San Francisco Chronicle's Scores

For 1,412 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 44% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1 point lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 A Poet In New York
Lowest review score: 0 Sex, Love & Secrets: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 782
  2. Negative: 0 out of 782
782 tv reviews
  1. The action is hot, fast and believable, achieved through quick-cut editing and spot-on direction.
  2. Parade's End is a television masterpiece.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In truth, the drama half of this comedy-drama is a little weak and not as engaging as the comedy. That becomes evident a few episodes in, but, fortunately, the show’s creators don’t linger too long on Hailey’s love life before getting back to the very funny business of running a symphony orchestra.
  6. The Chi works because of authenticity in many areas, including performance, direction and sense of place, but just misses reaching its potential because the script doesn’t always make the daisy chain of violence credible.
  7. Other episodes seem fairly standard fare, entertaining and involving enough on their own, but lacking the offbeat quirkiness of maple syrup drownings. If the “straightforward” episodes weren’t so well written and directed, this could be a problem of consistency, but as it is, the series is fun and only slightly flawed.
  8. Whishaw may keep the human story from being swamped by bad writing and worse direction, but Rampling and Broadbent are doomed.... In the end, none of it makes a great deal of sense.
  9. The performances are superb and make Bletchley Circle more than the sum of its pedantic parts.
  10. The coincidence-laden plot, the floating suitcase, a few moments of character inconsistency and a really bad, mad decision on how the series ends, cannot be overlooked, of course, but these are far outweighed by the overall power of the series, the strength of the performance and most of all what Campion wants us to understand about identity and expectations of others.
  11. Once they buy into the richly charactered story, it'll be an even bigger challenge to let go.
  12. Current-affairs references are woven throughout the two latter episodes, but there’s a much greater emphasis on rekindling the magic that was and is the real strength of the show. That said, Will & Grace doesn’t “just” feel as though it’s picking up where it left off 11 years ago. It is so full of contemporary grace notes, it almost feels like a brand new show.
  13. There is a brilliant mix of poignancy and hilarity in Getting On, which is why it all works so well.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Evans does a fine job of keeping all these metaphysical plates spinning on their sticks, eliciting superb performances from the entire cast.
  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. Hit & Miss doesn't take long to convince us that its characters and plot are not only possible, but credible and, dare I say, touching.
  19. All of this is played for laughs, but the kind of laughs Edlund goes for may be challenging for some viewers. It's silly, of course, but mostly, the show is droll. There are few, if any, sidesplitting moments and you have to listen carefully to catch some of the deadpan moments. ... Any time you have Jackie Earle Haley playing a supervillain, you are in good, lethal hands.
  20. 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.
  21. Everything you fear might be true about how our government works--or doesn't--becomes hilarious fodder for Veep's biting satire.
  22. While I liked Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD well enough when it began, I got tired of it after a while because it became repetitive. I have a feeling I’ll stick around longer with Carter, largely because of the nifty period details, the character development and the performances.
  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. Every enlightening, poignant or funny word is true in the documentary airing Monday on HBO. The fact that it is so funny eventually becomes strangely sad, which makes the film thoroughly enjoyable but also irresistibly provocative.
  25. The decline of '24' is almost as harrowing as one of its patented pulse-pounding dramatic moments. ... Maybe '24' won't be so head-slappingly ludicrous this time around, but the first two episodes do little to give cynics reason for hope. [27 Oct 2003]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  26. 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.
  27. HBO’s Confirmation isn’t the first TV project to play it safe, but in this case, playing it safe results in a missed opportunity that has as much to do with what’s happening in the real world as it does with timid filmmaking.
  28. Ripper Street is a decent but not especially remarkable thriller about crime solving in Whitechapel immediately following Jack's reign of terror.
  29. The show itself is slight, the conceit perhaps worthy of an extended sketch, but after two episodes, it begins to feel stretched.
  30. 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.
  31. It’s clearly a challenge to keep the story from being entirely mawkish, but Stewart Harcourt manages to invest it with authentic sentiment throughout. Charles Sturridge’s direction is attentive and well paced. ... Gambon is magnificent, making us feel every second of Churchill’s frustration and fear as the stroke robs him of his ability to speak, and the metaphorical weight of aging.
  32. The quality of the concept, writing and performances in each show [“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” and “The Mayor”] makes the leap an easy one. ... [Brandon Michael] Hall is terrific in the pilot.
  33. The four episodes sent to critics show more than enough ways for People of Earth to keep the ball rolling, but the performances seal the deal.
