USA Today's Scores

For 864 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 57% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 39% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 24: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Lucky Louie: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 517
  2. Negative: 0 out of 517
517 tv reviews
  1. Some of House's callousness is an act, and sometimes the show lets the act go too far. But one of the series' primary strengths is the way the writers and the star keep us guessing as to where that act ends and reality begins.
  2. This is as good an adaptation as any Ladies lover could wish, one that overflows with the joys of life and exudes an all-embracing spirit. Be ready to be beguiled.
  3. While the subject matter is heavy, Rescue Me is seldom heavy-going. It still makes times to revel in the boisterous camaraderie of its firefighters, and it still takes great advantage of one of the sexiest, funniest casts on television.
  4. This is an epic big-screen adventure done for the small screen--and done in a way that makes most big-screen versions pale in comparison.
  5. It is, in short, a show about real life, as seen through the eyes of one of the funniest men in America.
  6. It's such a new day on Fox's 24, it might almost be a new show. This ingeniously entertaining drama always gives us a new set of villains for each seasonal crisis. But this year, it's also giving us a brand new set of heroes. Fortunately for Fox and fans, the things that have been changed are, by and large, improved -- and the most important things have been left alone. [7 Jan 2005]
    • USA Today
  7. For two nights and four fabulous hours, this sequel to 1994's Baseball, still PBS' most-watched program, reminds us why baseball retains its hold on our imagination, and why Burns and Novick remain TV's pre-eminent popular historians.
  8. Once you get past the premiere, series are often a crapshoot. But Showtime made all 12 episodes available for preview, and through that run, the energy never flags and the performances get deeper and richer.
  9. May be the network's most effective combination yet of artistic reach and popular appeal. Created by The Job's Peter Tolan and Denis Leary, who also stars, Rescue Me could do for firefighters what "NYPD Blue" did for cops: strip them of myth while celebrating their humanity.
  10. They've richly re-created a Roaring '20s world on the edge of an ocean and a precipice, and populated it with a riveting rogues gallery.
  11. Enter The Strain, which just may turn out to be the best-executed, most cleverly constructed and most universally enjoyable fright-monger of them all.
  12. As fine as these opening episodes are, they're not quite as good as last season's final run. [14 Jan 2000]
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  13. You're unlikely to watch a much better performance anywhere this year.
  14. As you'd hope from a show based on Elmore Leonard's work, the plots snap, the dialogue crackles and--to press on with the point--the characters pop.
  15. An equally spectacular, equally triumphant yet tonally divergent work that stands with "Band of Brothers" as the best war movie ever made for TV.
  16. As you watch the smart, sophisticated, sharply written and slickly directed Spin City strut its stuff, memories of Murphy Brown's early days may come to mind. Dominating a volatile, high-profile workplace and supported by a crackerjack cast, Fox demonstrates superb and crafty comic timing in a tailor-made role. [17 Sept 1996, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  17. Convincingly smart, realistically unsettled and sexy as all get-out, Gugino radiates so much TV star power, it just might be visible from outer space.
  18. Dunham's simply writing what she knows, and incredibly well.
  19. What's remarkable is that 24 still finds so many ways to surprise us, to take our knowledge of how things are done and turn it against us.
  20. The result is a sharp, funny, clever series that remains faithful to the spirit of Doyle's stories while infusing them with a vibrant spirit of modernity.
  21. Teeming with rich characters and terrific actors, brimming with wit, drama and unexpected urgency, Studio 60 brings its workplace to full, immensely entertaining life.
  22. A quietly captivating miniseries about a seldom-quiet woman.
  23. Band of Brothers is significantly flawed and yet absolutely extraordinary -- just like the men it portrays. [7 Sept 2001, p.1E]
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  24. Let Lost remind you of how spectacular scripted network programming can be.
  25. Refreshingly original, bracingly adult and thoroughly delightful, Desperate Housewives is like the answer to a TV prayer you didn't know you'd made. You just know life was much duller before it arrived. [1 Oct 2004]
    • USA Today
  26. Of a handful of promising new series this season, only one shows the promise of greatness: Boomtown.
  27. This is such a gorgeous show to watch (at least for anyone fond of mid-'60s clothes and design) that it's easy to forget how beautifully these actors play their roles and how true-to-life they and the writers make these characters seem.
