San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 367 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 4.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Band of Brothers: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 267
  2. Negative: 0 out of 267
267 tv reviews
  1. 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]
  2. 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
  3. 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]
  4. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded with some of the most compelling, provocative drama ever produced for television.
  5. 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]
  6. "The Sopranos" has renewed and refreshed its ability to surprise. [4 Mar 2001]
  7. 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]
  8. One of TV's most invigorating and intellectually stimulating series.... provocative television that transcends its genre.
  9. 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]
  10. The comedy is so darkly cynical that it's off-putting. If you're a glass-half-full kind of guy like me, it's hard to make the show part of your regular TV menu. [13 Sep 2002]
  11. 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]
  12. Sunday night's opening episode, Public Relations, delivers some jaw-dropping moments.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Stick with it, and this Sherlock proves to be a fun and exhilarating TV experience.
  16. Powerful stuff. [16 Apr 2000]
  17. 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."
  18. 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.
  19. 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]
  20. 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]
  21. This season's opening four hours are as good as anything the series has ever done.
  22. 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]
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. [It has] a rich mix of sharp observant humor and a sure feel for the family dynamic.
  26. That Thrones remains so utterly unpredictable makes it even more mesmerizing.
  27. 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]
  28. 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.
  29. The top-notch acting is still intact, as is the attention to aesthetic detail.
  30. The Cold War may be over, but this addictive spy thriller is just heating up.
  31. The good news is that it's still got game. [7 Nov 2004, p.C09]
  32. One of the most fully realized, innovative and flat-out exciting television debuts ever. [4 Nov 2001]
  33. Season 6 jumps ahead in time and launches with a beautifully written, contemplative two-hour opener called "The Doorway."
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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]
  37. 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]
  38. 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.
  39. 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]
  40. It all adds up to a trip that's well worth taking.
  41. 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.
  42. Daisies is something you shouldn't miss, particularly if you're looking for something different on TV.
  43. It's captivating, and also poignant.
  44. 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]
  45. The series returns with its creative six-shooters blazing, its florid language and baroque manner of storytelling still gloriously riveting.
  46. What [director Ryan Murphy] delivers is a film with piercing emotional honesty that feels rough, and real, and intimate, and truly full of heart.
  47. Mad Men can still keep us spellbound.
  48. An irresistible blend of soapy shenanigans, domestic tension, political intrigue and catchy tunes.
  49. 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.
  50. Season 3 gets off to a fine and frothy start.
  51. The format of '24' still works beautifully. [27 Oct 2002]
  52. 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]
  53. 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.
  54. The show is at its best when the confrontational tension among the humans is palpable.
  55. "Extras'' doesn't quite rise to the same level [as "The Office"], but it is very funny and Gervais plays another memorable character
  56. The way these characters interact and relate in the first hour is dazzling and involving without being self-consciously clever.
  57. It is a great performance [by Mirren], strong enough that it overcomes the flaws of "Elizabeth I."
  58. 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]
  59. 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.
  60. 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]
  61. 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]
  62. 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]
  63. 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.
  64. A pretty lively and entertaining show, maybe the fledgling WB network's first real shot at a breakaway hit. [10 Mar 1997, p.10E]
  65. Based on the first two installments of a 13-episode season, it will continue to have viewers perched on the edge of their sofas.
  66. Orange is teeming with humor, heart and poignancy--all the elements needed to qualify it as one of the summer's must-see shows.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. This BBC-produced series has some of the best writing and acting you're likely to see this season.
  70. Superb. [17 Sep 1994]
  71. This year, as in the past, there are all kinds of problems with "24" if you think too hard about what you're watching.
  72. 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]
  73. If anything, season 2--also just eight hours long--is even better as Tyler's world in 1973 becomes even more complicated.
  74. 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.
  75. [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]
  76. 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]
  77. 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.
  78. There's a depth, a richness to the series now that was only suggested [in the first season].
  79. The finest purely American TV film to come along in some time.
  80. The early episodes of Project Greenlight do a great job of demonstrating just how important access is in Hollywood. [2 Dec 2001, p.C04]
  81. A finely detailed exploration of high school life and small-city dynamics.
  82. Manages to be crude and sweet, smart and splendidly stupid, all at the same time.
  83. 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.
  84. A richly drawn, unflinchingly real and quietly moving family drama.
  85. 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.
  86. The series is a funny, knowing, sometimes dark, sometimes romantic take on the time just before the power of advertising was fully realized.
  87. Crossfire Hurricane deftly blends vintage concert footage, TV broadcasts, pieces of key songs and clips from other documentaries in with voiced-over highlights from 80 hours of fresh interviews with current and past band members--all conducted off-screen.
  88. 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.
  89. Bristling with promise. [17 Sep 1994]
  90. 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]
  91. 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.
  92. Fortunately, the new Steel Magnolias turns out to be a full 90 minutes of wonderful.
  93. 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]
  94. The driving force behind the show's appeal is Ferrera, who gives a pitch-perfect, killer performance in the opening episodes.
  95. 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]
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. 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]
  99. 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.''
  100. 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]

Top Trailers