Variety's Scores

For 1,934 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 35% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 61% 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: 57
Highest review score: 100 Five
Lowest review score: 10 The 1/2 Hour News Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 765
  2. Negative: 0 out of 765
765 tv reviews
  1. This is the jewel Showtime has sought for years.
  2. 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.
    • 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]
    • Variety
  3. 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.
  4. Simply put, the third season further confirms the show is as handsome, well cast and impeccably crafted as anything on TV.
  5. The show doesn't just go down smoothly; it's good to the last illicit, intoxicating drop.
  6. Dev may be drifting a bit, but Master of None sets exceptionally ambitious goals for itself--and for the most part, it nails them.
  7. Standing head and shoulders above this fall's other seedlings.
  8. Sherlock weds the old and new in much the way Holmes solves his cases--making a complicated process look almost effortless.
  9. 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.
  10. The results are astoundingly and almost absurdly entertaining.
  11. HBO has the ingredients for a series that puts nearly every other genre offering to shame.
  12. 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.
  13. Maximum Bob is like a consciousness-expanding narcotic transferred to film stock. If it's sometimes too taken with its own sense of wacky, it surely deserves kudos for putting out the effort at all. [3 Aug 1998, p.04]
    • Variety
  14. Outlander strikes a rare and unusual balance: It paints with bold colors, and yet it’s true to human complexities that are felt rather than articulated.
  15. The program returns from its surprisingly tasty maiden run clicking on all cylinders, with plenty of bed-hopping, two-timing and Texas-sized dealmaking to go around.
  16. 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.
  17. Lost nevertheless approaches its twists with what appears to be a greater degree of intellectual rigor than almost anything else on primetime.
  18. 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
  19. With The Flash, the netlet has gone an impressive two for two in terms of developing new dramas that look poised to stick around for a while.
  20. Even with some amusing bleeps and pixelation to obscure saucy language and (apparently) beer labels, L.A. Complex feels pretty authentic, and gets the relationships much better than something like the increasingly preposterous "Smash" does.
  21. 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]
    • Variety
  22. Although these series can’t compete with feature budgets, The Flash delivers enough action to effectively work on that level, and has developed a strong array of characters to function as a drama, peppered with humor that happily avoids the trap of camp.... This CW series--seemingly emboldened by its success--isn’t hitting the brakes at all as it races into the future, or the past, or wherever its two-dimensional roots might lead it.
  23. There's no denying the emotion in what transpired, firmly placing this in the same elite league with some of the sports network's fine "30 for 30" documentaries.
  24. Created by Cameron Porsandeh, it’s a delicate balancing act [between science and thrills], but the two-episode premiere (airing with limited commercials) and a subsequent hour--enhanced by Campbell’s stiff-upper-lipped performance, and the clever promo slogan “Play God. Pay the price”--dangle enough DNA strands for a discerning audience to want to see where they might lead.
  25. Well cast, with a sturdy central presence in Jimmy Smits as the adopted son handed the keys to the kingdom.
  26. Accompanied by interviews as well as audio from the secret tapes Nixon recorded in the White House, it’s a truly absorbing look at the 37th president and the devoted insiders who surrounded him--and in several instances went to jail in his service.
  27. It's loud, silly, rambunctious -- in short, just what most 9-year-old boys were born to like.
  28. Granted, unrelenting cattiness might not wear all that well, but three episodes were previewed, and the quality was consistent. So while the title accurately describes the way Billy and Julie cattily interact with the world, watching Difficult People, happily, was no chore at all.
  29. Although the series hardly breaks any new ground, Elba’s commanding presence--and Luther’s willingness to walk a tightrope in terms of police protocol--manage to elevate the material above standard procedural fare, as do the clever callbacks to earlier episodes and characters.
  30. While the idea of crimefighter-dogged-by-personal demons hardly smacks of freshness, the former "The Wire" star so owns the character as to give it his own spin. Barring that, though, writer Neil Cross' approach to the crime yarns is so visceral and grim it's easy to be drawn in strictly on that level.
  31. The premiere episode nimbly balances information with visual spectacle, forging a middle ground between sci-fi and science fact.
