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 Breaking Bad: Season 5
Lowest review score: 10 Kings of South Beach: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 765
  2. Negative: 0 out of 765
765 tv reviews
  1. In this case, being respectful comes pretty close to donning a straightjacket. Fortunately, there's enough interest in the couple to provide a built-in audience for this modestly scaled (shot in Bucharest) exercise.
  2. The show saddles its mix of comedy and soap-like drama with tired, well-telegraphed twists and on-the-nose dialogue.
  3. Still, the raw materials--from the island setting to the underused Kim and Park--have more potential than punch in the pilot, resulting in just another crime procedural with a nifty blue-sky backdrop.
  4. All told, it's a rather ignominious birthing process for a movie that isn't painful, necessarily, but delivers little that's worth paying admission to see, either.
  5. The show appears to have put too much faith in its gimmick, and too much weight, at least initially, on the shoulders of its leads.
  6. Handsomely mounted and soaringly scored by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, what A.D. lacks is anything that would distinguish it from earlier screen depictions of this tale, beyond extending the narrative past Jesus’ death to the establishment of Christianity in the face of Roman oppression.
  7. While Coogan is quite good, one still has to wonder what different wrinkles Hoffman might have brought to the material--or, for that matter, what so attracted either of them to a program that has its moments, but beyond the profanity-laced dialogue does little to fulfill the creative potential associated with premium cable.
  8. Demons isn't bad, and some of the makeup effects are reasonably effective; still, compared with the better angels in BBC America's portfolio, it's as weightless and disposable as the fog that enshrouds its most dramatic moments.
  9. The idea of capturing the zombie apocalypse as it began, from a character-driven, family drama point of view, wasn’t a bad one, but this “Walking Dead” spin-off thus far hasn’t developed a cast to keep the premise afloat.
  10. Trekkies will strain to like it because of the concept, though the first episode bows in with too much hardware and only hints of personal interrelationships. But there are intriguing potentials. [30 Jan 1994]
    • Variety
  11. The presence of camera crews is explained by saying it's for a documentary about entry-level jobs, allowing the CEO to secretly interact with several parts of his company before the big reveal. There's some power in that, but the premiere's emotional crescendos come across as surprisingly muted.
  12. Even if the series plays it right down the middle--it’s not exactly good, but not terrible either--that might be all that’s needed to succeed.
  13. Aside from what's happening with Charlie, the rest of Hope plays like a stock hospital-set soap.
  14. While the playful banter among cops and robbers thrown together on the same side has its moments, the characters aren't strong enough, initially, to set off any alarms.
  15. The production has grit, yes, but for all its poking and prodding at what makes the title character and his quarry tick, Thorne never gets under your skin.
  16. It's pretty clear The Real L Word is just another reality show that's only moderately real --the further adventures of "The L Word" with a non-SAG cast.
  17. While Marco Polo possesses scope, scale and an inordinate amount of exposed skin, the series exhibits only a sporadic pulse. That leaves a property that can be fun taken strictly on its own terms, but deficient in the binge-worthy qualities upon which Netflix’s distribution system has relied.
  18. 7 Days in Hell has its share of strong points, and given the marquee names involved, it’s easy to see why HBO would provide subscribers with a courtside seat. That said, the highlights are offset by enough faults, as the match drags on, to prevent this from being scored as a clear-cut winner.
  19. It has heart but no teeth, charm without chutzpah. [21 Sept 1998, p.46]
    • Variety
  20. Those who have willingly accepted Tyson back into the cultural mainstream--as an item of kitsch or sheer fascination--might wind up scratching their heads over the series’ motivation, which, as the episodes are constructed, feels like the entire point. And while there’s precedent for that, it feels like slim compensation even in such a modest package.
  21. Coma still provides a few arresting images of what happens to the coma victims, but there's simply too much silliness in the overwrought second half.
  22. Aside from the occasional line that’s slightly bluer than what can be gotten away with on most network fare, there’s precious little here to distinguish the series.
  23. Despite a fine job casting the show--including the principals’ youthful alter egos--the story becomes less convincing as the layers and collateral damage pile up over the nine episodes previewed (with only the finale withheld).
  24. Once he got past the opening, very little in the premiere could be called inspired. The set didn't break any ground cosmetically, and director Allan Kartun's fondness for shooting O'Brien from behind during the monologue seemed perplexing, if not distracting.
