Salon's Scores

  • TV
For 321 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 2.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 62
Highest review score: 100 Party Down: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 So You Think You Can Dance: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 177
  2. Negative: 0 out of 177
177 tv reviews
  1. Yes, it's tough to trace the relationships between various ranks within the police department and the city and state governments, but that doesn't mean this is an incredibly serious drama it takes a degree in literature to understand. "The Wire" is funny and odd and sad and, above all, engrossing.
  2. Treme is a true gift, a way to finally appreciate and embrace one of our most beloved but neglected cities.
  3. Even though Party Down features a steady flow of absurd jokes and funny situations, it still offers more of a consistent, realistic, lively story than dramedies like "Weeds," "The United States of Tara" or "Glee."
  4. From its breathtaking cinematography to its meticulous period costumes to its smart, snappy dialogue to its talented cast, Boardwalk Empire presents a TV program that's so polished and beautifully executed, each episode feels as rich and memorable as its own little Scorsese film.
  5. A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody pinch me!
  6. LeBlanc is brilliant; the writing and direction are brilliant; the show is brilliant.
  7. Archer is the next generation version of "Get Smart," with a similarly thickheaded, overconfident, horny hero whose petulant deadpan lines are funnier than they have any right to be.
  8. Mildred Pierce is a masterpiece.
  9. [Homeland] sounds as though it could have been pitched as "The Manchurian Candidate: The Series." But set that aside, if you can, and look at what's on-screen, because it'll reward your attention.
  10. Game is a genuinely mind-boggling piece of adaptation, cast more or less perfectly (except for Kit Harington's Jon Snow, who relies too much on the soap opera actors handbook of serious faces), with expert control of the story lines, gorgeous and diverse settings, and such seriousness of purpose and consistent internal logic that I find the least realistic thing about it to be that the men of [N]ights Watch don't wear hats.
  11. It wants to entertain you, to draw you in with exciting, exacting plotting, and precisely drawn characters.
  12. The series' thriller engine turns on, turns over and begins to purr.
  13. Top of the Lake [is] gorgeous and ambiguous and gripping like a hallucination.
  14. Game of Thrones is as complete a universe as exists on television, whatever its rhythm. More drama and more bloodshed are certainly forthcoming, and I have every confidence they will be served up as delicious and sopping as a rare steak.
  15. The first time you watch the show, you really don’t believe what you’re seeing. Each moment feels so real, it’s hard to tell if the actors are improvising brilliantly or just delivering their lines with incredible conviction. Like the best moments of 'This Is Spinal Tap' or 'Waiting for Guffman,' 'The Office' offers up breathtaking slices of deadpan humor and amazing comic timing.
  16. The kid is funny, the mom is funny, the dad is funny, the stories are funny, and Rock's voice-over is fantastic.
  17. Not only does Colbert maintain his persona without skipping a beat throughout the entire show, but he's got great comic timing, the show's writers are brilliant, and the whole thing is pure foolish, bizarre, idiotic fun at Bill O'Reilly's expense.
  18. 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.
  19. Unlike anything else you've ever seen on TV.
  20. 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.
  21. The uninitiated may continue to write off "Battlestar Galactica" as the remake of a mediocre show, or as the domain of science fiction fans alone, but those who've watched the show more than once or twice know better.
  22. Gervais' timing remains impeccable, and Ashley Jensen is wonderful as his shallow, lazy friend Maggie.
  23. Every single scene of The Wire is meticulously scripted and dramatically riveting.
  24. There's a sense of gathering gloom as this exceptional drama gains steam in its second season, a feeling that the individual and his or her high-minded goals and values will be dragged under by the wheels of industry and the restrictive norms of the culture, all in the name of modernity and progress.
  25. The acting on this show is so incredible that it's hard to remember that there's any acting going on at all.
  26. Instead of the usual family sitcom curse of clichés and bad "Full House" jokes, Modern Family captures the absurdities, quirks and freakish flaws of today's extended family in ways that feel lively, unique and just dark and mean-spirited enough to be...well, accurate.
  27. FX's Justified translates the intense interactions of author Elmore Leonard's characters into dialogue that's unpredictable, dynamic and positively riveting.
  28. It believes in the story it's telling and expects everyone watching the series not just to have a good time, but to commit. If every drama series had a tenth as much passion, TV would be a far more interesting place.
  29. Even at its worst, Boss radiates intelligence and toughness, and an appreciation of politics as a nonstop performance in an unscripted drama.
  30. Girls is smart, bracing, funny, accurately absurd, confessional yet self-aware, but it is also undeniably about four white chicks with, relatively speaking, no worries in the world.
