Variety's Scores

For 1,543 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 35% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 62% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 The Last Templar
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 601
  2. Negative: 0 out of 601
601 tv reviews
  1. It's fly-on-the-wall moviemaking, a must-see for anyone hoping to break into the creative side of the film business. [30 Nov 2001, p.14]
    • Variety
    • 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.
    • 79 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]
    • Variety
  2. 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]
    • Variety
  3. "Deadwood" remains a series like none other.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    TV needs another cop drama like it needs another makeover show, but when the genre gets an injection of energy like this, attention must be paid. [1 Oct 2003, p.4]
    • Variety
  4. 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]
    • Variety
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Lost nevertheless approaches its twists with what appears to be a greater degree of intellectual rigor than almost anything else on primetime.
  9. For Leary fans, it's a treat to have him back on the air in a smartly drawn, non-PC drama with a heavy comedic element.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Gavin has evolved, and the writers are making sure he's more multidimensional than ever thought possible. It's a winning move.
  10. The second-season opener, fortunately, featured a couple of knockout, buzzworthy moments as well as a tantalizing new plot thread, promising that this suburban soap's back alleys and side streets have plenty of stories left to divulge. [27 Sep 2005]
    • Variety
  11. Yet while the first episode basically does the heavy lifting setup-wise, the second is a knockout -- with great scenes involving Lynette's well-intentioned but intrusive parenting style, Gabrielle's social climbing and Bree's work/home juggling act.
  12. Captivating.
  13. Exec producers Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer possess a marvelous knack for dancing right up against the precipice with their narrative arcs without toppling over--aided immeasurably by their talented multigenerational cast.
  14. Like plots on "Hustle," "24" and "The Shield," there's a bit of incredulousness that comes with each caper. But with persuasive writing, sharp visuals and editing, as well as a steady directorial hand, "Thief" is always convincing.
  15. "My Name Is Earl" isn't the best comedy around, but it's pretty darn good.
  16. Gervais and Merchant excel at capturing scenes of quiet discomfort as well as palpable desperation in the face of near-constant rejection. Those qualities elevate "Extras""Extras" above the surface-deep "Entourage" or often-frustrating "The Comeback."
  17. One of the best conventional half-hours to come along in a while.
  18. Invariably clever and occasionally a laugh-out-loud riot. [1 Aug 2005]
    • Variety
  19. Sharply satirical and playfully dorky without getting bogged down in its own mythology, this iteration should continue to broaden the show's appeal beyond its twin fanbases of Comic-Con lifers and Anglophiles, though both groups will certainly give their seal of approval.
  20. "The Daily Show" spinoff has gotten off to an impressive start with a topnotch premiere followed by a respectable second outing that underscores just how challenging it will be to sustain this half-hour high-wire act four nights a week.
  21. Smart, tense, intellectually provocative and, perhaps most of all, unpredictable, this is popcorn TV of the highest order--even if the final act doesn't entirely measure up (albeit not for lack of trying) to the splendid opening installment.
  22. Lights proves not only that it's possible to produce a smart drama with teenage characters, but that a series can be better than the movie (itself inspired by a bestselling book) that spawned it.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The show's minscule budget has turned into one of its greatest assets, using real-life Austin locales and citizens to bring an authenticity that only adds to the drama.
  23. His exploration of an aging latenight franchise is so bracingly smart it's sure to hook discriminating viewers.
  24. FX has often made its bones by seeking to push the pay-cable envelope in terms of standards, sometimes gratuitously so; Damages demonstrates that envelope-pushers needn't be edgier, necessarily, just smarter.
  25. The challenge, structurally, will be finding a way to keep these characters interacting (logic that already seems a bit strained in the pilot) as the incident drifts into the distance.
  26. Somewhat plodding through its opening hour, "Elizabeth I" gains steam and then soars through its concluding installment.
  27. With the larger narrative diminished, what remains are the smaller moments. There Hall's terrific performance--full of sly wit and contradictions--elevates the show
  28. A slickly produced and irresistibly engrossing docu series that offers a multilayered look at various forms of politics.