  28. There isn't an actor or character you won't look forward to seeing again, and that includes those you may initially resist. Each is allowed to be right or wrong, each could exist in the world as we know it, and each can be uproariously funny in his or her own way.
  29. This two-part production expands and opens the story without diminishing the charm or appeal of Austen's original or pushing it past her socially constrained boundaries.
  30. Mad Men is a joy to watch - the clothes, the clocks, the furniture, it's like a mid-century night's dream. But this is no mere period piece. It's a smart, complex drama that attempts to get through the facades that have always hidden the truth.
  31. In lesser hands, the disruptive flourishes would come across as style for style's sake; here, disruption is the goal. And in a lesser show, the characters would come across as a collection of social "types," chosen to represent their assigned issues. Here, they come across as real, deeply flawed people caught in a system that seems to care for none of them.
  32. We can all be grateful for a series this awe-inspiringly exceptional.
  33. For those who were disappointed in the show's uneven fourth season, the best news is that, at least in the nine episodes previewed, Rescue Me is more consistent, more focused and more fun, with better stories for all of its characters.
  34. Funny, shocking and purposely incorrect, this testosterone-drenched series from Denis Leary and Peter Tolan returns to reclaim its spot as basic cable's best show, bar none. [13 June 2007, p.10D]
    • USA Today
  35. Every line, every reaction is perfectly pitched, every shift from humor to menace to seduction perfectly played.
  36. Laugh-out-loud and sad all at once, The Larry Sanders Show shines merciless light in the heartless dark night of TV. [14 Aug 1992]
    • USA Today
  37. Treme tells its story incredibly well, but it just may not be a story everyone wants to follow. Some will hear its music and some won't. But if you do, this could be the rare TV show that makes you dance.
  38. Imagine 24 devoting a substantial block of time to exploring the repercussions of one of its attacks, without moving on to the next threat, and you get the idea.
  39. Top of the Lake is rivetingly odd, almost oppressively atmospheric and thoroughly entrancing.
  40. As terrific as the three women are, the movie would not have been made without Combs and would not work as well without him
  41. No American-made option this weekend can compare.
  42. Three weeks, three styles, three fine, fun hours.
  43. If you think of it less as a mystery and more as a two-person character study, odds are you'll be more patient with it. And trust me, that patience will be rewarded.
  44. This is The Sopranos at its best -- and that's just about as good as TV ever gets.
  45. [A] brilliant and acid satire of late-night TV that scores its bitter points with the zing of a Variety headline. [2 Jun 1993]
    • USA Today
  46. Not since Frasier has a sitcom offered such an ideal blend of heart and smarts, or proven itself so effortlessly adept at so many comic variations, from subtle wordplay to big-laugh slapstick to everything in between
  47. What Kill has to offer is clarity and clear-eyed empathy. TV's the better for it.
  48. Even when 24 went off the rails, Sutherland somehow kept Jack in balance. And now that his show seems back on track, he's rolling at top form.
  49. A darkly hilarious look at the neurotic personalities and duplicitous machinations of late-night talk shows, it's the smartest and most ruthless show about TV ever on TV. [22 Jun 1994]
    • USA Today
  50. Jackie can be a dark show, and it's going to get darker. But there isn't an episode that doesn't leave you yearning to see the next. There also isn't a performance that doesn't work.
  51. A few plotlines look rocky, and a few lines of dialogue stumble, but based on the first six episodes, we're being introduced to a show that can enlighten, entertain and contend for Emmys, all in the same breath.
  52. The Wire, while brilliant,is not exactly user-friendly. Attention is required, but the series more than repays the time and effort invested.
  53. What separates Fargo is the depth of its characterizations and the individuality of its approach.
  54. Indeed, the only real downside of the program is that they've made only six episodes.
  55. There's humanity in its victims and dark humor in the goal-oriented drive of its villains. With or without a strike, this is a show to treasure.
  56. What sets The Americans apart is the weight it gives to the other side and its ability to make us feel it.
  57. There's nothing in Downton you won't recognize, and almost nothing you won't enjoy.
  58. With Denis Leary's return as Tommy Gavin in FX's Rescue Me, viewers have hit the summer trifecta: the best actor playing the best character in the best show on basic cable.
