San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 412 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 69% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 29% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 5.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 Battlestar Galactica (2003): Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 310
  2. Negative: 0 out of 310
310 tv reviews
  1. The bottom line on Season 2 of The Newsroom is that it's unlikely to sway viewers one way or another. Devotees will continue to embrace it, and the haters will continue to hate.... As for this critic, let's just say that I'd rather watch an energetic, well-acted, provocative show that aims high and sometimes falls short, than one that doesn't aim high at all.
  2. It's not as atmospheric and artful, nor does it exude the same visceral sense of place [as French series "Les Revenants"]. But taken on its own, it is an absorbing, well-paced, thoughtfully rendered production with a quality cast that ranks as one of the better new winter shows.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    All the weird, impulsive jokes are as outrageously funny as they aspire to be. [22 Sept 1994, p.1C]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  3. Arrow does what a solid pilot should: Suck us in, make us anxious to see what's next and set up several intriguing possibilities.
  4. Season 6 jumps ahead in time and launches with a beautifully written, contemplative two-hour opener called "The Doorway."
  5. Created by Gary Scott Thompson ("The Fast and the Furious"), Las Vegas appears to have all the ingredients of a compulsively watchable guilty pleasure. [22 Sept 2003, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  6. The first hour... is as kinetic as any episode the show has done. [26 Oct 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  7. An irresistible blend of soapy shenanigans, domestic tension, political intrigue and catchy tunes.
  8. It brings something fresh, bold and thrilling to prime time.
  9. Though Nikita is certainly dark, it's not as unbearably so as the USA cable version, which was too slick and soulless for its own good. The new version feels much more like a rollicking popcorn thrill ride.
  10. Lux is one of those cute, quippy, ultra-mature teens you find only on TV. And several plot points unfortunately come across as false. But it doesn't matter. The lead characters in Life Unexpected are so likable, and the interactions between them feel so natural, that you find yourself willing to give the show lots of slack.
  11. The rather trite concept is freshened up by some colorful writing that actually happens to be funny, and by engaging "Odd Couple"-like performances from Sheen and Cryer, who play well off each other. The series is also a prime-time rarity - a sweet domestic comedy that isn't overly sappy. [22 Sept 2003, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  12. To be sure, the show is like any other crime drama in that it contains darkness and violence--some of it erupting in unexpected ways. But there are enough new wrinkles here to make anyone who takes a chance on it feel thoroughly justified.
  13. CBS has presented viewers with an exciting gift this fall. Their "Five-0" update not only doesn't stink, it's an action-packed, easy-on-the-eyes thrill ride that is slicker and sexier than the original series that aired from 1968 to '80.
  14. If you've ever wondered how television screws up so many promising projects, check out Episodes, a new Showtime series with Matt LeBlanc that provides the answers in deliciously hilarious detail.
  15. Fortunately, the series has enough edge and action and compelling conflict to keep it from getting mired in sap. Berlanti, in fact, has humorously referred to Everwood as "'Our Town' on crack" and he may have something there. [16 Sept 2002, p.D1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  16. A surreal, visually striking, insightful comedy-drama about the American way of death and a troubled middle-class family that deals with mortality every day. [3 June 2001, p.6E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  17. Some viewers will delight in the edgy humor, while others undoubtedly will want to slap an extra-tight muzzle on Wilfred.
  18. Whereas most entries in the musty genre are simply inclined to go for cheap shrieks and lofty body counts, this saga defies expectations with a more humanistic approach.
  19. Torchwood is grand fun and great adult entertainment.
  20. Once you get used to the surroundings, it's still the same "As You Like It"--utterly charming and completely winning.
  21. Although a bit rough at times (it's nowhere near as slick as "Laguna Beach"), Confidential is strong, emotionally charged stuff with the kind of real kids not often seen on TV.
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  22. It's an engaging series that's definitely worth at least a trial spin.
  23. If you're looking for allegorical, intriguing science fiction, this isn't it. If you're OK with rapid-fire, light-hearted dialogue with an occasional dig at politics and culture, this "Doctor Who" is your cup of tea.
