San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 900 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 Weeds: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 Ghost Whisperer: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 480
  2. Negative: 0 out of 480
480 tv reviews
  1. This is not sophisticated, drawing-room humor. It's closest to what they used to call college humor, and what is now considered stoned humor. But beneath the silliness is gentle but still dead-on satire that makes The Birthday Boys worth a look and a laugh.
  2. History aside, Reign, created by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie SenGupta, is not only engaging but also pretty classy for a CW production.
  3. Grayson/Dracula and his pals sound closer to characters from a '30s film than a 21st century TV series. But over time, as our modern ears adjust to the melodramatically declarative style, the antiquated dialogue enhances the other-worldly tone of the series.
  4. It captures the teeming bleakness of the future world and establishes winning chemistry between Kennex and Dorian.
  5. What separates it from "Veep" is that Alpha House almost seems possible, and it's not just because of similarities between the characters and real pols. It's about the mind-set, the dealing, arrogance and boorishness of our shaky legislative branch.
  6. The film is both dramatically viable and instructive. Yes, we learn about science, but perhaps more important, we also learn about standing your ground no matter what challenges you face.
  7. Interviews with Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Anne Meara, Bill Cosby and others provide ample evidence of Moms' enduring influence. Yet, even if you remember how great she was, you may find yourself wishing there were fewer testimonials and more footage of Moms performing.
  8. It's full to overflowing with clever and sometimes very funny geek-speak.
  9. The film is cleverly structured as a time-travel flashback, beginning in 1966, at the end of Hartnell's tenancy of the lead role.
  10. If the series were just about Breeanna looking for her biological father, it would be passably interesting. But her search also sheds light on a variety of issues that speak eloquently about the nature of a modern family.
  11. Rhys and Whittaker are terrific and the two big reasons to watch the series.... Speaking of assets, credibility of the story is nicely enhanced by muted cinematography and art direction, emphasizing that catching spies is done by nondescript men and women who lead seemingly normal lives and work in under-decorated offices deciphering codes and other information.
  12. Despite the pluses and minuses of the script, the cast generally delivers the goods, especially Phyllis Logan as housekeeper Mrs. Hughes, Joanne Froggatt as lady's maid Anna Bates, and Jim Carter as Carson, the overseer of the household staff.
  13. It's about characters, and both "Chicago Fire" and Chicago PD are filled with them.
  14. The series, created by Mara Brock Akil, works for a number of reasons, including Union's performance as a very credible contemporary woman.
  15. The show has enough originality and sheer wackiness to maintain viewer interest, not to mention ridiculous effects that are anything but special.
  16. [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.
  17. 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.
  18. The show is funny, warm and bloody irresistible because of the care taken with creating characters who are multidimensional, vulnerable and credible.
  19. 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.
  20. As has been the case in so many films and TV shows, Sevigny is the most compelling reason to watch Those Who Kill, but if the scripts remain as carefully crafted as that of Monday's pilot, Sevigny will have found a vehicle worthy of her singular skills.
  21. It has a zest, from the voice-over to the sharp writing and sexy cast, that was completely unexpected. Duhamel has star appeal, and Caan is can't-miss.
  22. At times, there are actual punch lines in the script and the show veers into "writerly" territory.... But make no mistake: You should overlook the shortcomings and enjoy the series on its own otherwise considerable merits, chief among them, of course, Billy Bob Thornton.
  23. It remains a well-made and potentially addictive drama, whether you watch it in real time or later on your DVR. Time is still on its side.
  24. 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.
  25. Undateable still doesn't quite capture the zany entirety of D'Elia's comic style, but it comes closer than anything he's done so far. The rest of the cast is solid; the writing works; the familiar situation is at least freshened by snappy direction and appealing characters.
  26. It is filled with adventure on the high seas and sex and intrigue on dry land. And, yes, above all, it's fun.
  27. The show is generally well written, expertly directed (Thomas Schlamme of "West Wing" directs the pilot) and most of the performances are solid.
  28. Almost Royal has enough silliness for both American and British tastes.
  29. Both "The Godfather" and Tyrant are, at heart, about family dynamics. As the Al-Fayeed story evolves beyond Tuesday's pilot, that fact becomes clearer.
