USA Today's Scores

For 968 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 1.7 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 570
  2. Negative: 0 out of 570
570 tv reviews
  1. The show may err toward silliness, but the cast is uniformly good, and every so often a wry jab at American parochialism or some funny throwaway line will catch you by happy surprise.
  2. So little of Raymond is actually new, yet almost all of it feels absolutely fresh. It reminds you how long it has been since we've seen a non-gimmicky, neither cutesy nor smutty, multigenerational family sitcom anchored by strong personalities with distinctly rib-tickling identities. [13 Sep 1996]
    • USA Today
  3. There's talent and intelligence at work in Smallville. Given time, maybe they'll find a more distinctive voice...And that would be super. [16 Oct 2001, p.4D]
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  4. Though it has its share of irritating characters and moronic moments - especially in the pilot - this is far and away the best of this season's so-called Gen X comedies. [22 Sept 1994, p.3D]
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  5. There are some heavy messages entangled there, but the pilot treads lightly and moves swiftly, quickly establishing the evil force Kara will have to fight and the team she'll have by her side. Yet it also leaves room for a little ambiguity about the wisdom of depending on superheroes. The cast (which includes myth-appropriate cameos from Dean Cain and Helen Slater) is good throughout, with Brooks and Jordan suitably supportive and Flockhart seemingly relishing her Devil Wears Prada role.
  6. Yet for all its laughs, 30 Rock does call to mind a kind of sketch show version of The Mary Tyler Moore Show — one in which everyone's playing Ted. That can be fun for a while, but eventually sitcom viewers tend to want to root for someone.
  7. As hard as Gotham works to make Gordon a suitable hero, those who are not deeply immersed in the Batman universe may wonder whether the energy is well-spent.
  8. This is a series about outcasts trying to find their way in, and it's often at its best in its quieter moments.
  9. It's a complex story, which may be why Ryan relies in part on an intrusive monologue-narration device to guide us. Still, the intrusions only momentarily interrupt the fast-moving plot, which twists agreeably without losing sight of its moral ambiguities.
  10. The aggressively, self-consciously weird Carnivale is a sideshow step away from most any TV series you've ever seen. You may find its oddity appealing, or you may find it off-putting, but its distinctiveness is unmistakable. Next to Carnivale, Twin Peaks looks like JAG. [12 Sep 2003]
    • USA Today
  11. It's well cast, well executed and solidly competent across the board. But exciting, it's not.
  12. Last Resort is a convincingly produced thriller with more than action on its mind.
  13. A star-studded, fast-moving, generally entertaining film about Sarah Palin.
  14. Triangle boasts an attractive cast and some clever twists, but it often has to stretch to fill time.
  15. As he showed on Desperate, Cherry has a knack for creating fun female characters that soar a bit over the top, but not so far over that their problems aren't relatable.
  16. Friday's opener is intriguing, but shows such as Doe have a habit of collapsing quickly — usually because the rules governing the hero's behavior bend and stretch to suit the needs of the writers.
  17. Despite the tragedy that drives its plot, there's something slight about Steel Magnolias--a slightness that at times might have benefited from a lighter, faster touch. But it offers the pleasure of spending a Sunday night with some terrific female actors.
  18. Obviously bigger and in most ways better than the wildly popular original, High School Musical 2 is as certain a bet to find and please its target audience as you're likely to find.
  19. Lights Out does turn into a good series. A knockout? No. But sometimes, you have to be content to win on points.
  20. As in many filmed comedies, at times Knights seems content to substitute movement and scenery for comedy, but the brighter moments compensate for those times when the show goes slack.
  21. No matter how many times the cops mention hot clubs and Hollywood stars, or how many visits they make to the beach, LA is not likely to be counted among TV's more glamorous series. If you want flash, look elsewhere. What you get from LA is a show that's as solid and reliable as a well-built sedan.
  22. The show maintains a sensible balance between introducing Elizabeth's foibles and telling the story at hand--a well-constructed case that has her battling an ambitious prosecutor (the always interesting Terry Kinney).
  23. His targets and tone may occasionally come across as creaky or cranky. But the jokes and the sentiment seem honest, and the older-man howls may strike those who have tired of the media's incessant and insipid pandering to Millennials as a welcome change of pace.
  24. Funnier and unexpectedly sweeter than the current norm.
  25. All in all, O'Brien got his Tonight off to a decent start, though you still got the sense you were watching an introduction more than a settled production.
  26. The swords and the muck may bring Game of Thrones to mind, but where Game has no heroes, Outlander has at least three, with the foremost being the one Balfe imbues with beauty, brains and spunk.
