Variety's Scores

For 1,796 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 7.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 Deadwood: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Fashion House (2006): Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 702
  2. Negative: 0 out of 702
702 tv reviews
  1. For all his skills as a performer, though, Fallon is still a question mark in terms of his ability to make magic out of nothing at the desk, the place where Johnny Carson and David Letterman thrived--and endured. And frankly, his “Aw shucks, I’m just so happy to be here” posture in Monday’s maiden interviews with Smith and U2 got a little tedious even before the night was over.
  2. Easy to dismiss at first glance, the series does exhibit some possibilities in its second episode, though it's still a relatively uninspired time-killer for those of us with just one life to live.
  3. "Psych" isn't nearly as much fun as it ought to be, offering a breezy but not particularly captivating twist on a very well-worn buddy formula.
  4. While the premiere is very fast-paced and action-packed--created by Martin Gero, working in conjunction with prolific showrunner Greg Berlanti, taking a sort-of break from superheroes--one can see pretty quickly where all this is heading.
  5. But more often than not CSI isn't sure if it's trying to be intellectual or just sensational. John M. Keane's heavy-handed music, inversely proportional to the events onscreen, doesn't help. Subsequent episodes would do better to pull back on attention-grabbing stunts in favor of the mystery and drama that lies at the core of this premise. [4 Oct 2000, p.2]
    • Variety
  6. Season two, unfortunately, takes that start and heads in the wrong direction.
  7. While the show is certainly handsomely done, the fish-out-of-water dialogue already feels a little green around the gills.
  8. Yet as nice as it is to see another sitcom with dollops of heart (you can count the “aww” moments) built around a real-looking woman (Alonzo co-created the series with Kevin Hench), that’s about the only thing that distinguishes Cristela from what once occupied these environs back in ABC’s “TGIF” days. Nor does a second episode--in which Cristela’s sister pushes her to date online--suggest the show has much more in mind than recycling familiar plots.
  9. Another Stephen King adaptation that started with considerable promise but, as packaged for TV, lacked the necessary cohesion to go the distance.
  10. Too often, Doll & Em feels like a poor man’s (or woman’s) version of Ricky Gervais’ “Extras,” providing a rather jaundiced Brits-eye-view of showbiz.
  11. While Bunk dares to be odd--one contestant is playing to trade lives with a baby--this is mostly TV for the chemically enhanced, in the Adult Swim mode.
  12. The backstory, frankly, is much better than the special, and one wishes more of it had found a way into this 49-minute project.
  13. Admittedly, nothing here will make anyone forget "3rd Rock" or "Seinfeld." But watching The Exes after TV Land's "Retired at 35" or "Happily Divorced," it seems reasonable to settle.
  14. While Limitless is competently executed, what it lacks, finally, is any spark of inspiration. And alas, there’s no pill for that.
  15. The mixture isn't dynamite but does have moments of quirky charm, and at least marks a step up in class from "Allen Gregory."
  16. Actually, the series peaks in its opening credits and introduction, which cleverly approximate the fictional public-TV documentary showcase from which the show derives its name.... From there, though, Documentary Now! becomes an exceedingly hit-miss proposition.
  17. That restraint, if that's the right word for it, leaves the program feeling muddled, spending too much time with the younger Borgias--who only live up to the "bore" part--and the labyrinthine workings of Vatican politics.
  18. While the filmmakers conjure plenty of big-shouldered moments, Chicagoland--the name notwithstanding--doesn’t establish itself as much of a TV destination.
  19. While the series incorporates a specific quest element in the form of its possible “last, best hope to save humanity,” there’s just not enough to distinguish it from the other programs dealing more inventively with similar material, including “Dead” and this summer’s FX entry “The Strain.”
  20. This feels at best like a utility player--a hodge-podge of gameshows past. In other words, if there's anything else compelling to watch on another channel--Whoosh!--look out below.
  21. The show might have a better chance at maintaining interest if it stuck with a central quartet and followed them over the course of its entire run. Instead, there’s little rhyme or reason to how long the players stick around.
  22. Only time will tell how well the chemistry holds up and evolves among the central quartet, but despite all the changes (including a new showrunner), The View hasn’t done much more than rearrange--and perhaps reupholster--the chairs.
