San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,192 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 45% 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 Mad Men: Season 7.5
Lowest review score: 0 Rush (2014): Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 649
  2. Negative: 0 out of 649
649 tv reviews
  1. It's not very often that a TV show bursting with imagination, audacity, rude charm and a relentlessly funny worldview gets on the air, much less appears fully formed. But Sarah Silverman... has delivered an offbeat gem.
  2. It is a triumph of superb storytelling.
  3. If Kirkman, writer/show runner Glen Mazzara ("The Shield") and the rest of the team continue doing what they're doing--and following the template Darabont created--The Walking Dead can have a bloody long life.
  4. In addition to electrifying footage from a number of live concerts, including the famous “T.A.M.I. Show” in which Brown upstaged the Rolling Stones (the film’s producer denies that was the case), Mr. Dynamite gives us fascinating insight into the evolution of Brown’s music.
  5. From spot-on casting and one extraordinary performance after another, to a bold adaptation by Sarah Phelps, to Coky Giedroyc's energizing direction, to a toe-tapping musical score (that probably doesn't belong here, but fie on that - it's fun), this Oliver Twist is a thrill ride for anyone who still believes that TV can be entertaining.
  6. The miniseries has far more depth and character nuance than you’ll find in, say, a “Marple” or a “Poirot.” Much of that owes to Whitmore’s attention to the telling details of character development and, of course, to the performances, especially Clunes.
  7. Sons of Anarchy remains as bare-knuckled and, almost inconceivably, as funny and crass as ever. And it doesn't take Season 3 very long to ratchet up the twists
  8. Daring and original.
  9. Every enlightening, poignant or funny word is true in the documentary airing Monday on HBO. The fact that it is so funny eventually becomes strangely sad, which makes the film thoroughly enjoyable but also irresistibly provocative.
  10. The series commands our attention because of how it was conceived by Neil Cross, who continues to write masterful scripts.
  11. The good news is that after a creatively weak and shortened Season 5... it appears that one of television's finest series has regained its momentum and sure footing and will -- barring a misstep -- walk out of the spotlight at the height of its emotional resonance.
  12. It's Close who makes "Damages" a series to contend with.
  13. [It's so] good you can't help wondering why no one thought of it before, a compelling mix of credible real-life melodrama with a fictionalized approximation of what it takes to get a Broadway show from the idea stage to opening night.
  14. At every turn in this heart-wrenching series of films, we are reminded that these men and women are human, no matter how robotic they may seem as they rapidly snap off shots of death and tears.
  15. Top of the Lake is Jane Campion and her cast at the top of their game.
  16. It's a serialized mystery that pays off your devotion.
  17. There's a vibrancy to the stories in each Boardwalk Empire episode. With echoes of the gangland mentality of "The Sopranos" and the frontier recklessness of "Deadwood," HBO seems to have found in Boardwalk Empire a fertile, sprawling new franchise series.
  18. What is not surprising at all about the fourth season of one of television's elite series is that Weiner continues to explore what it means to be human.
  19. It's the best series on television, end of story.
  20. Has the kind of verve and wit that's the hallmark of shows where the writers aren't thinking about audience reaction or how the network bigs will view it -- it's a story that just pours out, with the audacity to say, "Take me or leave me."
  21. When Season 3 kicks off spectacularly, there's a slight exhale in the first 59 minutes--then a twist. And not a small one, either. By the second episode, the writers give you roughly 40 minutes to digest that twist, then drop a real stunner. Which is--just to cut to the chase here--truly and incredibly exciting television.
  22. Wilfred works on many levels, something that may not become apparent until after you stop laughing.
  23. If last season tended toward painful self-evaluation -- it made for great drama but a head full of bleakness -- Season 3 hints not so much at a more clearly defined, lighter tone but perhaps more living life out loud than living it in the head.
  24. Great historical documentaries not only enlighten us about the past, but tell us things about our own times as well, either directly or implicitly. Prohibition, the latest project by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, states the implicit links between the passage of the 18th Amendment and contemporary politics so loudly, you'd have to be drunk on bathtub gin not to get the message.
