San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 389 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 68% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 30% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 The Wire: Season 5
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 288
  2. Negative: 0 out of 288
288 tv reviews
  1. While Mob City does have its weaknesses, including patches of starchy dialogue, it offsets them with some magnetic performances.
  2. Viewers who look to Downton Abbey for loads of escapist splendor may want to temper their expectations when the wildly popular British drama returns for its fourth season on Sunday.
  3. This series is about the bonds of family and heated power struggles--with a big dose of vampiric hedonism mixed in. Sounds like the makings of something pretty fang-tastic.
  4. Dallas is teeming with the soapy plots, delectable eye candy and bad blood we crave in our TV guilty pleasures. It also maintains the general tone of the original without devolving into camp.
  5. Whether Rome attains that stature is entirely up to the Nielsen gods, but one thing is certain: The series is a lusty, violent, rollicking saga that is sure to seize plenty of initial attention, if not for its ravishing production values, then for its rampant depiction of ancient-style decadence and debauchery. [27 Aug 2005, p.F4]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  6. For some, it has become a mostly predictable, tired pattern that causes eyes to roll. But for those who can still check their critical capacities at the door--even after seven seasons--24 continues to make for pulse-pounding, nail-biting comfort food.
  7. What Deadwood becomes within its first four episodes is a complex, neo-Shakespearean take on social and institutional corruption, racism, environmental barbarism, and the nature of good and evil. It not only provides a different view of how the West was won but also muses on how the taming of the frontier mirrors modern times. [21 Mar 2004, p.3E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  8. After watching the show's first three episodes, I'm intrigued, if not totally wowed. But I want to see more.
  9. Based on Sunday's pilot episode, Crisis has the potential to be one of the spring season's most addictive network offerings. It's intense and suspenseful.
  10. It manages to remain faithful to the tone and lively style of the original. Newcomers really don't have to be well-versed in Torchwood lore or "Doctor Who," the series that spawned it, to get a kick out of sci-fi craziness of it all.
  11. Based on tonight's premiere, this mix of "Star Wars" and "Stagecoach" could prove to be visually ambitious, thematically provocative and full of crackling dialogue. [20 Sept 2002, p.1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  12. The writing is clever with sly references to the Man of Steel myths. In Welling and Kristin Kreuk, who plays Lana Lang, they have actors who are not only good but will be on the cover of every teen magazine within weeks. And Michael Rosenbaum manages to make Lex sympathetic even when you know he will end up being Superman's greatest enemy. [16 Oct 2001, p.1E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  13. The show is at its best when the confrontational tension among the humans is palpable.
  14. Fortunately, as the saga unfolds, it delves into fresher territory, and Political Animals becomes an intriguing, even occasionally humorous, family soap opera.
  15. Marin-based screenwriter Jane Anderson and director Lisa Cholodenko keep the timeline but ditch some of the stories, while proceeding in a leisurely fashion that allows us to really get to know the key characters.
  16. We've seen plenty of these high-concept TV conceits start well and then sadly unravel. For now, though, there's no place like Dome.
  17. There is more tension to the interaction between the characters and more emotions in play. [23 Sep 2002]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  18. The writing, which delivers humor and heartbreak in near equal measure, contains enough observational shrewdness to keep the endeavor engaging. And the performances by this all-star cast don't hurt, either.
  19. The revived 24 is still instantly involving and packed with a dizzying rush of suspenseful crescendos. The new Jack, meanwhile, is the same as the old Jack, which is to say he flips the bird in the face of terror and squirms his way out of major messes like a gun-toting Houdini--all while managing to make a man purse look good.
  20. Bening provides the spark that drives "Mrs. Harris," keeping its darkly funny irony from degenerating into campy humor.
  21. "Falcone" essentially is "Donnie Brasco" lite--tightly plotted and mostly absorbing, but watered down in terms of acting and storytelling (not to mention dialogue). Still, it's sharper than most of the typical network fare. [4 Apr 2000]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  22. The writing has picked up considerably since the pilot. But the real reason to try this show is the cast.