  34. 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.
  35. The new season is not only as smart and absurdly funny as ever, but also reflects the rapid changes in how we watch television.
  36. The performances are solid, for the most part.... There is promise in the one episode of Dome sent to critics and the series could work well, despite the fact that the general conceit of people living in a microcosm has been a staple of literature, film and TV forever.
  37. The Strain is watchable, but honestly, that isn't good enough when you're talking Guillermo del Toro and FX. In both cases, we expect more.
  38. A very original, extremely well-acted and complexly written drama.
  39. Even if the creators had stuck to the traditional pattern of star-crossed-lover romances, instead of turning it on its ear, Love would probably be almost as lovable as it ends up being. That’s because of great writing and great performances.
  40. There is something too pat, too telegraphed in "Invasion" to rile up the blood.
  41. Right out of the gate, "The Boondocks" is a water-cooler series that lives up to the hype. It is funny, fearless and continues the vibe of the strip.
  42. 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.
  43. Most of all, DirecTV seems to have a serious case of “Ray Donovan” envy. But the series remains watchable because of otherwise competent scripts, convincing verisimilitude in character and setting, a lot of throbbing, rippling, sweaty eye candy, crackling action scenes and frequently strong, nuanced performances.
  44. Screenwriter Amanda Coe is to be credited not only for developing such rich characterizations, but also for the delicacy of the show's satiric point of view.
  45. From spot-on casting and one extraordinary performance after another, to a bold adaptation by Sarah Phelps, to Coky Giedroyc's energizing direction, to a toe-tapping musical score (that probably doesn't belong here, but fie on that - it's fun), this Oliver Twist is a thrill ride for anyone who still believes that TV can be entertaining.
  46. Amy Schumer takes no prisoners in The Leather Special, an hour of hilarious, raunchy comedy.
  47. As good as Rome is -- and it's an epic, multilayered thing of beauty -- it's still not on the level of "The Sopranos" or "The Wire" or "Deadwood." That's almost an unfair comparison, but it's also true. On the other hand, "Rome" unfolds like a marvelously shot big-screen movie, each scene (filmed on location in Italy) dripping with money well spent and a meticulous grandeur that rewards you for paying extra for HBO.
  48. Almost Royal has enough silliness for both American and British tastes.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. The script is only one of the stars of the production. Wainwright weaves samples of the women’s writing, including poetry, into the dialogue, and creates distinct characters in each of the three sisters, not to mention their father and brother.
  52. It feels like a detective movie or TV show from another era.
  53. If you like big-screen-level thrills and complicated plot structures, you'll opt-in to FlashForward. And you'll be rewarded. Here's hoping it stays strong and compelling as it heads to April 29.
  54. "Thief" doesn't levitate with genre-busting genius, but it is very FX, which means it's very real and well executed, a series that doesn't pander.
  55. It may take a bit of work to suspend disbelief enough to move you forward in your seat, but once there, you'll remain on the edge long enough to make The Escape Artist worth it.
  56. Tour de Pharmacy is a tour de farce of bad taste, unsophisticated humor, brief nudity and absolutely no redeeming values at all except that it’s damn funny and oh, so badly needed right about now.
  57. Ultimately, everybody's affable in this series. There are no sharp right angles, no emotional elbows.
  58. As equal parts action and drama, and giving Kiefer Sutherland one of the best roles of his career, Designated Survivor is the season’s first sure thing. Make that “Designated” sure thing.
  59. The premiere episode fires on all cylinders. While the second and third are very good, they plateau a bit.
  60. Discovery’s gripping Manhunt: Unabomber, aim for a lot more than just tapping into our fascination with heavily covered events. They’re also aiming for quality, and Unabomber not only delivers on that score, but offers the story of one man who not only broke the case, but did so in a revolutionary way.
  61. Most of all, the writing is what really drives Mr. Mercedes. The naturalistic pacing and character development provide a superior cast with more than enough fuel for a gripping ride.
  62. Despite the fact that Portlandia features different sketches in each episode, the show already begins to feel like a stretch by the second show.
  63. The subtlety enhances history rather than overwhelming it, making America in Color dazzling in a quiet way.
  64. The set-up is forced and not entirely believable, but it can work well enough. Savage and Lowe may not convince anyone that they share a single gene, but as actors, they play well off each other. The writing needs a huge jolt, though.
  65. 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.
