Slate's Scores

For 370 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 38% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 60% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 8.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Returned: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 The 1/2 Hour News Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 161
  2. Negative: 0 out of 161
161 tv reviews
  1. The Returned is very good. Let it have your brains.
  2. A gorgeous period drama that swiftly establishes its risqué themes.... Masters of Sex is the best new show of the fall season.
  3. To call it Amazon’s first great series, or the only great series of the new fall season--both of which are true--is to damn it with faint praise.
  4. The Good Wife, a delectable, invigorating series of unprecedented depth and cynicism, is the best drama on TV.
  5. This series is its own idiosyncratic, unexpected, and wonderful thing--and one of the best works of art I’ve experienced in any medium so far this year.
  6. Creepy, gorgeous, unsettling, and searching, it has--for lack of a better word--a literary quality, an accretion of meaningful detail. You can push on any aspect of the show--every line, every shot, every bruise--and it bears up.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    As viewers, because of the incalculable talents of the actor Gervais, who also helped create the show, we must choose to humor David or to loathe him—and that choice is exciting, somehow, and challenging.
  7. There’s nothing programmatic about Louie, which idiosyncratically, unevenly explores C.K.’s ideas and instincts without trying to advance an argument. It’s not a joke you’ve heard before. It’s a great shaggy dog story.
  8. A particularly sharp fourth season.
  9. Unexpectedly sweet-spirited.
  10. Wwhat it lacks in fun, it makes up for in intelligence, complexity, and boldness.
  11. Almost every woman is a good person who made or was forced to make a bad decision, instead of something more sinister, more evil, or even more banal--as if these too were not human characteristics.... But if this sentimental streak is a little soft-headed, it springs from the series’ huge heart and its expansive humanism.
  12. Like its heroine, Olive Kitteridge, the four-hour miniseries airing this Sunday and Monday on HBO, is quietly indomitable, more admirable than easily loveable, more likely to get under your skin than send a shock through your system.
  13. The third season is looser, funnier, more emotional and also significantly less logical than what has come before.
  14. Murphy directs with straightforwardness and sincerity and none of the camp fireworks of Glee or American Horror Story.
  15. Watching, it is almost impossible not to root for these two Communists as they do any and everything they can to undermine America. In this regard, The Americans works its American audience as effectively as its heroes work their marks: It makes double agents of us all.
  16. Using new audio-only interviews with the Stones as invisible tape, [director Brett Morgen] splices 50 years of footage into a 110-minute education, remixing the work of earlier filmmakers with splendid editing and a critical eye.
  17. A return to classic form.
  18. Even if Extras never accedes to The Office's heights of comic sublimity, it's still a rare find on American TV: a series that combines the ascendant genre of cringe comedy with Gervais' rich comic gifts, and his trademark humanism.
  19. In the context of other television, American Horror Story is perverse and refreshing, proof that a great show doesn’t have to be self-serious to be smart.
  20. The most engrossing new drama of the fall season.
  21. It smoothly toggles between working as a crime melodrama and a coming-of-age tale, as a harrowing piece of social commentary and a gentle bit of farce.
  22. At the outset, this show aimed for hilarity and hit the mark, consistently and cathartically, while also trafficking in provocative sidewalk philosophy, achieving moral seriousness amid masturbation jokes.
  23. There isn't a scene in the two-hour pilot of Paul Haggis' crime drama EZ Streets that hasn't been done in movies, but perhaps because EZ Streets is on television... its cinematic brio feels unconventional, even startling.
  24. It's a breath of fresh air even for those of us who find our allergies stimulated by the countless particles of whimsy suspended in its thick atmosphere.
  25. It’s not self-serious, but it is serious--about being more entertaining, more emotional, more garish, and more gonzo than so much on television.
  26. Four adults, tied together by blood, marriage, or friendship, all begin living under one roof, where they filter the sexlessness of marriage, the awkwardness of friend-zones, and the dread of potential spinsterhood through their very specific personalities--which just so happen to be winning enough to make the show addictive.
  27. Nashville feels fresh because it catches a different tone. The few ironic winks it makes do not disfigure its straight face for quality pulp, nor does the sincerity harden into hokum.
  28. Downton Abbey manages to be reassuringly familiar and yet surprisingly fresh.
  29. Like the many, many sitcoms about the affluent white experience, this is a show that is meant to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.
  30. Falco has the strength to sell the overwrought cliches and to force each important moment to its crisis.
  31. Valerie remains as indefatigably inane as ever, and so does the show business world around her.
  32. Girls and its girls are funnier and more cartoonishly sociopathic than ever. The show continues to engage with and undercut criticism about its characters’ myopia and flaws by owning it.
  33. The best competition show on television stars 11-year-olds.... Like the Scripps National Spelling Bee, MasterChef Junior is a celebration of talent, precocity, merit, obsession, and, above all, losing.
  34. When Boardwalk Empire is dealing with the consequences of the 18th Amendment, it plays like a sound and steady drama. When addressing the energy around the 19th, it begins to jazz things up.
