Variety's Scores

For 1,331 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 61% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 8.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Downton Abbey: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 Painkiller Jane: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 525
  2. Negative: 0 out of 525
525 tv reviews
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    When it's supposed to be funny it is funny. When it could be trite, it's still funny. When it might be poignant ... it's very funny. [19 Jul 1995]
  1. "Larry Sanders" remains a piece of small-screen art, a series whose wildly colorful characters and flawless execution make it the wittiest half-hour on TV. [12 Mar 1998]
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Through the radiant Russell, the show astutely transmits the conflicting blend of giddy anticipation and neurotic dread that defines the early college experience...If this is a "My So-Called Life" knockoff, then Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have obviously done their homework. All glorified clones should be so fresh and enchanting. [28 Sept 1998, p.2]
  2. It's difficult to single out any particular aspect of the show: It's just plain brilliant. [13 Jan 2000]
  3. "The Sopranos" retains the title of the most involving series on television and James Gandolfini continues to be a powerhouse of a performer. [2 Mar 2001]
  4. Scrubs is sharp on every level, from script, direction and editing to the well-chosen, handsome cast and the employment of nonreal sequences. [1 Oct 2001, p.4]
  5. Good as "Curb" has been, this 10-episode season should be the year it gets recognized as HBO's finest comedy. [11 Sep 2002]
  6. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" retains its place as the funniest of the funny on television today. [5 Jan 2004]
  7. Captivating from its first minute forward, "24" is the rare example of a television pilot that hits every mark with an aura of excitement and precision, a stellar cast that exudes personality and personal history, and direction that is as taut as it gets. [2 Nov 2001]
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Never have lives of quiet desperation been so laugh-out-loud funny as in "The Office." [10 Oct 2003]
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Everything goes (nudity, language, violence), but that's just the beginning; one-upping any overhyped "NYPD Blue"-like controversy over whether or not it's kosher to show someone's backside on TV, it's also a tour de force of assorted emotions, layered relationships and raw dialogue. [12 Mar 2002, p.4]
  8. Those along for the ride since the beginning have rightly come to savor this as one of TV's premier hours --- a meticulously written, superbly acted program that demands undivided attention. [16 Sep 2004]
  9. When television history is written, little else will rival "The Wire," a series of such extraordinary depth and ambition that it is, perhaps inevitably, savored only by an appreciative few.
  10. HBO just might have found its next great dramatic addiction --- a vulgar, gritty, at times downright nasty take on the Old West brimming with all the dark genius that series creator and screenwriter extraordinaire David Milch has at his fingertips. [19 Mar 2004, p.2]
  11. The reigning Emmy comedy champ debuts its second season with an episode that may well be its funniest... TV bar's for comedy has been raised again. [5 Nov 2004, p.4]
  12. The show keeps delivering the kind of mind-expanding dramatic highs that ought to require a prescription.
  13. Expectations were certainly sky-high for Boardwalk, but the producers have risen to meet them--in a series that grows richer, deeper and more absorbing with each of the six episodes previewed.
  14. From virtually any angle, though, Downton Abbey is an almost peerless piece of real estate.
  15. Either appropriately or ironically for a show about meth cookers, Bad is simply one of TV's great addictions.
  16. Julian Fellowes has created such a vivid group of characters and assembled such an impeccable cast--effortlessly oscillating from comedy to drama--that the hours fly by, addictively pulling viewers from one into the next.
  17. With a dream team of producers, directors, writers and stars, this is more than a message movie; it's artful storytelling at its finest, focusing on the human considerations of a disease that afflicts one in eight women.
  18. Simply put, there's no more unpredictable series, and its delicate handling of combustible ingredients will be admired and studied by writers for years to come.
  19. At its best, it’s big, bloody and downright glorious.
  20. To anyone who has followed the ups and downs of Downton Abbey, the good news begins with those first strains of John Lunn's lustrous score, and doesn't abate until Fellowes and company have wrung every last ounce of emotion from these finely embroidered characters.
  21. As with all Bochco series, the writing and intricacy of the characters sets apart Murder One. The show deals in shades of gray that ultimately may work to the series' detriment commercially but nevertheless are dramatically riveting. [19 Sept 1995]
  22. Cast is uniformly sound and sufficiently distinct without forcing oddballs into the mix. Show's strength in the pilot is its reliance on the ensemble over displaying individual talents but it might well have two secret weapons. One's Rogen, who plays the cool cat who's easily tripped up and has to work on regaining his composure; and Keena, who appears to have a good sense of how to play simple emotions convincingly and might well be on to bigger things. [25 Sept 2001, p.17]
  23. Rich and absorbing, this eight-part drama quickly vaults into elite company, offering a singular voice that’s unlike almost anything else on TV.