  59. This is TV pleasure at its most intense, without even a shade of guilt.
  60. A riotously, often scathingly funny showbiz satire that proves LeBlanc is smart enough to know self-mockery can be a potent weapon, and talented enough to wield it properly.
  61. This is 24 at its fast, furious, exaggerated best, filled with well-drawn subsidiary characters and rapid-fire surprises, all held in place by Kiefer Sutherland's great, under-sung performance as Jack.
  62. Out of these familiar adventure-story components and a host of pop-culture conventions, Alias' J.J. Abrams has fashioned a totally original, fabulously enjoyable lost-at-sea series. Once again, he has taken an outlandish Saturday-serial setup and imbued it with real characters and honest emotions, without sacrificing any of the old-fashioned fun.
  63. There is always meaning to Mad Men's madness and passion under its control, along with an uncommon level of style, flair and wit. On a TV shelf crowded with cookie-cutter products, Mad Men is an original.
  64. Brilliant. [18 Jul 1995]
    • USA Today
  65. What sets The Killing apart are its steady sense of dread, its dense atmospherics--that feeling that rain may at any moment pour from our sets--and its beautifully drawn characters.
  66. A satisfying, intriguingly complex ABC drama that emerges from the season's serialized pack as the best new show of the year.
  67. For anyone seeking edge-of-your-chair tension, Dead delivers. But what separates this fine series from similar shows is the honesty of its human interactions.
  68. Brilliant, scathing, sprawling, The Wire has turned our indifference to urban decay into a TV achievement of the highest order.
  69. Despite its depth and ambition, this is one great drama that never becomes cumbersome--it never feels like a chore imposed upon us by the God of High TV Art.
  70. What lies ahead for Downton fans is a first-rate run of episodes that feels less hectic and more tightly focused on the family core.
  71. Brooklyn Bridge is a show to love, not merely to watch. A sentimental knockout, it's a valentine rooted in the warm glow of a specific place and bygone time, yet oddly universal and relevant. [20 Sep 1991]
    • USA Today
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    While a quintessential Masterpiece Theatre production, Bleak House doesn't indulge in the languid pacing and preciousness that weigh down some other PBS period pieces.
  72. Expertly cut and polished until it practically gleams, 24 is like a flawless diamond: stylish, multifaceted and so sharp that it could cut glass. Everything clicks, from the hip sets to the whip-smart direction to the ever-shifting split screen that imbues even mundane activities such as talking on the phone with an unexpected urgency. [6 Nov 2001]
    • USA Today
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    TV has so much middle ground already there's no way not to cheer ABC's nerve in giving us something so ground-breaking, so distinctive, so you- can't-take-your-eyes-off-it or get-your-mind-off-it gripping...They've set a tone with Sunday's two-hour pilot - which succeeds best as a masterpiece of mood - that's gleefully perverse, visually glorious, splendidly acted, with a pulsating music score that heightens an already unbearable tension. [6 Apr 1990, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  73. Don't let that "intimate" description mislead you--Franklin's infidelity is documented, but not detailed, and the show takes no stance on Eleanor's sexuality beyond making it clear that the subject is more complicated than some may assume. As were these people, and as is this completely splendid documentary.
  74. It is also stunning, compelling and thoroughly, empathetically human. [14 Apr 2000, p.11E]
    • USA Today
  75. There are worse sins than looking like a Jane Austen movie. In fact, with PBS' latest British hit import, the unfailingly entertaining Downton Abbey, it might even be a blessing.
  76. Like the show itself, Margo Martindale's performance is smart, chilling, amusing, convincing and unfailingly entertaining. And like the show, you really don't want to miss it.
  77. Heavily narrated and prone at times to the precious, Daisies is a show unlike any other, and not everyone will like it. But even those who don't can embrace it as a sign that creativity, confidence and capability have not fled broadcast for cable just yet. Here, they're alive and thriving.
  78. Terrifically acted and gorgeously produced, this is a show that's both funny and frightening, that can simultaneously make you miss the '60s and feel blessed that they're gone.
