The New Yorker's Scores

For 100 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 31% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 65% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 Breaking Bad: Season 5
Lowest review score: 10 Ghost Whisperer: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 51
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 51
  3. Negative: 0 out of 51
51 tv reviews
  1. Breaking Bad [is] a radical type of television, and also a very strange kind of must-watch: a show that you dread and crave at the same time.
  2. Behind the Candelabra succeeds precisely because it doesn’t care much about health or what constitutes a good role model--it shows respect for a complicated marriage simply by making it real.
  3. A gorgeously living thing.
  4. Smash does a very satisfying job of merging the pleasures of "American Idol" and commercial Broadway, placing the "hummable melody" dead center and prioritizing fun over absolute authenticity.
  5. The new episodes start well, then keep improving, with narrative clarity and a fresh visual beauty.
  6. Broadchurch is beautifully crafted: well filmed, well cast, well scored, atmospheric without being a drag. It also has a striking mixture of cruel insight and sentimental warmth that elevates it above cheaper concoctions.
  7. [Andrew Haigh & Michael Lannan] collaboration is a real beauty, the standout among several smart series launching in January.
  8. Rescue Me is a daring, unflinching show—a worthy companion to FX’s dark-hearted police drama “The Shield”—and it is unafraid to expose the not always pretty particulars of firehouse culture and the more fallible side of those we count on to save us.
  9. By the finale, Season 2 is stronger than Season 1, largely because it’s more uncompromising about its characters, at once more nuanced and more damning.
  10. It’s a daring, difficult project, a chewy story about a family from much the same privileged world as “Afternoon Delight.”
  11. [A] soaring, inventive miniseries.
  12. Rock is able to find humor in every aspect of his childhood.
  13. The meanest sitcom in years—and one of the funniest.
  14. Mad Men is smart and tremendously attractive, and it stirs you more than it probably should.
  15. McBride is comfortable improvising, and in Eastbound there’s a lot of pleasurable tension in watching Kenny create difficult situations with his poor judgment and get out of them with his escape artist’s quick brain.
  16. Men of a Certain Age is bound to attract attention, because its co-creator, and one of its co-stars, is Ray Romano; what shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is the fact that the show is also good. Surprisingly good.
  17. The result, with its strong, complex, funny, flawed central character, feels truer to life than the zillions of one-dimensional (or no-dimensional) nurses on television.
  18. Eastbound & Down holds together so well that it's worth looking past the ugly for the solid performances and the charcoal-black humor beneath, particularly in the final episodes, which delve into Powers's family history.
  19. Awake may be hard to categorize, but it's worth our attention.
  20. Episodes has a sly subversiveness that deepens over time, like mercury poisoning: it's an adult farce that is at once frothy and acerbic.
  21. This season is so much more effective that it’s practically a master class in how tweaks can transform a series--and in how hard it is to judge a sitcom early on.
  22. Smart, salty, and outrageous, the series falls squarely in the tradition of graphic adult cable drama.
  23. The dialogue isn’t always subtle, but it’s often sharp.
  24. Sondheim’s frequent collaborator James Lapine directs, and he does an excellent job of stitching together interviews from more than four decades, including ones with Mike Douglas and Diane Sawyer, to form a portrait of the composer as both a young and an old man.
  25. The show is at its best in such moments, these sequences that capture the semi-virtual, semi-real ways that we think, and feel, and meet, and connect today. It’s a rare attempt to make visible something that we take for granted: a new kind of cognition, inflected by passion, that allows strangers to think out loud, solving mysteries together.
  26. The Americans can be wrenchingly emotional, and it’s terrifically well paced. But it doesn’t take itself overly seriously, and while the show looks pretty good it’s not the most cinematic series on the block.
  27. The show is well structured, with blunt but effective sitcom beats, and, refreshingly, it isn’t an “Entourage”-tinted fantasy.
  28. It’s not that the season was bad--it was daring and often beautiful, emphasizing serial storytelling over episodic one-offs, with many indelible moments, especially those involving Louie’s daughters.
  29. The show is more than tit for tat: it’s sheer pleasure, no guilt allowed.
  30. At six episodes, Happy Valley is satisfyingly compressed.
  31. In a lacklustre fall season, this sweet surprise of a pilot, with its shrewd narration and likable cast, made me cross my fingers that the show can maintain its charms.
  32. The Comeback is as spiny and audacious as the original, but very different, because it isn’t aimed at “celebreality” or network sitcoms, now dated targets.
  33. It is probably too soon in the series to expect to see more complexity, or some sense of the grinding difficulty of the job of President, and the number of no-win situations that present themselves every day in the Oval Office. But “Commander in Chief” really does make things look too easy.
  34. Compelling, if not quite riveting.
  35. For a lot of viewers “Big Love” is going to need time to settle in; it doesn’t have much dramatic texture until about the fifth episode.
  36. Unfailingly enjoyable.
  37. The plot is difficult to follow - shot sequences, at least in the first two episodes, often pair sex and death (an FX trademark, practically; it’s the network that looks our animal selves in the eye), whether or not their pairing helps the story--but you’re strung along deftly enough so that you do want to know how it’s all going to play out.