  23. One trouble is that Crane and Walters don't come near striking a spark; episode's final, unprepared-for scene, in which they profess a mutual declaration, goes clunk. [9 Aug 1996]
    • Variety
  24. For now, Empire feels more like an opening act than a marquee player, one that will need--even more than a good lead-in--luck and time to find its groove.
  25. The Middle appropriately falls somewhere in the middle, in a zone where the immediate challenge has less to do with being flown-over than flipped-away from.
  26. Ellis is fine, but it’s all pretty tired stuff--"Entourage" with a medical degree.
  27. For now, Low Winter Sun has created a reasonably compelling universe, without as yet establishing the gravitational pull necessary to ensure viewers stay in its orbit.
  28. Although Harrison's baffled newcomer, Slater's mysterious honcho and the elaborate CalTech-style pranks have potential, there's cause to fear the gizmo-driven plots will become repetitive quickly. And while the pilot is fast-paced--with rapid-fire flashes to visual gags, almost like one of Seth MacFarlane's animated Fox comedies--it's not like the nerd-spy-girl template has enabled "Chuck" to hack its way into the hearts of Nielsen viewers (or at least, their peoplemeters).
  29. The series doesn't generate nearly enough highlights to merit a filibuster-proof yea vote, much less a ticker-tape parade.
  30. While everything here is reasonably compatible with lead-in “Burn Notice,” the few high notes ultimately can’t disguise how ordinary a visit to Graceland feels.
  31. While Salem isn’t bad, necessarily, it doesn’t conjure any magic, either.
  32. Perhaps appropriately, the period trappings and costumes are impeccable, part of a miniseries that weaves six production logos into its hemline--suggesting more commerce than art in its conception.
  33. Throw a bouquet, then, strictly to the casting folks for the assortment of types they've assembled. Beyond that, Stylista qualifies as fierce, to borrow producer Tyra Banks' phraseology, only in its steadfast commitment to copying the same old models.
  34. The opening two episodes are characteristically entertaining, and snap along pretty briskly (the first is in real time), but it’s hard to escape a sense of creative malaise around all this.
  35. It’s only too bad the writers (Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Chris Harris) don’t start by grounding their charges with a little more humanity; instead, the trio proves so mismatched and exaggerated as to have a very long way to reach any sort of common ground.
  36. What this benign, not-all-that-colorful sojourn to Alabama unleashes feels a lot closer to a pastel drip than a crimson tide.
  37. Even if the material is a trifle slight, pairing of John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor brightens matters, serving up smiles if not outright guffaws.
  38. The history of the concept is, at this point, far more interesting than the series itself.
  39. Jungle Gold uses every available editing trick to heighten the tension and get the audience rooting for Scott and George, but the approach is so steeped in xenophobia and Great White Hunter short-hand this might as well have been made in the 1930s.
  40. Despite fine elements, then, the show feels a trifle rudderless--content to deal in edgy high-school archetypes (a gay kid, an irreverent Muslim youth, even one boy with a "Dawson's"-like crush on his teacher), but archetypes nevertheless.
  41. Ultimately, though, it all feels a bit more clever on the page than the screen, and the music becomes too much of a good thing, given its ubiquity.
  42. Although generally watchable, the inspiration that turned the first [season] into an obsession for many seems to have drained out of writer Nic Pizzolatto’s prose.
  43. Over the course of three episodes, some funny moments do emerge, but too often the writing feels as if it’s veering out of its lane to make points instead of doing so organically.
  44. Although the show works a little too hard at being quirky, "Head Cases" does deliver a pair of well-defined protagonists, but initially not the kind of obsessive-compulsive magnetism it will need to flourish in a pretty inhospitable timeslot.
  45. Alas, pretty much everything in Blood & Oil, created by Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne, has that kind of on-the-nose quality, with nary a surprise in the first hour.
  46. It tries to do too much at once in its opening episodes, which ultimately undercuts their overall effectiveness. Storylines about rogue elements, terrorist machinations, a missing woman and political gamesmanship are all crammed into hours that have very little room to breathe.
  47. Diminished expectations might be the best thing the program has going for it, though if forced to commit, it’s at best a “hold” recommendation.
  48. Despite a big-name cast that includes Amy Brenneman and Liv Tyler, at times feels like less than the sum of its parts. At least initially, the series is driven largely by its tone (Max Richter’s score is especially helpful in that regard), and it’s bound to make people think, which is by itself something of an accomplishment.
