San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,024 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 44% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Better Off Ted: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 Til Death: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 547
  2. Negative: 0 out of 547
547 tv reviews
  1. The Americans benefits from convincing performances by the cast, but Weisberg's concept and writing in the first two episodes make the show much more than "just" a spy thriller.
  2. "Andy Barker, P.I." is a joyous, ridiculous, warm, affecting and silly comedy that is tone specific (read: Not everybody is going to get the vibe, and thus the jokes).
  3. Even a TV take on the classic Victorian-era penny dreadful has to work to suspend our disbelief, and Showtime's series does that through solid performances by most of the cast, appropriately lurid special effects and a competent, albeit humorless, script.
  4. A fairly promising new show with a lot of humor, solid performances, a snappily written script.
  5. For now, though, the credibility issues don't matter that much because we're more interested in the characters, who may not be all that credibly created themselves, but who are informed by Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece.
  6. Who knew that the mom in "Spy Kids" would get one of the best female character roles on TV and helm one of the season's biggest dramatic surprises.
  7. Grantchester is a period piece, but it’s fascinating to view it through a contemporary lens. Daisy Coulam’s adaptation is superb: She fleshes out the main characters with a deft hand, to be sure, but takes her time, enabling us to get to know Chambers as we would a new acquaintance.
  8. Being Human works better than it should because of skillful writing, often laced with wry humor, and the very deep well of plot possibilities in the idea that three "monsters," as they call themselves, can pass for "human."
  9. It feels like a detective movie or TV show from another era.
  10. The show is funny enough, although you might wonder where it would go in a second season, but here's the dirty little secret of Mixology: It's intelligent and poignant as well as being entertaining.
  11. In what must be considered something of a stunner on several levels, Two and a Half Men, a new sitcom, is actually funny.
  12. Like "The Cosby Show," to which it inevitably will be compared, Black-ish balances credible family situations with universally appealing comedy.
  13. Mullally is certainly another reason to watch the show, but her presence also works to solve another problem: cast dynamics.
  14. The casting on Southland is a plus and so is Biderman's intent not to make it easy for viewers to succumb to "pilotitis."
  15. Dirty Sexy Money is compelling even when it's not, funny when you're not quite sure it should be, ridiculous in the strangest spots and ultimately addictive if, for no other reason, you want to watch more episodes to find out what kind of beast it is.
  16. The pilot, directed by Alexander Payne ("Sideways"), is superb, and the first handful of episodes (there are 10 in the season), prove that the writing is consistently strong, the characters multidimensional and the tone assured and surprising in its depth.
  17. The jaded will have a field day, but so what? In the end, if lives are changed like they are on "Three Wishes" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," then who cares what corporate names are flashed or how many manufactured "reveals" there are?
  18. Missing may be 2 percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration with all of its action scenes, but it's fun to watch. Judd classes up the joint nicely.
  19. The Borgias, created by filmmaker Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game"), is the better of the two [The other is "Camelot"], thanks largely to Irons, a strong supporting cast and sophisticated production values.
  20. The writing is juvenile, hormonal and often pretty dang funny.
  21. Their unwavering obliviousness to what may be happening in the world actually makes their accidental commentary on current events even funnier.
  22. The Riches is gloriously inventive, daring and provocative, with excellent performances.
  23. The humor is one reason the show works, and the cast, especially Kemper, is the other.
  24. If you can get past the shortcuts that series like this have to take (everything happens too effortlessly, there's excessive exposition, etc.), there's an enormous likability factor in play, and it makes you want to watch it (without much mental effort) the following 13 weeks.
  25. Once you surrender to the surrealism, the comedy works, but in the long run, what makes the show itself work is the cast, especially Baruchel and Andre.
  26. Kinnear is great in the role because he doesn’t look like a loser--quite the opposite--and that’s important.... Perhaps because this is the pilot, most of the episode is devoted to showing Keegan screwing up and only a few afterthought scenes focus on Torrant’s case. In order to succeed from week to week, the series needs more than just a lot of figurative pratfalls.
  27. It opens into a fairly entertaining ensemble show about beautiful, bright people.
  28. Adams and Macht are terrific, with the former loosening up quite considerably this year as Mike....Torres is cool, sexy and commanding as Jessica, and Markle, Hoffman and Rafferty contribute greatly to the energy of the show's core ensemble.
  29. The two episodes sent to critics aren’t perfect, but their flaws (pompous introductory narration, a weak performance by Thurman, a handful of telegraphed cliches in the plot) are easily overlooked. Other performances, especially those of Quinto and Sarsgaard, are stunning in this provocative and surprisingly literate character-driven drama.
  30. Manhunt may not have the thrills and chills of a Hollywood feature film about the raid on bin Laden's compound, but you'll come away from a viewing of the film knowing that there is much more to covert operations than midnight raids and state-of-the-art electronic surveillance.