  38. Breaking Bad is very well done, but it has a bleakness that seems to be manufactured for no good reason. In its spiral down toward nothingness, Breaking Bad pulls viewers down with it, just because it can.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At its best, the storytelling itself manages to accommodate a sense of historical contingency.
  39. The three alters are broad stereotypes, but Collette makes the moments of transition surprisingly touching, and sometimes subtly comic.
  40. Not all the tweaks in the plot work well, but most of the series’ flaws are masked by the excellent casting and the good writing for three central characters.
  41. Revenge is too juicy to write off as junk. It's got strong performances, from actors who don't condescend to their flamboyant dialogue.
  42. The British series, about the aristocratic Crawley family and their titular home, goes down so easily that it's a bit like scarfing handfuls of caramel corn while swigging champagne.
  43. A slapdash, invigorating, flawed-but-delectable mini-series with a premise of brass balls.
  44. The L.A. Complex is maddeningly low-rated, but it's worth seeking out: it's no masterpiece of cinematography, and can veer into melodrama, but at its sharpest moments the show has as much "Midnight Cowboy" in it as it does "Melrose Place."
  45. I found the first two episodes handsome but sleazy, like a C.E.O. in a hotel bar. Yet by Episode 5 I was hypnotized by the show’s ensemble of two-faced sociopaths. Episode 8 was a thoughtful side trip into sympathy for Spacey’s devilish main character, but by then I was exhausted, and only my compulsive streak kept me going until the finale--at which point I was critically destabilized and looking forward to Season 2.
  46. Much of the show’s appeal lies in the cast’s shaggy, naturalistic chemistry, which papers over the occasional imperfect plot turn.
  47. Individual scenes are terrific, but a few plotlines strain credulity. If it weren’t for Tatiana Maslany, the show’s star, Orphan Black would be just a likable-enough thriller, with Toronto local color--enough to recommend it to a Canadaphilic sci-fi buff like me, but maybe not to you.
  48. he series doesn’t have the best pacing, or the best dialogue (“Well, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, we’re going to the morgue”), and in some areas it doesn’t even try: never has a show set in New York but filmed in Toronto felt more like a show set in New York but filmed in Toronto. (When Astoria appeared, full of burning garbage cans, all of Queens raised its eyebrows.) And yet the show overflows with greasy satisfactions, simply because it commits so fully to its own goofiness.
  49. The narrative flow is murky and chaotic, and at times it chokes up.... But The Leftovers builds in potency.
  50. Colbert is very skillful at parodying people who are already parodies of themselves, and his show is a lot sharper than most of what passes for comedy on TV. At the end of the day, though--a day, say, on which a President says something foolish, or a Supreme Court nominee has to step aside, or a White House aide is indicted--the voice you’ll most want to hear is still Jon Stewart’s.
  51. Despite the mostly awful dialogue, “Sleeper Cell” succeeds on the strength of its plot.
  52. A sitcom doesn’t have to break new ground to be good, but it does have to make you feel that it isn’t just going through the motions. "Christine" satisfies on that score to some extent, but you just want more from it.
  53. For what it is, “Million Dollar Listing” is a well-crafted series.
  54. The lapping tide of gooeyness would be more tolerable if Stark’s empathy made him lose a big case, and if that loss got messy. “Shark,” though, wants to have it both ways: he keeps winning, but now for the right reasons.
  55. Watching “The Nine” is like trying to do a crossword with only the Across clues. But it promises to reward our vigilance.
  56. The notion that the Empire ran on pillow talk and poison--the Great Woman theory of history-was also at the heart of the BBC’s 1976 "I, Claudius," but "Rome," with its spitting catfights, is closer in spirit to "Dynasty."
  57. While the ideas behind “The Riches” are often satisfyingly satirical, Izzard’s role—he plays Wayne Malloy, a husband and a father of three, eager to escape the marginal life that he and his family have been living—is stagy and overblown.
  58. There’s no question that the creators of The Pacific set out to honor the marines’ experience; they haven’t exactly failed to do that, but neither have they succeeded in leading viewers to a deeper appreciation of this--then and now--faraway war.
  59. There are many of them [good moments] in Parks and Recreation, in fact; virtually every scene in the first two episodes contains good bits, with quotable quotes, twists of language that viewers feel smart for getting, and visual gags. But the minutes don’t flow; they merely accrete, one bit on top of another.
  60. In general, there's a pat, familiar quirkiness to The Big C that keeps you at a remove from it, and too many easy appeals to your emotions.... Still, with Linney at the heart of The Big C, there's reason to think that the series will improve.
  61. It's a big production-the first episode alone cost nearly twenty million dollars-and it looks authentic in a way that, paradoxically, seems lifeless. You're constantly aware that you're watching a period piece, albeit one with some vivid scenes and interesting details.
  62. The new shows are more concerned with hitting their marks and getting the sociology right than with character, but Pan Am has a bit of style to it, and a note of darkness, and the formula might just work.