  79. She's a smart, funny, eccentric elitist who isn't afraid to tell us what she thinks of us or herself. Listen with an open mind, and you should find her sometimes scathing honesty is bracing rather than off-putting.
  80. Combine the new story's broader scope with the show's newfound willingness to tap into current fears, and there's every reason to hope for an even more suspenseful season. And that's even considering the drag applied by Kim's credibility-straining subplot. [29 Oct 2002]
    • USA Today
  81. Gervais' show is so unusual, and his performance as David Brent is so painfully specific -- and sometimes just so flat-out painful -- it's hard to imagine how anyone else can make it work. [23 Jan 2003]
    • USA Today
  82. Summer TV at its witty, riveting best.
  83. In theory and practice, Murder One is everything that's best about TV. [19 Sept 1995, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  84. Tonight's pilot lays the groundwork for what could be a fabulous series, one that blends supernatural adventure with down-to-earth, complex family dynamics.
  85. The funniest family ever. [11 Oct 1990]
    • USA Today
  86. One of the best TV programs you'll find in this or any season.
  87. Solid gold from top to bottom, the cast is almost an embarrassment of riches.
  88. Bad is too complex a series and too brilliantly distinctive a creation to be reduced to a simple "Crime does not pay" motto.
  89. An oasis of becalmed eccentricity, this backwoods burg is a serene paradise of quirky humor and offbeat pathos. Here, using that old city-boy- meets-country-sages routine, is a show where intelligence, not ignorance, is bliss. [12 July 1990, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  90. Danes and Lewis are near-flawless, keeping you off-balance and absorbed.
  91. The winsome Sarah Michelle Gellar is a huge improvement over bubblehead Kristy Swanson as the new Buffy, moving with her mom to the "one-Starbucks town" of Sunnydale, Calif. She's cute and pert but nobody's fool. [10 Mar 1997, p.3D]
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  92. Brilliantly performed. [29 Mar 1991]
    • USA Today
  93. In what may be the most enjoyable transition from hit movie to TV series since M#A#S#H, Parenthood is for all those who yearn to see thirtysomething played for laughs. [20 Aug 1990, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  94. It operates on such a high frequency of inspired lunacy, it instantly renders this busy midseason's other hopefuls just so much sitcom static to be tuned out. [21 Mar 1995]
    • USA Today
  95. A hilarious holiday package. [15 Dec 1989, p.3D]
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  96. A trauma-rama that opens on an adrenaline rush and pretty much stays there, with timeouts for pathos and sex and dark hilarity, ER launches a surgical strike on the emotions that could make it the medical drama for the '90s. [19 Sep 1994]
    • USA Today
  97. Like St. Elsewhere grafted onto L.A. Law, this is in the slick but endangered tradition of ensemble dramas showing heroes on the cutting edge of their vocation while personal lives entangle and unravel. [16 Sep 1994]
    • USA Today
  98. Here's a show full of delightful surprises, with something for everyone. It's hard to imagine anyone resisting its many charms. Twin Peaks too ponderous? Lawyer shows too heavy (and too many)? Sitcoms too silly? As Goldilocks said of the little bear's porridge, this one gets it just right. [8 Apr 1991, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  99. It's fair to say that circumstances are once again forcing Don Draper (Jon Hamm) to ponder what he has and who he is. The beauty of the show, and of Hamm's performance, is the craft with which they convey that crisis through silence and visual cues.... What also holds true is that Mad Men remains a gorgeous show, one that is capable of sustaining an almost trance-like state.
  100. In Ray and Mickey, producer Ann Biderman has created two of TV's most interesting characters and one of its most absorbing dynamics.
  101. what these two characters, so fabulously played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, are about to realize as this excellent series returns is that their jobs put their children at risk.
  102. Happily, this is a carefully adapted, clearly enunciated As You Like It that retains the beauty of the dialogue while making the meanings clear.
  103. Juggling such a large ensemble won't be easy, and the producers have to guard against crowding too many stories together at the cost of depth and development.... If they can get the balance right, though, Class should be an ideal fit for CBS' successful Monday lineup.
  104. It's a sprawling story, held together with music--though unlike Glee or Smash, most of the songs are presented on this night in truncated bursts.... While that could mean trouble, set worries aside for one night, and simply enjoy the season's best, most enjoyable new hour.
