The A.V. Club's Scores

For 347 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 58% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 38% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 67
Highest review score: 100 Orange is the New Black: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 The 1/2 Hour News Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 223
  2. Negative: 0 out of 223
223 tv reviews
  1. The mood develops exquisitely from the first frame.
  2. Everybody inside and outside of Litchfield’s walls matters. That shouldn’t feel revolutionary. That it does speaks both to how essential this show is and how much most other TV shows will have to do to catch up to it.
  3. Toy Story That Time Forgot attests to the strengths of this fictional universe by relying on its deep bench of supporting players.... Schaal’s capacity for wonder enlivens a plot that harkens back to the first Toy Story.
  4. With its strong cast, diverse ensemble of interesting characters, beautiful visuals, and patient direction, Fortitude is a promising freshman outing from cable obscurity Pivot and a worthwhile addition to an already over-stuffed subgenre.
  5. With Masters and Johnson occupying a space in between love, work, and friendship, the heart of the Masters feels like it is finally beating; the joy of the show is watching the two of them interact with each other, and Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into their roles. Ashford and her team have also become more confident with pacing and plotting.
  6. Meticulous detail makes the difference between competent television shows and instant classics, and The Americans teems with period minutia, and treats it with a solemn respect not often paid to the ’80s.
  7. Hannibal has always been beautiful, and that’s still the case. It’s also always featured dialogue and plots that stay just on the right side of being too pretentious, and that remains the case. If there are any notable steps up from season one, it’s both in the tension that mounts thanks to the great game played between Will and Hannibal and in the better use of the show’s supporting cast.
  8. The obvious comparison point is The Twilight Zone; that Black Mirror is a worthy successor is the highest praise that can be paid.
  9. Outlander succeeds admirably, and partly that’s because it follows the bent of both of its creators: It refuses to sit comfortably in any genre.
  10. None of this would work without compelling characters. Fortunately, The Leftovers has bunches of them.
  11. Louie season four is as good as ever, and sometimes it’s slightly different.
  12. This isn’t just a story, it’s a history, and admirably, the work of the players has brought it to life.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There are many things that Olive Kitteridge gets right, but none so significant as how brilliantly it simultaneously captures the deep, pervasive stillness and the close, suffocating entanglement of small-town living.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Beyond anything else, the main reason to tune into MasterChef Junior is to watch talented people do amazing things, regardless of age.
  13. When Inside Amy Schumer commits fully to that work, it’s television unlike almost anything else on the air today.
  14. Legit walks the tightrope between the dark and the heartfelt as well as anything on TV.
  15. Sleepy Hollow works because it approaches everything with a relatively straight face, yet never seems to be taking itself too seriously.
  16. While the narrow view of the tragedy means a limit to the movie’s broader appeal, it’s intensely refreshing to see a story like this told without any need to soften or commercialize its ideas.
  17. In the hands of McKellen, Jacobi, and company, they are sitcom characters who manage the tightrope between human warmth and on-screen viciousness, and they do it by being the best damn sitcom characters they can be.
  18. Nikita is probably The CW’s most purely entertaining show at the moment, and it brazenly promises to be its best self now that it’s coming into the home stretch, wrapping up its loose ends with what amounts to a concluding, six-episode miniseries.
  19. With 10 episodes this season, Please Like Me has filled out beautifully.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Abbi and Ilana are back and as unapologetic and funny as ever. Broad City season two is simultaneously old and new, with the same madcap stoner hilarity and a handful of fresh new faces.... But even these great comedic actors never distract from who is really in charge.
  20. It’s a quiet, deliberate show, but it contains multitudes and a willingness to go for broke with religious symbolism or Southern gothic overtones, right smack dab in the middle of stories about normal people going about their lives.
  21. Fortunately, it continues to be fascinating.
  22. The first four episodes of Game Of Thrones’ fifth season are typically rich and rewarding, but for those seeking reassurance as the show heads for uncharted territory, there’s as much to love as there is to fear.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Wilmore proves a smart and capable host in his auspicious debut.