  63. Season 3--the full season was sent to reviewers--has indelible sequences, but it's a mixed bag.
  64. It’s not that much fun to watch an actress who, except for the occasional times when she lets loose one of her charmingly loud second-soprano laughs, seems always to be asking more of us than she’s giving, but Secret Diary of a Call Girl does get better as it goes along, although it doesn’t greatly distinguish itself from most other shows you’ve seen about young single women in the big city
  65. If we got to know any of the characters in Generation Kill, the show might be more interesting, or, at least, more memorable.
  66. Over all, the show has a little something, but it doesn’t have outstanding curb appeal, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a foreclosure notice in the window sooner rather than later.
  67. There's so much potential here it kills me--a deep female friendship, raw humor about class, and a show that puts young women's sexuality dead center, rather than using it as visual spice, as in some cable series about bad-boy antiheroes.
  68. If there's a TV writers' version of Stockholm syndrome, Dexter is Exhibit A.
  69. The Walking Dead might have been one of [the ambitious modern horror series], using a grotesque story to go deep, letting grief and repulsion rile and unsettle us. Instead, it stumbles forward, disguised as prestige TV but devoid of a soul.
  70. Rather than innovate, the series, on Cinemax, leans hard on cable drama’s hoariest (and whoriest) antiheroic formulas, diluting potentially powerful themes.
  71. Roday doesn’t quite have the chops to back up his Carreyisms. Shawn is a first-draft version of Jason Lee’s title character in "My Name Is Earl"--a lovable goof, but with little ability to gain traction in your heart.
  72. What's most puzzling about Californication is that much of the time it resembles a soft-porn film.... This kind of cheesiness is all about what the camera sees, rather than about the story and what the characters are feeling.
  73. In Treatment, while offering viewers a seemingly intimate look at this process, doesn't capture the emotional mise en scène: the characters on the show have all too easy a time expressing themselves, and the element of suspense is mostly absent.
  74. Oprah’s Big Give stands out as a weird, misbegotten creature that perhaps shouldn’t have been taken out in public.
  75. The characterizations in The Beast show very little imagination; as for the plots, haven’t we seen enough shows in which agents reveal their sterling natures by freeing Eastern European sex slaves?
  76. Mental, a new drama on Fox, starting May 26th, is solidly mediocre; it’s not good, it’s not terrible, and there’s no reason for it to exist.
  77. We come away with a new understanding of the extent of the Kennedys' dysfunction but without a sense of what made them special or of how they harnessed their talents. But what you see in Wilkinson's eyes--they're black holes, devouring everyone in sight--almost makes up for what's missing from the writing.
  78. Their take on human nature may develop, but right now it's cartoonish in the worst way and too reminiscent of similar shows.
  79. When it comes to story, unfortunately, Luck is a drag.
  80. The series exists within its own ugly system, mining the by now tired convention of the thoughtful thug--the same idea that was so brilliantly subverted by more ambitious series, such as “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.”
  81. Only a fool would deny Fargo’s polish and verve, its stylized razzle-dazzle. But, for me at least, after a year of gulping down chili peppers, it takes more to make a meal.
  82. The show mines a primal adolescent fantasy: that sickness might be a form of glamour, making a person special and deeper than other humans. Everyone thinks that when you go to the hospital life stops,” Coma Boy intones. “But it’s just the opposite: life starts.” Whether you find this conceit offensive or escapist will depend on your mood. For me, the crassness outweighed any charm.
  83. There is not a single fresh moment in the three episodes that have run so far; it turns out you can be controversial without being the least bit interesting.
  84. Almost a parody of itself.
  85. Its creators apparently didn’t want to compromise their vision by making the material needlessly comprehensible.
  86. The show is laced with wit and blessed with fine actors... Yet the coincidences that bring the show’s six wayfarers together to form their own little island on the big island are vexingly hokey.
  87. Swingtown is a little too fond of the seventies to reveal anything about them that we don’t already know.
  88. We do meet her parents, but nearly every other moment comes across as calculated--including, in the first episode, the absence of her daughter Bristol--and we find out nothing about Alaska that we didn't learn in elementary school. I know that some Americans think Palin is stupid, but I never realized that she thinks we're stupid.
  89. I said that The Playboy Club might be promising. Guess what? I lied.
  90. The problem is that Whitney is a terrible show, though in ways that resonate with our culture's debates about women and humor.
  91. The Newsroom treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid.
  92. The first episode, on the subject of privacy, isn’t bad, as infotainment goes.... but once you click on the second episode--about feminism--the walls cave in.
  93. Whatever the length of the show’s much admired tracking shot (six minutes, uncut!), it feels less hardboiled than softheaded. Which might be O.K. if True Detective were dumb fun, but, good God, it’s not: it’s got so much gravitas it could run for President.
  94. There's also more of Maher in the new show, and it's no big surprise that more Maher is less. He's a jerk of the old school, full of unexamined anxiety and arrogance, with a habit of using sexual stereotypes from half a century ago both to put down and to compliment people. [17 Mar 2003, p.152]
    • The New Yorker
  95. The show is charmless and patronizing, and as refreshing as dust.
  96. “Jericho” lumbers; its townspeople spend all their time in the bar squabbling--they know one another so well that they haven’t got room to grow.
  97. [A] lump of lead.

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