USA Today's Scores

For 998 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 56% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 40% 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 Fargo: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Lucky Louie: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 592
  2. Negative: 0 out of 592
592 tv reviews
  1. 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]
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  2. Like all of Burns' work, Jackie is beautifully done and blessedly free of the shoddy re-creations that slip into so many documentaries these days.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Night Manager overcomes cliches, objections and a few wobbly American accents, in large part thanks to the combined appeal and talents of Hiddleston, Colman, Laurie and Hollander. Together, they prove that action TV can be made at a high level of quality, and quality TV can be entertaining.
  8. 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.
  9. A satisfying, intriguingly complex ABC drama that emerges from the season's serialized pack as the best new show of the year.
  10. 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.
  11. [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.
  12. As terrific as the three women are, the movie would not have been made without Combs and would not work as well without him
  13. 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.
  14. Watching Dr. Katz, with its jittery cartoon figures and deadpan monologue rants, is like experiencing a particularly giggly head trip. [5 Apr 1996]
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  15. 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.
  16. That's a lot of eccentricity for one hour, but Gilmore Girls never loses its even, humorous keel or its unforced warmth. There are clever lines, to be sure (Michel, ignoring Lorelai: "To me, you are the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons"), but they seldom turn nasty and never seem out of character. [5 Oct 2000, p.1D]
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  17. It's a smart, speedy melodrama, supported by a terrific cast and driven by a rip-roaring star. Damages is more than Close, but she's so compelling, it would be worth watching for her alone.
  18. 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.
  19. A wafer-thin but bonbon-yummy romantic sitcom that sweeps you off your feet and deposits you in a gale of giddy laughter. [24 Sept 1997, p.3D]
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  20. Curb is an experiment in free-form TV, one that is just as happy to make you cringe in embarrassment as make you laugh, and even happier just to dawdle along provoking no response at all. [13 Oct 2000]
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  21. What Kill has to offer is clarity and clear-eyed empathy. TV's the better for it.
  22. A hilarious holiday package. [15 Dec 1989, p.3D]
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  23. Perhaps this is the way people really spoke in 1876 Deadwood, but TV isn't a research paper, and shows don't run with footnotes and annotations. Many viewers are likely to feel that Milch and the actors have failed to make the expletive-laden dialogue play as believable. Equally many are likely to find it off-putting, whether they believe it or not. It's just one more barrier for a genre that already has a problem connecting with a modern audience...That hurdle might have been overcome had the actors been able to pull us past the words and into the story, but Milch has not cast the show as well as he needed. With the exception of the always welcome Keith Carradine, whose dissipated Wild Bill Hickok is the series' most appealing character, the actors are not up to the tasks assigned.
  24. 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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  25. It's old-school soap stuff to be sure, but at its frequent best, uses old twists in new ways.
  26. While the device seems pasted on, its cleverness and occasional shock value gives Dream On the distinction it otherwise lacks. [6 July 1990]
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  27. 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.
  28. Like most other Cheers fans, it's impossible not to miss the gang back East. But given the disappointing season at hand, Frasier will do. [16 Sept 1993, p.1D]
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  29. 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.
  30. 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]
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  31. 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]
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  32. 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.
  33. 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]
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  34. Speechless [is] easily the best of the new network sitcoms. ... It's a sweet, skillful and sometimes poignant performance [from Micah Fowler, who plays J.J.]. ... Driver shines, charms and appropriately horrifies.
  35. Tonight, the surgeons set up shop in Beverly Hills, a move that has inspired the show to rediscover its sense of style and fun.
  36. Lacking much in the way of attitude, the show seems obsolete and irrelevant. What it boils down to is that Seinfeld, likable as he may be, is a mayonnaise clown in a world that requires a little horseradish. [31 May 1990, p.3D]
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  37. That sincere desire to serve is key. In the wrong hands, Scrubs could have been another mean-spirited juvenile comedy about smart-aleck, self-absorbed, barely post-collegiate yuppies -- which is the impression you may have gotten from NBC's inexplicably unpleasant promos. But Lawrence takes pains to show us that these doctors take their jobs seriously, an essential task accomplished without sacrificing any of the humor. In a sense, the show is a flashback to M*A*S*H, both in its look (Scrubs is shot without an audience) and in the way it blends laughs with life-and-death emotion.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. Lights Out does turn into a good series. A knockout? No. But sometimes, you have to be content to win on points.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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]
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  45. 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]
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  46. Tonight's 90-minute premiere is a tad overextended, but it still provides an effective and entertaining launchpad for the premise.
  47. Cage is Marvel’s best TV series yet, but more importantly he's the superhero that the world seems to need most right now, mainly because he’s the most real.
  48. 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.
