San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,017 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 1.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Game of Thrones: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Hank: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 544
  2. Negative: 0 out of 544
544 tv reviews
  1. Breaking Bad promises seven compelling and unique hours of drama.
  2. There isn't a bad performance in the bunch.... Veterans Molina and Irwin stand out for especially complex and nuanced performances.
  3. Sometimes the writing is very good. At other times, it comes off better than it really is because the dialogue is delivered by four accomplished actresses.
  4. The performances are very good at every level, in part because the script is good enough to bring out the best in this cast.
  5. At times slight--the trick of talking into the camera was never novel, and the absence of an erotic backbone made it feel partly contrived--Secret Diary of a Call Girl nevertheless ends up at an unexpected place: smartly satisfying.
  6. 1600 Penn may not be as sophisticated as the hysterical HBO series "Veep," but it's still pretty funny when all the cylinders are firing.
  7. Despite the complexity of the subject, it's impossible not to get the gist of what went on in 2008, thanks to the focus on the players and the actors who do the playing.
  8. Because Rash speaks the same lingo as his subjects, The Writers' Room has the potential to provide real insight into the process of making great TV.
  9. Overstuffed though the pilot is, the show works because of the performances.
  10. The Goldbergs is funnier because the jokes are better but also because it is more credible [than "Mom"].
  11. The acting here is exceptional and the writing strong and honest. Though "Brotherhood" may not be in the rarefied air of "The Sopranos" or "The Wire," it's still a major achievement for Showtime's original-series development and yet another top-notch cable drama.
  12. It's unlikely that any TV drama filmed in Toronto could ever come close to the bloody reality of war, but ABC's new series, Combat Hospital, makes a pretty compelling attempt at doing so.
  13. Whether you see the seams or not, though, what matters is that it all works, and we'll keep watching, if only to see Quaid and Chiklis square off against each other week after week.
  14. Although topicality trips up some of the jokes, others are spot-on.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Of course it's childish, but in a good way as it effectively taps into the kid in everyone, much as "South Park" does. It both celebrates and gently spoofs the traditions of superhero comics.
  18. 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.
  19. It is filled with adventure on the high seas and sex and intrigue on dry land. And, yes, above all, it's fun.
  20. The show makes good use of its New Orleans setting and the script hits all the right, albeit familiar, notes.
  21. The show is generally well written, expertly directed (Thomas Schlamme of "West Wing" directs the pilot) and most of the performances are solid.
  22. A few missteps notwithstanding, The Bridge crackles with intelligence and great acting at every turn.
  23. 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.
  24. Unexpectedly, it's funny. And it gets funnier and sharper in future episodes.
  25. What's partly holding "CSI: Miami" back from being great is that, as in the original "CSI," the whole premise is too pat.
  26. The plot is a little overstuffed, but the special effects, crisp direction and high-octane performances keep us interested enough to follow Alice down the rabbit hole.
  27. Welcome to the Family may have the most potential of the new Thursday comedies, for the simple reason that it depends largely on careful character development as the grounding for its humor.
  28. It stars Elizabeth Reaser ("Grey's Anatomy"), as Bella, who strikes the right balance of snide, seasoned relationship survivor and romantic hopeful. There's a winning cast, particularly Rachel Boston who plays Bella's sister and Amir Talai ("Campus Ladies") as one of Bella's male buddies.
  29. To its credit, there are a few extra twists along the way that make the show more intriguing and which hint at a slightly darker feel (but not too bleak) and a chance to have a more complicated story than simply one family with super powers.
  30. Key and Peele are sufficiently talented and versatile to carry off a half-hour show on their own.
  31. It has a goofy charm and outsize ridiculousness that wins you over -- even if you'd prefer more snark.
  32. The film is cleverly structured as a time-travel flashback, beginning in 1966, at the end of Hartnell's tenancy of the lead role.
