San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,042 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 1.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Pushing Daisies: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Til Death: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 558
  2. Negative: 0 out of 558
558 tv reviews
  1. Imagine a lesbian "Friends," only smarter and better-looking.
  2. 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.
  3. There's some spot-on and sharp humor throughout, but it never gets too light and breezy.
  4. It's a wonderful series that gets better every hour you watch it. ... But there's the catch. "Deadwood" is a slow starter.
  5. 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.
  6. Almost nothing about Empire ... feels original, but just a few minutes into the premiere episode, you’ll stop caring.
  7. 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.
  8. The flawed but oddly compelling drama Satisfaction takes an especially cynical view of marriage, but it's no laughing matter in the USA drama.
  9. 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.
  10. While it’s so fast paced, you barely realize that it isn’t always credible, you do get that it’s always fun.
  11. All told, this series is pleasantly unexpected, taking chances on TNT when it seemed the channel's DNA wouldn't permit that level of risk. If the writing continues to hold up, viewers could be in for a better ride than the one Hunter is already taking them on by herself.
  12. Gibney is as successful as anyone in getting beneath Sinatra’s carefully curated surface, but only so far.
  13. It’s clear, then, that the allure and the annoyance of the series rest in the same area. FX gets “Nip/Tuck” to stand out in a crowded field by being provocative both under the knife and under the sheets. Sex and surgery are the draw, but the acting, the emotional battlegrounds and even the issues raised are ultimately the reasons the series excels.
  14. On the one hand, our love of the characters makes it more than possible to overlook the sloppiness of the scripts. On the other, though, it's because we do know these characters so well that we notice the inconsistencies in the first place. Again, none of this detracts significantly from our enjoyment of the series.
  15. Tonight's pilot has a film quality to it and the narrative flow is both intriguing and unexpected.
  16. There's always a need for a pulse-pounding mystery with a little paranormal thrown in. If The Event proves it can let out the story while reeling viewers back each week, it could be something special.
  17. Maron’s character is much more than a grumpier version of “Louie.” He’s very much his own miserably hilarious schlemiel, and we’re all the luckier that he’s back for another round of trying to navigate daily life.
  18. There's no laugh track, the humor is gently sophisticated and the main characters wounded but appealing.
  19. Despite what we know about his troubled childhood, Fischer remains enigmatic.
  20. What made that show great is what makes Cleveland hot: solid casting and crisp writing.
  21. The Awesomes is charming, but your enjoyment of it may depend on how much you may already feel over-saturated with animation.
  22. It's helpful to remember that Life on Mars is less about said realism and more about Sam's twisted journey. Enjoying that retro-cool ride is the essence of the series.
  23. Endeavour is wonderfully entertaining on its own, but what puts it over the top is its loving respect for John Thaw.
  24. Notwithstanding the cat-and-mouse plotting, we watch The Killing because of the superb writing and attention to character detail in the scripts by series executive producer Veena Sud and others.
  25. 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.
  26. Spoils Before Dying is funnier than “Babylon.” The earlier miniseries spoofed ’40s melodramas, but this year’s model takes a narrower approach, mining the staples of the even more formulaic noir films, capturing the excesses of the hard-boiled dialogue and pushing them just far enough over the edge to knock you out of your chair.
  27. Although the characters have only scant or fleeting redeeming personal values, we continue to buy into their machinations because of how they are created and because of superbly convincing performances at every level of the cast.
  28. Silly as the set-up may seem, it works because of competent writing and convincing performances.
  29. Entourage works precisely because it's nearly soulless. These guys are wallowing in excess. Any less of a cannonball into it would seem unbelievable. But there's no ignoring how childish and annoyingly limited the group can be, including some aspects of Eric.
  30. By having everyone around Jackie seem daft, quirky or incompetent--an attempt at humor, one would guess--the series never felt connected. Those elements improved by the ended of Season 1 and have, for the most part, been ironed out in the early episodes of Season 2 (though the tone will need to be monitored).
  31. Suspend disbelief, not to mention your knowledge of Washington Irving's classic tale, because the illogical hodgepodge of myth premiering Monday night is great fun.
  32. "Love Monkey" manages in one hour to be both funny and endearing, a more option-rich version of "Ed."
  33. Better Off Ted is more funny than not, rushing into absurdity with abandon and playing at stylized comedy in a completely fearless way. The pacing doesn't allow for regret.
