San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,290 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 The Wire: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 Dinotopia: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 707
  2. Negative: 0 out of 707
707 tv reviews
  1. Louie is the gold standard of contemporary TV comedy.
  2. Rutman’s writing, his exquisite sense of character, the subtle shadings behind even the most sexual or violent events combine for much of the way to make Indian Summers so exceptional.
  3. The new season is not only as smart and absurdly funny as ever, but also reflects the rapid changes in how we watch television.
  4. With elements of "Wonder Years," "Cosby" and the "The Jeffersons," but also a spirit all its own, "Chris" is a sitcom that finally makes the family funny again.
  5. In the case of Sunny, it comes out of the gate as brilliantly twisted as ever.
  6. Every performance is terrific.... While these characters are written and performed as over the top, the show also celebrates the subtle underplaying that goes into making Big Head and Gilfoyle so memorable. That variety of tone is another way in which Silicon Valley sets itself apart from most other half-hour comedies.
  7. The entire constellation of impetuous, ambitious, determined and insecure young urbanites in Girls is realigning in the new season, but at no point in the four episodes sent to critics for review do you feel that any of it is artificial.
  8. Self-delusion can grow fairly tiresome, in life and on TV, but what makes Amy sympathetic is that even though she almost convinces us at times that her personal fairy tale actually makes sense, we are always aware of her basic decency and, more important, her vulnerability.
  9. The writing, by Weiner, direction by Scott Hornbacher and performances are, of course, top notch.
  10. It is gripping, well acted and beautifully written. Most of all, its multiple layers of mystery should keep viewers coming back for more, week after week.
  11. Lost is a different genre, one that may infuriate even the loyalists, but there's something impressive and rewarding in its density.
  12. In the Flesh is of course a complex and thought-provoking allegory.
  13. It's great to see Steinberg performing again at the La Jolla Playhouse as a kind of framing device for Barry Avrich's skillfully directed documentary.
  14. A genuinely funny and immediately likable sitcom.
  15. America in Prime Time is a thoughtful and thought-provoking keeper.
  16. The film is surprisingly revealing, given the fact that its two subjects, in both similar and individual ways, are playing for the audience.
  17. Angie Tribeca hits on every cylinder--sharp writing, consistent attention to detail (the visual jokes are just as funny as the spoken ones), terrific performances by Jones, MacArthur and Burns, as well as the secondary cast and guest stars, and great direction, including Steve Carell for the pilot episode.
  18. The dialogue in the first two episodes of the new season crackles with brilliance.
  19. Every performance is a winner, from Marsan’s mousey Norrell, to Carvel’s brash Jonathan, to Englert’s increasingly mad and self-destructive Lady Pole.
  20. Unquestionably, though, the most significant contributing factor to the character’s [John Stone's] magnetic credibility is Turturro’s performance, a masterful assemblage of all those little details from the script, brought beautifully to shabby, world-weary life by Turturro’s finely honed skill. Ahmed is almost as good, and if he falls just shy of making Naz’s radical transformation inside Rikers fully credible, it’s really because the script fails him.
  21. Graham Yost, who wrote HBO's "Band of Brothers," creates deeply drawn characters who are revealed slowly over the course of an episode (and season). He's the kind of writer whose vision and touch you can trust over the long haul.
  22. Mann's stamp is all over this. Robbery Homicide Division has a distinct "film" look and a more languid pace than other TV dramas.
  23. There is a brilliant mix of poignancy and hilarity in Getting On, which is why it all works so well.
  24. Laden with laugh-out-loud moments. ... Just as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" so boldly and brilliantly attacks taboo subjects, so does "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," though the humor is spread from one clueless, self-centered ass to four, clueless, self-centered slackers. [4 Aug 2005]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  25. The writing is hilariously great, as are the performances. But, mostly, it all works because Billy and Julie are so clueless. If they felt an ounce of shame or regret, the comedy wouldn’t work.
  26. "Weeds" is colossally great... a series far better than its premise and utterly essential for devotees of smart, entertaining television.
  27. State of Play is one of those series where a moment's brilliance is rivaled by the very next scene, a careening thriller that gives credence to the idea that there may not be any better format for telling an impact story than over the course of four or six hours. [16 Apr 2004, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  28. The first two episodes of the second Silicon Valley season are more than satisfying.
  29. The series is so good that it isn't seriously harmed by its few minor flaws. Much of the dialogue is brilliantly written, revelatory and credible.
  30. The Emmy-winning show is still as funny as ever, if not moreso, but it also merits our attention for the care with which it is managing a long run on television.
  31. "The OA" is one of the most significant shows of the year simply because Marling and Batmanglij barrel through so many boundaries, stretch their combined imaginations so far and challenge the shopworn precepts of what is supposed to make an acceptable television series.
  32. Big, noisy and crazy brilliant HBO series.... The performances are masterful on every level, beginning with Cannavale’s Richie Finestra, who is only occasionally capable of keeping his inner turmoil of rage, ambition and fear of failure from exploding to the surface. With his performance, Cannavale vaults to the top of the list of Emmy candidates.
