San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 379 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 5.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 The Wire: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 278
  2. Negative: 0 out of 278
278 tv reviews
  1. This season's opening four hours are as good as anything the series has ever done.
  2. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded with some of the most compelling, provocative drama ever produced for television.
  3. The way these characters interact and relate in the first hour is dazzling and involving without being self-consciously clever.
  4. One of TV's most invigorating and intellectually stimulating series.... provocative television that transcends its genre.
  5. They could have made for some deadly passages, but thanks to Morgan's writing and a superior cast, these discourses on the nature of evil, and whether the truly evil ever can be restored to humanity, are mesmerizing.
  6. In the end, The Wire is extraordinary television. It has a richness, a depth and an intelligence that transcend the medium and makes it the kind of superb literature that A.O. Scott found lacking in the world of books.
  7. It manages to be a rousing piece of filmmaking, a fascinating character study and a largely accurate presentation of the time when America was born.
  8. The lively script by Geoffrey Ward covers a lot of ground and offers keen insights via interviews, not only with experts but regular folk who lived through the era.
  9. It's captivating, and also poignant.
  10. The top-notch acting is still intact, as is the attention to aesthetic detail.
  11. That Thrones remains so utterly unpredictable makes it even more mesmerizing.
  12. I'd rather spend time with an edgy show that aims high and sometimes falls short, than one that doesn't.... Welcome back, Mr. Sorkin. It's a pleasure to have you.
  13. It's never easy to say goodbye to a drama as mind-blowingly magnificent as Breaking Bad, but savvy creator Vince Gilligan has picked the right time to put his end game into motion
  14. Last Resort [is] another epic, ambitious and distinctive new show that is cause for excitement.
  15. Fortunately, the new Steel Magnolias turns out to be a full 90 minutes of wonderful.
  16. One of the best pilots from a new show this season -- a wild, stylish ride through Sydney Bristow's unraveling life. You have to suspend disbelief, but this series promises to be one nifty piece of entertainment. [28 Sept 2001, p.5E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  17. This is a TV drama of quality, masterfully written and lovingly produced, which probably reflects what may be the most important new trend in network television: The increasing willingness of feature film talents to work in the medium. [28 Sept 1998]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  18. For five decades, the cop drama -- the good guys vs. the bad guys on the streets of our cities -- has been one of the cornerstones of network television, from the days of "Dragnet" to newer shows such as "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" that altered TV. But never, ever has there been a cop drama quite like The Shield, and it could have an impact on pop culture that rivals the best of the police shows that came before it. [12 Mar 2002, p.AE 1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  19. Those who make the investment are richly rewarded. There's enough tension, betrayal, treachery, greed and sex, after all, to fill eight seasons of "Scandal."
  20. The show probably wouldn't fly for a minute, though, if it weren't for the ineffably engaging Cavanagh, who looks a lot like sardonic comedian Jon Stewart, yet has the laid-back affability of a young Jimmy Stewart. All bright eyes and dimples, he absolutely sparkles in the role. [7 Oct 2000, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  21. One of the most fully realized, innovative and flat-out exciting television debuts ever. [4 Nov 2001]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  22. The format of '24' still works beautifully. [27 Oct 2002]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  23. It's a muscular, instantly riveting series that features sensational performances by Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. Based on the early episodes, we could be looking at television's next great character-based drama.
  24. FX may have struck dramatic gold again. This series is mesmerizing. It sucks you in like a good book and has you yearning for more.
  25. Orange is teeming with humor, heart and poignancy--all the elements needed to qualify it as one of the summer's must-see shows.
  26. Jammed with characters and story lines, it has a Dickensian quality in its ability to capture time and place with precision. It is almost never predictable, avoiding the cliches of the Mafia genre even while it revels in them. Just when you think a story line is going in a particular direction, the show will suddenly shift gears and veer off into unfamiliar terrain without stretching plausibility to the breaking point. [16 Jan 2000]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  27. "The Sopranos" has renewed and refreshed its ability to surprise. [4 Mar 2001]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  28. The special stays true to the tone and searing wit of the original series and makes for a spectacularly funny coda to "The Office." [18 Oct 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  29. The writing... is sharp and rich. The production -- from the design of the carnival to the evocative cinematography -- is dazzling. The direction from the likes of "Sopranos" veteran Rodrigo Garcia is first-rate. And the acting is sensational. [14 Sep 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  30. It's an extraordinary achievement, particularly since the miniseries ended up involving seven directors, including Hanks, and six writers. There is an inevitable difference in tone between the episodes, but "Band" never wavers from its vision of re-creating the experience of war through the eyes of average soldiers. [9 Sept 2001, p.3E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  31. Deadwood may not offer the vision of the Old West Americans have had for years, but it is a stunning, intelligent, almost poetic view of how we came to be a nation. [5 Mar 2005, p.1E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  32. Put together, all these elements make Rescue Me one of the television's top dramas, on a par with the likes of "Deadwood" and "The Shield." It is that rare TV series that offers insight, generates heartfelt emotion and challenges the viewer to consider the darker corners of the soul. [21 June 2005, p.2D]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  33. Murder One is a giant step above the other new fall attractions and proof again that Bochco is America's most experienced chef when it comes to cooking up irresistible adult drama. [19 Sept 1995, p.1D]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  34. Mad Men can still keep us spellbound.