  24. It is a gripping and explosively acted piece that involves the New York Yankees, the Son of Sam killer and the infamous 25-hour blackout that darkened all of New York City.
  25. By the end of the first hour of Tell Me, I found myself caring deeply about what was happening to the couples and whether, in the end, they would find some joy of sex and emotional satisfaction. And whether I care about the characters is always my bottom line as to whether a series succeeds.
  26. The early episodes of Project Greenlight do a great job of demonstrating just how important access is in Hollywood. [2 Dec 2001, p.C04]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  27. Effortlessly mixing drama and wit, mysticism and biting social commentary, there is a real glow to Eli Stone that will brighten your day and lift your spirits. That is a very rare thing on television.
  28. Yes, this highly addictive -- and often painfully funny -- soap can trample all over your comfort zone, but that can be a good thing if you give it some slack. It is rough and visceral and intense and defiantly alive -- commendable qualities, considering how so many banal (and derivative) TV dramas these days carry the mind-numbing effect of pre-op anesthesia. [22 June 2004, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  29. There's a depth, a richness to the series now that was only suggested [in the first season].
  30. There is certainly enough right about the first hour of State of Mind that I'll be back for at least one more session with Ann Bellowes.
  31. It can be downright uproarious at times. [27 Jun 2006]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  32. It just oozes potential with sharp dialogue and a strong cast.
  33. The [first two] installments--titled "The Beginning of the End" and "Confirmed Dead"--are gripping, vivid, beautifully executed and loaded with answers to the little mysteries of Lost life.
  34. With striking eyes and a seductive smile, she's pretty much the only thing you see when she's on the screen. But Gugino doesn't get by on looks alone. She impressively balances toughness with a sultry vulnerability and plays Karen with a well-modulated nonchalance that brings an air of mystery to the character. And through it all, she avoids coming across as a cartoonish action hero. [1 Oct 2003, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  35. A show that, while ponderous at times, ultimately adds up to some very absorbing television. [10 Oct 2000, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  36. Although the pilot is hampered by a few cliches and acting that feels forced at times, the main leads are likable, the relationships involving and the storylines provocative. Consider it a promising start. [14 Apr 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  37. As messy as it sounds, the cast is good, the show looks great and the executive producer is Greg Berlanti, a writer whose recent track record ("Everwood," "Jack & Bobby," "Brother & Sisters") is unmatched.
  38. Definitely worth your time.
  39. The show could grow on you quickly because those involved are actually talented and engaging on- and offstage. One upside to Nashville is that it doesn't feel as staged as "Laguna Beach" or, in particular, "The Hills," a spinoff of "Beach."
  40. Initially, these and other fresh characters make Season 3 feel overcrowded--and we pity any new fan trying to make sense of it all. But by the middle of the second episode, the show begins to gain traction and sucks you in with its new set of tantalizing mysteries.
  41. Johnson is such a multi-layered character, and Sedgwick plays her so beautifully that you can forgive the weaknesses of the opening episode and hope they get smoothed out in what could be a very long run for this show. [13 Jun 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  42. At least early on, Nip/Tuck manages to hit the right notes and reclaim a spot as one of television's most watchable and entertaining series.
  43. The writing is sharp and sophisticated, avoiding the predictable sitcom cliches.
  44. [Entourage] has gotten funnier, more human and more insightful with age.
  45. Within the first 15 minutes, you realize you have jumped onto what could be one hell of a thrill ride.
  46. A gripping show.
  47. There's a crispness to the series that was lacking at times last season, and it's impossible not to get caught up in the twists and turns that come in rapid-fire succession.
  48. The show appears to be a perfect fit with "CSI" in that it similarly places more emphasis on procedural puzzles than personality.... But whereas "CSI" is all about the physical evidence, "Trace" is about psychological profiles. [26 Sep 2002]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  49. A richly drawn, unflinchingly real and quietly moving family drama.
