USA Today's Scores

For 923 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 1.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Twin Peaks: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Lucky Louie: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 546
  2. Negative: 0 out of 546
546 tv reviews
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. In Ray and Mickey, producer Ann Biderman has created two of TV's most interesting characters and one of its most absorbing dynamics.
  6. 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.
  7. Happily, this is a carefully adapted, clearly enunciated As You Like It that retains the beauty of the dialogue while making the meanings clear.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Much of the six hours made available for preview centers on Juliana and Joe--and at times their story can drag. But the redeeming glory of Castle is the expansive world of characters it creates.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. This is one House call worth making.
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. [A] compelling, smartly acted new co-production from AMC and Britain's Channel 4 that explores who we are and how fragile our own grip on humanity can be.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Witty, earnest, intelligent, overdone, overly ambitious, wildly entertaining and superbly cast.
  25. The best of the bunch, and the best new series of the fall, comes first.
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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.
  29. There is no new show more likable, but that affection may waver if Betty can't give Ferrera the scripts and support she deserves.
  30. It's not perfect, but in a sea of procedural conformity, Glee is its own weird, often enchanting little island escape.
  31. Though the treatment of the younger characters is a bit heavy-handed, the four main adults are beautifully drawn and played.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. One of the season's coolest, funniest and most genuinely offbeat treats. It's MTV's best since the sardonic "Daria." [10 Sept 1997, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  36. 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.
  37. For all the artificiality of the language, there has seldom been a show that felt more authentic.
  38. Tonight, the surgeons set up shop in Beverly Hills, a move that has inspired the show to rediscover its sense of style and fun.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. The Tudors comes back enriched and improved.
  42. All in all, it's a very promising start.
  43. Entourage... returns for a third season with funnier episodes and higher stakes.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Damages is an enjoyably complex thriller.
  47. All we need ask of Grey's is that it tell its stories well in its own way, and tonight it does.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. As smartly written as it is played, Episodes offers the comic pleasures, not just of clashing cultures, but of contrasting comic styles.
  52. 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.
  53. There are big moments, but much of the joy comes from small exchanges and throwaway jokes.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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
  57. ABC can add to that list of achievements the season's most entertaining new hour, straightforward division: V.
  58. It firmly establishes its intriguing main character's brains, skills, and skewed-but-real moral code.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. It's old-school soap stuff to be sure, but at its frequent best, uses old twists in new ways.
  62. Happily, it now seems to have landed on solid ground, with its best ensemble and most engaging stories in years.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. Lights has a rare ability to portray life in small-town America without being condescending or sentimental.
  67. Hip, bright and done with a great deal of flair, Alias is like some candy-colored -- and very violent -- comic book come to life.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. This is how soaps are done today: with swagger, vigor and soul. Join in or get out of the way.
  73. You haven't quite seen a performance like Malek's, who drags us deeply into Elliot's wide-eyed psychosis and crushing loneliness, or a hero like Elliot--an unexpectedly sympathetic morphine addict with a history of delusions and psychotic breaks.... Who knows: Eventually he might even explain that title. Until then, enjoy a show that just might end up being named one of the summer's best.
  74. 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.
  75. Crazy is an out-of-the-blue surprise and an out-of-the-box treasure. It shows what the networks can do when they're willing to throw caution to the wind and turn to something and someone new--in this case, star and writer Rachel Bloom and the show's creator, Aline Brosh McKenna.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. Earl shares the look and heavily narrated sound of Arrested Development, but it has its own scruffy comic tone.
  79. This is a sprawling, exciting, blood-soaked story, filled with great set pieces and wonderful actors.
  80. 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
  81. 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
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. Haunting, heartfelt and even-handed, Valentine Road should be required viewing in teaching tolerance on middle-school and high-school campuses.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. This bright, funny, appealing old-school comedy is an ideal vehicle for Louis-Dreyfus.
  91. 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
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. 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.
  97. The half hour moves along briskly, sprinkled with a slew of funny lines and throwaway reactions and a few knowing winks at TV conventions--though not so many winks that they pull you out of the story. And through it all you have the pleasures provided by Lowe, Savage, Ellis and Devane, who mesh seamlessly.
  98. The show is not designed to appeal to prudes, but the writing and the acting are too good to be wasted on the prurient.
  99. 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.
  100. 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.

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