  33. The performances are spot-on, of course, but Enos and Kinnaman were never the show's problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. Retooling the show with the murders solved at the end makes The Killing deserving of a new lease on TV life.
  34. 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.
  35. "The West Wing" needs changes, and it needs them now. Without a revamping of the show in some significant fashion, it runs the risk of losing its importance, dropping its political cachet and looking for all the world like a fine, if not sterling, bit of Hollywood fictional fluffery.
  36. Tacky, vulgar, politically incorrect and mocks others. And those are its good points.
  37. "Help Me Help You" has a few more surprises and comedic heft to it than expected.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. The first two hours are decent.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. Bunheads will take some work and it could just as easily become either annoying or likable.
  44. This is all fairly predictable stuff and makes for a show that you'd watch because of the cast but would never put in the top tier of TV shows or talk about the next day at the office.
  45. In the long run, our interest in the show will directly correspond to our interest in whatever celebrity is featured from week to week.
  46. Downton Abbey is not the best show on television, or even as good as it was in the first season. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to watch.
  47. There's nothing inherently wrong with The Good Wife other than it's a legal series with too many close-up shots of knowing glances and "attagirl Alicia" moments of empowerment that you saw coming 20 minutes prior.
  48. It's not that '24' is desperate for ideas in Season 4. No, it was desperate in Season 2. It's that the humor is more blithely predictable now, less forehead-slapping in its preposterousness. As the adrenaline ramps up, the logic falls down. Again. [7 Jan 2003]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  49. The show's special effects are relatively decent, especially when Gabriel activates his chip and can re-create events as his own personal hologram. But the stock prickly relationship between Gabriel and Riley, which will undoubtedly lead to trust and maybe something more, is tiresome as soon as it begins.
  50. The show is moderately entertaining, albeit somewhat predictable.
  51. The slowdown of the show's pace is one thing, but the real issue here is that the family element often feels inauthentic and just isn't up to the quality of the CGI-fueled action sequences.
  52. Chasing and catching boars may be all well and good, but is it enough to keep us coming back for more every week? Well, if people can watch people fight over storage bins and seeing their cars towed away in South Beach, anything is possible.
  53. Life Is But a Dream, co-directed by Ed Burke and billed by HBO as "an intimate, revealing documentary," isn't really, but there are enough moments that pass for authenticity to make it a benignly informative glimpse into a rarefied existence.
  54. House had enough going against it, but if you strip it of its boldness in favor of rote (and predictable) drama, then you might as well bring in the priest.
  55. A faux documentary on actors who are not famous but who are struggling to be isn't inherently interesting to nonactors. ... 'Unscripted' isn't a complete flop. It's just rare that HBO fails like this. [9 Jan 2005]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  56. It's not a gratuitous failure and makes enough sense to see to the end.
  57. The performances are all fine, as far as they go, but the script is filled with heavily telegraphed developments, inept character development and direction so scattershot, you're advised to have a supply of Dramamine at the ready to quell the motion sickness brought on by all the quick cuts.3907328.php#ixzz284ZLgzlk
  58. CBS can turn a lot of tired fluff into sitcom hits, so who knows about Accidentally on Purpose? There are laughs here and there, but mostly it's all so very familiar and not remotely as funny as "Modern Family" or "Cougar Town."
  59. The characters are charming and likable, but the show is strangely humor-challenged.
  60. What was once a unique, feisty, ambitious series has become just another middling show whose creators seem to be in way over their heads.
  61. The cast is charming, and no one has to work very hard.
  62. Aside from the performances by Maslany, especially, and Gavaris, who gets some of the show's best lines, it takes until the third and fourth episodes for Orphan Black to start growing on you.
  63. The Royals is entertaining but disappointingly toothless.
  64. It's about several friends at various relationship stages--long married, single and looking, single and finding, on the verge of divorcing--who envy each other for reasons that will probably elude most viewers because the characters are too self-involved and uninteresting.