  50. Addictive. [1 Dec 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  51. Under Soderbergh's direction, The Knick is a dark and gritty saga that captures a time of major changes--not only on the medical front, but in industrialization and race relations.
  52. The acting is snappy and the characters are funky, while the cinematography is grainy and pleasingly unpretty. [17 Sept 2002, p.D1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  53. "Extras'' doesn't quite rise to the same level [as "The Office"], but it is very funny and Gervais plays another memorable character
  54. Blanchard is lovely and plays Cher so well that you'll never miss Silverstone. Many of the key supporting actors from the movie reprise their roles in the TV series, but the chief saving grace is the clever script. [20 Sept 1996, p.3E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  55. If anything, season 2--also just eight hours long--is even better as Tyler's world in 1973 becomes even more complicated.
  56. It is a classic fish-out-of-water comedy that shows a deft touch as it delves into adolescent anxieties and intercultural fears and misunderstandings. There are honest emotions and honestly earned laughs throughout the first half hour.
  57. "Sleeper Cell" is a compelling, kinetic ride that matches "24" in its power and is far more realistic and topical.
  58. Manages to be crude and sweet, smart and splendidly stupid, all at the same time.
  59. An ambitious and wildly paced around-the-globe journey... "The Amazing Race" appears to have what it takes to become reality TV's next big thing. [5 Sep 2001]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  60. Bristling with promise. [17 Sep 1994]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  61. The show isn't exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but it's smartly written and the cast jells from the start.
  62. Still, "Chronicles" is worth an early sampling, particularly given the current TV landscape where scripted drama and comedy is at a premium. Certainly, there is some promise to the opening episodes.
  63. Californication is a near-perfect match with the established show, a caustic, sharp-edged mix of humor and drama that tiptoes along the edge of disaster but never drops into the looming abyss.
  64. A creepy, atmospheric, sometimes downright scary hour of TV.
  65. While the show does contain a few obvious penis punch lines, it is so much more than its gimmicky name suggests, offering plenty of heart, along with worthwhile riffs on the national economy, American resourcefulness and, yes, gender dynamics.
  66. "Invasion'' has the look of a winner.
  67. Occasionally, something will pop up to remind us of just how good television can be when smart writers come up with an intriguing concept and execute it well. A case in point is Breaking Bad, an edgy, challenging new series.
  68. Warm, clever, appealing and a lot of fun.
  69. For those who loved the original - and for those who liked it for its good nature, charm and peppy production numbers (that includes me)--the good news is that, if anything, the creators have managed to improve on the basic formula.
  70. Daisies is something you shouldn't miss, particularly if you're looking for something different on TV.
  71. Torchwood-- the "Doctor Who" spinoff that was a breakout sci-fi hit last year--is back Saturday with new episodes that are as smart, sassy and sexy as ever.
  72. What ensues is a dizzying, turbocharged confrontation designed to keep your nerves in a vise (or your stomach in knots). Of course, it's all punctuated with the violent reverie of an all-out zombie splat-fest. So, basically, it's The Walking Dead on crank.
  73. Burns puts forth a dazzling spread of vintage clips and still photographs, and his love for baseball is palpable throughout. Fellow fans will appreciate how the film celebrates the resilience and enduring appeal of the game.
  74. A veritable treasure trove of frat-house humor. [1 May 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  75. Community can be too consciously zany at times and occasionally misses more than it hits. But from the early looks of things, it seems to be holding up just fine.
  76. Whatever the case, it's a blast to watch Valley's character squirm his way out of a major mess, while keeping his droll sense of humor intact. Human Target never will be a big-time Emmy magnet, but as a piece of good, escapist fun, it definitely hits the mark.
  77. A pretty lively and entertaining show, maybe the fledgling WB network's first real shot at a breakaway hit. [10 Mar 1997, p.10E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  78. Has a solid premise and a lavish look. The show's signature visual gimmick features characters morphing into their younger selves. Then there's the appealing Rush, who makes a very strong first impression. [27 Sept 2003, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  79. Rogue does a nice job of methodically building an unsettling mood.