  25. [The Crazy Ones and The Michael J. Fox Show] have great, always likable stars heading up solid ensemble casts in well-written and mostly plausible shows. Who could ask for anything more?
  26. Sunday's season premiere sustains the quality of the first season, continues the story line in a completely credible way, and then opens up even more possibilities for future plot developments.
  27. [The Crazy Ones and The Michael J. Fox Show] have great, always likable stars heading up solid ensemble casts in well-written and mostly plausible shows. Who could ask for anything more?
  28. It is every bit as powerful, moving and surprising as the first season, and just as transformative in its own way, as it belies the notion that second seasons of great high-concept shows are rarely as good as first seasons.
  29. The performances are superb at every level, with each actor rising to the challenge of revealing previously unrealized aspects of his or her character. Fortunately, the cast is blessed with a beautifully nuanced script from the Williams brothers.
  30. There are many small and wonderful dramatic accomplishments in the underappreciated gem that is Battlestar Galactica, but perhaps the most enduring is that what was conceived of as an epic space adventure has turned into a finely detailed, intimate drama.
  31. Yes, it's brilliant, again.
  32. The portrait of Belafonte that emerges from the film is also the portrait of the times of his life, the times of the nation's life in the past 60 years.
  33. The writing is superb and painfully funny, while the cast is terrific.
  34. She has a way of setting a joke up and then fooling us into thinking she’s made her point, only to add a killer punch line, almost as if she’s lost interest in the story but throws in the punch line anyway.
  35. The show succeeds by spreading out the story lines. By the second episode, everyone is surprisingly well developed.
  36. Generation Kill is rewarding in its complexity. It feels real - and that realness is bracing, sad and funny in equal measures.
  37. Tig
    The pile of calamities in Notaro’s life was devastating, but as she talks about them, you come to understand that, in a way, surviving one challenge strengthened her to deal with the next.
  38. Right out of the gate, "The Boondocks" is a water-cooler series that lives up to the hype. It is funny, fearless and continues the vibe of the strip.
  39. While some critics have nearly thrown themselves in front of a train to get people to watch Friday Night Lights, bending and bruising the language in praise of it, the truth is that a good argument could be made for FNL being perhaps the best drama on broadcast television. [5 Oct 2007]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  40. What makes Aisling Walsh’s film must-watch, however, is Tom Hollander’s performance as the great Welsh poet.
  41. The series is so pervasively cynical--and, by the way, brilliantly funny--it has the potential of making any viewer feel his or her life isn't so bad after all.
  42. The joy of this series really comes down to two things: lots of action and some babelicious butt-kicking. Not something to be proud of for enjoying it, but true. Pass the chips and ale -- and down in front!
  43. The performances are precise and beautifully detailed, as are the characterizations in Thomas' script. Fans of the original series will see certain echoes in some of the characters in the sequel, but the echoes are faint enough to allow us our memories of, among so many others, Rachel Gurney and David Langton as the Bellamys, Angela Baddeley as the cook and Gordon Jackson as Hudson, who was so much more than just the butler.
  44. Person of Interest separates itself from the gimmick pack, not only because of superbly nuanced characterization and writing but also because of how it engages a post-9/11 sense of paranoia in its viewers.
  45. This is one of maybe six or so elite series on all of television that you should absolutely be watching. Pitch-perfect acting (ensemble stars Jason Bateman and Jessica Walter were robbed of Emmys) and nuanced writing that staggers you with its cleverness and lunacy makes this more than a typical dysfunctional-family sitcom. [3 Nov 2004, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  46. If you like big-screen-level thrills and complicated plot structures, you'll opt-in to FlashForward. And you'll be rewarded. Here's hoping it stays strong and compelling as it heads to April 29.
  47. The first three episodes of Season 2 that AMC sent out continue that level of achievement with no evident missteps.
  48. Weight pulls no punches, spares neither the multibillion-dollar food and advertising industries nor public officials for not only failing to fix the problem but actually making it worse, and essentially writes a prescription for the nation's health and economic future that we ignore to our peril.