  25. The show isn't necessarily bad; if only it thought with something other than its schmeckel.
  26. Made in Jersey looks reasonably polished, without doing much to plant its hook particularly deep.
  27. Happy Endings isn't unpleasant, certainly, but might face the same dilemma as its characters: An inability to make--or at least keep--enough new friends.
  28. These hours rely on devices like seeing dead people, while detouring from the central character’s selfless concern about her family to explore subplots that are, almost without exception, relentlessly ordinary. It’s a shame, since Linney still delivers compelling moments.
  29. Gold Rush brims with can-do spirit, but such an exercise is only as good as its characters, and after two installments, it's hard to distinguish one prospector from the next.
  30. So thus far, anyway, it's a promising concept inconsistently executed, and perhaps a trifle miscast.
  31. Barson has made a doc too narrow in scope, with about as much substance as a meringue pie in the face.
  32. Single and in their 30s, each is a distinct blend of guile, guts and needfulness, traipsing through the dating world with predictable and even trite results, their chatter constantly hitting on sex, relationships and sex. Some good acting and some nicely shot romantic interludes provide some redemption for the series, but scripts need to loosen up and inherit some of the playfulness the actresses bring to their roles. [3 June 1998]
    • Variety
  33. The swan-song episodes (and the pay service made all 12 available in advance) is emblematic of what’s been fun about the show but also the balancing weight of what’s wrong with it, including a slightly cloying aspect to the central relationship that makes it hard to care about its outcome.
  34. Despite some funny bits and solid supporting players--including JoBeth Williams, a recurring character as Jake’s disapproving mom--the writing also works a bit too hard at times.
  35. The second flight of episodes shares much with year one -- showy [performances] tethered to uneven writing and a less-defined premise than those of other top pay TV dramas.
  36. As was the case in its first season, there’s noticeable drag in the story every moment Ballers spends away from protagonist Spencer Strasmore (Johnson).
  37. Measured against the yardstick of their own lofty standards, the show comes up a little short.
  38. As constructed, though, the series has no teeth, and a sensibility that's slim even for cable.
  39. Joining the story a decade into the colonists' stay does provide series creator Ben Richards ("MI:5") an opportunity to gradually putty in the backstory, but other than Tate--thanks mostly to Cunningham's commanding presence--it's difficult to determine who we should care about here, beyond the littler matter of the human race's collective survival.
  40. Too uneven to be satisfying--flitting from grisly violence to elaborate dream sequences to the occasional flourish seemingly plucked from Mel Brooks’ “History of the World.”
  41. Assembled through an open call, the cast (many of whom are 17 or 18) is extraordinarily natural. Where Elsley stumbles--especially in the opener--is the exaggerated dialogue, often more borscht-belt comedian than actual kid.
  42. Casting actors like Robert Knepper, Milo Ventimiglia and DeMunn among the assorted cops and robbers certainly lends a patina of quality to the proceedings, but can’t trump the general sluggishness of the presentation--or, for aficionados of the period, the fact these same hoods and heroes have been fictionalized with more verve elsewhere.
  43. Alex's gender does open the door to further explore the era's sexual politics, but much of that was still addressed in the first show, and Hawes' dry performance doesn't seriously alter the dynamics.
  44. The movie settles for a rather dutiful tick-tock of episodes and shootouts, counting down toward the inevitable with plenty of on-air script indicating the time and place before each event.
  45. Former "Revenge of the Nerds" stars Carradine and Armstrong (who helped develop the concept) do appear to have fun, but after the opening kick of seeing them reunited in this fashion, even that begins to yield diminishing returns.
  46. Arthur & George (adapted by Ed Whitmore from Julian Barnes’ book, and directed by Stuart Orme) is understated to the point of sleepy, and doesn’t sprinkle enough red herrings to provoke much guessing or suspense as to what actually transpired.
  47. There are enough converging storylines to keep those who have become invested in the program hooked right up until the end.... From the perspective of someone who never fully bought into the premise, however, the series remains a modest diversion, with curiosity about the current story tempered by the dizzying contortions.
  48. The pilot goes down smoothly enough, but lacking a single novel beat and with no one but Peregrym registering, there's simply no compelling reason to make another visit to this precinct
  49. Not surprisingly, there are still worthy elements at work here, from the casting to the idea of a religious awakening and what amount to pilgrimages to Miracle in the wake of the departures. As with season one, however, the situations don’t progress in a cohesive manner, and the show feels equally disjointed in terms of style.
