to wonder where the show will go from here, since it has the plot of a two-hour movie, not a 20-hour series, it has the benefit of being far more original and unpredictable than 90 percent of the new shows to hit the airwaves this fall.
  37. While the unguarded moments and eclectic musical performances --typically Costello collaborating with a guest on one of his or her lesser-known hits--make Spectacle well worth a closer look, the show occasionally feels like a songwriter's version of "Inside the Actor's Studio," with all of the qualities and the faults that implies.
  38. So once again, just as we're starting to warm up to our deathly pale but diplomatic vampire friends, we're treated to Ball's rather prosaic enjoyment of stock Southern Christian characters who would only seem fresh and original to a Frenchman.
  39. This excursion into the far reaches of space, brought to you by "Battlestar Galactica" producers Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, proves far more compelling than most made-for-TV movies--and most TV pilots, for that matter--up until its abrupt, hair-pullingly inconclusive ending.
  40. There are times when you have to question the writers' urge to pack in everything but the kitchen sink...Fortunately, Kelly and McClintock pull off their roles in this precarious high-flying adventure, teetering between heaviness and humor in each scene.
  41. On a scene-by-scene basis, this is a truly great show. Great actors working with a great script and bringing these really beautiful, thoughtful exchanges alive....But the big picture of Big Love, the overarching narrative, is weaker than these scenes would suggest.
  42. If you adored "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" (I enjoyed but didn't love both), then "The Pacific" is well worth your time. But if you're sometimes left cold by the epic films that others gush over, if you're often lukewarm on Spielberg and expect more from a war movie than just realistic battle scenes, then I would skip the 10 hours of viewing time and rent "The Thin Red Line" instead.
  43. Ultimately, asking if Private Practice is good is like asking if a Twinkie is good. The answer is "No" and "Of course!" and, also, "Give me another one."
  44. With such a knockout concept at its core, Flash Forward may still be on our minds six months from now--that is, if we're not too busy piecing together global mysteries or cheating on our husbands to notice.
  45. Did I mention that The League is occasionally pretty funny? Forget that it's basically a Bud Light commercial stretched out to fit a half-hour of broadcast time.
  46. Yes, Tom Papa's affectations can be a little much sometimes. Yes, they should turn down the microphone when everyone is laughing. Yes, they should lose the dorky bit where Natalie Morales from NBC News sits in front of a computer and looks up information online. But the rest? Married people, angry at each other? Celebrities, making fun of each other? Chicken cutlets? I'm in.
  47. Although at times Hung unravels and feels as lost as Ray Drecker himself, its individual scenes present as darkly funny and disturbing a parable of the disheartening state of American culture as you'll find on the small screen.
  48. Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt as the dumb dad's parents really make this one impossible to ignore completely. And even though we've already got "Oh no the ugly chick likes me" jokes and "You're right, the baby's limbs could get amputated this way" jokes and other material that might make you smile but never laugh, there's also a slightly disturbed tone here that's hard to match on sitcoms about yuppies having bad hair days.
  49. Really, though, you don't have to know anything about the British Skins to get into the remake.
  50. These are production issues that will fix themselves in time. Olbermann was back. He jumped right back into the thick of things. And he was very, very good.
  51. Not great, but good, and promising.
  52. Living in the Material World foregrounds [George Harrison's] qualities so pointedly that it seems to be channeling the personality of its subject. It's a problematic, at times off-putting, but ultimately fascinating work, moving through George's life with its own mysterious internal logic.
  53. House is more solidly built [than "Dirt"], thanks mostly to the bracing quality of Cheadle, who scarcely has time in the mayhem to reconsider what he does.
  54. Refreshingly, they try to convey their likability by being...likable.
  55. It's with much appreciation that I report that Season 5 of True Blood is not about the introduction of any new magical creatures (though the fairies are up to some B-story shenanigans), but the long-discussed Authority, the seven-member governing body of all vampires everywhere.
  56. Though I understand how effective the hit-man aspect of the story must have seemed on paper, both as a thematic device and a driver of plot, Mia's story was interesting enough with out the being saddled with such an ultra-violent profession.
  57. Hell on Wheels is a perfectly adequate piece of television with above adequate production values.
  58. Ben & Kate seems poised to be to the "20 to 30-somethings get their lives together" sub-genre what "Parks & Rec" is to workplace comedies: something willfully, wonderfully kind.
  59. The Walking Dead is extremely realistic about the decayed, vast, destroyed world, and dopily idealistic about its main character.
  60. Objectively, Downton is not that good and certainly not as good--well-made, well-wrought, reasoned, executed--as it once was. But objectivity only has a little do with it.
  61. If you are looking for some upscale junk-food--beautifully packaged, nicely performed, delectably plotted, but shot through with hot air and likely to make you queasy by the time you reach the end of the bag--look no further than NBC's soap-mystery Deception, which starts tonight, and is, at least for now, scrumptious.
  62. Unlike the teenagers on the show it replaces on the CW schedule, "Gossip Girl," the characters on The Carrie Diaries are neither disturbingly precocious nor voracious, instead working a welcome John Hughes vibe.
  63. Moving, striving, trying, changing, it’s good for the characters on Mad Men and it’s good for the drama that is Mad Men. The back of Don Draper’s head is still gorgeous, but it’s starting to feel awfully still.