  66. The sets and costumes look a tad more realistic than what Disney might whip up, but only a tad. The performances are decent, although often bordering on melodramatic excess, which is to be expected, really. Watching Davis and Fairley compete to see who can masticate more scenery makes Princess worth a look.
  67. When the show does work, it’s because of Tolman’s performance and the unseen Hodges, who has the perfect laid-back voice for Martin.
  68. The new offering, from executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick (the team behind "BSG"), stands on its own and in many ways might be more inviting to viewers who are not hard-core sci-fi fans.
  69. American Horror Story: Coven ramps the silliness up an enjoyable notch with a story set in a New Orleans school for young witches.
  70. Kudrow is brilliant at playing self-deluded.... Kudrow’s skill in this area is both a strength and a limiting factor in the success of The Comeback. To put it more simply, a little of an insufferable egomaniac goes a long way.
  71. Branagh is pretty good at being mopey and jowly, and the rest of the cast is fine as well. It's just that none of this really adds up to anything very compelling.
  72. The series is over-plotted, but not fatally so. Regardless of mini-howlers here and there, we’re as curious as Ambrose to know who Cora really is and what happened to her in the past that went off like a grenade on a sunny day at the beach.
  73. The result is not only that the show is funny, but that we also actually like both June and Chloe.
  74. Mostly, though, Vikings is disappointing because so much of the component parts are good but are ill served by flabby direction and a gassy script.
  75. You’ll probably buy into some story lines more than others, but that’s completely intended. Rhonda is the central focus of the American subplot, while Jamie occupies that position in the British half of the show. Together, the two halves of the story make for a mad, mad, mad, mad world’s end.
  76. 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.
  77. As a film, Looking: The Movie is really just a long episode of the series. It isn’t very well structured, is all talk and little drama, and bogs down halfway through because of the same insularity that made the second season pretty much a big shrug.
  78. Maron is his own acerbic, sad-sack self, and his new show is worth a look.
  79. A genuinely funny and immediately likable sitcom.
  80. 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.
  81. Screenwriter Aubrey Nealon is masterfully stingy with the script, carefully doling out information about Cardinal and other characters in very small but tantalizing doses. The performances are quite good, although Campbell speaks all of his lines is a somewhat loud whisper. It feels at times like an affectation, but otherwise, he invests the right about of credible angst to make the character compelling.
  82. It's funny and oddly touching.
  83. Both individually and when they play off each other, Braugher and Samberg are reason enough to tune in to Brooklyn Nine Nine.
  84. There's a lot to love in Californication, from the blowtorch-keen dialogue of creator and writer Tom Kapinos to the way that Duchovny's ever-so-slightly-fading good looks perfectly encapsulate the character's downturn in Hollywood, to a multitude of standout performances in the ensemble cast.
  85. It may not have the production values of those shows [The Tudors or The Borgias], but it does have an Irons, who, along with the rest of the cast, makes The White Queen an entertaining romp through a complicated and fascinating period of English history.
  86. The performances and characterizations are all top-notch, and the action sequences, especially in the first episode, are crisply directed.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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).
  90. Skies has enough going for it to appeal even to those who don't think they like sci-fi.
  91. The show’s structure is smart in many ways, giving us more immediate satisfaction as individual stories play out, while piling on layers of mystery about many of the characters. Kirkman does it so well that we almost miss the fact that several subplots are pretty timeworn.
  92. It's a rote cop show, but in the last five minutes or so, it hints at something deeper.
  93. Obama’s appearance will make some viewers feel nostalgic, and others indifferent, or less. But regardless of your take on the 44th president, it sure is good to have David Letterman back. And certainly because it’s Letterman asking the questions, we should feel nostalgic for a time when candid, insightful and civil interviews played a larger role in television news and the national conversation.
  94. A nicely layered new 10-episode dramedy.
  95. 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.
  96. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has lost none of its giddy sharp edges. [28 Jun 2006]
    • San Francisco Chronicle
  97. Grantchester is a period piece, but it’s fascinating to view it through a contemporary lens. Daisy Coulam’s adaptation is superb: She fleshes out the main characters with a deft hand, to be sure, but takes her time, enabling us to get to know Chambers as we would a new acquaintance.
  98. The writing is forced and thin, some of the acting stagey, most of the characters unlikable and - the show-killer quality that HBO execs apparently failed to see--profoundly boring.
  99. Goldberg’s perfectly crafted script is realized through shattering performances at every level, especially among the major players.
  100. Future Man may not be sophisticated comedy but its unabashed cleverness and fun are hard to resist.

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