  29. If this prequel can maintain the quality of its initial salvo, that will likely motivate at least those viewers to beseech whatever gods they pray to that Caprica be blessed with a prolonged stay in this place called Earth.
  30. State of Mind is a smart and edgy series featuring a fresh and talented cast, solid writing, good music and a great premise.
  31. While the characters here haven't yet had the chance to become as interesting as Carrie Bradshaw and company, this great adaptation of Gigi Levangie Grazer's story should help fill the void left by "Sex and the City."
  32. The facts, then, are these: Pushing Daisies isn’t perfect, but there’s no other dance on TV remotely like it. And to echo last season’s review, that alone is reason to hope it finds a way to avoid death’s touch.
  33. Well cast, with a sturdy central presence in Jimmy Smits as the adopted son handed the keys to the kingdom.
  34. This series about suburban angst circa 1976 exhibits rare depth for the procedural-packed web, and includes plenty of nifty touches, from the pop-song score and "Boogie Nights" fashions to the first-rate cast.
  35. Under director David Nutter and show-runner Josh Friedman, the first two hours roll a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line.
  36. Kitchen Nightmares is shockingly good storytelling and hilarious. This may be the most compelling show of the new season
  37. Although this series isn't for everybody, it's the kind of solid single HBO can use while waiting for a new batch of heavy hitters to arrive; it's a refreshing favorite within the YouTube quadrant that won't leave their elders muttering about the crap those damn kids watch.
  38. There are still moments when the writers' Geppetto-like manipulation is too apparent, but the revelations that pile on week to week help smooth over those excesses--as does the simple pleasure of watching the intellectual tennis match as Byrne goes toe-to-toe with Paul's resistant, each-damaged-in-their-own-way clientele.
  39. Chuck possesses modest charm, impressive stunt work and another mildly appealing reluctant hero.
  40. Crews quirky mannerisms don't overwhelm the plot, and the show does strikes a nice balance between whimsy and its much darker backstory.
  41. In pulling these tried-and-true elements together, Smith and series creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters also garnish Reaper with several deft little touches--like pegging the Dept. of Motor Vehicles as a hiding-in-plain-sight portal to Hell, or the appropriate strains of Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper.'
  42. Year two is actually more compelling and fun, morphing from the twin themes of bachelorhood and longing into tackling the challenges of monogamy--especially when one partner's lurid past keeps colliding with the present.
  43. Life on Mars offers fine performers, some arresting images, sly satire and a terrific song score.
  44. Proving that lightning can and does strike twice, High School Musical 2 actually surpasses the first movie in sheer energy and verve.
  45. The show's blessings, however, are more earthy - beginning with Hunter, who oozes anger, sexuality and irreverence, sometimes all at once. San Giacomo is perfectly cast as her friend and sounding board, and Johnson, Rippy and Woodbine all deliver solid support, with the jailhouse sequences among the show's best.
  46. The intriguing pilot takes its time, leaving an element of mystery surrounding the show's direction, but if the entree remains equal to this appetizer, the cable net may have a prestige show on its hands.
  47. Foremost, the series operates on a number of levels, beginning with its effortless, nostalgic cool and subtle re-litigation of the culture wars -- revealing how the pre-Vietnam era wasn't always so grand for women and minorities. Those tiers smartly coexist with big-business shenanigans and sudsy family drama--an intoxicating stew for demanding viewers, but one likely forever destined to blunt the show's broad mainstream appeal.
  48. Mind Control is much cooler than your average foray into this realm, and by whatever methods its host employs, he has pretty well convinced me to watch again
  49. In short, there's a helluva lot going on, and the assorted subplots feel more compelling this season, including the constant sense of menace surrounding both Eric and Maryann.
  50. Whatever its chemistry, the show surely knows how to go for the throat. And like its mythical night-prowlers, once Blood sucks you in, its attraction is awfully difficult to resist.