  23. "Threshold" seems to have a lot going for it. A good bunch of writers. Classy production. One of the season's quirkiest and most appealing casts,... Whether all these high-quality ingredients result in an intoxicating sci-fi stew remains to be seen.
  24. Fresh and fascinating.
  25. It shows more than a bit of promise.
  26. Though "Christy" has predictable turns ... it's always involving and the characters are so appealing that you'll surely want to see them again. [3 Apr 1994]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  27. "The Book of Daniel" turns out to be something rare to network television these days. It is a rich family drama that isn't afraid of dealing with real issues in a real way and with humor, falling somewhere between "Six Feet Under" and the late, lamented "Once and Again."
  28. 'Weeds' stumbles at times during its first few episodes. It makes some of its points with too little humor and subtlety. But for the most part, this is a nuanced comedy with interesting characters performed by a first-rate cast. [5 Aug 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  29. It's all shamelessly manipulative, but the show has real heart.
  30. The Riches is not a perfect show (the story's twists stretch the rules of plausibility every week), but it has something to say about such concepts as freedom and what constitutes a normal life. In addition, you won't find any better lead performances on television than those offered by Driver and Izzard.
  31. A smart, sophisticated spoof.
  32. Moliere it's not, but somehow it works as a sort of energized hybrid of "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Mork & Mindy" and those "Coneheads" sketches Curtin spent so much time in while she was with SNL. [7 Jan 1996]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  33. [It] is a bit too slavish in its imitation of the "Runway'' formula, but in its opening episode, it shows signs of real promise.
  34. The series has a familiar format, but the opening episode suggests it may have some real spark to it.
  35. Every AHS series has now featured at least one [rape scene]. Isn't it time to move on? At least he and his collaborators, as usual, do their best to soften the blows with healthy doses of camp and humor.
  36. I won't pretend "Dexter'' is for everybody. If you wince during scenes on "CSI,'' the series isn't for you.... But if you like the idea of a very good show that wrestles each week with moral dilemmas and the nature of good and evil, "Dexter'' is just the thing.
  37. The dialogue is often sharp, well-observed and very funny. It is sexy and, occasionally, raunchy in both language and love-making. The cast members make the lead characters warm and interesting. [16 Jan 2004, p.7G]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  38. At times, the storytelling is hopelessly and irritatingly convoluted. But you have to admire the ambition of the filmmakers in tackling both tough subjects and complex themes, a cast that rises to the occasion and the "24"-like kinetic energy. [26 Jan 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  39. The show doesn't look as if it will get too complex for its own good, the mystery has an internal logic that works and, best of all, there are moments... that suggest the creators are constructing some real flesh-and-blood characters.
  40. There’s not a ton of depth to Shrek the Halls but it is fun.
  41. The juxtaposition of the sometimes off-the-wall comments and the cuddly creatures is what makes "Comforts" so amusing.
  42. The patter is more what you'd hear from reasonably clever people in real life, not a bunch of lines thought up in the comedy's writers' room.
  43. There are a lot of characters and budding plotlines crowding the "Soul Food" pilot, which give it a disjointed feel at times (It tales a while to sort things out). In addition, the deployment of Ahmad as a sporadic narrator comes off as rather clumsy. ... But "Soul Food" eventually gains traction and becomes thoroughly involving especially by its second episode. [26 Jun 2000]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  44. Saturday's opening episode has a frustratingly deliberate pace. But "Outlander" eventually gains traction and becomes good escapist fun with doses of intrigue, suspense and, of course, steamy romance.
  45. Las Vegas has proved to be an entertaining guilty pleasure. Flashy, often trashy and slickly produced, the drama may be fluff, but it's good, sexy fluff with James Caan on hand to provide a bit of gravitas. [13 Sept 2004, p.1C]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  46. There are some bumpy spots in the first two episodes, but "Life" is worth sampling. [7 Oct 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  47. Generally funny, sharply observant and smart in its use of the star and a good supporting cast.
  48. Allegiance does a decent job of propping up its crazy premise with some juicy intrigue and solid performances, though Stenhouse comes off as rather bland.
