Slate's Scores

For 475 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 5.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Masters of Sex: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 The 1/2 Hour News Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 226
  2. Negative: 0 out of 226
226 tv reviews
  1. Like the many, many sitcoms about the affluent white experience, this is a show that is meant to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. In the new season, the characters’ personal politics continue to be satisfyingly complex.
  6. Boardwalk Empire is as good-looking and well-acted as ever, but it still has bullet holes where its head and heart should be.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. There’s a pretty good set of sketches that occasionally reach transcendence.
  11. The show is almost good, or at least exactly the sort of emotional drama networks should be trying to make these days. But it is so sure it is special, so convinced it has something to say that it sullies its basic achievements with self-satisfaction.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. The Jinx is as unnerving as it is engrossing, and that’s exactly as it should be.
  16. 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.
  17. Falco has the strength to sell the overwrought cliches and to force each important moment to its crisis.
  18. The new episodes--sordid little dopamine bursts, each as gratifying and wrong as a dirty campaign contribution--feature some delicious writing, parceled out in typically sharp one-liners and asides.
  19. As with J.J. Abrams’ ode to Spielberg, Super 8, Stranger Things is extremely watchable and a little empty, a paean to the Duffer brothers’ own youth masquerading as a compliment to a master.
  20. Preacher is flashy, funny, searching, and unpretentious.
  21. A particularly sharp fourth season.
  22. By far the dumber and hammier of the two shows ["Saving Grace" is the other].
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Created by Ava DuVernay, Queen Sugar is an intelligent and atmospheric family drama about the Louisiana Bordelon family.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    It lacks the nuance and cleverness that Star brought to Sex and the City while also missing all the chaotic joy that Broad City and Girls find in this slice of millennial life.... That’s not to say it isn’t compulsively watchable.
  30. 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.
  31. The ramifications of [Richard's] death drive all of the substantive storylines in the new episodes, storylines that mostly make up for all the obligatory reunion doohickies--endless, pointless cameos; the kitschy, cutesy antics of Stars Hollow, the most irritating faux–small town in all of fictional America; and Rory’s new boyfriend, Paul, who no one, including the audience, can be bothered to remember.
  32. It’s a competent and cute drama that benefits from being served up after a fall of horse meat.
  33. Underground’s provocative premise is shortchanged by a corny and anxious tendency to goose the narrative. It is hard to imagine a more inherently gripping premise than escaping slaves, but Underground tosses in pop music, lurid sex scenes, and a breakneck pace, undermining its own ambition.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. It is still psychologically astute, but it has become a much more straightforward, and largely effective, spy show. If you do not want to let Homeland back into your heart, that’s understandable. But maybe let it crash on your couch for a probationary period.
  37. The episodes unfurl in an excess of good-natured silliness.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    While the new series isn't Angels in America, neither is it entirely without merit. It, too, is capably acted and competently shot, and its main conceit—that proceeds from the global drug trade serve as liquid capital for global villains—strikes you as less far-fetched than it might have three or four years ago.
  38. 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.
  39. It offers memorable looks at rehearsals, auditions, ballet-company competitions, and dreams of names in lights.
  40. Westworld’s first episode is very strong, and its second nearly as good. It swiftly builds a world built on a deeply disturbing power dynamic that could make a decent metaphor for just about anything you choose. And then it backs away. ... Having achieved nuclear fusion, they abandon it for a backup generator, focusing on a needless mythology and quest narratives swiped from Lost’s discarded ideas board.
  41. 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.
  42. A brisk film extracted from the campaign-trail saga of that title--has delivered to Julianne Moore the meatiest role of her career.
  43. Its achievement rarely matches its ambitions, but the effect is still pretty dope.
  44. The long play of television is supposed to give writers, and audiences, time to get to know characters more intimately, but Hap and Leonard repeats itself, pleasantly enough, instead of going deeper.
  45. 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.
  46. Patrick’s moment of light self-flagellation didn’t feel boring to me. Like the rest of his show, it felt real.
  47. The early episodes are a mix of lesser world-building and sometimes dull, sometimes trite, sometimes appealing fish-out-of-water tales as Claire’s knowledge of the future gets her into and out of scrape after scrape.
  48. The Last Panthers is dense and can be hard to follow, jumping around not just in location but in time, introducing more and more characters and complications as it goes. But it pays off.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. Carvel and especially Marsan give such invigorating performances, and play against each other so beautifully, that they breathe life into a friendship that in the book could feel, at times, a bit schematic.
