San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,291 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 Olive Kitteridge
Lowest review score: 0 Women's Murder Club: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 708
  2. Negative: 0 out of 708
708 tv reviews
  1. From the two new episodes made available to critics for review, it's clear that the quality of Breaking Bad will continue undiminished.
  2. Quite possibly the finest closing chapter ever for a TV series.
  3. The funniest thing you're likely to see all year.
  4. This is a series that goes beyond critical darling. "The Wire" is better than its own hype. If you don't watch the show, it's your fault, your loss.
  5. The breadth and ambition of "The Wire" are unrivaled and that taken cumulatively over the course of a season -- any season -- it's an astonishing display of writing, acting and storytelling that must be considered alongside the best literature and filmmaking in the modern era.
  6. Sunday's season premiere sustains the quality of the first season, continues the story line in a completely credible way, and then opens up even more possibilities for future plot developments.
  7. It's the best series on television, end of story.
  8. Hawley’s writing is vivid, sardonic, smart, and brilliantly deadpan, in keeping with the tone of the original “Fargo” movie. His characterizations are deft, nicely nuanced and compelling, offering more than enough for the actors to work with. Danson feels a little out of place, but he may grow into his role. Culkin, Garrett, Smart, Plemons, Dunst and Donovan are outstanding.
  9. 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.
  10. The most ambitious storytelling series on television. ... "The Wire" is the best show on HBO, which means it's the best show on television, period. If you want in on it, even if you missed the first go-around, you'll find a way to make sense of it all.
  11. Game of Thrones isn't afraid of change: It's the lifeblood of the series, and just one of the reasons we keep watching.
  12. "Battlestar Galactica" not only lives up to its sci-fi gold-standard reputation but also should be considered straight up as one of television's most appealing dramas, no matter the genre.
  13. It is every bit as powerful, moving and surprising as the first season, and just as transformative in its own way, as it belies the notion that second seasons of great high-concept shows are rarely as good as first seasons.
  14. Louie is the gold standard of contemporary TV comedy.
  15. For those unbowed by the lack of formula, this second season of "The Office" has rewards even greater than the first. The series is both funnier and darker -- much darker -- than last season.
  16. 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
  17. David's ability to hone in and magnify the most socially awkward moments in life is almost frightening. If this series didn't make you double over in laughter every couple of minutes, it would be a whole other kind of torture.
  18. Yes, the show benefits from superb performances, from series regulars, as well as guest stars like Sarah Silverman and Victor Garber. But it's the writing that puts Louie on the highest possible level of comedy. There simply is no better-written comedy on TV today.
  19. What is not surprising at all about the fourth season of one of television's elite series is that Weiner continues to explore what it means to be human.
  20. 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.
  21. The performances are chilling and brilliant at every level. Moss has never done better work, but what’s especially impressive here is that she manages to do the seemingly impossible: create Offred and her previous identity as June as different women at first.
  22. There are a couple of bush-league moments in the show....[But]those are minor quibbles, made even more insignificant by the extraordinary performances of Danes, Lewis, Patinkin and Baccarin.
  23. The 10-episode series, available for streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday, is irresistibly bingeable and even more than “Alpha House,” signals Amazon’s intention to be a player in the streaming content game.
  24. There is more than enough to captivate us, and perhaps disturb us as well, in these eight stunningly provocative episodes.
  25. Louis CK is a great comic actor, writer and director. The character of Louie is exquisitely crafted in his creator’s mind and on the page long before he delivers his lines. It’s insufficient to call Louie an everyman. He is far more complicated than that, and far funnier as well. If Sam Beckett were still around, he’d be rolling in the aisles.
  26. It is a triumph of superb storytelling.
  27. 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.
  28. The ensemble cast is terrific and the direction lean and perfectly pitched at every turn.
  29. Broadchurch is a stunning achievement in great writing and powerful acting.
  30. A gorgeous new documentary series on the Discovery Channel.
  31. Sherlock is an electric marriage of great writing with great performances.
  32. 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.
  33. Fellowes does know how to write some tasty dialogue, especially for Maggie Smith....The other performances are equally winning, but beyond that, you can't help feeling these actors are having a jolly good time with all this overblown fluff. And so will you.