  30. 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.
  31. There are more questions than answers in the pilot of Extant, which, in this case, is a good thing. The seeds of dramatic conflict have been planted, and we're going to come back the next week to see how all of this plays out.
  32. 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.
  33. The show's humor is subtle, the plot lines somewhat predictable, but both the individual character development and the interaction among those characters make Sweden more than welcome.
  34. 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.
  35. The strength of the show is that it reflects the truth that the justice system was created and is administered by men and women, who have complicated thoughts and points of view, and who may mean well, or be blinded by their own frailty and ambition.
  36. 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.
  37. The flawed but oddly compelling drama Satisfaction takes an especially cynical view of marriage, but it's no laughing matter in the USA drama.
  38. Manhattan brings legitimate class to WGN's nascent original content project.
  39. 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.
  40. Tacky, vulgar, politically incorrect and mocks others. And those are its good points.
  41. A cool video-meets-soap concept that looks as fresh as anything in years. ... [But] the dialogue falters and the acting is, in spots, forced.
  42. Setting up the first big heist takes all of the first episode, so our introduction to Smith and crew is too quick, more than a little forced and ultimately not compelling enough.
  43. Discerning viewers -- and anyone who's hooked on "Lost" -- will realize that "Jericho" is doling out hints to a very large mystery at a very slow pace, which is never a good combination.
  44. "Help Me Help You" has a few more surprises and comedic heft to it than expected.
  45. The first two hours are decent.
  46. O'Brien's debut was pretty much what one would expect from these kind of pre-hyped events. It was both funny and forced and the expectations of - what, exactly?--never seemed to materialize, even though Will Ferrell as the sole guest tried to drum something up and Pearl Jam, as the musical guest, at least kick-started an aural ruckus.
  47. Needs improvement, but it’ll make it. The goal should be to fit the show to Meyers’ obvious strengths, not try to fit Meyers to the show’s template.
  48. Preposterous ideas know no bounds on "Prison Break."
  49. "Reunion" has more dishonest heartstring tugs than a John Hughes movie sliced up on AMC and filled with Hallmark ads. And the emotional heavy lifting makes people forget that the actual writing -- in this case, an overdose of voice-over narration -- is sleight, cloying and transparent.
  50. By no means is "Just Legal" a top-notch drama as yet, but it certainly has potential to be agreeable lighter fare.
  51. There is something too pat, too telegraphed in "Invasion" to rile up the blood.
  52. The problem with "Criminal Minds" -- other than there are 48 series in a similar vein, 39 of them on CBS -- is that every person in this cast has an area of expertise, and they spend the hour telling you about it in the most unrealistic workplace conversations you'll ever hear.
  53. There's no doubt that "Related" will speak to some women. It will make other women break out in itchy, insanity-inducing hives.
  54. This is a series that throws so much lunacy into the plotlines that even the writers on "Dynasty" must be hissing.
  55. Actually, "Emily's Reasons Why Not" does have its funny moments. The problem is twofold. The show tweaks and contorts itself so hard to get those laughs that the whole thing feels forced and unmanageable for two consecutive episodes, much less a season. And secondly, the premise is unlikely to hold up for any length of time.
  56. "Huff" got too heavy, and too predictable in its moroseness. Lying on the couch for more seems unnecessarily depressing.
  57. The real problem with "Justice" is that the series is very average.
  58. Can we negotiate for a better premise if we release some hostages?
  59. It's not compelling at all.
  60. This is a paint-by-numbers legal series that's as predictable as they come.
  61. It never finds a compelling vision while inside those heads to suggest it will be anything more than a good, but not great, hospital drama.
  62. At some point, your head will explode.
  63. "The Dresden Files" is currently mediocre, a series searching for the right tone, seemingly unsure of itself and all the while not quite selling itself to the non sci-fi crowd.
  64. You might not remember to record it every week, but if you stumble upon it, you might stay.
  65. [It] ultimately succumbs to being an inferior story on a broadcast network that can't even remotely match two far better cable series ["The Sopranos" and "Brotherhood"].
  66. The pilot looks dangerously flawed and seriously underwhelming.
  67. "Raines" is one of those shows that are enjoyable time wasters if you don't know what else is available.