  52. 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.
  53. Hit & Miss has so many ups and downs that it cannot dodge the critical judgment any hack might deliver by quoting its title.
  54. 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.
  55. Somehow, in its first two episodes, Agent Carter muddies this structure up so sufficiently that it does not even deliver its rote pleasures, as diminished as they may be.
  56. Confirmation is not a particularly good production, but it is gripping.
  57. Last Man on Earth is well-made, polished, odd, surprisingly funny.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
    • 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!
  60. 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.
  61. The Strain has a kind of earnest and respectful fanboyishness, in which every single ridiculous element mandated by the genre is rendered seriously but not exactly unknowingly.
  62. [Love is] a perfect example of an OK show that gets better the more of it you watch.
  63. Poldark has no patience for dramatic tension. It is always in a rush. It turns what should be a deliciously drawn-out love story into a fait accompli.... It is too in love with Poldark.
  64. Colbert’s first episode generally stuck to late-night conventions--the monologue, banter from behind a desk, interviews, and band were all present and accounted for--but it tweaked and teased them in heartening ways, especially for a debut. The show looked and felt like late night, but a more wild, antic, theatrical version, especially once Colbert got off his feet and got behind that desk.
  65. 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.
  66. The show would probably be too ponderous to enjoy if Braugher weren't an actor of tremendous restraint.
  67. This doesn't feel mindless, just unmindful, and the best way to honor its late creators is to look away from it.
  68. The Grinder is clever. It has a great time sending up the clichés of lawyer shows, while also reveling in them.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. Valerie remains as indefatigably inane as ever, and so does the show business world around her.
  72. Vinyl is made in the spirit of a great party, rather than a great TV show.... Not so dissimilarly from Boardwalk Empire, it has prestige everything--sets, talent, camera work, visuals--but an ersatz essence. The Scorsese hallmarks are thick as the rails.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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
  76. The results are scattershot. A few of the storylines work beautifully.... But Dorian Gray’s tryst with a tubercular prostitute (Billie Piper) reaches no such heights, delivering the nudity that pay cable customers apparently require, but not much else.
  77. In the new miniseries’ opening installments, 24 makes some half-hearted efforts to contend with its own legacy.
  78. It's pretty decent hokum--fast, corny, genial, honest in its schlock.
  79. 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.
  80. Paul Weston's (Byrne) nonadventures straddle the realms of the scarcely credible and the incredibly boring.
  81. For a smart take on a dumb summer dating show, join the millions tuning into Dating in the Dark.
  82. The Path is not a rollicking Scientology takedown but a more measured, slow-building dismantling of the insidious accommodations required to maintain absolute religious certainty.
  83. At this point, its plot development feels as ruthlessly competent as its characters. It’s not revelatory, but it’s also much better than most shows in their sixth seasons can claim to be.
  84. If Grey’s Anatomy set at Quantico with a long-term terrorism plot sounds bad to you, proceed no further: This is not your show. If it sounds kind of appealing, as it does to me, Quantico may be your least execrable show of fall.... The pilot doesn’t dwell on the senseless carnage, and if you don't either, what’s left is sexed-up spy games.
  85. 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.
  86. Billions is quintessentially Showtime: It uses its of-the-moment premise and its blue-chip cast to tell a story that is both thoroughly enjoyable and completely eye-rolling.
  87. Virgin Territory tries to get into psychological explanations for all of this unwanted virginity, because like the participants’ friends, MTV thinks it’s weird.
  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. If Lucious and Cookie and Jamal’s dynamics seem unique and complex, other parts of the show are messy and flat.... Generally speaking, the arc of the soap opera is long, and it bends toward insanity. But, one episode in, Empire feels insane in exactly the right measure.
  93. Humor, terror, sex, death, camp, karaoke: No show on television has all these ingredients but American Horror Story.
  94. Girlfriends’ Guide, loosely based on the series of books by Vicki Iovine, is, like most of Bravo’s shows, extremely entertaining, the TV equivalent of a great beach read.
  95. 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.
  96. In the early episodes, all the clatter and the clutter shut out what’s good about the show: Zeke, his devotion to Shao, and his adorable romance with Mylene. The first episode, with a run time of close to an hour and a half, is almost unwatchable. But the show improves from there, sloughing off side characters and gaining momentum.

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