  34. Manhattan brings legitimate class to WGN's nascent original content project.
  35. Yes, Revolution is a good adventure yarn, but the other reason we're likely to watch future episodes is that it grounds the action in thought-provoking themes.
  36. In the best tradition of light but engaging (and highly entertaining) dramas, Burn Notice is plain and simple fun--you want to come back every week.
  37. It may be the nicest show you'll ever see.
  38. It captures the teeming bleakness of the future world and establishes winning chemistry between Kennex and Dorian.
  39. You will come away from the film understanding a great deal about an extraordinary woman who played much more than just a supporting role in a significant period in our history. Perhaps more important, you will get a better sense of that historic period as well.
  40. 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.
  41. Maggio employs the now-standard historical documentary technique employed most visibly by Ken Burns, but the real strength of his film rests in the care with which he builds his case about the epic struggles Italian Americans have had over the years, and their invaluable contributions to a culture that took a long time to accept them.
  42. While some plot elements and characters have been imported intact from the United Kingdom, the American show makes its own statement and will move away from its British roots in future episodes.
  43. NBC did renew Parks and Recreation and, like a small miracle of second-act redemption, it comes back on Thursday as a fully realized and very funny sitcom.
  44. 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.
  45. The show’s humor is grounded in Nina’s fish-out-of-water career adjustment to a far less glamorous job and world, which may sound rather obvious, but works because of terrific writing by co-creators Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones.
  46. What works so well in the series is that the four friends are so distinctly different, and the writers are able to adjust the level of humor to each.
  47. The humor is subtle, almost deadpan, but brilliant at every turn. Some moments become excruciating to watch, only because we've formed an immediate affection for Josh and hate seeing him screw things up for himself.
  48. The show is funny, warm and bloody irresistible because of the care taken with creating characters who are multidimensional, vulnerable and credible.
  49. The performances for the most part fill in some credibility gaps in how the characters are written.
  50. There’s an unabashed quaintness about Normal Street, reminiscent of a time when kids TV was all about fun and homemade adventure.
  51. The television version of "This American Life" does not ruin the fragile, hip beauty of the radio version. Glass and the team responsible for adding pictures to words have created a compelling television series.
  52. Glenister is still riveting, naturally, and Hawes is a real gift. Maybe that's enough to offset the smaller issues, like the cartoonish hero worship of Hunt (three quarters of the way through the pilot, there's a moment where you half expect a laugh track to kick in).
  53. Dinner isn't quite ready to take its place in the Brit-com hall of fame, but it's good for a laugh or three.
  54. What truly makes the miniseries, though, are the performances in general and that of Garai in particular. The entire story and theme turn not only on contrasts but also on character evolution, which demands precision and nuance from the cast.
  55. In the end, it's easy to overlook some of the credibility gaps because the writing is otherwise so fine, as are the direction and the performances.
  56. Directed by Jon Alpert and Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Wartorn is convincing on a number of levels.
  57. Evans does a fine job of keeping all these metaphysical plates spinning on their sticks, eliciting superb performances from the entire cast.
  58. The performances and characterizations are all top-notch, and the action sequences, especially in the first episode, are crisply directed.
  59. It's slightly unpolished in some areas but funny and charming and a perfect companion series to "Chris."
  60. If you want a history lesson, stay in school. Otherwise, there are enough facts in Sons of Liberty to add some ballast to a ripping good saga.
  61. Hatfields & McCoys does a good job of explaining the roots of the feud and helping us see that, regardless of whatever legitimacy there may have been in one family's hatred of the other, none of it was worth the lives lost over those six blood-soaked years.
  62. It's about characters, and both "Chicago Fire" and Chicago PD are filled with them.
  63. Angry Boys is an equal-opportunity offender, but its infectiously juvenile humor, not to mention its secret heart and, of course, the appeal of Chris Lilley's multiple impersonations, make it very hard to stay angry for long.
  64. Though the pilot has some flaws in it--mostly from a clash of tones--it still overdelivers on creativity, creepiness, fine acting and burgeoning character development.
