Salon's Scores

  • TV
For 451 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 1.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Game of Thrones: Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 Zero Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 259
  2. Negative: 0 out of 259
259 tv reviews
  1. Life on Mars is colorful and fun and well-written.
  2. 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.
  3. If anything, the depth of the show is enhanced by the humor, and vice versa.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Even at its worst, Boss radiates intelligence and toughness, and an appreciation of politics as a nonstop performance in an unscripted drama.
  7. 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?
  8. This is damn fertile soil for a comedy, and creator Jenji Kohan and the writers of "Weeds" farm it for all it's worth in the show's second season, cultivating vivid, surprising stories that naturally transcend the typical limitations of the half-hour format.
  9. Vince Gilligan and his team, as usual, have surprised me. I haven’t totally fallen for the prequel series Better Call Saul--it doesn’t quite feel like its own show yet--but it did make me care about the man who becomes Saul Goodman in a way I never did in “Breaking Bad.”
  10. Push Girls is not as edifying as it might be, but it's not sanctimonious either.
  11. Adam Reed--creator, showrunner, voice actor, and writer--seems to have composed Archer both as a love letter to douchebags and as a set of instructions for destroying them. Having a baby might be the final nail in the coffin. Then again, maybe not; Sterling’s the resilient type.
  12. Far from epic, John Adams is a biopic as intense and moody as the man himself.
  13. 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.
  14. Helen now has a perspective, which adds a lot of necessary depth (and gives us the added benefit of seeing Tierney do more things on-screen, which is never a bad thing). But the show is paralyzed by its own vision, at times; the problem with making a show about singular perspectives is that those people are necessarily self-absorbed.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. The Americans is delightfully cunning, exactly the quality, along with fight scenes and ridiculous disguises, one desires in a spy show.
  18. The rest of the show is built around her, and it’s her performance that is able to make the show’s softer parts work, even as the show’s best moments showcase her skills.
  19. It’s not easily definable as a format, being the love child of a passion for O’Neill, stand-up comedy, and the most available format C.K. has--a webseries. That makes for a strange and sublime episode, one that is gripping in both how different it is and how familiar it feels.
  20. What Rescue Me has shined and polished to a high gloss, though, is those scenes of aggressive camaraderie between men. They're smart, funny and utterly realistic in terms of the ways that men relate to each other.
  21. This is a sumptuously produced, beautifully executed show, and if the story doesn’t always make sense, the metaphysics always does.
  22. Sneaky Pete is a series made for devouring. As good as the premiere is, the next episode is better. The promises made in the second episode are delivered and expanded upon in the third. This is a show populated with enjoyable characters that spins a familiar conceit, the crime drama, in a way that feels bright and original.
  23. Casual is a weird show, and at first, it’s not entirely easy to go with its erratic flow.... The show is perplexing, but as evidenced by the care it shows for Laura’s fragile relationship with her father, or the siblings’ devotion to each other in the face of their egotistical, manipulative mother (Frances Conroy)--it has a poetry to it, too.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    What grabs you about Roswell is its lyrical depiction of being 16 and in love and feeling like everything you thought you knew about yourself has become alien to you. [4 Oct 1999]
    • Salon
  24. Mad Men is smart, funny, eye-opening, and probably 10 times better than anything you'll see this fall, so don't miss it.
  25. 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.
  26. while there is always another clip or song of interest, there's a lot lost in the middle.
  27. The result is a show that is lushly intimate, the second season building on the foundation of the previous.
  28. Watching Dexter endure the bubbly, enforced cheer of family life may make this the best season of the drama series to date.
  29. Aliens in America is packed with actual jokes and the story lines are tight and funny.
  30. 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.
  31. It remains the most ambitious show on TV with nothing to say at all.
  32. The show is not just about the struggle between the good and the mediocre, it is itself a struggle between the good and the mediocre.
  33. The Jinx can be a tad too self-referential at times, and unlike the hot-blooded thrill of the podcast “Serial,” this is a story whose particulars can all be found—albeit presented far less well—on Wikipedia. But it’s absorbing, due to the exhaustive research underpinning it and the hook of Durst’s actual, shiftless presence.
  34. 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.
  35. For all of its charms, Nurse Jackie needs to offer a little more than an enigmatic nurse and a parade of clever grouches.
  36. In the Flesh, which starts strong and gets even stronger.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. The show has dispensed with a lot of the real-world elements that made it so coldly compelling.... On the other hand, though, that purging of minor characters is setting the stage for a bigger drama entirely: the showdown between Claire and Frank.... It is a satisfying, slow build, and one that feels not just 13 episodes in the making but three seasons--not just three seasons but 30 years--for the inscrutable Claire Underwood.
  40. A fourth season that, while competent, also feels somewhat beside the point.... This season the characters are making a concerted effort to change, but the show itself: not so much.
  41. 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.
    • 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
  42. Even as we're prompted to be horrified by Hewes, her unrepentant nastiness, when paired with her immense power, leaves us very little to hope for here.