  34. The dialogue in the first two episodes of the new season crackles with brilliance.
  35. 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.
  36. The scripts for the four episodes made available to critics are as richly nuanced as anything you’ll see on TV or, to be sure, in a movie theater. You will not only know these characters after only one episode, you’ll be hooked on them, as well. In so many areas, Atlanta sets the bar exceptionally high.
  37. 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.
  38. The enduring notoriety of the Simpson case and memories of the live courtroom broadcasts are enough to hook viewers regardless of the problems with the series. Some of the problems are minor, others we can sweep under the rug as the show progresses, one is unfortunately insurmountable [casting John Travolta as Robert Shapiro].
  39. The characters bring us into the action and, once there, we want to follow every development.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. Through the six episodes of the second season made available to critics, it's clear that Orange is not only as great as it was the first season, but arguably even better.... It's terrific.
  43. It's as great as ever.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Olive Kitteridge explores Tolstoy’s notion that every family is unhappy in its own way, making the particular unhappiness of the Kitteridges universal through a magical combination of great direction, writing and performances. You’ll not soon forget Olive Kitteridge, the woman or the mini-series.
  47. 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.
  48. The third season of Man Seeking Woman proves that man finding woman only opens more doors for the writing staff and continues to make the series one of the funniest on TV and certainly among the most imaginative.
  49. Having seen the first four episodes, you need to be a part of this. You need to doff the skepticism and get on the ride.
  50. There are moments in Arrested Development, Fox's new sitcom, that are pants-wettingly funny. There are jokes and scenarios that bend you over in gleeful agony. All of a sudden, with this last new fall series offering -- hope having been beaten out of all of us -- we get one of the most hysterically ridiculous half hours on television.
  51. Tig
    The pile of calamities in Notaro’s life was devastating, but as she talks about them, you come to understand that, in a way, surviving one challenge strengthened her to deal with the next.
  52. 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
  53. The season’s second episode signals that Hawley will probably make great use of the “Fargo” template. But three seasons in, it has to be more of a challenge to take similar characters, situations and sensibilities, all of which are narrowly defined, and make them feel completely fresh. For now, though, we’ll give Fargo the benefit of a very slight doubt.
  54. 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.
  55. In the end, there will likely be a lot of unhappiness, dead bodies, same-as-it-ever-was institutional failure, lack of responsibility and the triumph of self-interest over the greater good. Not exactly a Hallmark card, but one hell of an artistic achievement.
  56. 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.
  57. While some critics have nearly thrown themselves in front of a train to get people to watch Friday Night Lights, bending and bruising the language in praise of it, the truth is that a good argument could be made for FNL being perhaps the best drama on broadcast television. [5 Oct 2007]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  58. All of the elements that made it must-see last year are working at full throttle in season two, which kicks off Wednesday night: intrigue, deception, sex, duplicity, spy vs. spy stuff and, most of all, irony.
  59. There's a vibrancy to the stories in each Boardwalk Empire episode. With echoes of the gangland mentality of "The Sopranos" and the frontier recklessness of "Deadwood," HBO seems to have found in Boardwalk Empire a fertile, sprawling new franchise series.
  60. The three Roosevelts come back to memorable life in Burns' epic through archival footage, some of which has been seen before in other Burns' films, and insightful commentary from historians and writers such as Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Blanche Wiesen Cook, William Leuchtenberg, and others.
  61. The performances are even better than in previous years, with brand new but fully credible sides of Holmes’ and Watson’s characters. And the writing, by Moffat and Gatiss, is in a league by itself.
  62. This is one of maybe six or so elite series on all of television that you should absolutely be watching. Pitch-perfect acting (ensemble stars Jason Bateman and Jessica Walter were robbed of Emmys) and nuanced writing that staggers you with its cleverness and lunacy makes this more than a typical dysfunctional-family sitcom. [3 Nov 2004, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  63. [Montage of Heck is] shattering, unpredictable and tells you more about Cobain than any previous film.
  64. The trick to Archer is that you have to listen--and watch--carefully. What can be seen and heard on the surface is outlandish, but the real genius of the show is to be found in its seemingly offhand sight gags and throwaway lines.