  35. What [director Ryan Murphy] delivers is a film with piercing emotional honesty that feels rough, and real, and intimate, and truly full of heart.
  36. Audacious plot lines help to keep Orange Is the New Black so unusual and refreshing. It's the one prison show that you may never want to escape.
  37. As its lofty production price tag suggests, The Pacific is bursting with epic sprawl and extravagance. But like any effective film of its kind, it also contains a brand of intimacy that will have you bonding with its characters and caring deeply about their fates.
  38. Treme, probably more than any piece of cinematic fiction set in New Orleans, feels like an authentic experience. As you watch it--and slowly savor it--you can practically taste the red beans and rice.
  39. By the end of the opener, a web of intriguing plot lines (and their treacherous overtones) are firmly in place. As ensuing episodes unfold, the story finds its beating heart as the characters substantially deepen.
  40. House is a rarity for TV: a true anti-hero, someone who's hard to embrace but easy to accept. [15 Nov 2004, p.2C]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  41. Boomtown offers hope that it could be one of those rare shows that looks sharp, is sharp and actually has something to say...In lesser hands, it could have been hackneyed or pretentious. But creator Graham Yost is a skilled writer who handles the shifting perspectives and the time jumps with aplomb and without sacrificing characterization. [27 Sept 2002, p.SE1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  42. [Sorkin's] premier episode for West Wing is a fine piece of work, relying heavily on a presumption that viewers have brains and can absorb a lot in a short period...Rarely has a writer fleshed out so many characters with so few words in such a short period of time. [22 Sept 1999, p.14E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  43. The one truly original new show this season and certainly the funniest comedy. It is outrageous. It is odd. It is fresh. It is smart. And, given the track record of such refreshingly sophisticated comedies on network TV, it will be lucky to last three episodes. [31 Oct 2003, p.9E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  44. The good news is that it's still got game. [7 Nov 2004, p.C09]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  45. This is a cast that jells immediately, hitting on all cylinders from the very first scene.
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  46. [It has] a rich mix of sharp observant humor and a sure feel for the family dynamic.
  47. The finest purely American TV film to come along in some time.
  48. The series is a funny, knowing, sometimes dark, sometimes romantic take on the time just before the power of advertising was fully realized.
  49. This BBC-produced series has some of the best writing and acting you're likely to see this season.
  50. Sunday night's opening episode, Public Relations, delivers some jaw-dropping moments.
  51. One of the best-written and well-acted pilots of the fall, this spunky dramedy is full of small surprises. [29 Sept 2000, p.T034]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  52. The best new series of the season, it's a drama that deftly blends familiar elements of "The Stepford Wives" and "American Beauty" with a dash of "Twin Peaks," while still managing to feel strikingly new. [3 Oct 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  53. Superb. [17 Sep 1994]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  54. While Botwin's crime world is the engine that drives "Weeds," there is much more to the show than that. At its core, it's a subtle satire of suburban life, politics, social mores and race. [13 Aug 2007]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  55. Powerful stuff. [16 Apr 2000]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  56. And as far as the plots are concerned, don't sweat it. Tonight's engaging season-opener is easily accessible. Spend some time with these characters and soon you'll find yourself developing a strong emotional connection to them. [5 Oct 2007]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  57. Much of its strength comes from a group of actors so skilled that, like the ensemble on "The Sopranos," they draw us into the lives of their characters even if we don't initially want to go there.
  58. The series returns with its creative six-shooters blazing, its florid language and baroque manner of storytelling still gloriously riveting.
  59. The characters are intelligent, complex people you quickly care about, even if -- this being a show about television -- they can be egotistical and self-centered.
  60. The driving force behind the show's appeal is Ferrera, who gives a pitch-perfect, killer performance in the opening episodes.
  61. A finely detailed exploration of high school life and small-city dynamics.
  62. This year, as in the past, there are all kinds of problems with "24" if you think too hard about what you're watching.
  63. It is an extremely challenging bit of filmmaking, since almost nothing is initially what it seems and you have to pay very close attention to the complex storytelling.
  64. Monday's opening hour is a bit disjointed stylistically. But the individual pieces are so compelling that you're still going to be sucked into the saga. And the show gets far more consistent in future episodes.
