San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times' Scores

  • TV
For 388 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 4.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 24: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 In Case of Emergency: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 287
  2. Negative: 0 out of 287
287 tv reviews
  1. A compelling thriller.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Certainly, Dominic Purcell creates quite a presence as this man of mystery. [20 Sept 2002, p.1]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  12. Within the first 15 minutes, you realize you have jumped onto what could be one hell of a thrill ride.
  13. 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
  14. The pilot managed to hold my interest for the most part, and I'll credit Hall for bringing a moody allure to the role...Who knows? The show could still flatline over its 13-episode run, but for now it seems to be alive and kicking. [16 June 2002, p.C4]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Fortunately, as the saga unfolds, it delves into fresher territory, and Political Animals becomes an intriguing, even occasionally humorous, family soap opera.
  19. 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
  20. The best new network sitcom this season.
  21. 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
  22. The writing is sharp and sophisticated, avoiding the predictable sitcom cliches.
  23. What Up All Night has over other baby-rearing shows is a refreshing irreverence.
  24. 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.
  25. The series has a familiar format, but the opening episode suggests it may have some real spark to it.
  26. Grace has a world of promise with thoughtful writing by Nancy Miller ("The Closer," "Any Day Now"), an intriguing take on the nature of faith and a sheer force-of-nature performance by Hunter.
  27. 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.
  28. "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.
  29. Generally funny, sharply observant and smart in its use of the star and a good supporting cast.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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
  33. 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.
  34. There's not a lot of depth to the proceedings, and the series is at its weakest when it tries to make some Important Point. But it's a good deal of fun watching Meyers and the rest of the ensemble smartly bringing to life the deceit and internal politics of this royal chess match. "The Tudors" is a spicy soap opera, decked out in really fancy trappings.
  35. 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.
  36. 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
  37. It has enough kooky class warfare, sexual shenanigans and whodunit intrigue to make for some escapist summer fun.
  38. 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
  39. 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.
  40. New Amsterdam is worth keeping an eye on as it develops. It could become consistently engaging television.
  41. In desperately straining to be so uncommonly edgy, so explicit and so provocative in its sexual candor, the show all but tramples its dramatic structure in the process. [3 Dec 2000, p.C05]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  42. While Mob City does have its weaknesses, including patches of starchy dialogue, it offsets them with some magnetic performances.
  43. 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.
  44. A veritable treasure trove of frat-house humor. [1 May 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  45. The various parts don't quite hold together, and there are too many rough patches to make Miss Guided an unqualified success. It could get better, although it has just a handful of episodes in which to make that happen.
  46. Most TV shows, after all, quickly fade from memory. This one will haunt your dreams.
  47. 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
  48. 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.
  49. The Slap, a provocative new NBC drama, is a saga that gets under your skin. That doesn't mean it's a great show, but I imagine the issues it raises will spark plenty of spirited dinner-table chatter among those who see it.
  50. Side Order has the most problems. While there are enough appealing moments in Sunday's opening episode to leave viewers with an initial warm and fuzzy feeling, the show simply doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.
  51. 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.
  52. "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."
  53. It just oozes potential with sharp dialogue and a strong cast.
  54. The stars (Trista Sutter, John O'Hurley and Joey McIntyre, et al.) are strictly marginal. The host (Tom Bergeron) is excruciatingly lame. And the dancing is only sporadically scintillating. [26 Jun 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  55. 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
  56. 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
  57. 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.
  58. 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
  59. A gripping show.
  60. 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.
  61. 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).
  62. 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.
  63. The upside to the series is that Diggs is good enough and the production slick enough that, for a while, you might be willing to play along the don't-think-too-hard-about-it premise.... [But] Hopper's day becomes pretty boring after a while.
  64. Though tonight's two-hour premiere episode is fat with special effects and looks far richer than most TV shows, the concept is already red with rust. ... [The] sense of humor is about as subtle as a whoopee cushion. [18 Mar 1994]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  65. 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.
  66. At least "Watching Ellie" takes some risks and tries something different -- even if the risks don't translate to laughs and the concept doesn't really work. [26 Feb 2002]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  67. 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
  68. A contrived, yet effective, piece of feel-good television.
    • 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
  69. The writing has picked up considerably since the pilot. But the real reason to try this show is the cast.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. A creepy, atmospheric, sometimes downright scary hour of TV.
  73. 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.
  74. "Ranch House" is the most ambitious of the "House" projects.
  75. They [Robin Williams and James Wolk] seem to be having a blast playing off one another, and their comedic energy is infectious.
  76. 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.
  77. While it's not totally painful, it's so hopelessly incoherent that you'll probably get a headache or two if you actually stick with it for the full three days and six hours.
  78. 1) It's not all that funny, which could be a problem considering it's supposed to be a comedy, and 2) It continues a rather arrogant presumption on the part of show-biz types that we're all ceaselessly interested in the inner workings of their industry. [4 June 2005, p.C01]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  79. 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.
  80. 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
  81. 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.
  82. What's more bothersome about Skins from a critical standpoint is the thin plotting, the aimless narrative, and the generally flat and artificial feel of the production.
  83. "Justice" is slick, fast-paced and stylish, with enough twists to separate it from the glut of shows in its genre. But it's also one of the most extraordinarily cynical shows to come along in some time.
  84. 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.
  85. All this talent can't make the premise - a police detective talks to murder victims - work.
  86. All Cane has going for it now is the cast. In tonight's opening episode, the tone is all over the place
  87. Until "Carnivale" fulfills more of its promise, my enthusiasm is restrained. [3 Jan 2005]
    • San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. "Commander'' looks good, summons up some real energy in key scenes and establishes a certain warmth in its portrayal of the Allen family.
  92. Through the early episodes, nothing really happens that you couldn't see coming. Still, the setting is so seductive, the period details so vivid and the acting so stellar, that it's as intoxicating as a potent mojito.
  93. Breakout Kings manages to compensate for its lack of creative ambition with some lively writing, good pacing and an off-kilter sense of humor. It is also blessed with a colorful cast of characters.
  94. While it's always good to see Burnett, something has gone seriously awry with this new version.
  95. Unfortunately, The Cape fails to fly. Lyons has all the charisma of a fence post, and the leaden scripts bring no fresh twists to the genre.
  96. "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
  97. 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.
  98. The opener is riddled with juvenile humor consisting of jokes pegged to corpses, crotches and child molestation. It's almost enough to trigger a case of mad cow disease.

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