  31. If you're a viewer into quick and easy answers and seek resolution at the 59-minute mark, this is probably not your show. But if you're interested in the notion that post-9/11 paranoia is justified in ways we haven't even realized (and perhaps it would be too chilling if we did), and you have a fundamental distrust of government doings, Rubicon could be your new mental puzzle.
  32. McKellen and Jacobi, who are, of course, giants of their profession, are clearly having a lark with Vicious, and you'd be foolish not to want in on the fun.
  33. The performance quality of the show is matched only by the sharpness of the writing.
  34. "Thief" doesn't levitate with genre-busting genius, but it is very FX, which means it's very real and well executed, a series that doesn't pander.
  35. Project Runway is entertaining and likable on so many levels that it's hard to resist.
  36. The series' historic recreations are convincing, for the most part, although at times, the History Channel can't help itself and falls back into some of it cheesier bad habits.
  37. Several recent documentaries have tried to help the rest of the world understand the realities of being transgender, but, ironically, one of the better efforts does it well in spite of the fact that it focuses on the offspring of one of the most famous couples in pop culture.
  38. Once Upon a Time is both family-friendly and smart enough to win viewers of any age and level of sophistication.
  39. Just enough geeky insider stuff to keep the fan-boys from grousing too much, but an even bigger portion of well-written action, drama, humor and intricate plot details to hook viewers who gave up comic books before Steve Canyon was grounded.
  40. New characters, new rivalry, same old high quality.
  41. Media Rights Capital, an independent production company, took an offbeat idea and made it work surprisingly well.
  42. Sinbad is uncomplicated and unpretentious fun.
  43. Bell is likely to smooth over the minor bumps in coming shows, but make no mistake: Totally Biased isn't likely to look much like "The Colbert Report" or "The Daily Show."
  44. Finding Carter stands out by avoiding the obvious.... The cast is uniformly good and the younger actors are notably credible as real teenagers--a rarity in many TV shows. Prescott is terrific.
  45. This is an everyman series, and James knows just how to sell that to the masses. The writing is sharp, and the oddball fringe characters (particularly Patton Oswalt) flesh out the show.
  46. The entire cast is superb, and the actors seem comfortable in the groove the show has cut for itself. The writing is consistently sharp and focused. Most important, however, it has just the right sprinkling of obnoxiousness and cuteness.
  47. All in all, it's astounding how many plot elements can be packed into 90 or so minutes and how well all of them can be resolved in the hands of a competent writer like Stephen Churchett.
  48. As difficult as some of the imagery in the film is, it's impossible to look away and maybe just as impossible not to learn something about elephants and about ourselves.
  49. With a cast this big, though, and plots this complicated, it can be a challenge to keep up. Then again, if you're willing to do the work, it more than pays off.
  50. Funny, fearless, down to earth and informative, Monaghan makes a great host and guide and gives us a new respect and appreciation for nature's wild things--from a very safe distance.
  51. [Looking was] filmed entirely in the Bay Area, which is a big part of why the story rings so true. The other parts are the delicately detailed direction by Haigh and the pitch-perfect performances of the cast. All of these elements work together to present a convincing, multidimensional portrayal not only of contemporary gay life but also of contemporary life in general.
  52. It's funny and oddly touching.
  53. The result is not only that the show is funny, but that we also actually like both June and Chloe.
  54. If the first half of the film seems slightly more engaging than the second, it’s because it has more music. Queen Latifah should be a slam dunk for an Emmy nomination for playing Bessie, but she deserves even more praise for helping contemporary audiences understand the power of Bessie’s blues.
  55. BFF takes a less than inventive situation and turns it into something close to sitcom gold, thanks to the fact that creators Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham have taken the time to write believable characters saying legitimately funny things.
  56. The 13-episode series, created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, is simply irresistible, mostly because Fonda and Tomlin are irresistible.
  57. Unlike other documentaries, Gettysburg is short on archival still photography from the battlefield, but that's because, for once, it isn't needed. The re-enactments are dramatic and horrifically convincing all by themselves.
  58. As in "Sunny," they are almost-lovable losers, and that's a formula FX is now perfecting.
  59. Both individually and when they play off each other, Braugher and Samberg are reason enough to tune in to Brooklyn Nine Nine.
  60. Skies has enough going for it to appeal even to those who don't think they like sci-fi.
  61. "Crank Yankers" is far better than expected. Not everything works -- remember, there's a lot of juvenile stuff here and bits where you'll roll your eyes -- but sometimes even the stupidest setup becomes hilarious merely by the graciousness of the person being duped on the other end of the line.
  62. The humor is sly and more thoroughly integrated into the plot and characterizations than we’re used to in most sitcoms.... Six episodes just don’t seem enough.
  63. It definitely has its moments.
  64. Logue and Raymond-James are, straight out of the gate, the two most believable and funny buddies you'll see on the screen.
  65. The scary parts of the show really are scary and the actors are all appealing.
  66. It's great to have such important talking heads, but after a while, they don't really contribute much new to the discussion.