  27. Aided by that blood and a driving, anachronistic techno-beat score, The Knick avoids the worst trap of a period piece: It isn't quaint. It's also never dull.
  28. The cast is uniformly first-rate, but the real star here seems to be Sonnenfeld. He brings to Maximum Bob the same gleeful affection for strange characters and dark humor that enlivened his movies -- and that will be on display in the fall in his Fantasy Island update. [4 Aug 1998, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  29. This may not be the sitcom breakthrough for which we've all been hoping, but Lorre has produced a first episode that leaves you eager to try the second.
  30. It takes a while to pull you in -- but once it does, you're likely to stay. [20 Sept 1999, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  31. Yes, in essence, Numb3rs is just CSI with mathematics standing in for forensics. But that cleverly used math twist, combined with an excellent cast and a very un-CSI interest in the characters' family dynamics, provides enough separation to make Numb3rs worth watching on its own.
  32. The scripts offer a well-balanced mix of office politics, underlying mystery and weekly cop procedural. And the first-rate cast ties it all together with abundant skill.
  33. Better than the movie...How often can you say that about a network knockoff? [30 Sept 1996, p.3D]
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  34. As you'd expect from a new late-night show, parts of it worked better than others, and no doubt tweaks will be forthcoming. But overall, Monday's opening outing got Wilmore off to a solid start. ... It helps immensely that, in his first night, Wilmore already seemed completely comfortable as the show's host.
  35. It may be formula, but one where all the elements reliably click. [16 Sep 1992]
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  36. Though boringly narrated by a 93-year-old Indy, the tales are the stuff of many a kid's adventure story - back when kids still read. [4 Mar 1992, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  37. The best parts of this sleek but scaled-down show are what made the first film such an unexpected gas back in 1987: cartoonish mayhem, puns and visual gags, a cheeky tweaking of TV "infotainment" and a cheerful cynicism about a corporate culture grown even more mendacious on the back of the computer chip. [14 Mar 1994]
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  38. How mad you'll be for the slice-of-strife romantic comedy of Mad About You may depend on your tolerance for the young-ish and restless, verbally glib and urban-ly neurotic. [23 Sep 1992]
    • USA Today
  39. There isn't much new in this northern Western, but the scenery is lovely, the acting is solid, and the mix of characters is just what you'd expect from the genre.
  40. This slick new sitcom, from three former producer/writers of Cheers, might be accused of gliding along too smoothly, as opposed to soaring. But what a pleasant journey it promises to be. [19 Apr 1990, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  41. While gratitude and humility are admirable traits, there were times in Monday's opening moments when Fallon risked taking them to uncomfortable extremes.... Luckily, he rescued the moment with one of the show's better bits. A seemingly offhand remark about an unnamed star owing him money for betting him he'd never get the Tonight Show job led to a surprise-guest parade.
  42. You get a lot of jokes per minute from Meyers, and on Monday at least, most of them worked.... Time of course will tell, but Late Night once again seems to be in good hands.
  43. As a cop show, it gets down with all the gamy fervor you'd expect from Bochco. ... But as a rock musical, it reeks - of awkwardness, to be sure, but also of an audacious recklessness, at its best exploring a fresh canvas of raucous absurdism or emotionalism. It challenges and sometimes violates your expectations, but more important, it entertains. [26 Sep 1990, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  44. The Marshal is retro action stuff, every week a different chase and capture, but the ungroomed MacBride has enough character - and so does the show - to distinguish it from TV's legion of mediocrities from Matlock to The Commish. [31 Jan 1995]
    • USA Today
  45. Despite all its flaws, vulgarities and miscues, and for all the justifiable fear that, like many shows from this team, it will go screaming off the quality cliff, there is an energy to Scream most other new shows are missing. It's different. And it has Curtis.
  46. Jersey may just be competent, at best--but that's better than the incompetence that marks so many of the season's new offerings.
  47. Whitford inhabits his role with the laid-back, reassuring ease of a true television professional--a fine actor working at top speed. Hanks is a bit of a harder sell. You get the feeling you're supposed to notice and appreciate every trick of the actor's trade, but there's potential in the performance, assuming Hanks is willing and able to relax into it.
  48. What NBC most likely wanted was a less intense, more audience-friendly mass-market entertainment with a clear hero and a leavening sense of humor. And that's what George Nolfi, who based his series on an Israeli show, has provided.
  49. If Fontana's goal is stark realism, it's undercut by the overly theatrical device of a funky narrator, an inmate who uses a wheelchair (Harold Perrineau) and who barks his thoughts into the camera. A sample commentary: "People kill to stay alive. That's as true in prison as out. But I'm wondering why in here we fight so hard to stay alive." [11 July 1997, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  50. Defiantly deadpan and amusing. [26 May 1995]
    • USA Today
  51. [Marvel's Jessica Jones] is all Jessica all the time, and as terrific as Ritter is at playing this damaged hero, the narrow constraints of the focus begin to wear.