  49. The characters bring us into the action and, once there, we want to follow every development.
  50. People who watched the Maysleses' documentary when it came out probably found the women strange, to say the least, but may have also felt sympathy for them in the end. That's the feeling that director and co-screenwriter Michael Sucsy is going for in the HBO film, and he achieves it in spades.
  51. All of the elements that made it must-see last year are working at full throttle in season two, which kicks off Wednesday night: intrigue, deception, sex, duplicity, spy vs. spy stuff and, most of all, irony.
  52. At heart, this is a show about good and evil, but sometimes the catch--for both the characters and the audience--is knowing which is which. You won't be able to stop watching.
  53. The most ambitious storytelling series on television. ... "The Wire" is the best show on HBO, which means it's the best show on television, period. If you want in on it, even if you missed the first go-around, you'll find a way to make sense of it all.
  54. Mamet is very much on his game in Phil Spector, but so is every member of his cast, including Al Pacino as Spector and Helen Mirren as attorney Linda Kenny Baden: Watching these two titans of acting work is half the fun.
  55. The Hour stands perfectly well on its own merits. It's so good that other shows should start looking to it as something to emulate.
  56. In the end, there will likely be a lot of unhappiness, dead bodies, same-as-it-ever-was institutional failure, lack of responsibility and the triumph of self-interest over the greater good. Not exactly a Hallmark card, but one hell of an artistic achievement.
  57. Courage or crazy, or maybe both, everyone involved is following the same directive: to blow up the traditional sitcom. It’s just crazy funny.
  58. The emotional authenticity of Downton Abbey continues to make it a classic.
  59. David's ability to hone in and magnify the most socially awkward moments in life is almost frightening. If this series didn't make you double over in laughter every couple of minutes, it would be a whole other kind of torture.
  60. Having seen the first four episodes, you need to be a part of this. You need to doff the skepticism and get on the ride.
  61. Sherlock is an electric marriage of great writing with great performances.
  62. Awake grabs you, unnerves you, breaks your heart and even makes you work a little.
  63. Notaro is funny because she is so creatively droll. But she’s also funny because she is --maybe not fearless, but brave enough to stare fear down and get beyond it.
  64. When you have a story as thoroughly involving as this one, evoking both "King Lear" and "Citizen Kane," and when the performances are this good, Boss almost directs itself.
  65. Stranger Things reminds us of a time marked by a kind of no-strings escapism. And as it does so, we find ourselves yearning for it because the Duffers have made it so irresistibly appealing. There may be other equally great shows to watch this summer, but I guarantee you won’t have more fun watching any of them than you will watching Stranger Things.
  66. At least the first episode of the new Cosmos is terrific. And if the other 12 episodes are as good, the series will serve as a valuable continuation of Sagan's legacy.
  67. The fall's funniest sitcom.
  68. The three Roosevelts come back to memorable life in Burns' epic through archival footage, some of which has been seen before in other Burns' films, and insightful commentary from historians and writers such as Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Blanche Wiesen Cook, William Leuchtenberg, and others.
  69. "City of Men" pulses with the kind of energy you don't get often on American television, and the realness of the shot-on-location scene really makes each episode feel like a minimovie.
  70. A gorgeous new documentary series on the Discovery Channel.
  71. The breadth and ambition of "The Wire" are unrivaled and that taken cumulatively over the course of a season -- any season -- it's an astonishing display of writing, acting and storytelling that must be considered alongside the best literature and filmmaking in the modern era.
  72. A cleverly crafted, ingenious thriller with only scant moments of implausibility. Most of it has the unmistakable imprint of a smart premise beautifully executed.
  73. All the elements Mad Men does well - the humor, the note-perfect clothing and sets, the creeping cultural change - are still there to be savored.
  74. Lost has a stellar, varied cast, it is shot beautifully and it surprises more often than it makes you wince or wheeze, which, in the math of action-adventure-sci-fi-thrillers, is a good thing. [22 Sept 2004, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  75. Stunningly great execution.
  76. The period details are exquisite, aside from a couple of stray modernisms that wander into the dialogue here and there.... But the brilliance of the series is the balancing act of the scripts, by Darabont and Buntin, executed with astonishing precision between the past and the modern version of the past.