  80. The story, penned by executive producer Andy Breckman ("Rat Race") gets predictable at times, but it deftly manages to mix drama and humor while bringing new twists to a shop-worn genre. [11 July 2002, p.D1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  81. [Dinosaur-rock] cliches still pack a comedic punch because, well, they're just so outlandish and evocative. The key is to bring some fresh twists to them, and for the most part, Leary's bunch succeeds in doing so.
  82. All of the lead actors dig deeply into their roles, with Farrell playing the wary, weary burnout to perfection, and Vaughn shifting into full-throttle intensity. The story is dark and atmospheric--just the way fans like it. Meanwhile, the first three episodes hint at enough buried secrets and fresh angles to indicate that the story still has a lot to give.
  83. It has enough kooky class warfare, sexual shenanigans and whodunit intrigue to make for some escapist summer fun.
  84. Viewers turned off by the bitterly boisterous, superficial and often one-sided confrontations on the cable news channels might find The Sunset Limited to be refreshing in some ways.
  85. The series takes its horror seriously. There are genuine jolts, along with lots of intense, turbocharged action sequences, and fountains of blood that give the story visceral oomph. The faint of heart may want to sit this one out. On the other hand, there's also enough comedic energy to keep things from feeling excruciatingly brutal.
  86. The trick for Midler's writers will be to make sure the show is at least somewhat grounded in real-life situations while keeping the inside-Hollywood stuff from being too inside. It's funny, for example, when she expresses vengeful bitterness over losing the 1979 Oscar to Sally Field ("Norma Rae"), but it might not be so funny to hear references to her 1982 celluloid stink bomb "Jinxed." (Remember that one?) [11 Oct 2000, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  87. What Up All Night has over other baby-rearing shows is a refreshing irreverence.
  88. "Thief" is a worthy addition to [FX's] schedule.
  89. The production is bolstered by some stunning visuals and a few tantalizing plot twists that I won't go into here. Also, the we-don't-need-Batman female empowerment angle holds some intrigue. [9 Oct 2002, p.A1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  90. From an advance look at the season opener, this season's cast is a particularly lively mix with a multimedia artist, a "Beach Blanket Babylon" costume designer, a model-turned-designer and an ex-biker among those competing.
  91. Sunday's explosive two-hour opener boldly delivers on the promise by TNT producers to rev up both the pace and the firepower in Season 2.
  92. What really makes the opening episode work, though, is the chemistry between Grammer--as Chuck Darling, an egotistical newsman who has returned to Pittsburgh after his career stalled--and Heaton as his uptight longtime co-anchor, Kelly Carr, who isn't thrilled by his return.
  93. Ringer may not be able to match the Master of Suspense at the top of his game, but it does a great job of creating a constant state of queasy tension.
  94. Despite all the implausibilities and irritations, Switched manages to make a positive impression, thanks to some sturdy writing and solid performances that adequately sell the premise.
  95. Brody's portrayal of the wise but nerdy Seth energizes The O.C. He's comical without being cartoonish, and the humorous touches he brings to the story help to lighten up a show that at times feels overly heavy. Here's hoping the script writers don't leave his character in the dust in favor of chasing more glamorous story lines. [5 Aug 2003, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  96. The boys are at their best when mocking the absurdities of what they find on television.
  97. For now, though, Delany is enough to hold our attention. With a deft touch, she blends just enough warmth and vulnerability with the sass and smarts to make it all palatable.
  98. They [Robin Williams and James Wolk] seem to be having a blast playing off one another, and their comedic energy is infectious.
  99. The Michael J. Fox Show tries really hard to be as warm as a cup of cocoa yet hilariously irreverent. Maybe too hard.... On the plus side, Fox still oozes self-deprecating charm, and I love the sweet and playful chemistry he has with Brandt. Also, Pierce is a hoot as the smooth con man of a boss. More of that, please.

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