  23. The series is ambitious and shaggy--those two go hand-in-hand--but despite its blurry spots, The Honorable Woman is hard not to watch all the way through. The story sucks viewers in farther and farther down a rabbit hole that does not end.
  24. The Affair is both quietly unsettling and impossible to look away from.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    From the writing, to the cast, to impactful details like the spot-on styling and sets, Benched exudes confidence and commitment.
  25. It took a circuitous route, with two cancellations and a move to Netflix, but it sticks the landing with this affecting, impressive final season.
  26. There’s something soapy and delicious about Empire.... But it’s a double-edged sword: Empire will either continue to be fun and splashy, while staying grounded and engaging, or it will flame out as so many primetime sudsers have before it, becoming too ridiculous for its own good.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    It’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s surprising.
  27. Broad City presents a recognizable, recognizably hilarious perspective on what trying-but-failing looks like from the inside.
  28. Penny Dreadful is a surprising show, one that offers both some putrid rotting at the core of London’s soul and a way of going about excavating humanity’s inherent darkness in a different and unexpected way. That is easily worth a penny, and maybe more.
  29. Montage understands Cobain as an icon, but also as the mixed-up kid who got too famous too fast, and it seems content revealing, rather than reconciling, his contradictions.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    iZombie provides a zombie-centric supernatural procedural with a sharp focus on the possibilities of that premise, while also paying homage to its comic roots.... iZombie is another win for The CW.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    It’s beautiful work that speaks to the storytelling power of Burns. This isn’t just a history lesson; it’s cinema.
  30. The show’s beauty is not in big moments, or exquisitely written scenes (though it has both), it comes in the pauses between, the semicolons and commas that make up the bulk of many lives, but which TV has trouble giving full heft.
  31. Alex Gibney’s Mr. Dynamite: The Rise Of James Brown is an assured threading-of-the-needle, slowly working its way to the sweet spot where the man and the legend overlap.
  32. If the second episode can build even more on the insanity of the first, then Rick And Morty has the potential to be a versatile, entertaining comedy.
  33. Wolf Hall’s efforts to capture the same mood as its source material ultimately serve it well.
  34. Orphan Black is better than almost any show on TV at feeling like it’s constantly building toward something, no matter how perilous and rickety its structure becomes.
  35. If this strong start is anything to go by, the show is going to produce an interesting, challenging, and hilarious batch of episodes for its fifth season. That’s reason enough to rejoice for now.
  36. The series finds just the right balance, creating a unique place for itself among the current network fare. With its down-to-earth lead character and self-aware, but not self-parodying approach, Jane The Virgin is a breath of fresh air that will hopefully find a strong and loyal fan base.
  37. As of right now, Satisfaction is actually suspenseful--leaving the audience unsure if its protagonists will embrace their better natures or succumb to their special version of suburban ennui. And though some of that suspense is a result of some messy decision-making, those types of messes look a lot like life.
  38. The show is getting rebooted for its fifth season, and it’s quickly clear what a good idea that is.
  39. The Knick rides the beautifully brutal, brutally beautiful nexus of 2014’s televised finest--Hannibal, True Detective, and The Leftovers all leap to mind--set aside by moments of true hope.
  40. It’s quite engrossing and addictive.
  41. The Comeback is the same as it ever was, and more highly concentrated. It still out-metas anything else on television. The performances remain stellar all around.
  42. The docudrama is at its most powerful in its second half, as the focus shifts more toward David Bradley as William Hartnell.
  43. Game Of Thrones has not moved away from “sexposition,” prostitution, and casual rape as titillating plot points, and that will always tarnish what is otherwise a groundbreaking show. But the good outweighs the bad. Game Of Thrones was and is an astonishing achievement.
  44. Fitting for a star whose improvised podcast appearances frequently turn down dark alleyways, Review really gets going when it digs deep into horrible behavior.