  24. Martin’s fantasy world, with its ruthless lust for power, is surely not for the faint of heart, and the sheer number of subplots invariably means that one or two start to sag. Such criticisms, however, amount to nitpicking on a show that operates at such a consistently high level, from the spectacular cast to the sweeping and diverse backdrops, consistently conjuring a summer-tentpole feel.
  25. A member of the top of the class of the fall season. Offering more comedy than drama, the show is quirky, with feel-good sentiments lingering beneath clever writing. [6 Oct 2000, p.24]
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Situations are on target, characters are strong, the dialogue bright. Nothing's extraneous as director James Burrows keeps a tight rein on the brisk, smart exercise.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    There's lots of good stuff to recommend Homicide. Performances are uniformly strong, above normal level of series work. It's a class act; all techs are superior, including excellent photography by Wayne Ewing and editing by Jay Rabinowitz. [29 Jan 1993]
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Gets off to a spectacular start. [19 Sep 1994]
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    An original from the outset, blending artful dialogue and sharp performances with Schlamme's sure directorial hand to construct an hour of sublime soapiness. [21 Sept 1999, p.10]
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It's a clever melding of real-life and on-camera stuff that's down and dirty and diabolic in its intent. ... An absolute gem. [14 Aug 1992]
  26. "The Larry Sanders Show" returns for another season with a full barrel, taking exact aim at backstage eccentricities, connivances and weaknesses. [20 Jun 1994]
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Wonderfully irreverent. [6 Jan 2000]
  27. From these visits spin every Soprano tale --- some morose, some wickedly funny, all uncommonly personal --- and its distinctive tone will capture a patient audience looking for an intelligent episodic that isn't sex and shoot-'em-ups. [4 Jan 1999, p.67]
  28. Not all "The Sopranos'" flights of fancy pan out... but it never fails to fascinate, creating a completely organic world in which it's easy to forget the art and artifice that go into realizing Chase's vision.
  29. As animation, it's substandard, primitive dreck; as comedy, however, it's gloriously subversive art. [12 Aug 1997]
  30. There have been many great war films, and any number that have vividly evoked the tension, tragedy and terror of battle. But due to the exceptional amount of time lavished on this story, the fluid manner in which men come and go and the drastic changes that mark them, it's doubtful that any film or TV venture has ever come close to "Brothers" in presenting "What Men Went Through" over the long haul. [4 Sept 2001, p.6]
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    If "The Sopranos" is an explosive show, brimming with layers of deception and betrayal, Six Feet Under is an implosive one, built upon a foundation of repression. [3 June 2001, p.29]
  31. No one has created a funnier TV character this fall. ... While the first four shows have their fair amounts of laugh-out-loud moments, each ends on an enormous knee-splitter; it's a show viewers will remember the following day and likely laugh at even harder than they did the first time. [12 Oct 2000]
    • 66 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    A compelling, immensely interesting and thoroughly addicting 30 minutes of television. [21 May 1992]
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With this thrilling trip around the world, CBS blows away the Summer of Rats --- thank you "Fear Factor" --- while creating a terrific companion piece to the net's comparatively tranquil "Survivor." [3 Sep 2001]
  32. Based on the seven episodes previewed, it's every bit as cynical, riveting and brilliant as the four flights that preceded it--a searing look at the decay of a major American city that puts most of what's on television to shame.
  33. Deadwood will never be everyone's cup of tea, but it stands as one of HBO's most fully realized dramas since "The Sopranos" and exhibits no signs of fading in the second leg of its run. [3 Mar 2005, p.4]
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    With faith in its own inspired goofiness, the net's newest Sunday entry reinvents what works --- and mocks what doesn't --- within the confines of the undernourished sitcom world. Critics and viewers clamoring for something unique since the sesh began back in August finally have something to champion ... and boy, is it funny.
  34. One of TV's premiere dramas --- a rarity whose darkest moments have a way of lingering in the mind. Such depth and humanity might be unexpected from a show that clearly revels in every four-letter word and exposed cheek, yet as the series so often demonstrates, appearances can be deceiving. [22 June 2004, p.10]
  35. There’s always the risk that series creator Ryan Murphy and his team will slip and hit an artery, but so far, things look beautiful.
  36. Crisp and tense, this Sci Fi Channel staple looks destined to make a headlong plunge toward the finish line in pursuit of that elusive place called Earth.
  37. The smartest teen-oriented drama since "Freaks and Geeks." A unique and inspired looked at teen angst shrouded in a P.I. show.
