Slate's Scores

For 292 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 62% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Masters of Sex: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 117
  2. Negative: 0 out of 117
117 tv reviews
    • 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.
  1. Due to all this ambitious sprawl, Game of Thrones only occasionally puts together a satisfying standalone episode. There is too much going on, the one-hour limit too arbitrary.... It’s the particular power of Game of Thrones that as these characters descend further into the muck and the grime, the besmirching totality of violence, we’re still pulling for so many of them.
  2. 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.
  3. The Returned is very good. Let it have your brains.
  4. 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.
  5. A return to classic form.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Downton Abbey manages to be reassuringly familiar and yet surprisingly fresh.
  6. Unexpectedly sweet-spirited.
  7. The third season is looser, funnier, more emotional and also significantly less logical than what has come before.
  8. Doors are opening. Mind the gap.
  9. 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.
  10. The tempo, thus far, is notably deliberate; the show's got mortality on its mind.
  11. 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.
  12. All of these characters and all of these stories frequently add up to something handsome, funny, and weird. But Fargo is missing the spark of originality that would make it great.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Abrams and his co-creator Damon Lindelof ("Crossing Jordan") do a terrific job of piling on the plot twists, but they neglect to provide a believably textured world, or any time for the characters to interact between crises. As a result, Lost is at once heart-stopping and strangely dull.
  16. Like Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, the paranoid screenplays of Andrew Niccol, and the absurdist horror of Black Sheep (an ovine analog of The Birds), it gets beneath the skin by examining the state of isolation at the bottom of the world.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. A gorgeous period drama that swiftly establishes its risqué themes.... Masters of Sex is the best new show of the fall season.
  20. Party Down, which is funny, would seem even funnier if it were not so heavily indebted to the funniest TV shows of recent years. It's also problematic that the show is so highly inconsistent.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Appropriate to the pace and the space of series television, it welcomes you into its intrigues at a walking pace.
  25. 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.
  26. [A] sharp, very funny new HBO comedy.
  27. Justified is slumming it: not nearly as sharp or rich as it has been or could be, but still much more clever and enjoyable than its procedural peers. It’s begging to be graded on a curve, when it should be setting it.
  28. The new Cosmos starts slowly and reverently enough: deGrasse Tyson, a warm, avuncular presence, standing on the same cliffs Sagan did, talking about the universe, our place in it, and preaching the gospel of the scientific method in a glossy episode, which, scientifically speaking, doesn’t advance much beyond middle school.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. As with last year’s My Week with Marilyn, Burton and Taylor avoids retreading familiar material by picking a relatively quiet, unexplored interlude in a celebrity’s life--the stuff of tasteful restraint, but not exactly scintillating story. And it only scans as tasteful restraint if the audience can fill in all the salacious history for themselves. For those who can, Burton and Taylor is much more effective.
  32. Perhaps it's best to consider The Hour as a kind of retro Broadcast News that is most alive when Freddie and Bel banter like Beatrice and Benedick and especially when getting inside of Hector's talking head.
  33. It plays like it's been built for antisocial boys--mchair heroes in love with guns and in search of demented adventure.
  34. There's something lazy about this show's refusal to choose a target. It's easy to feel feminist when you're deploring the plight of '50s-style birds in a gilded cage. But why do we need to invoke this simplified formula to be interested in exploring women's lives?
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. The first four episodes fly by in a blur of cheeky maxims, convoluted plot twists, and storylines about the deep Web.
  38. It's an ambitious if occasionally pushy effort.
  39. The way things are going, I would pay $100 if the purchase exempted me from having to watch any more of the show itself.
  40. Ben Franklin (Tom Wilkinson ) enlivens the painterly prettiness and dutiful solemnity of John Adams with a healthy sense of the vulgar, as in the vernacular, as in the native voice of America.
  41. Boss is electric with self-importance, and that is in itself is a hoot, given its particular combination of thematic pomp and expressionistic pulp.
  42. The most engrossing new drama of the fall season.
  43. 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.
  44. Now comes Grey Gardens, largely enjoyable in spite of being almost entirely superfluous.
  45. 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.
  46. Some us also go in for TV shows that have the potential to ripen into astringent Billy Wilder-style examinations of what lust can do to the white-collar soul.
  47. Boardwalk Empire is as good-looking and well-acted as ever, but it still has bullet holes where its head and heart should be.
  48. 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.
  49. Because the show is sidling up to its premise very gently, it looks more like a sweet-natured high-school comedy than the risky riff on tolerance it teases us with.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. Falco has the strength to sell the overwrought cliches and to force each important moment to its crisis.
  54. 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.
  55. With the drama so thin, it must be the richness of Alicia's situation that makes 13 million people a week want to enjoy her company.
  56. A typical episode of Terriers jolts abruptly from cutesy escapades to head-cracking fights, from loud escapism to misty tenderness, from easygoing comedy to strained seriousness. The tonal unevenness feels less like the conscious product of an ambitious design than the unplanned consequence of an exceedingly ambitious one.
  57. By far the dumber and hammier of the two shows ["Saving Grace" is the other].
  58. 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.
