San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 422 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: 71
Highest review score: 100 Deadwood: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 319
  2. Negative: 0 out of 319
319 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. A richly drawn, unflinchingly real and quietly moving family drama.
  3. 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.
  4. The series is a funny, knowing, sometimes dark, sometimes romantic take on the time just before the power of advertising was fully realized.
  5. 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.
  6. Bristling with promise. [17 Sep 1994]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  7. Yes, this is chilling stuff. And provocative. It makes you ponder just how precious freedom really is and what kind of sacrifices you would make to maintain it.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. Fortunately, the new Steel Magnolias turns out to be a full 90 minutes of wonderful.
  12. House of Cards remains a slick and suspenseful--if not exactly layered and nuanced--saga that sucks you in from the start.
  13. It brings something fresh, bold and thrilling to prime time.
  14. 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
  15. The driving force behind the show's appeal is Ferrera, who gives a pitch-perfect, killer performance in the opening episodes.
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Queen Sugar is deliberately paced--almost annoyingly so at times--and the opening scenes of Tuesday's pilot episode have a disjointed feel to them. But the show eventually finds its footing and packs an emotional wallop as you get to know and care for its characters.
  21. 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
  22. It's a scattershot approach that ultimately undermines what is admirable about Luck, including some gorgeous photography.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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
  27. 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.''
  28. 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.
  29. Once you get used to the surroundings, it's still the same "As You Like It"--utterly charming and completely winning.
  30. Supergirl pretty much hits the beats you expect it to hit. There are rollicking battles enhanced by lots of digital trickery. There are hints of sinister threats to come, and some plot twists probably aren't as surprising as the writers think. Still, Supergirl is made with style and assurance, and it does enough to keep things interesting.
  31. Through it all, Bloodline sucks you in and keeps your nerves in a vise.
  32. 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.
  33. 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
  34. Although the show features strong performances and is piercing in its emotional honesty, it also get bogged down in its own existential angst.
  35. 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
  36. Last Resort [is] another epic, ambitious and distinctive new show that is cause for excitement.
  37. 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.
  38. 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
  39. 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.
  40. It's familiar sci-fi territory, of course, but the show tackles it in intriguing style while delivering some suspenseful touches.
  41. 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.
  42. Torchwood is grand fun and great adult entertainment.
  43. A smart, sophisticated spoof.
  44. Arrow does what a solid pilot should: Suck us in, make us anxious to see what's next and set up several intriguing possibilities.
  45. "Sleeper Cell" is a compelling, kinetic ride that matches "24" in its power and is far more realistic and topical.
  46. 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.
  47. There’s not a ton of depth to Shrek the Halls but it is fun.
  48. [Entourage] has gotten funnier, more human and more insightful with age.
  49. 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.
  50. 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
  51. As it turns out, Veep might be even more hilarious if it didn't hit so uncomfortably close to the truth.
  52. The first hour... is as kinetic as any episode the show has done. [26 Oct 2003]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  53. 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.
  54. Mirroring Hill's demeanor in those incendiary hearings, Washington is all grace under fire, delivering the graphic allegations in a calm, composed and measured manner while nailing every nuance.
  55. 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.
  56. [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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. "Invasion'' has the look of a winner.
  60. He might want to switch to decaf for future shows. Seriously, though, Colbert did manage to hit plenty of comical high notes on an eventful night that featured actor George Clooney and presidential candidate Jeb Bush as his first guests.
  61. 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
  62. "Thief" is a worthy addition to [FX's] schedule.
  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. 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.
  65. It all makes for a scattered, hit-or-miss proposition. Some gags land. Others fall flat.
  66. Vinyl, after all, is at its best--and most interesting--when it sticks to the music industry with its oddball characters, egos and hedonistic ways.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. The solid acting performances and the family dynamics contained in Blue Bloods make for an absorbing hour of television.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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
  73. Addictive. [1 Dec 2004]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  74. It can be downright uproarious at times. [27 Jun 2006]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  75. It's an engaging series that's definitely worth at least a trial spin.
  76. Bening provides the spark that drives "Mrs. Harris," keeping its darkly funny irony from degenerating into campy humor.
  77. 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.
  78. 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
  79. 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
  80. 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.
  81. '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
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. The juxtaposition of the sometimes off-the-wall comments and the cuddly creatures is what makes "Comforts" so amusing.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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
  89. This is a cast that jells immediately, hitting on all cylinders from the very first scene.
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  90. The show crackles with witty (and jargony) banter and mostly succeeds at making its tech world fun and engaging -- something Randi Zuckerberg's "Start-Up: Silicon Valley" reality series too often failed to do. But the problem with Betas is that it's an uneven endeavor that's just good enough to make you wish it were better.
  91. The series is not great television by any means, but it has a kind of breezy charm and sly wit that make it one of this summer's better new shows.
  92. We don’t know if Pitch can sustain its uplifting premise, but after a fun and engaging pilot episode, it’s ahead in the count.
  93. 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
  94. 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.
  95. It's fast-moving eye candy and that's about it. [12 Jan 1997, p.4]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  96. 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
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There are lots of problems with the Special Victims premiere, chief among them being the focus on Olivia Benson, the female detective played by Mariska Hargitay. In a misguided rush to establish the character's background story and motivation as a cop, the episode's key moment is a revelation about an intimate detail of her life. It comes way before we have enough reason to care about her. [20 Sept 1999, p.7C]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  99. The show isn't exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but it's smartly written and the cast jells from the start.

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