  68. There's much to recommend in "Thank God You're Here!," but the show could be vastly improved by giving viewers at home a little more credit.
  69. Much of the writing in the first episode is competent, but it's hard to judge whether it will rise above that, because Smith has to spend so many words establishing the bases for all the plot developments to come.
  70. The spy story, wartime bullets and intrigue carry The Company, though the writing and story are unnecessarily obvious.
  71. To some extent, the sequel could never live up to "HS1" because the first film was such a surprise. There are more than a few high notes in the sequel, but there are also some flat notes as well.
  72. Intriguing--but not especially enjoyable.
  73. Right now, outside of Anderson struggling to make something from the limited ingredients he's been given, New Orleans itself is the only interesting element.
  74. Three sitcom veterans can elevate comfortable mediocrity only so high. There's probably not one setup, premise or joke that you haven't seen before (or will see coming) in the entirety of your sitcom-watching life.
  75. The main action is pretty much standard soap fare.
  76. It allows McKidd to shine as Mr. Fix-It, even though he never wanted the task. Some of the subtext needs more episodes to provide breathing room.
  77. Ryan seems too inert, not nearly aggressive enough for the role.
  78. Applegate is charming, adorable and funny. But she's going to need that plus a car battery or a purposeful dip in the bathtub with a hair dryer to get much spark into this series.
  79. Though Berlanti doesn't always get the balance right and there's no telling whether people will glom onto Eli the way they did Ally, having seen three episodes and been entertained through most of them is saying something, at least.
  80. The trouble with Welcome to the Captain, outside of the title and romantic emphasis, is that two episodes haven't revealed any clear direction.
  81. For all the effort that was put into making Canterbury complicated, not nearly enough quality control was put into the writing.
  82. But this is an epic drama on HBO, correct? So is it Giamatti or Adams himself who will make viewers wish for a swifter and less pedantic version on the History Channel?
  83. The pilot of Miss Guided suffers a bit from being too cute with a device where the actors talk into the camera for narration and expository purposes.
  84. In Plain Sight, in addition to some of the worst character names you'll ever see, has deeper problems in the writing.
  85. Swingtown was created to portray a broad but nuanced picture of '70s suburban America, but it might be too ambitious.
  86. It's solid for what it is, despite the worrisome gimmick and sometimes obvious story.
  87. Although the cases in Raising the Bar are apparently influenced by real-life cases, they tend to be either predictable or predictably unpredictable, however you want to look at it. In combination with the characters, this makes Raising the Bar about an average law series. That's pretty good for TNT, but less than expected from Bochco - fair or not.
  88. Oh, it's not very French and the dialogue is absurd, but somehow from this divine mess emerges something that at least approximates a woman you have to admire.
  89. Though there are plenty of hard-earned (some might say forced) laughs here and Bornheimer is a real find, you can't help but wonder how they'll keep up the pace.
  90. There's an old-school feel to the storytelling (shades of "Columbo") that makes it feel comfortable--perhaps too comfortable, or at least too easy.
  91. There are funny moments here, mostly coming from Mohr's agitated rantings. But the laugh track is mighty intrusive, which detracts from the average jokes by throwing them in your face (or down your ear, as it were).
  92. Californication in Season 2 seems like its indulging a certain person's condition rather than illuminating the human condition, if you know what I mean - and I think you do.
  93. Some of it works, much of it doesn't.
  94. Not nearly as ambitious as "Life on Mars" but entertaining nonetheless.
  95. In FX's Testees, viewers get a good premise gone sophomorically sideways.
  96. Bad, then decent, then confusing. That's not exactly the trajectory you're looking for in a pilot.
  97. Leverage is far from great TV and not even close to really good TV, but when the bad-turned-good guys team up to do their thing, it's a passably entertaining way to spend an hour.
  98. After watching the first four episodes, it's clear that despite the familiar adrenaline rush and a (temporarily) tighter rein on the ridiculous, 24 hasn't changed much at all.
  99. Joss Whedon is one of television's most talented visionaries, but his latest series--the highly anticipated midseason drama Dollhouse--is a major disappointment.
  100. It's visually engrossing. Then it goes oddly flat in parts, only to kick-start itself with another clash of tones.

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