  49. In the pilot, the writing hews toward the obvious and predictable, perhaps in part because it’s racing along to establish the premise.
  50. Baio doesn't do much to elevate the limp material, but he doesn't sink it either.
  51. Ascension” initially mixes genuinely clever twists with what amounts to a semi-claustrophobic soap opera.... Yet as the mythology mounts, some of the parallel plots become considerably less interesting, even as Levens keeps piling on additional sci-fi riffs and cliches.
  52. Not surprisingly, there’s lots of boastful bravado and sniping, but even a smidgen of originality, alas, isn’t part of the floor plan.
  53. The series resides at its own kind of crossroads: a serious project that aspires to foster greater understanding of and sensitivity toward the transgender community as well as those close to them, but which--by indulging in some of the bad habits endemic to this form of unscripted fare--itself remains a work in progress.
  54. The tired nature of the material suggests this could be one of those TV operations that’s hard to deem a complete success even if the patient lives.
  55. Created by David Schulner, the series has done itself a disservice by hewing away from the fantastic and toward the mundane.
  56. There’s an underlying smirk to the proceedings, something the producers appear happy enough to exploit.
  57. All told, there's enough here to stick around a little while, but this is one of those premises almost designed to strain plausibility over time.
  58. The half-hour episodes feel a bit like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch stretched to its limits--fun for a while, then a trifle repetitive.
  59. Turkey Hollow clearly trades on the Henson name, given how generic this story is. Nevertheless, it’s in keeping with the spirit of its namesake’s work, and represents a kind of gooey throwback to the days when networks regularly churned out such holiday specials.
  60. Chow’s flat direction does little to elevate the action beyond the level of staged reading. It’s hard to fault the actors, although Graham seems unfortunately miscast in a role that requires a degree of coldblooded cunning she’s simply too sweet to pull off. Shipka radiates natural intelligence and poise.
  61. Househusbands pretends to be about shifting marital dynamics and social mores, and almost by accident, there is some evidence of that. Mostly, though, it's just another family sitcom starring a bunch of actors--and one ambitious morning TV host--auditioning for their next jobs.
  62. Ahile (Dis)connected registers some interesting points about those shifting dynamics, stitched together in the manner it is, it can't even connect the dots.
  63. In short, Same Name is too respectful to both halves of its equation to be fully engaging by reality-TV standards.
  64. The mothers are reasonably interchangeable in the early going, and most of them fit an instant type--many overweight, cultivating the image of someone who either saw better days or never enjoyed them, and who now lives vicariously through her daughter.
  65. While the subject matter certainly feels timely given chaotic events abroad and the show possesses a strong creative pedigree, it also suffers from a sense of self-importance that drags at the whole exercise.
  66. Filled with cliches, the TNT series benefits from the casting of Jennifer Beals in the central role, but handcuffs her with a drab character and dead-end (pardon the pun) concept.
  67. The series remains a collection of moments (creepy, campy, revolting) and stock characters, designed more to provoke and earn the "TV-MA" rating than to interact.
  68. The series is a pretty good metaphor for the original law firm: outwardly slick and polished, but with a hollow core.
  69. Even with an attractive cast and tart moments, the whole remains less than the sum of its parts.
  70. The movie runs 104 minutes, which results in additional clunky dialogue and exposition to connect the musical numbers generated by a small army of songwriters and producers, and choreographed by Christopher Scott and director Jeffrey Hornaday. While a few of those performances stand out--including a clever one about how much better it is to be in the movies--there’s a semi-numbing sameness to the pop hooks and vocals.
  71. America's Toughest Jobs misfires, primarily, due to the fact that the elimination component feels like a tired add-on to the summer-camp-for-adults premise.
  72. The name recognition notwithstanding, there’s precious little to distinguish Girl Meets World from a parade of similarly themed Disney Channel live-action series, built around life on the cusp of puberty, featuring stars slightly older than the girl demo apt to watch.
  73. As is, there's nary a beat in Emily Owens' pitter-pattering heart we haven't seen elsewhere, as if the whole thing was stitched together from pieces of medical-and young-adult series past.
  74. [It] basically plays like "Deal," inasmuch as the questions are so simple that amassing thousands isn't much harder than guessing which case to open.