  105. For now, what Better brings you are six well-written, well-played characters (Lacy offers a particularly nice take on his slacker doofus) who say and do enough funny things to keep you amused between Middle and Modern.
  106. What will remain is the terrific, admirably diverse cast; the tough-but-uncynical attitude; and, perhaps best of all, the out-of-the-TV-norm location. The show isn't just set in Detroit; it's shot there, which gives it an authenticity and a palpable sense of place.
  107. Kudrow imbues Valerie with a humanity that lets us see something of ourselves in her resilience and her dedication, misguided as it may be. Like the show that inspired her, our Valerie is a survivor. Welcome back.
  108. This is one House call worth making.
  109. What the cuts can't remove is the chemistry between Cavanagh and Bowen. They're a lovably winning couple in a completely winning new show. [6 Oct 2000, p.1E]
    • USA Today
  110. The tone can be darkly comic, even nasty, also sweetly sentimental, even corny. Picket Fences is idiosyncratic, unpredictable and fun fun fun to watch. Our Town gone ga-ga. Put it this way: When in Rome ... sit back and enjoy. [18 Sept 1992, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  111. With a sure and witty touch, Will captures the way gay men and their straight female friends make an asset of their gender differences and romantic similarities. [21 Sep 1998]
    • USA Today
  112. We could all use a good summer TV diversion around now, and if tonight's entertaining, intriguing premiere turns out to be a fair guide, Dome could be just what we've needed.
  113. So far, though, it keeps the techno-babble to a manageable level, and if it seems to owe more to other movies and shows than it does to real life, at least it's paying its debt in an entertaining fashion.
  114. What's missing, unfortunately, is any attempt to explain that music--to tell us what made Smith stand out, to examine her impact on other singers, and to give us a sense of the extent of her popularity. And yet, while those flaws are not unimportant, they're also unlikely to be what you'll remember most. No, that will be Latifah, glowing with pleasure after a song well sung, screaming with agony after another betrayal, risking and exposing everything as a performer. She's a star, born yet again.
  115. Credit Samberg with choosing a solid concept, a Barney Miller-type cop comedy from Parks and Recreation's Dan Goor and Michael Schur, and surrounding himself with a great supporting cast led by Andre Braugher as the squad's captain.
  116. True Blood is worth the work, particularly since the main plot (Sookie's search for her kidnapped vampire lover Bill) is pretty much a self-starter.
  117. Witty, earnest, intelligent, overdone, overly ambitious, wildly entertaining and superbly cast.
  118. The best of the bunch, and the best new series of the fall, comes first.
  119. Malcolm recalls Roseanne's maternal drive, The Simpsons' cartoon exaggerations, and a blue-collar sensibility and emotional honesty common to both. And if tonight's outstanding premiere tries too hard for its own good to stand out, even that flaw subsides in later episodes. [7 Jan 2000]
    • USA Today
  120. The script is humorous, though not hilarious, and the show boasts a fine cast that could, with time, jell into a great one.
    • USA Today
  121. Yet another terrifically offbeat and off-the-beaten-path comedy, sparked by another great, career-shifting central performance--this time from Gael Garcia Bernal as the charismatic new conductor of the fictional New York Symphony.
  122. There is no new show more likable, but that affection may waver if Betty can't give Ferrera the scripts and support she deserves.
  123. It's not perfect, but in a sea of procedural conformity, Glee is its own weird, often enchanting little island escape.
  124. Though the treatment of the younger characters is a bit heavy-handed, the four main adults are beautifully drawn and played.
  125. Granted, this new Andy may not be as inventive or subversive as Universe, but it is just as funny and probably a bit more accessible.
  126. There's something terribly real and awfully funny about this engaging little sitcom, which takes the sweetness of Parenthood and adds its own slightly bitter touch.
  127. You may appreciate the flair and poignancy Elementary brings to the crowded procedural field, and the energy, wit and sex appeal Miller brings to his role.
  128. What Men offers is the pleasure of watching people who know what they're doing do it well. Jones' mixture of bratty spunk and vulnerability keeps Jake from seeming too precocious or too cute. Sheen is so amusingly sardonic and cheerfully self-aware, he makes Charlie's immaturity endearing rather than annoying. And there just aren't many actors who are better at funny-fussbudget than Cryer -- or who have more polished comic skills.