  51. Series creator Vince Gilligan brings a quirky sensibility to the pilot, and the show grows increasingly rich and absorbing in the second and third hours.
  52. It's a mildly unsettling mentality, to be sure, but thus far Bad's mercurial formula adds up to one really good trip.
  53. No one will mistake this well-produced but inevitably dialogue-driven piece for pure cinema, but Leon and adapter Paris Qualles open up the play just enough to avoid the usual stage-to-screen claustrophobia.
  54. It's a handsomely mounted production that will surely be welcomed by English majors the world over, especially those who would rather watch their homework than read it.
  55. At least within Ullman's cutting overview of America, in fact, it can be reported without reservation that the "State of the Union" is strong.
  56. Smart, star-studded and anchored by another fine-tuned performance from Kevin Spacey, Recount finds the sweet spot between theatrical fare and TV that's precisely the constituency HBO wants to reach.
  57. This technically superior project intriguingly mirrors territory the producers explored in tackling Baltimore's mean streets, and while Baghdad's avenues are even meaner, the producers' impeccable craftsmanship is roughly the same.
  58. Whatever deeper meanings one might extrapolate, the show's approach proves refreshingly unpretentious and a great deal of fun, playfully exploring the mythologies surrounding ghosts, vampires and werewolves.
  59. Granted, given much thought, the show's various conceits risk crumbling the way Dracula did when he was exposed to daylight. With a little patience and forgiveness, however, Being Human remains a bloody good time.
  60. Bright and breezy, The Middleman manages the increasingly rare feat of being knowing but not snide. It's a show, frankly, for people who love (and have probably watched too much) TV. By that standard, it's far from the middle, but rather rises straight to the top.
  61. Ultimately, there's no substitute for amusing scenarios like the one with the dog, and clever writing, which The Goode Family boasts in abundance.
  62. As adapted by Matt Tarses, there's something refreshing about seeing an utterly screwball comedy mounted on an episodic scale. Bornheimer, meanwhile, comes across as the kind of likable schlub who can't figure out why these awful things keep happening to him
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sutter, a writer and producer on "The Shield," fully understands the power of violence in getting a point across, yet the premiere's closing sequence runs a very fine line between demonstrating the neo-Nazis' brutality and a gratuitous display.
  63. Having shot more than 1,500 hours of footage, the crew mostly eradicates the conspicuous influence of the filmmakers' presence, capturing harrowing moments graced by genuine humanity.
  64. The plot is a trifle chaotic, but the action culminates in an impressive sequence of special-effects derring-do and whooshing bloodsuckers.
  65. Jane and Adams' interplay, the willingness to let the story gradually unfold and the project's disarming sensitivity (exemplified via a splendid fourth-episode guest shot by Margo Martindale) helps elevate Hung well above its gimmicky title--and gives HBO another improbable series that actually looks well worth hanging onto.
  66. This world is inhabited by every type of get-rich schemer, social pariah and general loser, but is given enough depth and emotion to draw viewers in.
  67. As played by Julie Walters, Filth is a surprisingly affectionate and sympathetic portrait of a character who easily could have been presented as a priggish scold.
  68. There's so much gaudy talent on display here that those with an appetite for it won't be able to get enough, and Little Dorrit gives them everything they could want in a big, gloriously messy package.
  69. Focusing the program on the shaping of a young artist limits the mainstream potential of the interview show but ramped up the opportunity for two musicians to explore the importance of music and musicians rarely name-checked.
  70. Frankly, six hours is a whole lot of time for any documentary, but the treasure trove of Python material ensures that Almost the Truth goes down smoothly, or at least almost so.
  71. This latest caper isn't at 'Burn Notice's" level yet, but based on the channel's track record, you'd be ill-advised to bet against it tracking down an audience.
  72. This gritty series about L.A. cops does have a niche cable sensibility, but it's exceptionally well made, with sharply drawn characters and, happily, more intense focus on the best of them in these initial patrols.