  52. Ever since Sex and the City proved you could update Designing Women for a shallower audience by amping up the sex and removing the social content, TV writers have been trying without success to replicate the trick. Though Hot Properties feels too forced and a bit old-hat, it comes closer than most, thanks to a strong cast and a few genuinely funny lines.
  53. The sets and costumes are lovely to look at. The two stars--British import Gugu Mbatha-Raw and German import Boris Kodjoe--are about as attractive as people get....Now if only their show didn't feel so flat.
  54. There's no denying the timeliness of a show about strapped-for-cash customers and predatory lenders, but Money doesn't seem to know what or where it wants to be, landing in some netherworld between a broadcast comedy and an edgier cable drama.
  55. The show's younger stars all are personable, if not yet exactly memorable, and all told, their show is an agreeable, mildly amusing time-passer.
  56. Elfman has a loopy charm and hyperdrive nuttiness that calls to mind the great screwball comedians, but she needs a strong force playing against her to soak up some of her energy. Foster may grow into that role, but right now, she's blasting him off the screen.
  57. Life Is Wild, a 7th Heaven replacement that adds African landscapes, wildlife and culture.
  58. If you can get past the show's visual tricks and excessive self-consciousness, there is some fun to be had here.
  59. Sadly, in this elaborately produced, incredibly well-intentioned seven-part HBO miniseries adaptation of the book, Adams recedes once again, outshone not just by his more famous peers but also by just about every minor character.
  60. Give ABC credit for trying something different. But next time, try harder. And better. And maybe shorter.
  61. There's a great TV show out there called The Office...This just isn't it...Instead, what NBC is offering tonight is a passable imitation of a miles-better British original -- a brilliant faux-documentary starring Ricky Gervais that has attracted a small but devoted fan base from its BBC America run.
  62. Cash and Geere make the most out of every cutting line and look. But too often, the show mistakes being unpleasant for being amusing.
  63. The stories and performances vary in interest, and all would benefit from a bit more humor. Still, even the weaker stories eventually pull you in, if only because you spend so much time listening to these people complain, you want to see how they work things out.
  64. A comedy-laced caper requires a light, sure touch. Heist tends to plod.
  65. Both leads are very good, particularly Bibb, who makes what could have been a superficial character touching without making her cheaply sympathetic. The real standout, however, is Rue, who is luminous as a weight-challenged girl who longs to hear cheers. [29 Sept 1999, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  66. Unfortunately, you can feel it in the plotting, which is perfunctory at best, and woefully, repetitively tired at worst.
  67. Taylor, whose performance overflows with touchingly wounded dignity. She also gets to deliver a great speech to two of her patients, which, while totally unrealistic, is fun in an overly theatrical kind of way.
  68. While Delany's obviously too good for her show, the later episodes offer at least some evidence it might be able to rise a little closer to her level.
  69. Bar is so slow to start, it might as well be in reverse. The first episode is, simply, flat-out terrible. Which is why, if you're a Bochco fan, you'd be wise to wait for the fourth episode, when Bar moves to mediocre.
  70. There are some well-executed effects and a few welcome flashes of humor, though those don't completely counter the overall sense of portent that fills most every "save the world" line.
  71. It would be nice if the exposition were less clunky and the show did more to capture what is special about its San Francisco setting. Still, the actors are enjoyable, and their series in large part does what it sets out to do.
  72. A cape is simply not exciting or convincing as a superhero weapon. And making constant jokes in the dialogue about the flaw isn't the same as fixing it. To its credit, The Cape is at least easier to follow than The Event and is less mythology-burdened than Heroes.
  73. A one-joke domestic sitcom redeemed by the joke's effectiveness. [17 Sep 1991]
    • USA Today
  74. Whatever one thinks of the format, the briskly paced setup is effectively done.
  75. It's a serviceable hour that takes the NCIS formula--a light tone and a lot of banter wrapped around a fairly rudimentary investigatory plot--and transfers it to a special, undercover NCIS division in Los Angeles. Nothing more, but also nothing less.
  76. With each episode, the show seems to move further from real life and the real Rome and off into some sex-crazed, soap-opera fantasy version of a place that has never, thankfully, existed before or since.
  77. The tone is ominous throughout in a show that provides its share of good jolts, including one built around the public punishment of a rule infraction that may stay with you for awhile. Unfortunately, subtlety appears to be among the many things banned in Wayward Pines--a series that comes at you weird and gets weirder as it goes along.