  35. The Honorable Woman is in many ways, most of them cerebral, an extremely impressive piece of work.
  36. Over three nights and five and half hours, Prohibition provides a very fine analytic survey of the noble experiment, and most criticisms of it are quibbles.
  37. Costello, unlike public television, asks viewers like you for nothing but your attention, which he rewards with intimate assessments of songcraft and the underappreciated architects of modern pop.
  38. Sarah Corvus has arrived to haunt and to taunt, to give our plucky heroine a sinister contrast that the show can't do without.
  39. [A] sharp, very funny new HBO comedy.
  40. Luther is a great example of all of the annoying a TV show can do and still be worth watching, so long as it gets some essential things right. Luther’s saving graces are that intense, gloomy mood and Elba’s performance.
  41. AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, a series about tech entrepreneurs, albeit ones in 1980s Dallas, begins its much-improved second season having undergone a pivot of its own.... The adjustment may sound slight, but as successful pivoters--billionaires on paper, anyway--would surely be happy to explain, the right pivot can make all the difference.
  42. Pan Am's easy whirl fits the bill, when its chatter is snappy and also when it's not.
  43. The Jinx is as unnerving as it is engrossing, and that’s exactly as it should be.
  44. Trophy Wife is nominally about a marriage, but if its very polished and sure-handed pilot is any indication, it is just as focused on Kate’s dynamic with Pete’s ex-wives.
  45. The actors are loose, but the writing, overseen by series creator David Caspe, is tight.
  46. Clever with its gaudiness, the new soap opera proceeds as if that invitation is gilt-edged, tackily engraved, and sealed inside an oversized envelope with a kiss of frosted-pink lipstick.
  47. ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat [is] yet another damn good, diverse network sitcom that premieres this Wednesday night and remains funny, charming, sweet, and subtly provocative despite--according to no less an expert than the subject of the show itself--having had some of its edge sanded off.
  48. The Affair is a great first date that has the makings of a great series: pleasurable, provocative, insightful, and with the promise of sexiness.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It’s dark and gripping, smart and sure-footed, and takes itself and its audience seriously while avoiding either pretentious brooding or fanboy pandering. It’s also adventurous and different, in a way a show this good was always going to need to be.... Daredevil isn’t a perfect show, nor is it quite a great one, at least not yet.... But it’s startlingly good.
  49. At its best, Glee is not just entertaining but elating, dramatizing Breakfast Club-quality teen angst with the aid of tight production numbers covering new and classic popular songs.
  50. The pacing of the show's jokes, which heralds a welcome respect for the quickness of the audience, helps all the humor pop. Of course, good-old dumb physical juxtapositions don't hurt, either.
  51. Broad City has a more pronounced DIY vibe, a more surreal, sloppy and affectionate nature: The episodes are more narrowly focused on its two leads getting up to haphazard mischief.
  52. Back to You doesn't have a mandate to be inventive--to try new comedic beats or to attempt daring flights of absurdity. It just needs to be uninventive in a snappy way, a feat readily accomplished.
  53. Covert Affairs is a zippy character study, and it puts Perabo's features to playful use in the earliest moments of the pilot, filling the screen with them in a context where they're begging to be studied.
  54. Gotham reverses the normal superhero disguise: It is not a superhero dressed up in street clothes, it is a gritty noir dressed up like a superhero.
  55. All the pieces are here, not just for a real potboiler, but a satisfying character piece, the sort of show that can flood my living room anytime.
  56. It feels like 30 Rock. There’s the same deadpan, high-octane pacing, penchant for the completely silly, love of weird names, and passion for bizarre pop-culture reference.... But Kimmy Schmidt has a bigger heart than 30 Rock.
  57. Steadfastly crass in content, The League is generally subtle in execution.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The premiere of The Bachelorette was good!...Appealingly, Trista is also filled with desire herself. Nothing about her is aloof; she's upfront about her lifelong loneliness, her wish for a husband, her fantasies of motherhood. [9 Jan 2003]
    • Slate
  58. In the suspenseful early hours of The Killing, Rosie's family goes about its bereavement in muted tones, and a subplot about a mayoral candidate drawn into the crime's eccentric orbit flashes with potential, and, primarily, our expectations for cop shows are teased, gratified, and artfully upended.
  59. Judging from the first three episodes of this fifth season, Harmon is vindicated and triumphant, but also still pretty torn up about everything. Community is no longer a zombie, but the new episodes feel plenty funereal.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    However sensationally the show has been marketed, it focuses, like the designers, on the work itself-which, perhaps surprisingly, is as riveting as the few catfights.
  60. Boss is electric with self-importance, and that is in itself is a hoot, given its particular combination of thematic pomp and expressionistic pulp.
  61. The writing is as crisp as Brooks' perfect raincoat, and the partners share a father-son chemistry unseen elsewhere in the franchise, and anyone exhibiting the faintest traces of Anglophilia will delight to see the crown prosecutor and the defense counsel talking trash in the changing room while donning and doffing their barristers' wigs.