  129. For all the artificiality of the language, there has seldom been a show that felt more authentic.
  130. Tonight, the surgeons set up shop in Beverly Hills, a move that has inspired the show to rediscover its sense of style and fun.
  131. Unless you're allergic to musicals in general and Broadway in particular, you should find that a compelling central story, a strong cast, an out-of-the-procedural-mold premise and some rousing, roof-raising numbers more than compensate for any lingering problems.
  132. If you stay, you just may find yourself captivated by a trio of strong performances from Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne--and entranced by the fevered-dream spell cast by creator Bryan Fuller, the brilliant TV auteur behind Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls.
  133. The Tudors comes back enriched and improved.
  134. All in all, it's a very promising start.
  135. Entourage... returns for a third season with funnier episodes and higher stakes.
  136. Times have changed, but they haven't weakened the basic strength of Dickens' story or diminished his insights into a society in which the poor are left to their own oppressed devices unless they cross paths with the rich.
  137. As you might expect from an experimental show that is doing its best to misbehave, there are times when Arrested goes too far. I could live without George Michael's crush on his first cousin, a story given more prominence in a future episode when it really needs less. But for now, I'd say stick with the Bluths, even when their behavior is more alarming than arresting. At least they're not dull. And this season, that's a development worth encouraging.
  138. Damages is an enjoyably complex thriller.
  139. All we need ask of Grey's is that it tell its stories well in its own way, and tonight it does.
  140. Buffed to a typical HBO high gloss, Candelabra is a visual feast. But it shines brightest in those moments where it captures the rhythms of a relationship in its first blush of affection and its seemingly inevitable collapse.
  141. Part mystery, part fantasy, part comedy, and all wildly imaginative exaggeration, Blood proves that there's still vibrant life--or death--left in the "star-crossed lovers" paradigm.
  142. There may even be a few cheers for the audacity, inventiveness and achievement of Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), who created and stars in the show and has filled it with a warm, goofy spirit that always feels oddly appropriate to the subject matter.
  143. As smartly written as it is played, Episodes offers the comic pleasures, not just of clashing cultures, but of contrasting comic styles.
  144. There are needed bursts of humor that lighten the sometimes oppressive sense of a world on the verge of social collapse. And there's that visually pleasing re-creation of '60s style that both delights on its own and allows the show to comment through skewed reflection on modern times.
  145. There are big moments, but much of the joy comes from small exchanges and throwaway jokes.
  146. They may not enchant you, but they and their series, the best new hour this year, are unlikely to bore you. Would that every new show could say the same.
  147. If it plays a bit fast and loose with facts, it's nowhere near as outrageous as its Showtime cousin The Tudors, whose ever-young, ever-fit Henry VIII was an affront to history and to common sense. Irons may not look anything like the real Pope Alexander, but he makes you believe in him - and for The Borgias' purposes, that's what matters.
  148. You don't get the same kind of fun, gizmo fascination that livens up CSI. But you also don't get the leaden, expositionary dialogue CSI uses to explain those gizmos. [26 Sep 2002]
    • USA Today
  149. ABC can add to that list of achievements the season's most entertaining new hour, straightforward division: V.
  150. It firmly establishes its intriguing main character's brains, skills, and skewed-but-real moral code.
  151. With each passing week, this series seems to more assuredly offer a first-class version of what so many viewers say they want: a humorous, heartfelt, realistic look at middle-class, middle-America family life.
  152. As wonderful as Parsons and Sheldon certainly are, and as terrific as a Sheldon-centric episode like last week's can be, too much Sheldon would quickly become too much. We're not there yet, but it is one of those lines the writers should be careful not to cross.
  153. It's old-school soap stuff to be sure, but at its frequent best, uses old twists in new ways.
  154. Happily, it now seems to have landed on solid ground, with its best ensemble and most engaging stories in years.
  155. Luckily, in Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange, HBO has found precisely the right people to convey the peculiar blend of courage and craziness that were the two Edie Beales, daughter and mother.