  65. 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.
  66. Just like "The Wire," Simon has again delivered a series unlike anything you've seen on television before.
  67. The writing is a real thing of beauty - from the aforementioned nuance to searing workplace witticisms and pitch-perfect tone from a multitude of characters.
  68. Don Draper's journey has been and remains maddening, in a very good way as far as what makes a great TV show.
  69. Like "Justified," it's impossible to point to one element as the primary reason it works so well.
  70. Three more words: Oh. My. God.
  71. All the elements Mad Men does well - the humor, the note-perfect clothing and sets, the creeping cultural change - are still there to be savored.
  72. Top of the Lake is Jane Campion and her cast at the top of their game.
  73. "City of Men" pulses with the kind of energy you don't get often on American television, and the realness of the shot-on-location scene really makes each episode feel like a minimovie.
  74. New characters, new rivalry, same old high quality.
  75. In the Flesh is of course a complex and thought-provoking allegory.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. There isn't a better cop show on TV right now than Southland.
  79. The Pacific is a superb, viscerally moving and harrowing depiction of World War II and a worthy complement to "Band of Brothers" (2001).
  80. The first two episodes of the second Silicon Valley season are more than satisfying.
  81. As Sutter proved in the intriguing and original first season, there's plenty more riveting storytelling to tap into as Sons of Anarchy boldly comes of age.
  82. Great historical documentaries not only enlighten us about the past, but tell us things about our own times as well, either directly or implicitly. Prohibition, the latest project by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, states the implicit links between the passage of the 18th Amendment and contemporary politics so loudly, you'd have to be drunk on bathtub gin not to get the message.
  83. Although Wolf Hall does require an unusual amount of work on the viewer’s part, as well as the patience of, well, a saint, the performances and how they eventually elucidate the theme of what power can do to a man and a nation when it becomes too personal, make it mostly but belatedly worthwhile.
  84. The entire cast is outstanding, and Simien’s script is masterful. On the one hand, he is dealing with very complicated identity issues with intelligence and directness. On another level, though, he’s writing exceptionally funny comedy, crackling with credible wit that often packs a not-so-secret weapon: thought-provoking points of view about how we deal with issues of race and identity. Or, in some cases, how we don’t deal with them.
  85. 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.
  86. The PBS film gives us greater perspective and insight, probing the conflicted attitudes toward civil rights in the Kennedy administration, and detailing the last-minute panic over Lewis' speech.
  87. It's a gloriously visual fairy tale full of saturated colors and whimsical stories, the kind of romantic comedy/whodunit that should, by rights, captivate a nation starved for quirkiness and delight.
  88. The portrait of Belafonte that emerges from the film is also the portrait of the times of his life, the times of the nation's life in the past 60 years.
  89. Lost has a stellar, varied cast, it is shot beautifully and it surprises more often than it makes you wince or wheeze, which, in the math of action-adventure-sci-fi-thrillers, is a good thing. [22 Sept 2004, p.E1]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  90. The sweep of Rescue Me is far-reaching, and it's fearless in trying to break new ground in an old genre.
  91. The performances, nurtured by such A-list directors as Michael Apted and John Madden, are extraordinary. There isn't a clinker in the bunch.
  92. The reason the show feels so real at every turn is that it is a perfect balance of dramatic realism and gentle humor.
  93. This series has always handled the duality of his character with masterful strokes. And it has done viewers a favor by quickly setting up the seasonlong scenario.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. What Judd Apatow failed to accomplish in "Freaks and Geeks," his critically praised but short-lived NBC series about high school, he more than makes up for in Undeclared, a dead-on look at college life that manages to be both hilarious and sweet.
  98. David Simon’s extraordinary miniseries does live up to the complete meaning of Fitzgerald’s observation. It is ultimately a tragic story, with an enormously moving emotional payoff at the end. The finale will move you, perhaps to tears.
  99. There are many small and wonderful dramatic accomplishments in the underappreciated gem that is Battlestar Galactica, but perhaps the most enduring is that what was conceived of as an epic space adventure has turned into a finely detailed, intimate drama.
  100. 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

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