  45. Veep has become the clearest heir to 30 Rock and Arrested Development, and specific bits throughout the season recall both series.
  46. Younger is an entertaining and heartwarming series and one fans of Bechdel-busting television should seek out.
  47. It’s not that Portlandia has lost its sharp comic edge; rather, it has added a complementary sweetness that is somehow just as funny.
  48. Agent Carter ... could be The Flash to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Arrow: the brighter, snappier sister-show that finds its footing much more quickly than its sibling.
  49. Burton And Taylor is not comprehensive or perfect as a film--the direction in particular is lackluster--but as a character study in both writing and acting it is, as Burton says of Taylor herself, “peerless.”
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Black-ish, is fun, cool, and hip. It just so happens to also have a lot going on upstairs.
  50. For the most part, Lannan and Haigh have crafted something that’s bittersweet and funny and surprisingly quiet, willing to simply let the characters hang out and try to figure out what the rest of their lives are going to be like.
  51. The result is a show that isn’t always “ha ha” funny, but is scathingly brilliant.
  52. From episode three on, [Sheen] begins to give one of the most fascinating performances on TV.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Comparisons to The Wonder Years are inevitable, but Everybody Hates Chris scrapes away much of that golden nostalgia by putting a funny spin on frequently painful times.
  53. Togetherness threaten to become too familiar; it isn’t rote, but feels like it could become rote at any moment before swerving away from the expected outcome with seconds to spare.
  54. The show may have been simplified due to budgetary concerns, but that makes its core themes shine all the brighter.
  55. It’s Me, Hilary becomes a warm evocation of a time gone by, similar to Knight’s old drawings of the Plaza.
  56. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a tight, funny pilot where the energy of the cast salvages the few down moments. Still, it lays some possible traps for the rest of the series, not the least of which is the ever-present temptation of cop-show cliché.
  57. As impressive as Sam is--a teenager trapped inside an old man’s body who never seems bothered by his circumstances--when the documentary focuses on his mother, it easy to see where he gets it from.
  58. As a technically proficient piece of visual storytelling, Boardwalk continues to excel.
  59. The series is at its most potent when it reframes the everyday in the context of the Cold War, like Philip comparing notes on home life with a Mossad operative or Elizabeth displaying a flash of vulnerability in front of a government-contracted dupe. (And then betraying that parental bond by turning it into a threat.) Other aspects of the show would do well to find this middle ground; they’re getting there in season two.
  60. The show initially relies too heavily on plots in which Cam’s career is imperiled by the family’s behavior, plots that come off as contrivances to give the family deeper roots in Cam’s world. But Remorse finds its sea legs once it realizes Cam’s family can afford to stand on its own, whether they realize it or not.
  61. Generation Cryo separates itself from the likes of Catfish and Teen Mom by not treating its subjects as spectacle. They’re portrayed as people dealing with issues that affect their everyday lives, recalling some of the better installments of the True Life series.
  62. The show is funny, but never gut-bustingly so; it’s most often a triumph of atmosphere, a hangout show with a tremendous (and too infrequently engaged) sense of tension.
  63. It can hit (Odenkirk, the best curser in the biz, swearing his way through a procedure) and miss (the ending of “Hole” is a bit soft) in equal measure. Either way, it’s exciting to watch Heidecker and Wareheim stretch their legs like this.
  64. Black Box doesn’t have that show’s [HBO's Enlightened] subtlety, but it’s certainly demonstrated an interest in creating a portrait of a contradictory and flawed, but powerful and engaging female character.
  65. Banksy Does New York doesn’t give more than a passing voice to Banky’s critics and skeptics. (If anything, it’s more harsh to the New York art world for largely ignoring the residency.) But the film does a fine job of getting at the tension that each day’s new piece inspired.
  66. The historical cosplayers relish their parts, lip-syncing drunken monologues with palpable joy. There is also an undeniable thrill in recognizing unexpected actors as they mouth along to incoherent rambles.
