USA Today's Scores

For 786 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 1.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Lucky Louie: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 473
  2. Negative: 0 out of 473
473 tv reviews
  1. Brilliant. [18 Jul 1995]
  2. In theory and practice, Murder One is everything that's best about TV. [19 Sept 1995, p.1D]
  3. Bad is too complex a series and too brilliantly distinctive a creation to be reduced to a simple "Crime does not pay" motto.
  4. 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]
  5. Brilliant, scathing, sprawling, The Wire has turned our indifference to urban decay into a TV achievement of the highest order.
  6. As fine as these opening episodes are, they're not quite as good as last season's final run. [14 Jan 2000]
  7. 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.
    • 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]
  8. This is The Sopranos at its best -- and that's just about as good as TV ever gets.
  9. The Wire, while brilliant,is not exactly user-friendly. Attention is required, but the series more than repays the time and effort invested.
  10. 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]
    • 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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]
  13. Danes and Lewis are near-flawless, keeping you off-balance and absorbed.
  14. The funniest family ever. [11 Oct 1990]
  15. 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.
  16. We can all be grateful for a series this awe-inspiringly exceptional.
  17. 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]
  18. 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.
  19. This is TV pleasure at its most intense, without even a shade of guilt.
  20. [A] brilliant and acid satire of late-night TV that scores its bitter points with the zing of a Variety headline. [2 Jun 1993]
  21. It is also stunning, compelling and thoroughly, empathetically human. [14 Apr 2000, p.11E]
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Of a handful of promising new series this season, only one shows the promise of greatness: Boomtown.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. It is, in short, a show about real life, as seen through the eyes of one of the funniest men in America.
  30. This is a sprawling, exciting, blood-soaked story, filled with great set pieces and wonderful actors.
  31. 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.
  32. 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]
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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]
  36. 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]
  37. 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.
  38. 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]
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. Let Lost remind you of how spectacular scripted network programming can be.
  42. 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]
  43. 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]
  44. Dunham's simply writing what she knows, and incredibly well.
  45. The best of the bunch, and the best new series of the fall, comes first.
  46. 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.
  47. An equally spectacular, equally triumphant yet tonally divergent work that stands with "Band of Brothers" as the best war movie ever made for TV.
  48. 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.
  49. Band of Brothers is significantly flawed and yet absolutely extraordinary -- just like the men it portrays. [7 Sept 2001, p.1E]
  50. Top of the Lake is rivetingly odd, almost oppressively atmospheric and thoroughly entrancing.
  51. Solid gold from top to bottom, the cast is almost an embarrassment of riches.
  52. 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.
  53. What separates Fargo is the depth of its characterizations and the individuality of its approach.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. For all the artificiality of the language, there has seldom been a show that felt more authentic.
  57. 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]
  58. 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.
  59. Brilliantly performed. [29 Mar 1991]
  60. 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.
  61. There's nothing in Downton you won't recognize, and almost nothing you won't enjoy.
  62. A fast-paced, funny show that has bounced back from last spring's post-strike slump.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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]
  68. 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]
  69. 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.
  70. As terrific as the three women are, the movie would not have been made without Combs and would not work as well without him
  71. 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.
  72. A satisfying, intriguingly complex ABC drama that emerges from the season's serialized pack as the best new show of the year.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. What Kill has to offer is clarity and clear-eyed empathy. TV's the better for it.
  77. 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]
  78. 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]
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. A hilarious holiday package. [15 Dec 1989, p.3D]
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. Tonight, the surgeons set up shop in Beverly Hills, a move that has inspired the show to rediscover its sense of style and fun.
  85. 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]
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. There are big moments, but much of the joy comes from small exchanges and throwaway jokes.
  89. Haunting, heartfelt and even-handed, Valentine Road should be required viewing in teaching tolerance on middle-school and high-school campuses.
  90. 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]
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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]
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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]
  97. 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]
  98. Lights has a rare ability to portray life in small-town America without being condescending or sentimental.

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