  67. In truth, the drama half of this comedy-drama is a little weak and not as engaging as the comedy. That becomes evident a few episodes in, but, fortunately, the show’s creators don’t linger too long on Hailey’s love life before getting back to the very funny business of running a symphony orchestra.
  68. The three episodes made available to critics are instantly compelling, taut with edge-of-your-seat drama and thick with credible melodrama.
  69. The performances are solid, for the most part.... There is promise in the one episode of Dome sent to critics and the series could work well, despite the fact that the general conceit of people living in a microcosm has been a staple of literature, film and TV forever.
  70. The material works more often than not because the guys are completely shameless, which makes them difficult to dislike.
  71. While there are somewhat foreseeable plot developments (Cameron's falling for Melanie, but she's hooked on Dutch), the series does have an agreeable cast and clever writing, and perhaps enough of both qualities to go the distance.
  72. The 10-episode series may not win any major awards, but it's well made and fun to watch.
  73. While it's true that television has been overloaded with acronyms lately and the redundant, long and confusing Navy NCIS is an egregious offender, it's also true that television is exploding with quality dramas and this is another of them.
  74. A show that does what it's supposed to do -- keep you riveted and entertained. [25 Sep 2002]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  75. The show is fast-paced and sexy, but perhaps its secret weapon is the authenticity of Tony's character as a young Latino resident of the working class, largely Mexican American Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
  76. The characters on Go On are engaging and varied.
  77. Yes, there's a lot less walking and talking. There is a limited amount of witty banter -- precisely enough so people not paying too much attention will never notice it's gone. What has increased... is heavy emotion a la "ER."
  78. As long as the jokes stay barbed, fast and witty--as they are in the pilot--there's more than enough reason to keep following the band of misfits.
  79. "The Simple Life" is a one-note joke, but it's a good one.
  80. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" adds an element of fun and a twist to an overplayed genre, and should find a wide audience.
  81. Revenge has enough meaty characters and plot possibilities to keep it going for years. And it just may last long enough to explore them all.
  82. The writing is just clever enough to probably make the killing-a-week conceit work. And if you're into watching a phalanx of almost-recognizable actors you've seen in work you can almost remember, this is the series for you. Beyond that, it's just plain fun.
  83. It has a solid pedigree. It's also part of Cinemax's effort to expand its original programming. That effort pays off with Banshee.
  84. "The Surreal Life" is so bad it's good. Really bad. And really good.
  85. The production values are first-rate, the performances convincing, and with 60 units in the building, there's a wealth of potential stories to keep 666 in ABC's address book for several seasons.
  86. By making us wonder what Steinem doesn't declare, we can come to a greater understanding of the complexities of the woman herself, but only if we are willing to venture beneath the surface.
  87. Both Paquin and Moyer do well here. And True Blood is fleshed out with other interesting characters getting to spout well-written lines. But at times the whole thing seems silly.
  88. V doesn't have an original premise - the humans versus aliens thing is as old as moving pictures. But the special effects are better, and if ABC can get you to buy into the storytelling then it might have another genre hit on its hands.
  89. Although Blick's structural concept skirts close to mannered gimmickry, it also makes artistic sense. We are slowly but unavoidably drawn into the ever thickening mire of secrets, lies and shifting allegiances in both the lives of the characters and, of course, in the constant strife in the Middle East.
  90. The adaptation is superb as it explores the Austen-James characterization, but Towhidi is ably abetted by Daniel Percival’s exquisite character-focused direction and, of course, first-rate performances from the entire cast.
  91. Imagine a lesbian "Friends," only smarter and better-looking.
  92. Lone Star has enormous potential to be a complicated, tightrope-walking tale of two lives. Or it could just implode. Like "The Event," it's worth your investment, but you'll have to record one or the other.
  93. There's some spot-on and sharp humor throughout, but it never gets too light and breezy.
  94. It's a wonderful series that gets better every hour you watch it. ... But there's the catch. "Deadwood" is a slow starter.
  95. Raising Hope works on two levels, the absurdist gags about dysfunctional families and lower-class values that populated "Earl," and the never-too-saccharine sweetness that Jimmy brings to the world. If Garcia can keep up this mix, Fox may have itself a non-animated comedy hit.
  96. Almost nothing about Empire ... feels original, but just a few minutes into the premiere episode, you’ll stop caring.
  97. Worst, created by Stephen Falk ("Weeds"), takes that well-worn conceit and forces it through the cold sieve of contemporary antiromanticism, and the result is often very funny.
  98. The flawed but oddly compelling drama Satisfaction takes an especially cynical view of marriage, but it's no laughing matter in the USA drama.
  99. One of the benefits of watching LeBlanc keep his character afloat is that it's all comfortable. Not always funny, mind you, but an easy 22 minutes.
  100. While it’s so fast paced, you barely realize that it isn’t always credible, you do get that it’s always fun.

Top Trailers