  67. It’s not doing a whole lot of work to examine the role of women in society, but it is a show with a single and still-novel goal: to entertain women, without patronizing them.
  68. Justified has always been a show about defining yourself, for yourself. So long as it keeps finding fresh criminal conspiracies to wrap around that core--as season five appears to have done--the show will remain a must-watch.
  69. On the strength of its cast, the beauty of its design, and the sheer joy it gets from its homages, it’s the sort of dreadful that’s mostly a delight.
  70. The sketches themselves are still baring teeth, starting with the fodder for the shows within the Show. The one thing that unites the collection of idiots played by Kroll and co-stars like Jon Daly and John Mulaney is a lack of self-awareness.
  71. Despite its missteps, House Of Cards’ third season is by far its leanest, most focused, and most absorbing.
  72. Sonic Highways does dig deeper than a lot of other musician-centric documentaries do.
  73. The series’ cast remains one of the better sitcom ensembles of the past decade.
  74. True Detective might be finding itself in the first half of its first season, but few processes of discovery are so enthralling to watch.
  75. In its pilot form, at least, Trophy Wife is surprisingly self-assured and confident, the sort of show that seems ready to hit its stride in just a week or two.
  76. Now, three seasons in, Dunham and her team are better at doing what they’ve been trying to do all along: create a string of lovely character vignettes, with a deliberate disinterest in plot and a fascination with a certain zeitgeist. This is specific enough that it has its disadvantages, but now that the characters have been around for two seasons, it’s become easier to understand their different versions of cluelessness.
  77. Where Bletchley succeeds is in its unapologetic, decidedly feminine take on British life in the ’50s.
  78. Pines is certainly weird, but it’s never predictable.
  79. Enlisted hasn’t realized all of its potential, but that it already has its characters in such good shape suggests much to anticipate for its future.
  80. Fargo is a singular idea with, so far, not-so-singular execution, perhaps suffering from the fact that what was revelatory in 1996 might be just humdrum in 2014.
  81. Madam Secretary is not perfect, but it could be. There are seeds of something excellent in this pilot, one that’s able to tell a character-driven story in a world that’s constantly changing.
  82. Ultimately it’s that frisson of complication that makes Manhattan worth watching--the performances are good, the writing is good, and the premise is good, but the complication of our own history is involving and fantastic.
  83. There are portions of the 10-episode first season that are darker than any other American broadcast-network comedy, but not shying away from the inherent gravity of Bruce and Emma’s situation provides a rich shading to the stranger-in-a-strange-land laughs.
  84. After briefly getting lost in its complicated web of storytelling, the show slows down and puts it focus back on its characters. And though they might repeat themselves, Orphan Black feels as fres
  85. There’s enough depth and complication in the performances alone to buoy the six-episode run, and given the intensity of the criminal specifics, the slow burn feels more like a feature than a bug.
  86. A well-acted romp that carries just enough weight to justify tuning in, The Musketeers is a campy delight; no one ever hands over a blade when tossing one with a flourish will do, and this time, that’s just as it should be.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    There’s still a little roughness around the edges of the series.... Nevertheless, Maron operates on its own frequency and works within its own rhythms.
  87. There’s something lighthearted about the proceedings, murder and mayhem aside, because the show is more interested in the character drama than the procedure. Taxi Brooklyn embraces the New York-ness of both its main characters, and that bodes well for its future--and provides something fascinating to watch through the summer, in the meantime.
  88. It seems like they’re trying to build a little universe of their own, on the shoulders of the most notable sketch shows of the past. It’s a show worthy of attention for that reason alone, and doubly so because it’s often funny as hell.
  89. Fresh Off The Boat may not be the take-no-prisoners depiction of Asian-American life that Huang originally envisioned, but it still provides a perspective long overdue on television in a way that’s at once smart, sweet, and funny--a far cry from “Panda Express.”

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