  65. It's a mesmerizing tale of legal maneuvering with the distinctive FX moral ambiguity and splendid performances by Close, Rose Byrne ("28 Weeks Later") as her protege and TV veteran Ted Danson as her latest courtroom adversary.
  66. It evokes an era worth revisiting, reconsiders a time that was an important chapter in our history and gives us a monumental performance by Keaton.
  67. Most TV shows, after all, quickly fade from memory. This one will haunt your dreams.
  68. Based on the first two installments of a 13-episode season, it will continue to have viewers perched on the edge of their sofas.
  69. Some of the characters are so simplistically drawn that it's laughable. On the other hand, we love these characters so much and we're having such a jolly good time that we just can't resist Downton Abbey.
  70. As it turns out, Veep might be even more hilarious if it didn't hit so uncomfortably close to the truth.
  71. Stick with it, and this Sherlock proves to be a fun and exhilarating TV experience.
  72. The good news is that Kaling and her writers have crafted a character who is competent at her job, not a goofball in scrubs. And they've offset the show's dreamy sweetness with plenty of snarky bite.
  73. Arrow does what a solid pilot should: Suck us in, make us anxious to see what's next and set up several intriguing possibilities.
  74. An irresistible blend of soapy shenanigans, domestic tension, political intrigue and catchy tunes.
  75. Season 3 gets off to a fine and frothy start.
    • 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
  76. A compelling thriller.
  77. The good news is that the folks behind "Buffy" -- notably writer-creator Joss Whedon -- have come along for this new chapter in a vampire's life and, at least for the first episode, have brought their wit, style and keen sense of pop culture with them. [4 Oct 1999, p.1C]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  78. From Spector's verbal bluster, to all the chatter about ballistics and forensics, it's a very talkie 90 minutes, occasionally punctuated by a haunting soundtrack. But the high-caliber performers, as well as Mamet's sparkling dialogue, keep things compelling.
  79. Hannibal is a sturdy offering, one that keeps viewers guessing and tensions simmering. Most TV crime shows have a tendency to quickly fade from memory. This one just might haunt your dreams.
  80. Season 6 jumps ahead in time and launches with a beautifully written, contemplative two-hour opener called "The Doorway."
  81. The good news is that it doesn't stink. The even better news is that it's clever and sophisticated and immediately outclasses most of the comedies currently on network television -- not that the bar is set to breathtaking heights. [24 Mar 2005, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  82. Gilmore Girls is brimming with fine performances all around, but the keys, of course, are its two leads. The appealing Graham has endured her share of TV flops ("Townies," "MYOB" and "Conrad Bloom"), but now she appears to have the kind of material that will allow her comic talents to shine. Meanwhile, Bledel is a promising newcomer with an intriguing round face, expressive eyes and a gift for deadpan retorts. [5 Oct 2000, p.D01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  83. The first hour... is as kinetic as any episode the show has done. [26 Oct 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  84. There will be those who will find true comic insight in the sharp comments and ugly little moments of truth. And there will be those who will flee "Curb Your Enthusiasm," seeking something just a bit less off-putting. [14 Oct 2000]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  85. 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.
  86. An underlying warmth and a certain charm to the characters mitigate some of the childish jokes and give the series real appeal. [5 Aug 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  87. As good as some other cop shows are -- "The Shield," for example -- no other comes this close to a true-to-life portrayal of life on the mean streets. [29 May 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  88. More than usual, you feel the emotional weight our survivors lug around. But at the same time, he [writer-producer Scott Gimple] apparently wants to assure us that the show isn't about to back away from turbocharged action sequences and gruesome gore.
  89. There is no question Rescue Me walks a very thin artistic line. The miracle, in television terms, is how brilliantly it works. While heart-wrenching at times, it is also a very funny series. [21 July 2004, p.6E]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  90. The Cold War may be over, but this addictive spy thriller is just heating up.
  91. While The Red Road is not quite in the same league as "True Detective" or "Broadchurch," it is better than most, and it succeeds at drawing dramatic tension not from lots of plot-twist fireworks, but from the long-simmering resentments, private shames and historical injustices embedded in a community few viewers are familiar with.
  92. It all adds up to a trip that's well worth taking.
  93. 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.
  94. 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
  95. The Australian actor is again in Emmy-caliber form, delivering a gripping character study of a man who isn't comfortable in his own skin.
  96. So far. so good.
  97. An emotionally powerful dramedy.
  98. The Missing, an eight-hour thriller coming to Starz on Saturday, is so tantalizing and haunting that it qualifies as a must-see, even for viewers who might be suffering from serial crime fatigue.
  99. 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.
  100. 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.
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. 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.
  104. 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.
  105. Some viewers will delight in the edgy humor, while others undoubtedly will want to slap an extra-tight muzzle on Wilfred.
  106. 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
  107. 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
  108. 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

Top Trailers