  50. Woods is such a compelling presence that he might be able to elevate even procedural fare.
  51. The series does feature some solid performers in supporting roles, including Kevin J. O'Connor and "The Wire's" Larry Gilliard Jr., and the close of the second hour offers a modest tug to see where the story arc might be heading. The actual cops-and-robbers stuff, however, remains mundane at best.
  52. The episode only sparked to life when Harris and guest announcer Reese Witherspoon engaged in a climbing stunt, which left the actress looking understandably flustered. What the series couldn’t sustain, the efforts of Harris and the wildly appreciative studio audience notwithstanding, was any consistent sense of spontaneity.
  53. It looks absolutely lovely: The Empire-waist gowns! The parties! The jaw-dropping palaces! There are undoubtedly treats for the eyes in almost every direction. As for the story, however, War and Peace feels like a long, dull slog to Moscow.
  54. Brooklyn DA does provide some behind-the-curtain looks at the legal process (including a superior helping a young attorney massage and strengthen her opening statement for court), but for any regular viewer of TV legal dramas, there’s not a lot here you haven’t seen before, in one form or another.
  55. Those who enjoyed "The Closer" will still find something, if probably not as much, to like about this closer, too. Or really, "Closer 2."
  56. Fleming works only fitfully, despite conjuring an impeccable period look and feel filming in a trio of locales.
  57. All told, it’s sort of a shame Agent Carter isn’t more compelling, since the impeccable period trappings and costumes make the series a nice change of pace, at least visually. Get past the surface, though, and it once again looks as if the show has been relegated to the role of little more than handsome placeholder to break up “SHIELD’s” season.
  58. A breezy but uninspired half-hour defined by Matt LeBlanc's willingness to portray Matt LeBlanc as a swaggering jerk.
  59. Like a lot of newly minted grads, Underemployed doesn't qualify as an instant success. Yet viewed in the context of its ambitions, neither can it be dismissed as an underachiever.
  60. For those who buy into the MacFarlane formula this is all riotous fun. For the rest of us, it's a bit like Dane Cook's stand-up act--a reminder that what tickles current teens and twentysomethings is often markedly different from the satirical material that amused their parents.
  61. Arrested Development’s long-awaited encore is like a lot of TV development--namely, an interesting idea that was more exciting on paper.
  62. A mixed bag both creatively and conceptually. [24 Sept 2003, p.2]
    • Variety
  63. Simply put, there’s just not much sense of urgency in, or compelling need for, The New Yorker Presents, which will offer two new installments each Tuesday.... Even those who enjoy leafing through a hard copy of its pages might find themselves feeling a trifle bored trying to wade through the video version.
  64. The participants in this mildy fun yet wholly disposable exercise would be wise not to dwell on calculating their chances of network survival.
  65. All told, it's a respectable niche addition but won't make anyone old enough to remember "In Living Color" apt to forget it.
  66. Despite cosmetic flourishes (this time even Bosley has six-pack abs) and a few modest wrinkles, it's hard to escape feeling this is the same old excuse to put "babes" in skimpy outfits, both to thwart evil and inspire swearing off fatty foods.
  67. "Flight" is pretty much a snooze until the music starts, at which point the show kicks up into something quite weird and occasionally wonderful.
  68. Get past the baubles, though, and the series simply feels too derivative to be truly exciting or particularly suspenseful. So while the casting and format should be enough to help Scream Queens make some initial noise ratings-wise, creatively speaking, there’s just not much here to shout about.
  69. Cut through the window dressing, though, and it’s just another way of putting fresh paint on a procedural.
  70. Viewers looking for polished fashion and couture really won't find much here...On the plus side, judges Cynthia Rowley, Derek Blasberg and James LaForce are far more likable and approachable than most TV experts.
  71. The series isn’t bad, but it would have been so much more interesting if instead of just watching Forrest run, we had a better grasp of what makes him tick.
  72. It's all fairly predictable.
  73. It's hard not to marvel at how many comedy genres Princes manages to shoehorn into one package.
  74. The superficiality and inconsistencies of Colony’s world might be less noticeable if the characters were deeper and richer, but they’re not terribly compelling, despite the divided loyalties the show plants early on.
  75. The result is a series that wants to do good and still have enough "edge" to do well in the rough-and-tumble, less-nurturing environment of reality TV, which feels out of step with all the good vibrations.
  76. In this digital age, it’s nice to see the Muppet-maker still hiring, but there’s simply nothing special enough about this Challenge to warrant another show the next time there’s an opening; better instead to go through plain old human-resource channels.