  49. New Amsterdam is worth keeping an eye on as it develops. It could become consistently engaging television.
  50. As is the case of "Monk'' at its best, ["Psych"] isn't as much about the crime mysteries as it is a vehicle for lighthearted fun.
  51. Entourage is showing its age, but still offers a reliable dose of frat-boy humor and Hollywood-style hilarity. It also continues to be a show where men ride high (in more ways than one).
  52. While it is more intriguing than gripping, the drama has considerable power in its best moments, many of which will come in the last episodes.
  53. It is a great performance [by Mirren], strong enough that it overcomes the flaws of "Elizabeth I."
  54. I suspect that if I were a 10-year-old girl -- which I'm not -- I would love this film... That being said, I can still recommend the movie because, despite some sugary-sweet moments,... [it] isn't condescending to its young target audience and actually has some bite to it.
  55. But as good as it is, it doesn't quite have the originality, unique perspective and subversive sense of humor that mark HBO's "The Sopranos'' (clearly something of a model), "Deadwood'' and "The Wire.''
  56. It's this sense of wonder that sets "Enterprise" apart from the more stodgy Star Trek offerings and injects some much-needed fresh energy into the 35-year-old franchise. [26 Sep 2001]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  57. You'll get hooked on it early and should stick around to the very end -- even though you have a good idea of what's coming.
  58. The best new network sitcom this season.
  59. The series gets off to a reasonably strong start, propelled nicely by some decent (and, for network TV, hard-edged) writing and engaging performances by an above-average cast.
  60. Not everything worked, of course, and anyone expecting Conan to reinvent the wheel or drastically shake up the genre is probably disappointed. But if you were simply glad to see his brand of quirky comedy back in late night--and free of the network guardrails--it was cause for celebration.
  61. With her Texas twang and feisty demeanor, Giddish is instantly engaging, and she and Bishop share a nice on-screen chemistry that make them worth our time. As for the Past Life cases, they are adequately compelling.
  62. The pilot episode isn't a total knockout, coming off as a tad bland and safe. Although Abrams does enough to hold our interest, it feels like he's let up on the gas pedal.
  63. Friday's moody pilot unfolds at a listless pace and, occasionally, gets bogged down in its own density. But in it's favor, there are enough compelling characters and tantalizing questions to keep us engaged for the time being.
  64. What it lacks thus far are the laugh-out-loud oments that made the movie such a joy....That's not to say Parenthood isn't worth a look. Graham, the adorable "Gilmore Girls" alum, rocks the heck out of every scene she's in.
  65. But the feeling here is that Simon may have dipped into his Baltimore crime well one too many times. Tonight's pilot episode, while intriguing in spots, is hampered by a convoluted tangle of multiple plot threads and numerous characters, most of whom seem to have no interesting wrinkles. Worse yet, the story moves at an annoyingly sluggish pace. [1 June 2002, p.4]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  66. If you're a sucker for tangled mysteries--and are in need of a few heebie-jeebies--the show has enough oomph to its early episodes to suck you in.
  67. Unfortunately, things just never really gel in a pilot episode that falls flat and is only intermittently funny....In fact, only Janney, whose gleefully oblivious character spews un-PC zingers and keeps a huge self-portrait in her office, makes a truly fresh impression.
  68. The story piques your curiosity, but it takes too long to gain traction. The characters are certainly functional, but they lack compelling quirks. The subject matter is worthy, but it just doesn't crackle.
  69. Homeland has a chance to be a much tighter--and smarter--endeavor with more nuance than "24" ever had. But if a cougar suddenly appears, and/or if someone comes back from the dead, all bets are off.
  70. It is a relentlessly grim (and rather gruesome) episode with none of the bits of humor that mark the other "CSI" shows. [22 Sep 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  71. The Playboy Club isn't in the same league, or even the same galaxy, as the critically adored "Mad Men." While the latter offers nuance and depth and keen insights into its era, the former settles for stock characters, cliches and superficiality, punctuated by a lot of come-hither looks.
  72. Based on first impressions, it's certainly not fall-down funny, but the cast is appealing and the premise promising.
  73. It all makes for a scattered, hit-or-miss proposition. Some gags land. Others fall flat.
  74. It's a scattershot approach that ultimately undermines what is admirable about Luck, including some gorgeous photography.