  73. The pilot represents a polished product that neatly introduces an array of characters and establishes Eastwick as a project with no small measure of potential. As for how well that's realized, as they say, the devil is in the details.
  74. The best science fiction always has something to say about the present, and the show does that without skimping on the soapy or dramatic elements.
  75. It's an intriguing, mind-bending concept that's mostly well executed, with a built-in payoff cleverly timed to coincide with the May rating sweeps.
  76. Although the series departs from its comicbook roots, the premiere establishes a topnotch look, clever style and bigscreen tone. Perhaps most significantly, the second hour happily matches or surpasses the first.
  77. Like most hot-burning cultural phenomena, Glee carries the risk of over-saturation and implosion, which will require evolution and perhaps inevitably a bit of reinvention. Until then, those involved can bask in the glow of what should be another strong year, riding a wave that has yet to fully crest--capable of sending self-proclaimed "Gleeks" away each week with a song in their hearts and a smile on their faces, drowning out the sour notes.
  78. The storytelling is spare, with few of the by-now customary compromises to reality-TV (or dramatic expectations weaned on "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy"), other than the oncamera interviews and musical flourishes that close each hour.
  79. While the climax isn't entirely satisfying, Pillars does create strong roles for its female characters, Natalia Woerner's earthy Ellen and Atwell's determined ingenue balancing Parish's delicious wickedness. Frankly, the whole exercise would be worth the price of admission (or rather, subscription) simply for the cobra-eyed McShane.
  80. The pilot rumbles forward on crisp action and light-hearted humor, while hinting at higher stakes that offer room for narrative growth. While easily dismissed as another "Alias" (like Jennifer Garner, Perabo can do wonderful things to a simple skirt and heels), the show also makes clever use of Walker's newbie status.
  81. Huge is one big circle of adolescent longing, and Holz-man and Dooley manage to find the pathos in the situation without condescending or going for cheap laughs at their characters' expense.
  82. There's also a procedural element in the middle hours, with Luther focusing on individual cases in each installment, that doesn't hold up quite as well. Even those installments, however, have their chilling moments, before the final two episodes take off and regain the premiere's momentum.
  83. Clearly, there are few more durable figures in fiction, but capturing the fundamental appeal of Holmes is quite another matter. And on that level, Sherlock cannily cracks the case.
  84. Flitting among three storylines, it's smart, nimble and best of all, funny, while actually making a point about the evolving nature of what constitutes "family."
  85. Based on this preview, though, Archer gives FX something that the drama-heavy channel hasn't enjoyed for awhile--namely, a sharp comedic arrow in its quiver.
  86. The League comes close to the goal of creating a TV show with "The Hangover"-type appeal.
  87. Justified has a clear sense of its strengths and shrewdly plays to them. For FX, that savvy combined with Olyphant's charisma has all the makings of a series destined to nail its target.
  88. Like its vague title, Men possesses a certain charm that's not always easy to characterize, but is, thankfully, easy to watch. And based on season two, the show, at least, is aging quite gracefully.
  89. The takeaway from The Take again proves an old showbiz saw: Cast the right actor as a mobster, and being bad can be pretty damn good.
  90. Blue Bloods enters this rough neighborhood with the right personnel, and, living up to its name, a solid pedigree.
  91. Lone Star works as well as it does in large part by keeping an audience on edge regarding these questions [Could he possibly go legit, actually running the company, becoming a tycoon and settling down? And how long can he maintain the charade?]--and because Wolk manages to make Bob so appealing. As distasteful as his game is, you're half rooting for him to get away with it.
  92. Although we've seen no shortage of zombies and post-apocalyptic stories, producer-writer-director Frank Darabont has deftly tackled the seemingly perilous task of adapting a comicbook about zombies into a viable episodic series.
  93. NBC's stab at a big, serialized "Lost"-like premise gets off to an enticing start, though as with any such exercise, the ability to provide forward momentum--and satisfying answers--tends to quickly separate the few genuine events from the canceled afterthoughts.

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