Salon's Scores

  • TV
For 421 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 43% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 55% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Homeland: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 Zero Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 239
  2. Negative: 0 out of 239
239 tv reviews
  1. It wants to entertain you, to draw you in with exciting, exacting plotting, and precisely drawn characters.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The series' thriller engine turns on, turns over and begins to purr.
  5. 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.
  6. What makes Transparent season two different from last season--which was itself technically and thematically brilliant--is that creator, writer, and director Jill Soloway introduces a thread of historicity to the story, with flashbacks, of a sort, to 1933 Berlin.
  7. [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.
  8. The FX comedy’s fifth season reveals a show that is as confident and distinctive as ever, a sitcom that is not quite like anything else on television.
  9. In the fifth season, the story has been distilled to just the moments of pathos and characterization and gorgeous direction that make the story work.
  10. Master of None is about grappling with a specific kind of privilege, and figuring out how to live with it; in that sense, it is the definitive millennial comedy.
  11. Sherlock is an elegant updating of Conan Doyle's stories, not an overhaul.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.”
  14. 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.
  15. The deliberate pacing and dreamy, surreal tone of Atlanta may prove too off-putting for viewers searching for easy entertainment. But those thirsting for a fearless, fresh perspective in comedy will find much to appreciate here.
  16. BoJack Horseman is deeply, ridiculously funny.
  17. If there is just one thing that The People v. O.J. Simpson is, it’s maddening. Fascinating and involved and nuanced and sympathetic, too.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
    • 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.
  20. Broad City is still very funny. That being said, though, the second season is where the flaws in the show’s premise start to become more apparent, as more and more pressure is put on the structure.
  21. Every single scene of The Wire is meticulously scripted and dramatically riveting.
  22. The kid is funny, the mom is funny, the dad is funny, the stories are funny, and Rock's voice-over is fantastic.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
    • 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Gervais' timing remains impeccable, and Ashley Jensen is wonderful as his shallow, lazy friend Maggie.
  27. Treme is a true gift, a way to finally appreciate and embrace one of our most beloved but neglected cities.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Top of the Lake [is] gorgeous and ambiguous and gripping like a hallucination.
  32. Unlike anything else you've ever seen on TV.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
    • 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.
    • Salon
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. With snappy writing, stunning art direction and a great cast, this really is the new show you don't want to miss.
  38. 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.
  39. It’s quietly brilliant, as we have come to expect from Simon.
  40. Only one thing is for certain: Even if you're skeptical of science fiction, Battlestar Galactica will make a true believer out of you.
  41. Season 2 makes room for Jimmy’s relationship with Kim, and to my mind, it gives the show a jolt of emotional resonance.
  42. McBride celebrates the Southern-fried dirtball culture of flyover America like some "Red State Diaries"; it's a veritable HBO "Hee-Haw."
  43. 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.
  44. Happily, Nashville, with its unexpected intelligence and surprisingly low-key attitude, not only met all my cockamamie expectations, it exceeded them.
  45. Witty, airy, convoluted Lady Dynamite is no exception, showcasing a brilliance of concept and bizarre execution that would be hard sells on many other networks.
  46. The acting on this show is so incredible that it's hard to remember that there's any acting going on at all.
  47. It carries a stronger sense of artful engagement with the viewer, through both direction and tone.... It’s still not exactly an easy watch, but it’s a far more engrossing one than in season one.
  48. Rather than break down each episode into sketches, each episode is its own, contained sketch, focusing on one particular set of characters and their stories. It makes Portlandia a lot easier to watch--and a bit more profound, too.
  49. 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.
  50. Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal debuted last night with an acerbic, bracing premiere that felt like, in the best way possible, a much-needed slap in the face.
  51. As adapted, produced and written for the screen by Veena Sud (creator of "Cold Case"), it's a subtle piece of work.
  52. I’m not entirely on board with all of Fuller’s operatic, bloody vision, but if it’s hard to watch, well, that’s the point.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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."
  57. 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.
  58. The drama is not perfect, but the ambition behind it is breathtaking.... As if the scope of the show weren’t enough, American Crime ups the ante with surprisingly affecting directorial choices.
  59. Its larger accomplishment of showcasing Rae’s talents and underrepresented characters in a sublime comedy is worth celebrating.
  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. Review gets a solid rating. Forrest MacNeil’s life? Zero stars.
  62. This season has done a much better job at focusing on the characters and stories that really pop, and sidelining or writing out the relationships that were boring.
    • 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody pinch me!
  66. 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.
  67. The Walking Dead is extremely realistic about the decayed, vast, destroyed world, and dopily idealistic about its main character.
  68. Jessica Jones would probably have been better adapted in 10 episodes, or eight; given the closed-endedness of Bendis’ and Gaydos’ four-volume arc, it might have made a hell of a movie, too. What makes it work is Ritter herself.
  69. This show transcends the base level of twisty procedurals with one thing: Patty Hewes.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It is genuinely creepy--party "X-Files," part "Close Encounters," with fine performances all around.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
    • 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.
  73. FX's Justified translates the intense interactions of author Elmore Leonard's characters into dialogue that's unpredictable, dynamic and positively riveting.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. Orange Is the New Black [is] Netflix’s hilarious, addictive, fantastic new series about the goings-on at a low-security women’s prison.
  78. 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.
  79. The Hour's charms are many, but chief among them is its celebration of intelligence and diligence as cardinal, animating virtues.
  80. "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.
  81. 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.
  82. Luke Cage is not a quick binge, but there’s something to appreciate in its 1970s noir-influenced pacing. As slow burns go, this one rewards patient viewing.
  83. Life on Mars is colorful and fun and well-written.
  84. If anything, the depth of the show is enhanced by the humor, and vice versa.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. Even at its worst, Boss radiates intelligence and toughness, and an appreciation of politics as a nonstop performance in an unscripted drama.
  88. 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?
  89. 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.
  90. 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.”
  91. 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.
  92. Far from epic, John Adams is a biopic as intense and moody as the man himself.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.

Top Trailers