  33. The Pacific is a superb, viscerally moving and harrowing depiction of World War II and a worthy complement to "Band of Brothers" (2001).
  34. But this is what a great TV series does -- it mines difficult emotional ground. It's willfully complex, putting popularity at risk. It avoids convention and takes irregular dramatic steps. With that in mind, watch Rescue Me at your own risk.
  35. It never shrinks from the task of surpassing its own brilliance. Even when it fails in its attempt to knock you out, Rescue Me keeps swinging, and that engenders a whole lot of admiration in a medium choking on its own safety.
  36. The performances, nurtured by such A-list directors as Michael Apted and John Madden, are extraordinary. There isn't a clinker in the bunch.
  37. "The Riches" is both unique and intoxicating -- and plenty more.
  38. All your favorites are back in force, with a few twists, but the allure of the series always has been and always will be Hall, who manages to make a killer (who kills only people who deserve it, mostly) likable, believable, engaging and funny, as he works his job as a blood splatter expert at Miami Metro Homicide.
  39. The TV epic that will be remembered for its depiction of the implosion of the postwar American dream in the 1960s.
  40. Making a film is kind of a nightmare, but a riveting one. And Project Greenlight is in itself a riveting documentary. It's got a hero, it's got stars, it's got drama. In 12 parts, we'll find out if there's a happy ending.
  41. It doesn’t really make sense to list the stand-outs because there that would imply the existence of lesser episodes, and there are none. Still several installments epitomize the care with which Ansari and Yang have crafted multidimensional characters and situation.
  42. Kohan and her writers deserve perhaps more credit than they're getting for forcing change and making it artistically compelling.
  43. The dialogue is rich, colorful and provocative, adding to the gothic sensibilities of the series. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga makes great use of the Louisiana location, giving it as much importance to the story as the characters of Cohle and Hart. All the performances are superb, but those of McConaughey and Harrelson are in a class by themselves.
  44. The performances are extraordinary, in spite of the fact the characters are all very similar--detached from emotion, honesty, sadness, shame and even desire by the airlessness of contemporary life. ... The Girlfriend Experience is one of the best new series of the young year.
  45. All of this may seem complicated but is not only easy to follow, but impossible to ignore because of the care with which Gobert, Fabien Adda and other writers weave the stories and characters together. You come away from each episode of The Returned more deeply involved in the story and characters than you may be used to with other TV shows. It’s a series that will haunt you, in the best possible way.
  46. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has lost none of its giddy sharp edges. [28 Jun 2006]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  47. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" lives up to the advance hype, easily qualifying as one of the best new broadcast series of the fall.
  48. There have been many great "Masterpiece" offerings over the decades, but I can't think of a single one that is as much out-and-out fun as Sherlock, a modern-dress Conan Doyle that crackles with superb writing, brilliant performances and snappy direction, and does it all while somehow managing to be oddly faithful to the original source material.
  49. As good as it was last year, it's off to an even better start in its sophomore year.
  50. Cox not only plays the central character of Dr. Frank N Furter, but she also nearly takes complete ownership of the entire production and would succeed if it weren’t for terrific work by the other cast members.
  51. As much as the script, Reiner’s direction makes both stories seem oxymoronically unique and distinct at the same time. The performances are extraordinary, as they must be to complete the process of retelling a seemingly similar story.
  52. If the film had been directed by anyone else, it would be only an exhaustively detailed profile of a man of Shakespearean achievements, disappointments and ambitions. But The Diplomat was directed by the subject’s son, David Holbrooke, who gives the film dimension that no other filmmaker could have achieved.
  53. But this much is true: Deadwood is cocksure brilliant. David Milch, who put the glory into "NYPD Blue," is clearly and defiantly uninterested in political correctness. He just wants to make a great Western for TV. In that, he's succeeded. [4 Mar 2005, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  54. Game of Thrones isn't afraid of change: It's the lifeblood of the series, and just one of the reasons we keep watching.
  55. The miniseries may veer into obvious melodrama from time to time, especially in the latter two nights, but the fact that it never loses credibility owes to the care with which the moral bases of the characters are created. ... The performances are staggering throughout the entire miniseries.
  56. Well, subject matter doesn't get more profound than life and death, but, thanks to McCarthy's writing and the two veteran actors, we're completely drawn into the discussion, so much so that we're taken by surprise as McCarthy careful injects another possible interpretation of the play's set-up.
  57. Three more words: Oh. My. God.
  58. A brilliantly conceived and relentlessly entertaining new drama. [1 Oct 2004]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  59. With grit, guts and some of the best performances you’ll see on TV this year, American Crime aims for truth and pulls no punches getting there.
  60. Soak in the visuals, listen to the mesmerizing use of sound. The writing and acting will lure you in, but have appreciation for all the details that go into making this series so great.
  61. There is more than enough to captivate us, and perhaps disturb us as well, in these eight stunningly provocative episodes.
  62. They [Rayna and Juliette], and the other characters, are anything but [one-dimensional cliches], thanks not only to the writing but also to the performances of the colorful and capable cast.
  63. Welcome back, 30 Rock. Even in a season of wonderful sitcoms--trend story alert!--you get it done.
  64. No summary description begins to capture the inspired silliness of “With Bob and David.” But one thing is certain: Television is way funnier “With Bob and David” than without them.