  75. I found enough mesmerizing moments, bits of character and sharp Milch dialogue in the opening episodes that I'll probably stick around to catch a few more waves.
  76. While these [butt-kicking] scenes contain a certain intensity and exhilaration, you can't help but think that, had the writers of Missing devoted as much time to plot and character as they did to the fighting, they might have wound up with a much more enjoyable show.
  77. The cast around Washington is also quite solid, and the show looks and is refreshingly different from a typical procedural. But it also feels a little too slick and superficial, and those gaps in logic may be a problem for some viewers.
  78. So far, though, it has mostly kept its ambition in check, preferring to follow the playbook of a typical crime procedural, with a little more darkness and a little less energy.
  79. This is a show that has its heart in the right place, but is, ironically, pretty mindless.
  80. You get sort of an odd, been-there-done-that feeling when watching the pilot, which contains, to varying degrees, traces of "The Hunger Games," "The Walking Dead," "FlashForward," "Jericho," "Lost" (Elizabeth Mitchell is in the cast) and other dystopian fare.
  81. Based on two preview episodes, Anger Management is at least more interesting than "Two and a Half Men" (take that, Ashton Kutcher). That's certainly not saying much, though.
  82. The good news is that Sunday's two-hour opener answers several key questions in relatively rapid fashion and in ways that don't seem totally unreasonable. The bad news is that it also puts Sarah back at square one, and therein lies the problem.
  83. Although the show features strong performances and is piercing in its emotional honesty, it also get bogged down in its own existential angst.
  84. Certainly, Dominic Purcell creates quite a presence as this man of mystery. [20 Sept 2002, p.1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  85. Until "Carnivale" fulfills more of its promise, my enthusiasm is restrained. [3 Jan 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  86. "Ranch House" is the most ambitious of the "House" projects.
  87. What we're left with in The Leftovers is a show that, at least early on, is nothing but chaos and dread and bleakness and chill, as it relentlessly delves into the most troubling aspects of human nature.
  88. If it keeps its balance and cuts back on some of the more implausible moments in the first hour, this series could be a keeper.
  89. At its very best, '24' creates an almost tactile sense of tension that no show can match. From one harrowing moment to the next, your pulse races and your skin prickles with apprehension. On the other hand, the show's gimmicky structure forces its writers to keep the plates perpetually spinning, and they often aren't up to the task. [5 Jan 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  90. [There are] moments of pure brilliance--and moments that had me doubled over in mirth.... Unfortunately, there are stretches in this new batch of episodes that feel more flabby than snappy, and there are some lulls that leave you downright fatigued.
  91. A warm, harmless, family-friendly show that offers a few sweetly amusing moments mixed in with the predictable twists. The kids are quite adorable, too.
  92. While it hardly breaks new TV ground or sends off the kind of sparks you want in a first-rate drama, the series has a certain watchable quality to it.
  93. There's just enough punch to it that you'll want to stick around for Hour Two.
  94. The humor in the pilot is anything but razor-sharp: The writers too often confuse coarse language for jokes, and a subplot in which Calvin coaches a Nigerian co-worker on the finer points of the booty call sputters badly. Still, there is promise here, thanks mainly to a collection of intriguing characters. [14 Aug 2005, p.F4]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  95. Judging by the pilot, George Lopez is no laugh riot, but it definitely has its moments, and it's refreshing to find a touch of Mexican-American flavor on TV somewhere other than Showtime and Nickelodeon. [27 Mar 2002, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  96. What keeps Jungle from being laughably bad is Shields is so charming and Raver so intelligent in their roles that they carry scenes that should just keel over and die.
  97. For at least the first two episodes, "Jericho'' works better than it should, and there are some striking moments and images.
  98. What I've seen suggests an intriguing show, although there's something so contrived about the series that it makes me more than a bit uneasy.
  99. While lacking the satirical humor of "Housewives" and the edge of "Unit," the show is serviceable in its storytelling, quite well-done in its production and better than well-done in its acting.

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