  32. The Night Manager is slick, but can occasionally veer into hollowness. ... This lush miniseries nevertheless has much to recommend it. Tom Hollander, David Harewood and Douglas Hodge capably round out the fine cast, and as it heads into the middle of its run, it weaves together a generally exciting cat-and-mouse tale, full of skulduggery in elegant homes, classy restaurants and shady ports.
  33. The movie approaches the story with enough time having passed to feel fresh, emerging as a small but engaging international production--one that feels pretty timeless in its look at cover-your-ass bureaucracy--helped by first-class casting that in addition to Hurt includes Bruce Greenwood and Brian Dennehy.
  34. While this is essentially the popcorn version of a quality serialized drama--with more overt appeal to men than most--Vikings--is the sort of nifty endeavor that can give the idea of shamelessly marauding in search of loot a good name.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Poignant and smart, and its cast is a pleasant lot that mixes unknowns with vet thesps Bess Armstrong and Jeffrey Tambor. The upside is strong --- it's sweet and sentimental --- but the downside is a fate similar to critical faves "Freaks and Geeks" and "My So-Called Life," two skeins that won raves but no ratings. [27 Sept 2002, p.6]
    • Variety
  35. The doc (directed by Barry Avrich) does a nice job of taking in the totality of Steinberg’s career, including how a favorable New York Times review launched him, how Burt Reynolds used his clout to get him into directing (beginning with the movie “Paternity”) and why he gravitated toward moving behind the camera as a shift from the grueling nature of the comedy-club scene.
  36. As always, Fellowes explores the lives of his sprawling cast – both the aristocratic upstairs family and the downstairs servants who attend to them – with wit, unabashed romance and no shortage of humor.
  37. 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The second episode in particular has touchstones of what made the show so great under Harmon.
  38. Silicon Valley has impressively built into its storyline a real-life development that struck the show, and come away not only unbowed but with perhaps a renewed sense of vigor.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. An infectiously energetic, wonderfully silly serialized comedy that feels like a mashup of the Three Stooges and Quentin Tarantino.
  43. 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
  44. 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.
  45. The Curious Case of Curt Flood isn't perfect, but when a documentary can bring sports, culture and politics together the way this one does, score that as a home run.
  46. It’s hard to do the show justice, honestly, based strictly on a description. But the characters are so sharply drawn and the situation so suspenseful that Netflix’s famous binge function will likely be put to good use here.
  47. While it's hard to anticipate the next several moves, Braugher, Speedman and supporting players like Robert Patrick (a "Unit" alum) provide incentive to tag along for the voyage, at least for awhile.
  48. While it’s difficult to divine too much about what’s next from this chapter, Mad Men appears to have reached a hospitable place--one that allows the writers to steadfastly focus on the characters--after sometimes being flummoxed by the program’s attempts to incorporate more wrenching events associated with the ’60s into its narrative.
  49. Awash in gothic atmosphere and tasty performances, Penny Dreadful puts a face on evil in its second season, and feels considerably richer for it.
  50. Superheroes is for the most part a credible and serious look at the medium’s history, viewed through the filter of its surprisingly robust present.
  51. Invariably clever and occasionally a laugh-out-loud riot. [1 Aug 2005]
    • Variety
  52. State of Mind is a smart and edgy series featuring a fresh and talented cast, solid writing, good music and a great premise.
  53. His exploration of an aging latenight franchise is so bracingly smart it's sure to hook discriminating viewers.
  54. Though it’s hard not to wonder how much better Grease Live! would have been with different leads, it was still so solidly and smartly crafted that the dullness of the central duo didn’t matter all that much. Kail and fellow director Alex Rudzinski, a veteran of “Dancing With the Stars,” gave the affair energy and momentum, their cast was game and their commitment never lagged.
  55. It's a bit of a kitchen-sink approach, frankly, but there are laughs to be found here, along with genuine familial affection--even if the family members don't always have the words to express it.
  56. The combination of [Atwell] and post-World War II setting make the Marvel-branded vehicle, Agent Carter, considerable fun, and in some ways more promising than the series it’s replacing.
  57. After an hour or two, the series has taken on a life of its own, offering a reminder that there’s always room, at least on a niche basis, for another good one.
  58. An enormously entertaining documentary that uses the colorful producer as an eager surrogate to breeze through a half-century of iconic Hollywood and pop music history
  59. Sacrificing and caring for one’s family is expected, after all. What this challenging drama dares to explore is whether that relatively narrow focus leaves much room for extending a spirit of generosity--or even a mild benefit of the doubt--to strangers.