  49. Haunting, heartfelt and even-handed, Valentine Road should be required viewing in teaching tolerance on middle-school and high-school campuses.
  50. 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.
  51. 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]
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  52. 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.
  53. Archer is not for everyone, and certainly not for anyone whose idea of risque is "Get Smart." But do yourself one favor: Don't decide it's not for you until you have watched an entire episode, because you just may find the good outweighs the excessive.
  54. Some of the intrigue is cleverly done, but none of it connects to characters we care about.
  55. 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]
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  56. Defiantly deadpan and amusing. [26 May 1995]
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  57. Gideon needs to put more work into its secondary characters and a more relaxed faith in Braugher's talents. That would be enough to make Gideon truly special. [10 Oct 2000, p.1D]
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  58. 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.
  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. There are big moments, but much of the joy comes from small exchanges and throwaway jokes.
  61. 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.
  62. Schur has created a wonderfully full-bodied fantasy universe, complete with any number of witty flourishes. ... Unfortunately, little of it seems to stick. With each episode, it becomes harder to root for Eleanor, a fairly terrible person on earth who seems likely to destroy the afterlife for everyone around her, Michael included.
  63. Lights has a rare ability to portray life in small-town America without being condescending or sentimental.
  64. It's not perfect, but in a sea of procedural conformity, Glee is its own weird, often enchanting little island escape.
  65. While Rhys and Russell carry the domestic side of the story beautifully (with Russell having a particularly nice moment next week with the daughter), they're not, as yet, completely convincing as spies. In their defense, they're hurt in the premiere by a clumsy set of flashbacks that make you think the Soviets must have perfected an anti-aging drug that has now been lost.
  66. 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.
  67. Earl shares the look and heavily narrated sound of Arrested Development, but it has its own scruffy comic tone.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. There is rich ground to explore in the problems Mexico faces and the responsibility we may bear for some of them-–but the show's clumsy attempt to boil that down to a catchphrase is offensive and silly, particularly as it has no real connection to the story being told.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. In essence, Librarian is a summer movie blockbuster on a winter TV budget, and has all the virtues and flaws you'd expect from that odd pairing--including never taking itself too seriously.
  74. 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.
  75. This is how soaps are done today: with swagger, vigor and soul. Join in or get out of the way.
  76. 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]
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  77. 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.
  78. All is fine, if not as good as it had been.
  79. There's a great deal of humor and heart on display here, and a sense of empathy that draws you into all of the characters. You also get a wide range of fine performances, from Metz’s humor-tinged refusal to give in to self-pity to Brown’s expertly played conflict over how to deal with his father.
  80. The episode is clearly constructed as a showcase for Laurie--who is seemingly incapable of a boring performance--but the writers really haven't done him much of a favor. There are too many beats that refuse to be reconciled; too many times when House is forced to behave absurdly badly to get what he wants, just to backtrack when he gets it.
  81. No American-made option this weekend can compare.
  82. 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.
  83. Unfortunately, you can feel it in the plotting, which is perfunctory at best, and woefully, repetitively tired at worst.
  84. Three weeks, three styles, three fine, fun hours.
  85. 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.
  86. As smartly written as it is played, Episodes offers the comic pleasures, not just of clashing cultures, but of contrasting comic styles.
  87. Far more frequent are those moments that are likely to cause anyone who likes the show and the characters to smile or tear up, as on-screen and off, we all face the necessity of letting go of the past.
  88. I'm not giving up on the show, which was one of last year's best. But I don't want to spend weeks watching our Olivia suffer and their Olivia make Walter and Peter suffer. You have to give writers leeway to take you where they want to go--but at a certain point, commercial entertainment has to be entertaining, or there's no reason to watch.
  89. 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.
  90. Hip, bright and done with a great deal of flair, Alias is like some candy-colored -- and very violent -- comic book come to life.
  91. 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.
  92. If only it all felt just a bit faster.
  93. Like many shows these days, Preacher is not for everyone, nor is it trying to be. But it will almost certainly work for some viewers, and it seems to have a good idea of who those viewers are and what they want.
  94. This is a show with many virtues. Now, if Huff can just learn the virtue of restraint, Showtime may finally have the hit it has been working so hard to find.
  95. 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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  96. 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.
  97. There is no new show more likable, but that affection may waver if Betty can't give Ferrera the scripts and support she deserves.
  98. Hope, however, has more going for it than a good heart and some good lines. It has a very good cast, with Neff and Dillahunt sure to be welcome weekly presences.
  99. At heart, Angel is another Whedon treatise on the need to accept responsibility and to move past atonement to engagement. But Whedon never overemphasizes his deeper meanings, and neither should we. [5 Oct 1999, p.1D]
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  100. Damages is an enjoyably complex thriller.

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