  65. The action is hot, fast and believable, achieved through quick-cut editing and spot-on direction.
  66. It's a whole lot better than the premise on paper, and though initially it takes a bit to warm to Davis.
  67. It's full to overflowing with clever and sometimes very funny geek-speak.
  68. It's rare to hate a series so thoroughly in the first five minutes and then have your mind changed (and stunned) by the creative comeback it mounts in the remaining hour. ... In fact, there's enormous potential to this series if the storytelling and writing stay strong.
  69. Pelosi's film may not tell "the other side of the story" directly, but if it does nudge us to consider these issues, viewing the film becomes more rewarding.
  70. Recount pays due diligence to history while at the same time fictionalizing the interactions of the participants.
  71. A single film about three young people won't, by itself, make a universal happy ending for every troubled LGBT kid in the United States. But it's doing its job if it reaches just one of them.
  72. Almost Royal has enough silliness for both American and British tastes.
  73. The series, created by Mara Brock Akil, works for a number of reasons, including Union's performance as a very credible contemporary woman.
  74. Gordon-Levitt has unshakable cred among the 18-to-34-year-old demo targeted by Pivot, but the cool thing about HitRecord on TV is that it's just great TV for anyone.
  75. "How to Make It in America" is, like "Entourage," more entertaining than actually funny. You're not going to burst out laughing at anything, but there are plenty of comic moments.
  76. The changes enhance the comic balance between the reality-based humor of a young couple coping with their new baby and their evaporating youth, and the "SNL"-sketch-like satire of a powerful and powerfully self-involved talk show hostess.
  77. Television simply doesn't get warmer or fuzzier than Last Tango in Halifax, but the reason the six-part series works so well is that its sweetness is not unalloyed.
  78. Overall, the emotional honesty of Kieran's character and his all too human craving for acceptance and happiness make In the Flesh oddly moving.
  79. The cast is appealing and the story line is not only compelling but also deals with fascinating moral complexities.
  80. Hurricane is a whirling impressionistic painting of the band, beautifully conveying the energy, drive and genius of the Stones, more or less chronologically within the basic flashback structure.
  81. Deschanel, who's believable either serious or perplexed -- and adorable in her quirkiness -- immediately becomes this series' most important ingredient.
  82. Though future episodes don't quite measure up to the brilliant pilot, Archer nurtures a collection of recurring themes that pile up and become funnier the more they are referenced through the episodes.
  83. [Berg gives] us a richly detailed look behind the scenes of the boxing world, and, in the process, showing us a battle-scarred warrior determined to live to fight another day.
  84. The films work individually, of course, but gain even greater meaning and emotional strength in context with each other.
  85. Just when it seemed that "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the crotchety, disdain-filled embarrassment of absurdities, was going to lose its way, Larry David seems to have found a new batch of wince-inducing scenarios to mine his comedy. [7 Sep 2007]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  86. With all the intrigue of a Shakespearean drama and all the coiled intensity of youthful power-brokering and rampant sexuality, it's hard to not like this version of Henry VIII.
  87. 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.
  88. Friday Night Lights, like "Battlestar Galactica," also proved initial assumptions wildly wrong and deserves credit for being vastly better than either a show about high school football or an irksome teen drama.
  89. Once they buy into the richly charactered story, it'll be an even bigger challenge to let go.
  90. Elementary will probably infuriate Sherlock Holmes purists, but other viewers are likely to find it gripping and well cast.
  91. Lie to Me comes out of the box strong, and it's especially encouraging that the cases at hand and the science used in the first hour is compelling enough that Roth's character (based on Paul Ekman, a real-life expert on lying and microexpressions, among other things) can evolve more slowly.
  92. 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.
  93. This is a family show in the best meaning of the term.
  94. The second of the new Lewis mysteries is even better plotted than "Soul of Genius."
  95. The promise of grown up storytelling is alluring. This is a series to watch to see if it grows.
  96. The performances are all first-rate, so much so that they help the audience overcome very minor skepticism when events in Tony Basgallop's script feel a bit too convenient to be entirely credible.
  97. 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.
  98. For the most part, Weird Loners is done well enough to merit your attention.
  99. It does the near impossible for any extended-family drama: It manages to be poignant and funny without becoming ridiculously soapy and larded with cliches.
  100. Ackles and Padalecki are good-looking, yes, get to drive a '67 Chevy and will undoubtedly run into a lot of really hot women in peril, but "Supernatural" works. It's just serious enough, just hip enough and, as advertised, more scary than imagined.

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