USA Today's Scores

For 894 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 1.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 24: Season 5
Lowest review score: 0 Lucky Louie: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 530
  2. Negative: 0 out of 530
530 tv reviews
  1. Brilliant. [18 Jul 1995]
    • USA Today
  2. In theory and practice, Murder One is everything that's best about TV. [19 Sept 1995, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  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]
    • USA Today
  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]
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  7. While Sopranos remains one of TV's high-water marks, the first hour hits that mark so slowly you may find yourself wishing Chase were operating under just a tiny bit of network time pressure. [2 Mar 2001]
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  8. 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]
    • USA Today
  9. This is The Sopranos at its best -- and that's just about as good as TV ever gets.
  10. The Wire, while brilliant,is not exactly user-friendly. Attention is required, but the series more than repays the time and effort invested.
  11. 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
    • 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.
  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]
    • USA Today
  13. 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.
  14. If you look past the sometimes strained pushing of the basic cable envelope (including a completely gratuitous breast shot), The Shield offers an interesting take on a familiar subject, one that boasts a great supporting turn from CCH Pounder as a smart cop who has seen it all.[12 Mar 2002, p.10D]
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  15. The funniest family ever. [11 Oct 1990]
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  16. What sets The Americans apart is the weight it gives to the other side and its ability to make us feel it.
  17. Danes and Lewis are near-flawless, keeping you off-balance and absorbed.
  18. The most self-absorbed and overwrought - and absolutely fascinating - minimalist TV drama since the same producers put a tribe of yuppie icons under the entertaining microscope of thirtysomething. [25 Aug 1994, p.1D]
    • USA Today
  19. You're unlikely to watch a much better performance anywhere this year.
  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]
    • USA Today
  21. 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.
  22. We can all be grateful for a series this awe-inspiringly exceptional.
  23. This is TV pleasure at its most intense, without even a shade of guilt.
  24. 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]
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  25. 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.
  26. It is also stunning, compelling and thoroughly, empathetically human. [14 Apr 2000, p.11E]
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  27. 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.
  28. This is a sprawling, exciting, blood-soaked story, filled with great set pieces and wonderful actors.
  29. 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.
  30. Of a handful of promising new series this season, only one shows the promise of greatness: Boomtown.
  31. A quietly captivating miniseries about a seldom-quiet woman.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. While it will no doubt settle back into its normal pattern, the first two episodes have been a bit busy--and a little light on the courtroom drama side of things.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. It is, in short, a show about real life, as seen through the eyes of one of the funniest men in America.
  38. So all is well until the story takes a melodramatic turn that seems so out of character for this starkly realistic show, you have to wonder if it was imposed by the network or the studio to create buzz. Nevertheless, this is a terrific series with proven writers and actors. I'm willing to wait and see where they go next. [5 Oct 2007, p.2E]
    • USA Today
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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]
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  44. 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]
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  45. 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]
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  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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
  49. The Sopranos would have benefited from the editing required by network time and content restraints, which would have made the rambling episodes tighter and cleared them of their worst blood and exposed-breast excesses. [8 Jan 1999, p.8E]
    • USA Today
  50. Let Lost remind you of how spectacular scripted network programming can be.
  51. 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.
  52. Top of the Lake is rivetingly odd, almost oppressively atmospheric and thoroughly entrancing.
  53. 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]
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  54. 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
  55. Is Lights the show it was when it began? No. But it's still better than most anything else on the TV field.
  56. Dunham's simply writing what she knows, and incredibly well.
  57. 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.
  58. 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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  59. For all its flights of fancy and its meta-jokes (most of them ably put across by Danny Pudi), the show still allows us to invest in Joel McHale's Jeff and his journey to self-improvement. Yet in its search for a plot, Community often seems to send Jeff back to square one so he can be redeemed all over again.
  60. An equally spectacular, equally triumphant yet tonally divergent work that stands with "Band of Brothers" as the best war movie ever made for TV.
  61. One of the best TV programs you'll find in this or any season.
  62. The best of the bunch, and the best new series of the fall, comes first.
  63. Solid gold from top to bottom, the cast is almost an embarrassment of riches.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. There are small, recognizable crisis and equally life-sized solutions, all laced with dialogue that is funny enough to be entertaining without feeling forced.
  68. What separates Fargo is the depth of its characterizations and the individuality of its approach.
  69. 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.
  70. Neither sitcom nor drama, real-life nor fantasy, Fox's underwhelming Undeclared wanders around in some jumbled, stream-of-consciousness no man's land. Like real college freshmen, the characters seem hastily and inexpertly thrown together -- probably because they were. The producers built the characters around the people they hired, a form of paint-by-actor improv. [25 Sept 2001, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  71. For all the artificiality of the language, there has seldom been a show that felt more authentic.
  72. 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.
  73. 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
  74. There's nothing in Downton you won't recognize, and almost nothing you won't enjoy.
  75. What Mantello projects, and the movie lacks, is a kind of raw, exposed-nerve drive. As a play, The Normal Heart was political theater: It strong-armed you, but it worked. The movie emphasizes the love story to the point where it borders on romantic fantasy.
  76. Though the treatment of the younger characters is a bit heavy-handed, the four main adults are beautifully drawn and played.
  77. Brilliantly performed. [29 Mar 1991]
    • USA Today
  78. 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.
  79. It's sometimes lyrical, other times cruel, provocatively adult and often profane. The downside: a suffocating ambiguity that may smother its hopes for commercial success. [25 Oct 1996]
    • USA Today
  80. Sorkin has created a funny, free-flowing comedy that more closely reflects the rhythms and look of a feature film. He may still have something to learn about the sitcom form, as witness the abrupt shift to sentimentality that ends the first two episodes. But when he's on his game, he provides moments of unexpected and acute insight that can almost leave you breathless. [22 Sept 1998, p.3D]
    • USA Today
  81. 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.
  82. A fast-paced, funny show that has bounced back from last spring's post-strike slump.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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
  88. There's no denying that the show looks a little worn, a victim perhaps of budget pressures that may have moved the series from cost-efficient to cheap. But even a reduced Lights is better than most TV series.
  89. 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.
  90. 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
  91. 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.
  92. The comedy ranges from silly to sharp, but it's seldom stupid and it's never mean-spirited – and the pair's talent is always on obvious display.
  93. It's cleverly written, slickly produced and features a sidesplitting star turn by Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton as the big, blue, well-padded superhero with scene-stealing antennae. But the best thing I can say also is the simplest: It made me laugh. A lot.
  94. Taken as a fright fest, pure and simple, Dead succeeds admirably well, capturing the terror and confusion of waking up in a world where you've gone from person to endangered-species zombie food overnight.
  95. 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.
  96. A satisfying, intriguingly complex ABC drama that emerges from the season's serialized pack as the best new show of the year.
  97. Though he's playing a smarter, wittier, more self aware character than he did in The Office, Gervais displays the same gift for the social faux pas, and the same inability to extract himself from increasingly improper conversations.
  98. As terrific as the three women are, the movie would not have been made without Combs and would not work as well without him

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