  77. While one suspects Jason will have to wait a while before being reunited with that sub in which his journey began, about the best one can say regarding this leaky vehicle is that it proves slightly better than substandard.
  78. Despite the considerable craft that has gone into creating a world designed to take on a life of its own, it’s difficult to see how the serialized narrative can run much longer without beginning to muck up its own Hitchcockian mythology.
  79. The movie features plenty of the predictable near misses and fortuitous moments en route to 192 episodes and oodles of syndication cash..... Fortunately, the project delivers a slightly higher TV IQ than its predecessor, with a couple of reasonably funny (and historically accurate) bits.
  80. Despite laudable elements -- particularly the magnetic Oded Fehr as the cell leader -- [the] series is too uneven to dub this ambitious mission a complete success.
  81. An inoffensive but not particularly distinguished half-hour.
  82. As is, South Riding (named for its fictional community in Yorkshire) is a handsome production, but not an especially memorable one--conjuring only a few moments worthy of the "Masterpiece" pedigree before riding into the sunset.
  83. Kargman sells the bewilderment and exasperation well enough, but the series is as slim as its size-zero dresses. Moreover, there’s precious little sense of irony evident in a program that satirizes ostentatious displays of fabulousness on a channel that wallows in them elsewhere.
  84. Simultaneously juggling a quartet of plots is hardly unusual for the modern major drama, but Humans doesn’t wring much life (artificial or otherwise) from any of them. And while there are unexpected twists and mysteries that linger through the second hour, they’re not compelling enough to arouse much curiosity about where they might begin to intersect.
  85. As handsome as the production is, the nature of Boyd's novel makes the miniseries episodic, and the tone of those encounters tends to be highly uneven. While experiencing abundant tragedy in his life, the protagonist's vulnerability doesn't translate very well in carrying the story, even with such a stalwart trio of actors playing him.
  86. What Secret Millionaire has no time to explore, conveniently, are the causes of poverty or any larger issues. It is, essentially, all about creating a cathartic experience, where the millionaire's checks affix band-aids to everything from soup kitchens to kidney-dialysis patients.
  87. So while The Crimson Petal is tough, grim and explicit--and by the last measure provocative, at least relative to those accustomed to Dickens or Austen--the production finally feels unworthy of its length or leading lady.
  88. Jackie remains watchable thanks primarily to Falco, although the best moments are almost invariably dramatic, not humorous.
  89. It's the very epitome of Winfrey's pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps," live your best life" motto. For all that, she's a poor object of sympathy--whining about having squandered a privileged and pampered existence few could imagine ever enjoying.
  90. Based on first impressions, Quantico seems to be stationed in a more mundane realm. The question now is whether the show can get away with it.
  91. While the premise might appear to be plumbing some of the same culture-clash depths as FX’s “The Bridge,” in other words, it mostly settles for being an old-fashioned procedural.
  92. For fans of westerns, the production offers a reasonably gritty view of the period, and a few unforeseen twists. But it does little to whet one’s appetite for a series pickup.
  93. While Compared to What provides welcome insight into the man, his contributions and how the times gradually changed around him, the filmmakers could have used a clearer road map before embarking on this improbable, scattered, yet mostly entertaining “Journey.”
  94. While hardly a horse of a different color, at least this Weinstein Co.-backed project is a relatively smooth ride for those who’ve been to the reality rodeo.
  95. Other than Cummings' slightly off-kilter view of relationships as writer and star, Whitney as a construct is more spindly than her legs.
  96. That backdrop [water and bikinis] hardly casts enough of a glow to offset the nondescript characters and premise in a series that isn't bad, necessarily, but simply ordinary in most every way--as if it were plucked, via time capsule, from 1984.
  97. After three installments, The Fades' existential components remain somewhat muddled, with the portentous warnings offering small compensation or incentive to hang around long enough to see whether mankind survives.
  98. While the movies were successful, it’s hard to say spinning off a series based on such lightweight material was in any way overdue.
  99. Frankly, the ability of these shows to keep proliferating--and still spawn the occasional success--remains something of a mystery, but The Next, however inoffensive, might more accurately be called simply "The Latest."
  100. Arrow certainly looks polished (having David Nutter direct a pilot virtually insures that), but there's only so much action an hourlong drama can afford, and the characters necessary to sustain the series are, initially, strictly two-dimensional, even with the island as a go-to flashback.

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