  62. Now comes Grey Gardens, largely enjoyable in spite of being almost entirely superfluous.
  63. Season 5 of Game of Thrones pulls even further away from the novels (the Sansa plot will drive some fans crazier than King Aerys) and I’m fairly sure it’s better for it.
  64. For a show about sex and attraction, Masters of Sex is very cerebral, measured, distanced. But so are its characters, who use their intellects to protect their vulnerabilities.
  65. [A strange, zany, funny, and very star-studded six-episode series.
  66. What Surburgatory lacks in novelty, it compensates for with a steady stream of gags, splashes of nuance (and nuance's vivid opposite), the comedic flow of Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell as the Altmans' neighbors, and an undercurrent of sweetness.
  67. [The first episode] seems to prefigure a humdrum season of more conventional, gag-based humor, but beneath its self-contained farce the episode actually complicates C.K.’s pet themes in small, potent ways. And it’s ultimately a perfect setup for the story arc that follows in the next few episodes.
  68. Maslany’s performance is, however, a bit like truffle fries arriving in a Happy Meal: It is much more sophisticated than everything else around it.
  69. [A] gritty and entrancing British import.
  70. The Leftovers is overwhelmingly, existentially serious, without succumbing to the relentlessly violent and masculine clichés of so much “serious” prestige TV.
  71. The show is sometimes sweet and wry, sometimes crass and vicious, and, though often subtle, it embraces that embarrassing title and flings itself boisterously into a hacky premise
  72. Patrick’s moment of light self-flagellation didn’t feel boring to me. Like the rest of his show, it felt real.
  73. It’s not just that Broadchurch demonstrates that it is possible to reinvigorate something as tired as the hunt-for-a-killer genre with solid, engaging craftsmanship--though it does--but that unlike so many in the genre it is inordinately emotionally generous.
  74. The show gets under the skin, somehow, with its loose Web-clip vibe and looser philosophy of life.
  75. Their new show has both the nerve to link up twentysomething malaise and 21st-century terror-angst and the good nature to make the proposition look endearing.
  76. The tempo, thus far, is notably deliberate; the show's got mortality on its mind.
  77. Too jaded to lament the backroom maneuvering of politicians, the creators of House of Cards instead take that state of affairs as a given, tart it up, and fashion a wry piece of escapism--a backstabbing procedural delivered in a sophisticated style.
  78. It offers memorable looks at rehearsals, auditions, ballet-company competitions, and dreams of names in lights.
  79. Doors are opening. Mind the gap.
  80. BoJack is perhaps a little more clever than it is uproariously funny, but it is often very clever, and, moreover, well-tuned to the ludicrousness of the sort of low-level fame that surrounds BoJack.
  81. The series is a robust and satisfying experience, one that doesn’t skimp on the story’s world-spanning political and religious intrigue, but keeps at its center one man whose calm gaze focuses the sweeping material and makes it feel manageable.
  82. Last Man on Earth is well-made, polished, odd, surprisingly funny.
  83. Mom is more than what it appears. The hectoring laugh track grates, but don’t let it fool you, this show’s got brains.
  84. It’s almost as impossible to believe, without seeing it, that such a show could be both very funny and occasionally uplifting without ever resorting to cheap sentimentality. But it is.
  85. A brisk film extracted from the campaign-trail saga of that title--has delivered to Julianne Moore the meatiest role of her career.
  86. The first four episodes fly by in a blur of cheeky maxims, convoluted plot twists, and storylines about the deep Web.
  87. Humor, terror, sex, death, camp, karaoke: No show on television has all these ingredients but American Horror Story.
  88. Appropriate to the pace and the space of series television, it welcomes you into its intrigues at a walking pace.
  89. As is The Americans way, ideas and ideologies—Philip and Elizabeth’s soft- and tough-love approaches--start to ping-pong off each other, and contemporary mores, in satisfying ways.
  90. The relative tameness of Swingtown makes the unease it provokes more inviting: You tune in to see the bodies and stick around for the minds.
  91. Even the most ardent fans of 30 Rock will concede that it doesn't look its sharpest as its third season opens. Only the most churlish will be much put out by this, though. A relatively flat episode of Tina Fey's backstage farce is still the fizziest thing in prime-time comedy.
  92. A fine summer show is launched, slick but with feeling, and all the orange-and-red football-season foliage on-screen contributes to a diverting brisk breeziness.
  93. Thankfully the greatest love story no one ever wanted to be a love story is not the focus of the first two episodes, which illustrate the power and punch Homeland can still muster when freed from its more Hallmark-ian tendencies.
  94. In the 3-D digital animation of this series, [Yoda's] skin glows a healthy shade of moss, and his sprightliness helps this latest George Lucas diversion achieve some commendable action-adventure zip.
  95. The new episodes make Daniel less complicated, not more.... Compared with Daniel, the other characters on the show are flawed, vivacious, and far more fun to watch.
  96. Though the Up All Night pilot falls short of great hilarity, the series demonstrates considerable potential.

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