  38. Crisp, smart and spooky, this cerebral sci-fi drama is the best of the new "Something's out there" series.
  39. Despite mining what appears to be a played-out lode (yet another showbiz-insider comedy, complete with self-effacing celebrity cameos), the pair find hearty laughs in discomfort, elicit riotous turns from their guest stars and even manage a touch of pathos in the travails of the show's hapless hero.
  40. One of the sharpest-looking comedy pilots in recent years.
  41. It could be a "Wonder Years" for a new generation.
  42. This is the jewel Showtime has sought for years.
  43. Dexter will be hard-pressed to match the big twists that punctuated last season, but the latest campaign is off to an impressive--and impressively unpredictable--start.
  44. Standing head and shoulders above this fall's other seedlings.
  45. As with any great series, Mad Men is becoming richer as these plot strands grow, establishing an engrossing serialized life beyond the hip, reverberating cultural references that demonstrate the smoking-drinking-closeted '60s aren't necessarily "good ol' days" to be mourned, despite the cheery Norman Rockwell image that cultural conservatives proffer.
  46. All told, it's an impeccably rendered piece, down to the smallest details--the kind of lush, meticulous little parcel that relatively few outlets these days have the means or latitude to cultivate.
  47. This hour finds the cast in fine form, but the most interesting crumb to emerge might be Weiner's apparent rumination on the program's success and--speaking through his protagonist--his own heightened profile since the series took off.
  48. If you're not enamored of jazz, Treme's extended musical interludes will play like something of a slog, and keeping track of the disparate stories is nettlesome at first. Fortunately, the talent on display--particularly Goodman, Alexander, and "Wire" alums Pierce (a New Orleans native) and Peters--is such that watching them read the phone book would be superior to much of what's on TV.
  49. If Beyond is deficient in any respect, it's in the minimal follow-up....Still, that amounts to a quibble regarding a series that, unlike most of what passes for "reality TV," feels truly authentic--and sobering.
  50. Game of Thrones excels on multiple levels--with its splendid ensemble cast (able to sell even the clunkier fantasy dialogue), intricate palace machinations, sly humor and growing sense of inevitable conflict. The production's look is a wonder, showcasing a variety of environments (lensing was in Northern Ireland and Malta) and ornate sets and costumes that approximate the feel of a theatrical blockbuster.
  51. In short, coming off the first season's solid ratings, Justified pretty much looks like a home run for FX, which has been getting by lately on singles and doubles.
  52. HBO has the ingredients for a series that puts nearly every other genre offering to shame.
  53. Sherlock weds the old and new in much the way Holmes solves his cases--making a complicated process look almost effortless.
  54. The show doesn't just go down smoothly; it's good to the last illicit, intoxicating drop.
  55. Granted, parts of the series feel like a rehash of "March of the Penguins," but there's enough jaw-dropping footage in this seven-part undertaking--including one installment devoted strictly to how the footage was captured--that nobody with even vague interest in the subject matter should be left feeling cold.
  56. Once the narrative begins hitting its stride in the second episode, it's clear the program remains on a rarefied creative tier, tantalizingly mixing terrific performances with anything-can-happen edge.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The most entertaining new comedy premiering in primetime this fall, precisely because it doesn't look or feel like anything else the networks are tossing against the wall. It cleverly defies all of the dreary fall sitcom trends: black people moving into white neighborhoods, single parents struggling to hold housefuls of screaming brats in line, gay men yearning to make sense of a straight world, and young adults basically acting like idiots. [21 Sept 1998, p.44]
  57. Simply put, the third season further confirms the show is as handsome, well cast and impeccably crafted as anything on TV.
  58. The way the movie unfolds is fascinating, featuring the best work of Miller's career, and Jones so inhabiting Hitchcock--trapped within his grotesque frame--as to quickly get past impersonation to a darker portrayal of genius.
  59. Despair and hopelessness form the intersection at which Charles Dutton studies a drug-addled world that's painfully real and overwhelming. [17 Apr 2000, p.37]
  60. Mostly, the show deserves to do well because it’s so bloody good--smart, whimsical and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, finding fresh, distinctive avenues into this venerable character, even with multiple incarnations currently in circulation.
  61. Directed by Adam Bernstein, the 90-minute premiere is particularly taut and effective, with three subsequent episodes slightly less so; nevertheless, there’s enough going on (indeed, almost too much) and such a weird string of dominos that it’s hard not to imagine those sampling the opener won’t want to see things through to the finish.