  65. The acting (from a mostly unknown cast), cinematography (you can just stare at this series) and especially Weiner's writing carry the series to exceptional heights.
  66. Based on the premiere, the season may wind up being the show's best so far, but even if it doesn't, Mad Men beats almost everything else on TV.
  67. Don Draper's journey has been and remains maddening, in a very good way as far as what makes a great TV show.
  68. The highlights of Wednesday's season premiere are the return of the anger translator and an insanely brilliant take-off on the film version of "Les Miserables," which is so beautifully detailed, it may actually take you a second to realize it is a satire and the song lyrics aren't what you think they are.
  69. Goldberg’s perfectly crafted script is realized through shattering performances at every level, especially among the major players.
  70. The best news of all is that Olyphant backs it up with an incredibly riveting performance. Better yet, Justified as a whole really delivers, from the explosive pilot to a couple of other, less adrenaline-filled but no less superb episodes that add humor and nuanced storytelling to the mix.
  71. What remains compelling about The Shield as it heads into its last hurrah are the gray areas and ethical gradations of the characters that have defined it.
  72. The characterizations are carefully nuanced in Southland, and the performances are equal to the quality of writing.
  73. A stunning piece of television about a rogue cop and that dangerous line between effective police work and ethical transgressions. This series is brutal and frank, with little wasted energy or misdirection.
  74. In a fall season surprisingly flush with good sitcoms, the best new comedy by far--and it's not that close of a race - is Modern Family on ABC.
  75. It's as great as ever.
  76. "Weeds" may indeed be the best-written new show of the year so far, but the performances are superb as well.
  77. Rescue Me races out of the gate as confidently brilliant as ever before, wildly mixing emotions along the way.
  78. Like "Justified," it's impossible to point to one element as the primary reason it works so well.
  79. If the relatively simple parallel of the man and his role were all there was to The Dresser, it would be mildly interesting. But what makes it far more than that are the shades of longing, resentment, spite and indifference displayed by members of Sir’s circle.
  80. Girls represents an exciting moment in television history because, like a handful of other shows (MTV's "Awkward," most notably) it not only makes great use of the medium but has the creative guts to realign it for a new century and a new generation.
  81. Glee, one of the season's best and most anticipated new series, delivers on both counts - and more. It's a quirky, sweet, humorous, nonpartisan funfest.
  82. In every case, there is an abiding feeling for character and authenticity that helps elevate Orange Is the New Black to a new definition of television excellence.
  83. Lapine's direction is almost the star of Six by Sondheim. Not only has he used the six songs to illuminate the composer's life, he organizes years and years of interviews as if they are an ongoing conversation--which, in many ways, they are. They are the monograph of the life and art of a singular man, perfectly assembled, bit by bit, piece by piece.
  84. Casual may seem like another snarky commentary on modern romance, but its dirty little secret, and the reason it more than sustains itself in a second season (and, Hulu willing, many more to come), is that the main characters quixotically believe they can fix themselves.
  85. Even without the original source material, Cinema Verite offers provocative insight into how far we've become lost in the reality-TV wilderness in the past 40 years.
  86. Few series have exploded onto the scene with such a rich array of potential stories and inherently interesting characters.
  87. Rescue Me may ask a lot of its viewers, but it's always a leap worth taking, and well rewarded. [13 June 2007, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  88. [Montage of Heck is] shattering, unpredictable and tells you more about Cobain than any previous film.
  89. Falk’s biggest challenge is to maintain our interest level in this wackadoodle sextet and especially in Jimmy and Gretchen because these probably aren’t the kind of people you’d want to spend too much time with in real life. He does that by making them all as vulnerable as they are insufferable.
  90. This series is one of a kind.
  91. 7 Days in Hell is dead-on funny. Funny as hell, in fact.
  92. Each character, each interpersonal relationship is exquisitely nuanced, realistically detailed and fully unpredictable. ... In the four episodes made available to critics, John Ridley again proves that great television isn’t to be found only on cable and streaming platforms.
  93. Abbott makes sure the quirkiness of the Gallaghers is firmly rooted in three-dimensional, credible characterization. You never feel a bit of inauthenticity here.
  94. Hirst, Rhys Meyers and the rest of the cast (and Bergin's costumes) make it all somehow meatier but no less entertaining in Season 2.
  95. The humor is tasteless and irresistible, an unlikely mix of juvenile jokes about sex and bodily functions, with time-honored elements of screwball comedy.
  96. A compelling, surprise-filled show about the devaluation of romance in contemporary life.
  97. None of its quirky charm and tone-shifting mix of comedy and drama has lagged since we last witnessed Nancy's precarious situation.
  98. Iit’s one of the best-written shows on TV.... This is a solid ensemble cast, with equally fine, and often very funny, performances from Ash, Arnold, Lee, Epps and Bauer. Any way you look at it, Survivor’s Remorse offers the complete package.
  99. Parade's End is a television masterpiece.
  100. Copper has much to recommend it: action, passion and great performances arising from an exploration of classic American themes.

Top Trailers