  75. Ultimately, it feels like one joke stretched far too thin, with the added complication that its jokey approach to religion is likely to offend some people without compensating for that with thoughtful satire.
  76. Visually uninspired and stiffly animated, the show indulges in lots of talk and little action.
  77. Cast changes and additions (a la Jennifer Hudson's new diva) can't obscure a skein whose soapy doings drown out its tunes, and where even the music often comes across as flat.
  78. Its constant narration and not-very-suspenseful murder of the week, iZombie feels like just another way to do a youth-oriented copshow, even if it’s garnished with flourishes like comicbook captions.
  79. Even so, the disjointed, choppy approach leaves this meticulously outfitted production looking overdressed for the occasion, and while there are enough moving parts to potentially turn up something interesting, turbulent takeoffs seldom bode well for the rest of the trip.
  80. [The pilot] works a little too hard at establishing a fun-loving, "Swingers""Swingers"-type tone, though at least that represents something of an alternative to "CSI: NY" and ABC's new procedural "The Evidence."
  81. The Gabby Douglas Story is pretty much made of spit and bailing wire. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it renders the otherwise stirring story of this golden girl barely worthy of a bronze.
  82. For anyone engaged in this discussion, merely capturing how the Constitution remains relevant can’t help but feel a trifle wishy-washy and simplistic.
  83. After the first two episodes, the series looks less like a part of that collection, and more like a factory-made knockoff stitched together from pieces of other shows.
  84. Speed doesn't kill, necessarily, but it can't save weak material either. And after viewing the second episode--in which the defendant is a stripper and her sister a nun--let's just say there seems to be little danger of anyone succumbing to mental exhaustion in the writers' room.
  85. If the underlying formula is as old as “Dark Shadows,” there’s still a need for more narrative momentum than the 13-episode series initially delivers.
  86. As it stands, to put it in Western terms, Longmire is all hat, and no cattle.
  87. Zoo might build toward something more satisfying, but based on the premiere, there’s not particularly strong incentive to take the bait.
  88. Serving as producer and star, Cox's cache might help get the program sampled, but if the pilot is indicative of the show's direction, it's unlikely many will yearn to linger for long in Cougar Town's untidy litter box.
  89. Not surprisingly, the producers assemble a sizable, attractive and appropriately diverse cast, albeit without giving many of them much to distinguish their characters, who--whatever the color of their scrubs--simply blend together.
  90. It's a fairly impressive cast (of characters, not cars), albeit one left skidding around on a rather slippery premise.
  91. Mostly, though, Mob Wives arrives too late on familiar turf to be truly interesting, and even with ample doses of bleeped expletives that almost outnumber the audible words, free-flowing tears and (yes) a hair-pulling fight in the "This season on" tease, the situations come off as staged and contrived.
  92. Uninspired writing and Rose's lack of heft combine to undermine the Parker character, who is pivotal not only as the newcomer to this latest permutation of unusual TV hamlets but figures in a serialized twist about what might have brought her the assignment.
  93. As fertile as the mid-1980s are for comedy, however, the pilot is too often grating--with a little of Garlin, in particular, going a long way.
  94. Most of the beats suffer from a been-there quality, and there's a glut of interlocking storylines that might be less of an issue, admittedly, if two or three really merited attention.
  95. Besides a few screwball scenes and hints at a possible pairing a la "Romancing the Stone" between Danny and moony-eyed romance novelist Kate Providence (Christine Lakin), the rest feels rather ridiculous.
  96. It's just that Merlin is clearly shopping for tricks in the bargain bin, and like the song says, the new Camelot's shining moments are all too brief, indeed.
  97. William Shatner makes the pilot barely watchable, but only because the fleeting moments of heart overshadow the mostly limp one-liners. In a business obsessed with younger demos, the septuagenarian Shatner is an unlikely sitcom star, but he provides the lone spark in this otherwise-formulaic comedy.
  98. Given how familiar the premise is, the show's modest appeal hinges entirely on the cast's marginal chemistry and the rapid-fire jokes, making for at best a hit-miss proposition.
  99. Women's Murder Club has the tone of a show that's designed rather than crafted, a show more concerned about appealing to a target demographic instead of just flowing.
  100. It's hard to escape the sense we're watching the bastard child of the union between "Shark" and "House."

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