  78. Platinum does a decent job of establishing its world and its family, setting up the internal jealousies and exposing the undercurrents. But the show is a bit too willing to fall back on easy stereotypes (the evil tycoon, the cowardly reporter) and a bit lazy when moving the story along. Music videos are a nice diversion, but they shouldn't be used as filler to avoid plot. [14 Apr 2003]
    • USA Today
  79. Yet as often happens, tonight's premiere is far less than the sum of its parts. The tone shifts precariously from scene to scene, and Krause is too dull a presence here to tie the tones together. He has to serve as our entrant into this strange world, and in the pilot, he just seems disinterested.
  80. Seldom has a fatally flawed concept been better executed than on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
  81. Colbert was an invaluable part of the Daily Show, but as the whole show, he's not enough and too much simultaneously.
  82. Virtuality counts as an interesting experiment, and it's better than most of the networks' summer offerings. But because there aren't likely to be answers provided by additional episodes, it can only be unequivocally recommended to Galactica acolytes and curio collectors.
  83. The result is a show that his most devoted fans will debate and embrace, and a mass audience just won't get.
  84. There are some very funny moments in the first of tonight's two episodes, most of them provided by Wu and Park, and fleeting indications that Fresh could be a better, deeper show than the one we're seeing.
  85. Ritter ... still has the same deceptively innocent face, the same way with a line, the same gift for a great double take or a bit of physical business. And he's still surrounded by pretty women who invariably get the better of him. Unfortunately, he's also still working with scripts that aren't up to the comic effort he pours into them.
  86. She's a likable character in a potentially likable show, but that show needs to take a giant step back from the New Jersey Italian-American cliches that overwhelm the pilot. [29 Sept 2000, p.12E]
    • USA Today
  87. Its virtues have been buried under the kind of meandering plots and underpowered dialogue that mark so many TV comedies these days, which seem unable to decide whether they'd rather be unfunny comedies or insufficiently serious dramas.
  88. [Cristela Alonzo's] pushing a bit too hard for laughs in places, but the joy she brings to her performance can be infectious, and the authenticity she brings to some of her scenes points the way to a better future.
  89. The show is funny enough, and the performers and setup are solid enough to hope CBS will give this working-class comedy a little time to work.
  90. Unfortunately, [Sutherland's] disciplined performance is done in by an undisciplined show that moves too slowly to put limits on Jake's powers.
  91. This earnest Texas saga of high-school football and larger life goals really does go against the grain. It's not an annoying sitcom, for one. And it has a generally terrific cast and positive values. But in terms of ambition and depth, it fumbles on a gridiron of self-righteous improbability. [1 Oct 1993]
    • USA Today
  92. An intriguing, brainy but strangely unappealing catalog of short film pieces, the sort of nervy, smug spoofs that NBC's Saturday Night Live specializes in. [25 Sep 1992]
    • USA Today
  93. The comic tone wavers, sometimes uncomfortably, between the ordinary and the absurd.
  94. While the time jump may be troubling, the real issues tarnishing the luster of this once-sterling series are a loss of focus and an increasingly heavy hand when it comes to illustrating the complexities of Master's and Johnson's odd relationship.
  95. In terms of the writing, there's nothing extraordinary going on, but the casting and setting is another step forward in TV's drive toward greater inclusion.
  96. While it's possible that the staff is the butt of a few too many of the jokes, the pilot is good-natured enough to stay on this side of the offensive line. That line, however, could easily fray - as could our patience if Outsourced devolves into a two-joke show: silly Indians who don't understand our silly customs. For now, mark it down as a show worth watching. Only time will tell if it's worth the trouble.
  97. Were Bates Motel a movie, Farmiga and Highmore (who has Tony Perkins' troubling, sort-of-smiling stare down cold) might be able to keep you tied to these damaged creatures through to the end of the film. But for a series, these do not feel like ties that bind.
  98. At just seven hours, you can think of Scandal as the modern equivalent of those old Sidney Sheldon miniseries and enjoy it at that level. Assuming you can get through the first hour. And past the main character.
  99. What it lacks, unfortunately, is style -- some sense of smart, well-executed, up-to-date design. You can almost see the corners being cut, from the inconsistent casting to the cheap reliance on sex to the blatantly fake back-lot sets that are trying to pass for Chicago. You may not expect originality in a movie transfer, not when familiarity is what's selling the show. But you do expect Barbershop to display enough style of its own to avoid looking like a cheap knockoff.
  100. As it is, Hour arrives as yet another import procedural on a schedule that is already awash in both.

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