  77. "Deadwood" fans already know that Milch doesn't make it easy for viewers to get a purchase on his series, but for those willing to do the work, Luck, pays off.
  78. This is a series that was completely unexpected, and Hall has hard-and-fast rules about what Joan and God can do. She's not making up the story arcs on the fly, which gives confidence that this unusual creation is in good hands. [25 Sept 2003, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  79. Klondike grabs you with terrific performances, an unusually rich script, magnificently sweeping visuals of jagged mountains overlooking valleys of ice and snow, and such a convincing attention to period detail, you'll believe you're back in Dawson City at the end of the 19th century.
  80. Nothing Left Unsaid offers great insight into the lives of its subjects, but its even greater achievement as a film is unanswered questions it provokes in its viewers.
  81. Togetherness is easy to like on one level and probably a little more challenging as the Duplass brothers explore the quiet discontent among people who are just trying to do they best they can. It’s worth the effort. The emotional payoff is enormous.
  82. There isn't a better cop show on TV right now than Southland.
  83. What's remarkable about this quartet, and why Push Girls proves that reality shows can actually be intelligent and engaging, is that in most ways the women's lives are in fact not all that remarkable.
  84. "Flight of the Conchords" may well be the funniest thing you've seen in ages and -- at least for a half hour -- answers the question of whether HBO has any good shows left.
  85. David Simon’s extraordinary miniseries does live up to the complete meaning of Fitzgerald’s observation. It is ultimately a tragic story, with an enormously moving emotional payoff at the end. The finale will move you, perhaps to tears.
  86. [A] terrific, boundary-busting comedy.
  87. The performances are even better than in previous years, with brand new but fully credible sides of Holmes’ and Watson’s characters. And the writing, by Moffat and Gatiss, is in a league by itself.
  88. Everything you fear might be true about how our government works--or doesn't--becomes hilarious fodder for Veep's biting satire.
  89. One of the many virtues of Buirski's film is that it doesn't hit viewers over the head with the parallel between the Lovings' case and the debate over same-sex marriage. The parallel is simply there, to be identified and considered by the viewer.
  90. This is a series that goes beyond critical darling. "The Wire" is better than its own hype. If you don't watch the show, it's your fault, your loss.
  91. As good as Rome is -- and it's an epic, multilayered thing of beauty -- it's still not on the level of "The Sopranos" or "The Wire" or "Deadwood." That's almost an unfair comparison, but it's also true. On the other hand, "Rome" unfolds like a marvelously shot big-screen movie, each scene (filmed on location in Italy) dripping with money well spent and a meticulous grandeur that rewards you for paying extra for HBO.
  92. "Battlestar Galactica" not only lives up to its sci-fi gold-standard reputation but also should be considered straight up as one of television's most appealing dramas, no matter the genre.
  93. It is emotionally raw, harrowing, and a thing of such singular horrific beauty, it will move you, exhaust you and, almost paradoxically, thrill you at the heights television drama can attain.
  94. From the two new episodes made available to critics for review, it's clear that the quality of Breaking Bad will continue undiminished.
  95. As Sutter proved in the intriguing and original first season, there's plenty more riveting storytelling to tap into as Sons of Anarchy boldly comes of age.
  96. The new offering, from executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick (the team behind "BSG"), stands on its own and in many ways might be more inviting to viewers who are not hard-core sci-fi fans.
  97. An eye-opener that’s also funny, real and compelling, the series is a heartwarming reminder that no matter who we are, we’re all born this way.
  98. Fellowes does know how to write some tasty dialogue, especially for Maggie Smith....The other performances are equally winning, but beyond that, you can't help feeling these actors are having a jolly good time with all this overblown fluff. And so will you.
  99. It means there's finally something good (and funny) on Tuesday nights.
  100. The script occasionally wanders into “Gone With the Wind”-style melodrama, but is always rescued by excellent performances. Among the best of the bunch are James, Radnor and Winstead. Butz and Summers edge delightfully close to comic relief.

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