  65. The pilot looks dangerously flawed and seriously underwhelming.
  66. 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.
  67. The writers have calmed down a bit this season, but they still can't seem to resist the urge for over-the-top plot strings.
  68. As the silly questions, the sillier answers and Norton's ever-burbling laughter continue, we raise the white flag and start laughing.
  69. 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?
  70. The character complexities, special effects and attention to detail position The 100 well on the CW food chain.
  71. Unfortunately, Life Unexpected took all of the schmaltz of "Gilmore Girls" and expanded it several hundred times over, forgetting to insert any of the quirk and only a smidge of the smart banter.
  72. Intriguing--but not especially enjoyable.
  73. 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.
  74. The script is workmanlike rather than inspired or in any way profound.
  75. It makes sex seem boring.
  76. The actors make Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight seem better than it is, but the real Ali, with all his youth, vigor, bravado and passion, convinces us that he and his case deserved much better.
  77. 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.
  78. Obviously, it's necessary to give viewers the backstory on the returning thug of the week, but let's hope that if the show finds its legs, it won't need quite as many reminders of its fundamental concept.
  79. Feels forced.... What "American Dad" really resembles most is the less-funny outtakes from "Family Guy," done in a way that doesn't even pretend to be original. [4 Feb 2005]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  80. Ryan seems too inert, not nearly aggressive enough for the role.
  81. The premise is intriguing, but the execution fizzles, for the most part.
  82. The Gaytons have created declamatory cartoons. What they needed was a lot more John Ford and a lot less Cotton Mather.
  83. 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.
  84. Created by David Caspe, Happy Endings needs better writing and characters who don't look like characters in other forgettable sitcoms. Otherwise, this show's ending may be anything but happy.
  85. Tipton is the big reason we might keep watching. The voice-over self-narration is annoying and a poor substitute, as usual, for dramatizing the story.
  86. While the film's tone may fit the kind of fuzzy warmth of most Hallmark Channel fare, it doesn't fit the tension and brutality of what African Americans experienced in Alabama in 1963.
  87. The more we get to see each concept, the more interesting The Chair could become. But strap yourself in for long, detailed meetings, mostly populated by people wearing knit caps, about stuff that either will make no sense to you or that you don't care about.
  88. 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.
  89. The performances are actually good in the series, if only the actors had credible or remotely likable or, dare we ask, funny characters to play.
  90. With The Leftovers, we know very little and care less and less as the story slouches along.
  91. While other comic book shows try to replicate the fantasy of the source material at every level, Gotham tries to walk a thin line between realism and fantasy. It seems to work--for now, at least. But you have to wonder about the challenges the series will face once those larvae become full-fledged, whackadoodle villains. Trying to have it both ways is courageous, but courage doesn’t guarantee success.
  92. Still, even in the first episode, it’s clear that better writing--make that funnier writing--is needed if whatever nascent chemistry Perry and Lennon have is going to amount to much.
  93. It is billed as scarier and sexier than the lighthearted film series. It is that, but still plays it safer than, say, "Vampire Diaries" or the "Twilight" films.
  94. The 10-part limited series is a serviceable mystery-slash-melodrama about small-town life, small-town minds and small-town secrets, but nothing really to write home about.
  95. 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.
  96. The show has promise, but the one thing it doesn't yet have that has made "Bones" such a survivor is chemistry.
  97. What NCIS: Los Angeles does well is what all CBS procedurals do well--bring mostly believable, semi-pulse-pounding justice to bad guys by the end of the hour with some action, a dose of humor and the weekly, methodical unpeeling of each character's private onion skin.
  98. 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.
  99. A few of the others could have easily painted themselves toward the exit, except that some of the lesser talents are also some of the bigger personalities. And when it comes right down to it, that's what will keep "Work of Art" on the air.
  100. Beneath all the visual dazzle of the premiere episode, a bit of the groundwork is there, but Schlamme and Orman need to build on it very soon.

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