  43. 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.
  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. Each week the show is both intriguing and satisfying, as we watch Alicia piece together little victories while comforting her kids and confronting lurking demons from her old life. Despite the usual familiar courtroom shenanigans, the show's full, multilayered episodes keep us interested.
  46. 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.
    • 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.
  47. 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.
  48. Skilled chefs, great dishes, a few doomed nervous Nellies and lots of petty squabbles ahead? What more could a loyal Top Chef fan ask for?
  49. Thankfully, while the reckoning of "The Memory Loss Tapes" is probably necessary, the other documentaries in the series are a little more hopeful.
  50. Scorsese's documentary offers us a long overdue taste of her unique, queasily accurate perspectives on our culture--always right, never fair and never disappointing.
  51. Downton Abbey is not even trying anymore.... despite its astonishing talent and productive values, took the path of predictable, repetitive soap opera.
  52. Sorkin may be self-important, but he's certainly not mediocre.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. Grease: Live was so crammed with anachronisms--and so weirdly faithful to other things that should have been turned into anachronisms--that it landed somewhere between ‘50s time capsule and ‘50s themed-party, with some ‘50s-themed karaoke tossed in.... But overall, Grease: Live was a lot of fun. There were some poor decisions made by the producers, and some brilliant ones, too.
  56. "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.
  57. Too bad its uptightness gets in the way of its potential for pleasure--even that of the guilty variety.
  58. 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.
  59. The results contain both fart jokes and erudition, but not so much heart. Family Tree is colder and flatter than Guest’s best work, missing its inspired kookery and high energy strangeness.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. These three new episodes, which premiered in Britain last year, are engaging, tasteful and very well-made.
  66. 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.
  67. Bunheads pilot is largely a a showcase for Sherman-Palladino's best stylistic and thematic trademarks.
  68. LeBlanc is brilliant; the writing and direction are brilliant; the show is brilliant.
  69. Lacking much in the way of humanizing balance in that world behind the curtain, Westworld eventually feels cold and cynical and is yet another HBO series peddling violence, marvelous costume design and poet dialogue in the guise of some great philosophical statement about humanity. What that observation may be exactly is unclear.
  70. Cinema Verite is smart and often moving, but unsatisfying overall.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
    • Salon
  73. Girls itself now knows how disposable its own plotting is, and is struggling to discover what all this ceaseless, fruitless discovery of self actually means. What remains are snapshots of a show that doesn’t quite know why it matters.
  74. 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.
  75. Season 3 is pushing harder to pop--with both color and threesomes--the show still doesn’t quite cohere into a compulsively watchable story.
  76. As a workplace comedy with a political bent Veep is both fun and funny, its nonpartisan position more a missed opportunity than fatal flaw.
  77. The show isn’t great yet, though it has potential.
    • 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.
  78. Carefully crafted performances balance the hilarity with notes of trauma lurking within, adding a winning sincerity to People of Earth.
  79. The 15 episodes of Arrested Development themselves, which start badly, but accumulate to something pretty good.
  80. 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.
  81. There are elements of this new series that have a quirkiness that might seem deliberate or overly clever against a different backdrop, but that feels natural in its own gracefully odd environment.
  82. Features vaguely uninteresting characters, flat scenarios and a less-than-intriguing alien/swamp thing.
  83. After two episodes, "The Boondocks" shows promise, defies categorization and, basically, could either evolve into a great show or become repetitive really fast.
  84. The whole thing would be worthwhile but ultimately forgettable, if not for some particularly heart-wrenching scenes where Okonedo really makes us feel for poor Nancy, the conflicted prostitute who loves that nasty Sikes in spite of herself.
  85. 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.
  86. In this third season, Inside Amy Schumer’s satire is sharper than ever, taking the contradictions of our world’s approach to gender and pushing them to the farthest logical extent.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. As charismatic and unfamiliar as Ramotswe is, after the first hour, it's hard to imagine becoming addicted to this series the way so many readers are addicted to McCall Smith's novels. But then, by the beginning of the second episode, we start to understand: This series is a dramedy, really, a more exotic, more absurd, more original version of "Grey's Anatomy," if you will.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. You'll find an important (and rare) thing: an off-kilter show that's at once smart, outlandish and very funny.
  93. In its second season it's a wisecracking caper series with glossy B-movie production values, an appealing cast, an overlay of global espionage fantasy, and action scenes so inventively choreographed that you can almost forgive their cliched shaky-cam imagery and "What the hell just happened?" editing. And that's it.
  94. Somehow the same clunky philosophizing and heartfelt confessions fall flat in Caprica. Although the second and third episodes of the prequel are a little more intriguing and less gummed up with melodrama than the pilot, the overall picture is a world apart from the dynamism and intensity of "Battlestar."
  95. Apt. 23 isn't particularly funny, but at least it doesn't have a laugh track to beat you over the head with this fact.
  96. The 10-part series is the kind of layered sequential story that British comedy excels at, but is a bit too drawn-out and American to feel truly brilliant.

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