Slate's Scores

For 417 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 38% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 59% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 High Maintenance: Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 Dance Moms: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 190
  2. Negative: 0 out of 190
190 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. The story is muddier and more complex than last season’s, full of halfway nice and semi-awful people rather than the purely good and bad. Every episode starts with a ’70s jam and a jaunty split screen. The Midwestern accents are inconsistent and strange, but that only makes them funnier.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Returned is very good. Let it have your brains.
  8. 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.
  9. [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.
  10. 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.
  11. Catastrophe, You’re the Worst, and The Mindy Project have proved that long-term relationships can be funny, sexy, enduring, and volatile all once. Master of None joins their ranks: the sweetest, realest, and most poignant of the bunch.
  12. 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.
  13. Downton Abbey manages to be reassuringly familiar and yet surprisingly fresh.
  14. A return to classic form.
  15. 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.
  16. The Good Wife, a delectable, invigorating series of unprecedented depth and cynicism, is the best drama on TV.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. The confrontation between Raylan and Boyd, in the works since the series began, imbues the series with some of the urgency it has lacked in recent seasons while it wasted time in the backwaters of Florida and in Detroit high-rises. And yet as rejuvenated as Justified feels, it can still be uncomfortably enamored with Raylan’s bad behavior.
  20. Doors are opening. Mind the gap.
  21. Unexpectedly sweet-spirited.
  22. 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.
  23. The third season is looser, funnier, more emotional and also significantly less logical than what has come before.
  24. The tempo, thus far, is notably deliberate; the show's got mortality on its mind.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. A gorgeous period drama that swiftly establishes its risqué themes.... Masters of Sex is the best new show of the fall season.
  34. 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.
  35. The first season of The Knick occasionally gave these characters too little to do, while the second season--at least through its first four episodes--feels like the writers have overcompensated and thrown a few too many balls in the air.... It’s easy to treat the past as a cozy prequel to the present; The Knick treats it as a ghost story. I don’t know if that makes for more honest history, but it makes for amazing television.
  36. We are brought into the story when the housing case has already been battled over for years, by dozens of political and legal players who are introduced to us in rapid-fire succession. But if you stick with the show, the confusion clears, not with the help of expository chunks of dialogue, but through a lifelike repetition of names, issues, and stakes.
  37. 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.
  38. Appropriate to the pace and the space of series television, it welcomes you into its intrigues at a walking pace.
  39. Murphy directs with straightforwardness and sincerity and none of the camp fireworks of Glee or American Horror Story.
  40. The Affair is a great first date that has the makings of a great series: pleasurable, provocative, insightful, and with the promise of sexiness.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. Wwhat it lacks in fun, it makes up for in intelligence, complexity, and boldness.
  45. 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.
  46. [A] sharp, very funny new HBO comedy.
  47. 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.
  48. Three seasons in, just about everyone on the show is loveable. This makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, but not particularly varied or gripping viewing experience: the show tugs the same heartstrings, works the same funny bones.... Orange would rather make prison look good than make its characters look bad, a jarring streak of timidity.
  49. 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.
  50. [A] gritty and entrancing British import.
  51. The Honorable Woman is in many ways, most of them cerebral, an extremely impressive piece of work.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. It’s dark, funny, edgy, spooky, and through the first seven episodes, there’s barely a whiff of capes or costumes. The second thing that jumps out is that it’s really, really good.
  56. 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.
  57. Lindelof’s work has never been better than it is in this first hour. He seems freed, not only from Perotta’s imagination, but from some of his own ticks.
  58. It plays like it's been built for antisocial boys--mchair heroes in love with guns and in search of demented adventure.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. The first four episodes fly by in a blur of cheeky maxims, convoluted plot twists, and storylines about the deep Web.
  62. 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.
  63. 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?
  64. The way things are going, I would pay $100 if the purchase exempted me from having to watch any more of the show itself.
  65. It's an ambitious if occasionally pushy effort.
  66. 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.
  67. A charming, ambitious, utterly singular show about a slightly nuts, but loveable woman who regularly breaks into song has made it onto TV.
  68. Boss is electric with self-importance, and that is in itself is a hoot, given its particular combination of thematic pomp and expressionistic pulp.
  69. As a thriller, Manhattan mostly works.
  70. Better Call Saul improves over each of its first three episodes, but the first takes for granted that viewers not only know who Saul is, but that they will care about him even in the absence of a clearly delineated character arc.
  71. UnReal is darker than a locked box inside a lightproof cube sitting on the bottom of the ocean at midnight. It is an ice cream sundae laced with ipecac, delectable and poisonous all at once.
  72. 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.
  73. Once you accept the absurdity, there is a minor intellectual pleasure to be had in using the opposing recollections as a kind of treasure map, not to figure out what really happened, but to figure out what the writers are so effortfully trying to convey.
  74. The most engrossing new drama of the fall season.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. There are times when I wish Penny Dreadful were baser, lower-brow, and more exploitative than it is apparently willing to be. And yet I can’t quite dismiss it, thanks to winning, carefully modulated performances by Billie Piper—as a woman who fears the man whom she was brought back to life to wed--and Helen McCrory, whose full-bodied incantations are even scarier than Vanessa’s.
  78. Now comes Grey Gardens, largely enjoyable in spite of being almost entirely superfluous.
  79. Like the many, many sitcoms about the affluent white experience, this is a show that is meant to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.
  80. 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.
  81. The show is yet another entrant in the fast-growing category of TV good enough to watch and enjoy, but not quite good enough to make specific time for.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. In the new season, the characters’ personal politics continue to be satisfyingly complex.
  85. Boardwalk Empire is as good-looking and well-acted as ever, but it still has bullet holes where its head and heart should be.
  86. 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.
  87. There’s a pretty good set of sketches that occasionally reach transcendence.
  88. Viewers will have to decide how much good faith the show earned with its redemptive fourth season as its fifth one crawls in the direction of a plot. If this is the season in which Homeland aims to resolve its own contradictions and to deliver to its tortured characters some measure of understanding or peace, it would benefit, as my colleague Willa Paskin has noted, from a little bit more crazy.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. The Jinx is as unnerving as it is engrossing, and that’s exactly as it should be.
  93. 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.
  94. Falco has the strength to sell the overwrought cliches and to force each important moment to its crisis.
  95. A particularly sharp fourth season.
  96. By far the dumber and hammier of the two shows ["Saving Grace" is the other].
  97. 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.
  98. All the care that Soderbergh has taken with the colors, the camera, the blood--all his masterfully deployed aesthetic choices--stand in stark contrast to the care taken with the scripts.
  99. 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.

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