  156. At its best, it plays like a Woody Allen film, something you may notice most when secondary characters stop and explain themselves to the camera.
  157. The British Mars produced only 16 episodes, and when the last of this season's final eight is over, you will have all the answers you need. What's more, they're satisfying and well worth the relatively short amount of time expended.
  158. Lights has a rare ability to portray life in small-town America without being condescending or sentimental.
  159. Hip, bright and done with a great deal of flair, Alias is like some candy-colored -- and very violent -- comic book come to life.
  160. Leary is working with a fabulous cast, which is why he and co-creator Peter Tolan can dance so nimbly between realism and surrealism, drama and comedy.
  161. For today, enjoy a home-grown version of a great series that's suspenseful, exciting and flat-out fun. That may not count as a miracle, but it's awfully good news nonetheless.
  162. There is much to admire here, from the snap in the dialogue to the show's willingness to tackle issues of race in the workplace--but there might be even more if creator Matthew Carnahan (Dirt) could learn when to stop pushing.
  163. Based on the real-life Hollywood adventures of Mark Wahlberg, Entourage is the almost shockingly entertaining story of an incredibly unlikely set of sitcom heroes: an up-and-coming star known for his looks more than his talent and his hanger-on friends. What could have been a recipe for disaster, or at the very least for one of those HBO shows people respect more than enjoy, is instead an unassuming treat.
  164. There are times when the sheer force of Jones' personality undercuts his ability to be convincing as the voice of existential despair. But at the end, when he throws that force behind his final assault, his performance all makes sense. And it makes the final scenes, as Jackson's ebulliently portrayed confidence begins to crack, all the more shattering.
  165. A deft mix of comedy and drama in which the prison feels like a real place and the women are actual people, rather than a thinly veiled excuse to stage catfights, lesbian fantasies and sexual assault.
  166. While the big set pieces are very funny, there are too many lulls between them. But odds are you'll come away believing the show will get better and hoping it does--because TV will be all the better for it.
  167. Earl shares the look and heavily narrated sound of Arrested Development, but it has its own scruffy comic tone.
  168. This is a sprawling, exciting, blood-soaked story, filled with great set pieces and wonderful actors.
  169. The thought and care Hall has put into her premise carries over to the casting. Every choice is near ideal, starting with the remarkable Amber Tamblyn, who is so fabulously right as Joan, and including Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen as her parents and Michael Welch and Jason Ritter (son of the late John Ritter) as her brothers. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
    • USA Today
  170. I'd also like to see the show adopt a somewhat lighter tone -- though I fear the ring of somber self-importance may be perfectly pitched for teens. [29 Sept 1998, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  171. While there are moments of overly arty chatter, the show's ability to create a believable sense of place is nothing short of astounding (as is its profanity). Much of the credit goes to an incredible cast, led by West, Sohn, Gilliard and Lance Reddick as McNulty's boss.
  172. Though the premiere's twists are not as shocking as in years past, better ones are coming, and quickly. Trust me, the show has not lost its ability to surprise--or even to make you gasp.
  173. Luckily for us, UPN has found a terrific young actress to play this terrifically engaging character: Kristen Bell. Whether you buy the idea of teen crime-solvers or not, there's no questioning Bell's credentials as a TV star.
  174. You can see where it's going, and assuming Abrams doesn't let it get lost in its conspiracy, it should be fun to ride along.
  175. Haunting, heartfelt and even-handed, Valentine Road should be required viewing in teaching tolerance on middle-school and high-school campuses.
  176. Firefly offers the same well-balanced blend of humor, action, sharply drawn characters and unexpected twists on genre conventions. And if you have so far resisted the vamp-call of Buffy, this more mainstream sci-fi adventure may be your ticket into Whedon's TV universe.
  177. Bones isn't the riskiest or most ambitious series coming your way this season. But it may turn out to be one of the most satisfying and entertaining.
  178. So why follow him? Because the writing, with its sudden shifts from drama to comedy and its sympathetic view of its bumbling characters, is so stellar. Because the show is a constant visual treat, from its odd close-ups of water tanks to its wide shots of desert landscapes. And because Odenkirk is terrific.