  60. 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
  61. A savvy, acerbic look at how the reality-TV sausage gets made, with all its inherent manipulation, and collateral damage be damned.
  62. Without giving anything away, the guest cast is unusually strong, offering the prospect of fertile subplots going forward, while some of the regulars don’t figure prominently at first--again, pretty par for the course.
  63. 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.
  64. If these first three hours are any guide, Boardwalk looks like it’s heading toward a finish worthy of what preceded it--one that might not be black and white, but will at least provide a sense of where all the bodies are buried.
  65. 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.
  66. Hosted by Vice founder Shane Smith--hardly a natural on camera--the magazine nevertheless resonates precisely because it zeroes in on unsettling tales of violence and cruelty abroad, at a moment when TV news frequently seems preoccupied with trifles at home.
  67. Human Planet can't match the sweeping grandeur of the nature documentaries that preceded it under the same auspices, "Planet Earth" and "Life." But to paraphrase what a kindly farmer once said to his sheepherding pig, It'll do.
  68. Life on Mars offers fine performers, some arresting images, sly satire and a terrific song score.
  69. In general, the dialogue she [director Marina Zenovich] creates between her interviewees and the comedian’s own words and routines, seen in extended excerpts, makes for a highly fascinating exchange that shortchanges no one, least of all the outspoken Pryor himself.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Christy could capture the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie crowds but should also have broader appeal, given the more complex setting and lack of sentimentality.
  70. A documentary that stands nearly as tall as its subject, with the only real flaw being the relatively short shrift afforded to his post-hoops endeavors.
    • 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.
  71. 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.
  72. Unlike "Seinfeld" or "The Larry Sanders Show," which stretch the boundaries of the half-hour comedy form, "Home Improvement" is quite simply an example of the most conventional sitcom evolved to its highest form. All the characters are capable of getting laughs, and the broad physical comedy, added to the show's clever visual style, deftly cut across demographic lines. [9 Mar 1994]
    • Variety
  73. Toy Story of Terror! is about a quarter the length of the average animated feature, but everything else here could easily be mistaken for the bigscreen version, from the pacing and humor to Michael Giacchino’s score.
  74. 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.
  75. Trudeau and his team continue to deliver a show that, while perhaps not the out-and-out smartest scripted inside-the-Beltway series around, qualifies at the very least for the runoff.
    • 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
  76. What has the potential to be absurd--a title pun in search of a series--plays, albeit slowly, as taut and absorbing.
  77. "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.
  78. The Carmichael Show does not set out to re-invent the comedy wheel, but it proves that paying attention to the basics and generally writing to the strengths of a well-calibrated ensemble can pay major dividends. The continuing existence of this lively, well-crafted series is something of a miracle, and so far, it’s one worth celebrating.
  79. 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.
  80. Like "Manchurian Candidate," Homeland does some of its best work via flashbacks to Brody's time in captivity, sprinkling additional tidbits with each glimpse into the past.
  81. 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.
  82. The Man in the High Castle has a solid opening episode and gains weight and heft as it goes, in part due to fantastic world-building.
  83. Not every beat works, but after watching an hour it was hard not to stick with The Returned for the full ride.
  84. 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
  85. 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
  86. 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]
    • Variety
  87. Rectify is a more-than-credible addition to the DVR menu--one more worthy option as we escape into our own little electronic cells of solitary amusement.
  88. 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."
  89. A slickly produced and irresistibly engrossing docu series that offers a multilayered look at various forms of politics.
  90. Somewhat diluted in its split focus on Richard Nixon’s presidential malfeasance and the movie devoted to those acts, the two-hour doc doesn’t break much new ground, but does pore over familiar terrain, and its lingering implications, in an entertaining way.
  91. The feature format is better suited to heroes with clearly defined goals and a fixed timeframe in which to achieve them, whereas Olive Kitteridge has more existential concerns on its mind. That may lead to viewer attrition, as auds tune in for the first hour but may not be necessarily hooked to the end, though each successive episode takes those who remain deeper into the family’s private world.
  92. 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.
    • 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.
  93. Perfectly cast and cleverly paced, consider it a mini-"Masterpiece Mystery" for that franchise’s crime-loving loyalists.

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