  62. Mannion, played by the formerly lovable "Coach," Craig T. Nelson, is the heart, the soul, the brains --- you name it --- of "The District," and he handles the burden well in the series premiere. [6 Oct 2000, p.22]
  63. Offbeat, engaging and smartly written ... "Ally McBeal" is the rare example of a broadcast network premiering a series that feels fresh and different, if occasionally contrived. [8 Sep 1997]
  64. For all its implausibility, by the end of the "Dharma and Greg" pilot, you're smiling anyhow. [22 Sept 1997]
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The show's supporting cast assists tremendously in convincing viewers that they are watching behind-the-scenes wranglings at a well-known talkshow, and the creative decision to delve more into Sanders' off-screen life could be a wise one to help expand the show's appeal. [2 Jun 1993]
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [The] series retains such Kelley trademarks as arch dialogue, colorful characters and interesting, quirky and socially relevant situations. [4 Mar 1997]
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An impressive, handsomely engineered launch. ... "Voyager" includes all the elements of Roddenberry's original vision: a future full of hope, curiosity, wonder and respect for all cultures; sexual and racial (and for that matter, species) equality, embodied in a diverse but largely harmonious crew; and adventures that intrigue rather than lull viewers. [16 Jan 1995]
  65. On the surface, the concept of Criminal Intent seems like a gimmicky way to milk some of the success from its predecessors, but in the capable hands of exec producers Wolf and Rene Balcer, who also serve as the show's head writers, it makes for taut, engaging television. This self-perpetuating franchise of cops and lawyers is hardly running out of steam. [28 Sept 2001, p.8]
  66. Mostly, Judge has an unerring ear for pop culture and outright stupidity.
  67. With David's eccentricity permeating every aspect of the show, these new episodes feel more unrestrained than ever.
  68. Although not for everyone, '24' remains the equivalent of a great popcorn movie or page-turning book ... [and] has become an accomplished exercise in storytelling that takes full advantage of the television form. [27 Oct 2003]
  69. Whatever its flaws, this edition of 24 features smart, crisp and densely woven storytelling whose subplots look to be on a well-orchestrated collision course.
  70. Austen's simple tales of love -- deferred, nearly derailed but eventually and inevitably triumphant -- hold up extremely well, and this latest "Sense & Sensibility" has done a splendid job casting its various roles, despite an inevitable wattage deficit compared with the most recent theatrical version.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Cheeky and charming, Joss Whedon's attempt to fuse oaters with "Star Trek" is just silly enough to work -- and there's absolutely nothing else like it on TV.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sleek and satisfying, Jerry Bruckheimer's latest is a compelling drama... The resolutions may sometimes be forced and the characterizations thin, but each episode still has a rhythm and a finality which brings to mind the exec producer's "CSI" in terms of ensemble performances and crimefighting handiwork. [23 Sep 2002]
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    For the uninitiated, the show's dense plotline has become a head-scratching web of scorned relationships between Armenians, Mexicans, corrupt politicians, dirty cops, police commissioners and Mackey, of course, in the center of it all, doing whatever it takes to hang on to his badge. For the longtime fan, however, the story is complex yet riveting, making complete sense, especially after witnessing Mackey's hellacious journey to get here.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is a series that's all about the fine print, finding its most emotional moments not in violent confrontations between good guys and bad guys in the drug war, but in depicting the battles of bureaucrats. So while it's less original than genre-busting "The Sopranos," the ultrapensive "Six Feet Under" or the uninhibited "Sex and the City," "The Wire" is still sophisticated and significant television. [31 May 2002, p.12]
  71. Dean Parisot's direction is splendid throughout as he establishes a tone and sticks with it, never getting too jokey or edge-of-the-seat dramatic. [12 July 2002, p.14]
  72. "Deadwood" remains a series like none other.
  73. It's reassuring to see the program refocused and mostly back on track as it opens its fourth season, which finds new torments with which to plague its central trio, as well as a plethora of showy guest stars in deliciously perverse roles. [31 Aug 2006, p.6]
  74. Has the sharpness of the recent remakes of "Italian Job" and "Ocean's Eleven."
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This splendidly acted melodrama delivers a bloody good time barreling toward oblivion, delivering enough political intrigue, violence and sex to slake even the most debauched viewing appetites.
  75. Those who wade through the slow-going first three or four hours of this stately production will be richly rewarded by the engrossing final four.
  76. While enthusiasts of the genre might warm to the idea of an open-ended mystery, it's suspect how well the show will hold up without a more concrete sense as to what's really happening, barring Gilligan and the Skipper showing up to whisk them away.
  77. Lost nevertheless approaches its twists with what appears to be a greater degree of intellectual rigor than almost anything else on primetime.