  179. This bright, funny, appealing old-school comedy is an ideal vehicle for Louis-Dreyfus.
  180. What really separates this Race from the competition... is the blessed absence of most of the contrived conflict and melodrama that have become reality's reason for being. [5 Sep 2001]
    • USA Today
  181. There's no question Tuck is at times excessive or that it risks becoming exhausting. But in a season packed with reality and retreads, at least Murphy and FX are shooting for something novel and doing so in a way that is less pretentious and more dramatically viable than many of their more high-profile cable competitors.
  182. In a sense, Monday's promising premiere is the first in a three-part introduction, with each episode building on and improving upon the one before.
  183. What you end up with may not have the makings of a great drama at the Homeland/Breaking Bad level--but it could produce an extremely entertaining, refreshingly hackney-free weekly procedural, with the crimes playing out against a background of interesting characters and flashy time-travel sets.
  184. As extravagant, enticing and chaotic as Rome itself, HBO's latest series boasts all the opulent pleasures that lavish expenditures of time and money can buy. Every detail in its re-creation of ancient Rome may not be correct, but the spirit and the overall picture ring true -- and the entertainment value resounds.
  185. A solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. That's the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will.
  186. The show is not designed to appeal to prudes, but the writing and the acting are too good to be wasted on the prurient.
  187. It's all very well told and well acted, but those who insist on comparing it to The Lord of the Rings are setting up expectations Game cannot possibly match.
  188. As much as the show recalls the movies, it also recalls some of the best work ever done in the genre for TV: the Buffy universe of Joss Whedon. Most every blast of portent and bombast is lightened by a throwaway joke; scenes of intense action and violence give way to equally well-realized scenes of domestic life that root the fantasy in emotional reality.
  189. It takes a real artist's eye to concentrate reality so realistically, and a true wit to pull it off in a sitcom that makes you gasp as frequently as it makes you laugh. [10 Oct 2003]
    • USA Today
  190. Not every shift works; a newly added agent seems just as expendable as poor, underused Charlie (Kirk Acevedo). But there's a great final twist that more than compensates, and it solidifies the overall impression that a series that was once too far on the conspiracy fringe has settled into an enjoyable weekly sci-fi adventure.
  191. Wise has been given a great chance to shine, and he makes the most of it, stealing scenes with such aplomb it may almost be a sin. Still, the show has to be carried by Harrison and Labine, and they seem up to the task.
  192. Yet, as rock-solid as the entire cast may be, Damages still belongs to Close, who makes us embrace a character who in other hands might be repellent or, worse, ridiculous.
  193. In mere minutes and with a few instantly evocative images, Freaks draws its characters more precisely than some shows do in a season. [24 Sept 1999, p.11E]
    • USA Today
  194. As Elizabeth movies go, this version has neither the sweep of Glenda Jackson's Elizabeth R nor the easily digested entertainment value of Bette Davis' Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. But it has Mirren, and that's reason enough to make it and watch it.
  195. Bad brings new life and depth to an old one: Malcolm in the Middle's Bryan Cranston, riveting and remarkable as a chemistry teacher who finds a more commercial use for his skills.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Love, betrayal, despair, redemption, reconciliation. All of the elements expected of any epic love story are included. The distinction here: The story is splendidly retold.
  196. Girl sets up a viable premise and introduces a strong set of supporting characters, which is just what you want from fall's most promising new series.
  197. There's still fun to be had in the visual manifestations of Sherlock's thought process, for example, but there are times when you fear what they're really doing is filling time. Yet thanks to the stars, the wit of the writing and a few clever tricks, the show remains a joy.
  198. The Middle is precisely the show ABC should be doing: a smart, amusing sitcom that understands the damage cutbacks have done to folks in the middle.
  199. Fans can relax; the franchise is in good, and possibly even better, hands. [23 Sep 2002]
    • USA Today
  200. There's so much here to build on, from the strong performances to the chemistry between the stars to the sweet central story of two people helping each other mature.
  201. Some plot twists seem implausible at best, others are overdone or gratuitous. But some implausibility comes with the horror/suspense genre, and there's no question Williamson has mastered it--just as there's no question that the match of wills between the wounded Bacon and malevolent Purefoy is exceedingly well played.
  202. A fast-paced, funny show that has bounced back from last spring's post-strike slump.

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