  59. A black comedy working many shades of gray, Enlightened is about dark mornings of the soul and the fool's-golden glow of the new convert, and it measures the weight of the world with an eccentric scale.
  60. 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.
  61. The shame is that a series about a band of heroes trying to hunt down more potential heroes could be the perfect antidote to TV’s own overly dark cliché: the anti-hero. But instead it resists the call, too self-serious to be really goofy, and yet too fan-boyish to rescue even one hour of television from mediocrity.
  62. In a time span shorter than a T.G.I. Friday's commercial, we saw a pungent contrast between two sets of cultural values. This was all very funny and more than a bit embarrassing.
  63. 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.
  64. It offers memorable looks at rehearsals, auditions, ballet-company competitions, and dreams of names in lights.
  65. A brisk film extracted from the campaign-trail saga of that title--has delivered to Julianne Moore the meatiest role of her career.
  66. It plays, for better and worse, like a slightly elevated version of one of those issue-of-the-week telefilms of the old school, with their teen traumas and kitchen-sink melodramas.
  67. Its achievement rarely matches its ambitions, but the effect is still pretty dope.
  68. Patrick’s moment of light self-flagellation didn’t feel boring to me. Like the rest of his show, it felt real.
  69. It is almost unbearable sober. If I have to watch a cartoon featuring a bad guy made of zombie poop named Dr. Doodoo 16 years after South Park debuted Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo, I need to have whatever the dudes from Yo Gabba Gabba! are on.
  70. The show makes Granthams of all of us: content with what we have now (a middling costume soap opera) because we can still remember its glorious past (that first season). It’s safer and cozier than a show about open class warfare.
  71. 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.
  72. Fantasy plots require fantastic details, but the show, rolling steadily downhill from a compelling premise, is utterly casual about the particulars of its speculative time-tripping and post-catastrophe atmospherics.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Compared with the Simpson family, the characters on Futurama still seem a bit thin. ... But boy, is their environment fun to look at!
  73. Like "Alias" or "The X-Files," Jericho has enough wheel-within-wheels, double agents, and ad hoc alliances to draw in viewers who love a long-playing puzzle.
  74. Vaughan, writing and directing these lines, is hauling the Stephen King brand into risky territory. The risk is boredom—the half-puzzled, half-irritated sort of boredom elicited by later seasons of Lost.
  75. Hit & Miss has so many ups and downs that it cannot dodge the critical judgment any hack might deliver by quoting its title.
  76. The show would probably be too ponderous to enjoy if Braugher weren't an actor of tremendous restraint.
  77. 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.
  78. We like to fantasize, every now and then, about rich people looking good while behaving badly. That kind of escapism will never go out of business, and Gossip Girl delivers it in of-the-moment fashion.
  79. This doesn't feel mindless, just unmindful, and the best way to honor its late creators is to look away from it.
  80. Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t uproarious yet, but pilots, even of good sitcoms, rarely are. (It took Parks and Recreation an entire season to figure out its tone.) What Brooklyn Nine-Nine has, unlike many of the other new fall comedies, is intelligent design.
  81. 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
  82. Paul Weston's (Byrne) nonadventures straddle the realms of the scarcely credible and the incredibly boring.
  83. 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.
  84. It's pretty decent hokum--fast, corny, genial, honest in its schlock.
  85. Failing to realize high ambitions, High School Confidential skims across the lives of 12 teenage girls growing up in placid Kansas.
    • 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.
  86. For a smart take on a dumb summer dating show, join the millions tuning into Dating in the Dark.
  87. Weeds is still trying a little too hard—trying, by turns, to be edgy and HBO-ish or campy and ABC-ish. But if it hasn't yet quite achieved the self-confident swagger of HBO flagships like The Wire or The Sopranos, it's certainly a lot more fun to watch than Desperate Housewives.
  88. After watching the first four episodes, I'm content to settle on the euphemism deliberate and to note that the performances-centrally that of James Badge Dale as an intelligence analyst named Will Travers-have so far been sharp enough to ward off outright drowsiness.
  89. [A strange, zany, funny, and very star-studded six-episode series.
  90. Preferring to redomesticize Mildred Pierce, Haynes arrives at a film--a five-part, five-hour miniseries--that is merely pretty good.
  91. Provocative, hammy, absurd, and irresistible—so far. ... [But] Boston Legal would do well to limit the narrative hocus-pocus and concentrate on its strength—the chemistry between the two fine main actors.
  92. Each of them rolls the creative process, the finished work, and her public performance as an artist into an eager consumer package. They're all operators with soundbites on line one.
  93. It is a show about a high-school superheroine--a Catwoman without the camp or the S&M gear--and it enables longtime fans of the subgenre to watch with pride as their children digest its venerable tropes for only the fourth or fifth time.
  94. Alpha House is about men caught up in a crazy-making system; even with all of its concrete details, that means it feels very similar to the (for now) much funnier Veep.... Alpha House may be Amazon’s first original program, but it doesn’t feel all that original.
  95. Better Off Ted, which feels more devoted to establishing its cool than earning some laughs, is hardly so bad to deserve a bleh from halfway-discerning viewers. Eh or meh would be closer to the mark.
  96. The Pitch is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of salesmanship.