  64. Despite showing some very gruesome imagery--a real decapitated head, for example--and having a swaggy, “we’re so hip we send our reporters into dangerous places looking like they just rolled out of bed” self-aggrandizement, Vice is fundamentally earnest.
  65. The first episode isn’t riotous (truly hilarious pilots are rarer than... even truly hilarious sitcoms), but it’s confident and charming and the characters seem fully formed.
  66. It’s like all the ingredients for a sugar rush of a dessert have been assembled and instead mixed together to make something surprisingly sensible, but not exactly delicious.
  67. The 15 episodes of Arrested Development themselves, which start badly, but accumulate to something pretty good.
  68. It is finally unshackled, plot wise, from the far better Danish version of the show and should be able to pace itself in a more effective and gripping way than it did it the past.
  69. A good ABC Family show is like a good beach read: great plot, great character, compelling without being too heavy. Its newest show certainly fits the bill.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    One thing is certain, it’s going to be another long day on '24.' At least early indications suggest it won’t be boring.
  70. Based on just one episode, it’s hard to tell how the series will unfold, but the mood, threatening, uneasy, a little kinky, is there, and that just might be enough.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    'Without a Trace' adopts the requisite cop-show clipped pace and poker-faced acting, but the procedural approach is catchy. There’s something irresistible about a forensic drama that hooks you with hints at the ending and works backward from there.
  71. Patrick is fidgety, disturbingly intense and possibly a bit snobbish to boot--not unwatchable, but, as yet, far from endearing. Fortunately, Looking has plenty else going for it.
  72. Eventually one starts to think about what one is doing with one’s life and how one actually wishes to spend it rather than tripping from one youthful, unconsidered mishap into another.... I can say that Dunham and her co-creators understand that progression.
  73. We don't really learn anything new about the military or its operations, of course, but with the slick scenes and snappy one-liners coming in rapid succession, who really cares?
  74. As a character study of one man, "Thief" works, but it's going to take a lot more than that to pull us into this very dark, very unforgiving story.
  75. The second episode is much cheesier and less suspenseful than the pilot -- nothing quite beats those mushroom clouds in the distance, let's face it.
  76. "The Tudors" takes all of the intrigue and power struggles and tomfoolery of the House of Tudor and gives it six-pack abs and a rock-star swagger
  77. Unfortunately, when you take Canterbury's admirable vim and vigor out of the picture for a second, this is just another courtroom drama, limited to the same old overdramatic courtroom scenes that we've seen a hundred million times before
  78. Even though the second episode of the season isn't structured very well, with lots of rambling talk about nothing, even though the show lacks the tightness and the natural momentum of "Six Feet Under" (and the weight and the intensity, for that matter), True Blood is still odd, unpredictable and off-kilter.
  79. The results are satisfying, and suspenseful, yes, but also a little bit stupid and predictable, too.
  80. The truth is, for someone who thinks Lost is wildly overrated, I'm still rallying around it, in part because I think it should gain momentum in its home stretch, in part because I'm curious about how thoroughly the writers will clean up the enormous, unfathomably complicated mess they've made.
  81. For all of its charms, Nurse Jackie needs to offer a little more than an enigmatic nurse and a parade of clever grouches.
  82. Has there ever been a TV show that's at once more delightful and cringe-inducing at the exact same time than Glee? Ever since it returned for its second season, this off-kilter dramedy has been nailing its high notes while still flaunting its many flaws with even more bravado than before.
  83. As entertaining as In Treatment can be at times, the third season may be the most grueling of them all. It's tough to see how any of these characters will find anything remotely resembling a sense of happiness before the season is over. Unfortunately, this season may also be the most simplistic so far.
  84. Now and then Shameless sloughs off its mostly self-imposed constraints and fires on all cylinders, observing economic hardship, drunken tomfoolery and sexual shenanigans with a keen eye for class specifics.
  85. Revenge might sound enjoyably soapy in the abstract, but its execution is problematic.
  86. As we head into Season 2, it's becoming increasingly clear that they [the actors] can't make these characters interesting, because they're too thinly conceived.
  87. Push Girls is not as edifying as it might be, but it's not sanctimonious either.
  88. The bar fight--which made the rounds of the Internet this past September--elevates the series's voyeuristic satisfactions to the next level.
  89. Political Animals may be super-fun, but it is also superficial.
  90. Chicago Fire a predictable but pleasantly familiar throwback that could have been on TV a decade and a half ago.
  91. It is less accidentally ridiculous, and more knowingly, willfully campy, less pretentious, but also, for better and worse, less likely to include a Bollywood dance number.
  92. The best parts of Life Is But a Dream are not the confessionals, but watching Beyoncé become Beyoncé. It’s a transformation we see only bits of.... But mostly, there’s no sweat. We hear about her angst, and then we see the finished product.
  93. Maron is a little bit like the podcast without the guests, which is too much Maron. The best aspects of the show are the moments directly from the podcast, both the monologues and the joking around and interviewing other comedians.
  94. The experience looks very difficult, but also a little boring, which explains the need for the in-your-face title: “Filthy and Exhausted” just doesn’t have the same ring.
  95. For now, the bias towards boring is definitely at work. Cherry should look at “Scandal,” a show in which everyone of every color gets to be troubled and naughty and still expect our sympathy, to see how to improve.