  31. Sherlock is an elegant updating of Conan Doyle's stories, not an overhaul.
  32. The confident, acerbic new sitcom The Mindy Project is easily the best freshman comedy of the season.
  33. Happily, Nashville, with its unexpected intelligence and surprisingly low-key attitude, not only met all my cockamamie expectations, it exceeded them.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Emotionally, the pilot of “Freaks and Geeks” feels just about right — touching, but not sappy, amusingly off-kilter but not crude. Sure it’s nostalgic — former freaks and geeks are notorious wound lickers, the better to savor their post-high school triumphs. And this affectionate nostalgia, this assumption that viewers have been through what the characters are enduring and come out OK, is the show’s greatest strength and weakness. Freaks and Geeks depicts its ancient bygone era so well, it’s hard to imagine actual teenagers — freaks or geeks — tuning in.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    David is thoroughly disagreeable. And that’s what makes 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' so deliciously perverse, and so true to the impeccable nastiness of 'Seinfeld.' For those of us who’ve been making do with syndicated 'Seinfeld' reruns, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is the treat of the new season.
  34. Orange Is the New Black [is] Netflix’s hilarious, addictive, fantastic new series about the goings-on at a low-security women’s prison.
    • 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
  35. Surprisingly clever dialogue, great characters and an excellent cast will make you enjoy this very typical sitcom in spite of yourself.
  36. As odd and fast-paced as you'd expect from a show created by "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz.
  37. May be the most riveting and the most haunting drama to air this fall.
  38. 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.
  39. "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.
  40. Mad Men is smart, funny, eye-opening, and probably 10 times better than anything you'll see this fall, so don't miss it.
  41. 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.
  42. Californication is reasonably charming straight out of the gate, and as the story progresses, the intelligence of the writing gains traction.
  43. Aliens in America is packed with actual jokes and the story lines are tight and funny.
  44. With snappy writing, stunning art direction and a great cast, this really is the new show you don't want to miss.
  45. Life on Mars is colorful and fun and well-written.
  46. A heartfelt, inspiring, uplifting TV show that brings out the best in people? Who could possibly resist that?
  47. Only one thing is for certain: Even if you're skeptical of science fiction, Battlestar Galactica will make a true believer out of you.
  48. 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.
  49. While I realize my entire description makes the show sound hopelessly shallow and unrealistic (which it is), it's also smart and well acted and at times, funny.
  50. 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.
  51. The only bad thing about Summer Heights High is that it makes a lot of American comedies look pathetically unoriginal and lackluster by comparison.
  52. 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?
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. Big Love not only recovers from this near disaster in its third season, but its episodes build to a dramatic climax heretofore unseen on this series.
  56. The second season of HBO's Flight of the Conchords offers another wave of quirky hilarity of the very highest caliber, from Bret pawning his guitar to pay the rent, then mimicking guitar-playing while humming his part onstage, to Jemaine looking to supplement the duo's income with a little freelance prostitution.
  57. You'll find an important (and rare) thing: an off-kilter show that's at once smart, outlandish and very funny.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. The dialogue is just so artful and poetic, the characters are so appealing, the whole damn package is so original and daring and lovely, that after watching the first four hours, it's impossible not to feel inspired and cheered by the fact that a drama this ambitious and unique could make it onto network TV.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. Thankfully, while the reckoning of "The Memory Loss Tapes" is probably necessary, the other documentaries in the series are a little more hopeful.
  64. Just as "King of the Hill" started out as a show about middle-class Texans and slowly evolved into a twisted take on mainstream suburbia and family life at large, The Goode Family should eventually transcend the boundaries of its original premise.
  65. Hung is much more subtle and charming and odd than its name or its concept imply.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is genuinely creepy--party "X-Files," part "Close Encounters," with fine performances all around.
  66. 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.
  67. Watching Dexter endure the bubbly, enforced cheer of family life may make this the best season of the drama series to date.
  68. 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.
  69. This show transcends the base level of twisty procedurals with one thing: Patty Hewes.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. ABC's Shark Tank is easily the best new reality TV show to air this summer (which, admittedly, isn't saying much).
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. Yes, Bored To Death may be a parody of noir, or maybe it's a dramedy that dips into detective novel tomfoolery, but most of all, it's a story that revels in the realm of those strange overgrown children who use artistic pursuits to justify their weak little whimpering selves.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. Although "The Good Guys" might sound like the sort of cliché-heavy dramedy unlikely to hold our attention for more than a few milliseconds, the show pushes its formula just past zany and lands in the far more appealing territory of downright absurd.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. As funny as he is, it's clear that Louis C.K. doesn't just want to tell jokes. He wants to present the full force of his terrible brain, the ways that he eats himself alive day after day.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. CW's Nikita remake isn't nearly as awful as you'd imagine. In fact, it's remarkably good.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. The process of self-discovery is right upfront in Taking on Tyson, and it's fascinating.
  92. As adapted, produced and written for the screen by Veena Sud (creator of "Cold Case"), it's a subtle piece of work.
  93. I expected it to be yet another R-rated historical soap with an overqualified cast. It's that. (The series is co-executive produced by ... wait a second ... Michael Hirst? Not him again!) But it's also good. And addictive--not just because of the blood-and-boobs aspects, but because it takes you inside an unfamiliar world and shows you how it works.
  94. These three new episodes, which premiered in Britain last year, are engaging, tasteful and very well-made.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.

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