Variety's Scores

For 1,638 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 8.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Office (UK): Season 2
Lowest review score: 10 The 1/2 Hour News Hour: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 642
  2. Negative: 0 out of 642
642 tv reviews
  1. With a concept and general feeling this tired, when it comes to forging any lasting bonds, Family will likely discover water is thicker than blood.
  2. Beyond Greer's latter-day Mary Tyler Moore shtick, there's not a note or character that doesn't feel warmed over.
  3. Tomorrow People simply feels too much like a knockoff of more familiar genetic superhumans.
  4. Other than enjoying Maslany in multiple characters, wigs and accents, there’s nothing so distinctive about the plot as to provide an incentive to hang around long enough to sort out all the gory details regarding who might want to eliminate them.
  5. Mostly, though, Gary trades insults with his ex-wife (Paula Marshall, who really needs to stop jumping into the sack with uninspired series) and stammers toward the beautiful young woman (Jaime King) with whom he's in bed when the premiere begins. The prospects for transforming that slim premise into a satisfying show would seem less grim if those elements could survive a half-hour.
  6. Beyond snapshots of his quarter-century of tyranny, though, there's precious little that penetrates the surface, despite vague references to his stepfather slapping him around.
  7. There is, inevitably, the promise of chemistry developing between the central duo, but even that only makes the series feel more mundane than its concept.
  8. Defiance isn’t any worse than some of the so-so international imports Syfy has picked up to add original spice to its lineup, but the ingenuity that went into the process of conceiving the game and show together--as well as the nifty look, visual effects and makeup--simply aren’t matched by similar effort regarding story and plot.
  9. The cloak-and-dagger stuff, however, proves terribly mild, and the romance stiff and hackneyed.
  10. Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, a by-the-numbers extension of another Eye network franchise.
  11. Before long, issues of pregnancy will assail both generations, giving birth to subplots that become so credulity-straining it's hard not to yearn for another song to relieve them.
  12. The strongest and one redeeming storyline involves Raver.
  13. To the producers' credit, this storyline advances fairly rapidly; it's just not that engaging or surprising.
  14. What's really missing are the kind of big conflicts and geopolitics--the king's war with the Vatican, say--that gave "The Tudors" what little heft it possessed. Lacking that, the focus falls more squarely on Rhys Meyers, who isn't convincing enough in either appearance or bearing.
  15. The cast is actually quite good, including some interesting additions in the early going.... But the best thing now would be to provide fans some closure, while bringing The Following--and the killing--to an end.
  16. The series opens with the doctors taking a cliff plunge into the inviting ocean, but this is a show where nothing qualifies as a creative leap, much less the sort of dive to merit keeping Off the Map on viewers' radar.
  17. Ultimately, improv is always going to be a hit-miss proposition. But despite being inordinately literal about its hits, Riot proves too liberal with its misses.
  18. The premiere feels less inspired than cynical--a project where the motivation seems not so much inspired by creativity as by demographics, and the potential to reel in a younger audience.
  19. From the tramp to the Christians, everyone but Amy feels more like a type than a genuine character. Although a degree of shorthand is to be forgiven, these characters are caricatures at best as the series careens all over the place.
  20. Unfortunately, Allison is such a passive heroine that it's hard to get too involved with her, and Arquette doesn't bring much life to the role. Moreover, the episodes made available are virtually devoid of supporting players or any workplace tension to augment her relatively staid (by TV standards, anyway) home life. [3 Jan 2005]
    • Variety
  21. The problem with the new approach, even in the premiere, is it feels like some bits are being padded to avoid front-loading the show.
  22. This South Africa-lensed production might tempt adventure-seeking viewers to plunge into its crystal-blue waters, but despite some handsome aspects, the show ultimately proves as hollow as its CGI-rendered ships.
  23. The bosses serve up enough cringe-worthy exchanges to make the series a sort-of wonderful hot mess.
  24. There’s still a distinction to be drawn between “light” and “weightless,” which is roughly where this new show registers--in part because the Olivia-Jack relationship is the only aspect with any resonance.
  25. The show's cast is potentially likable; once they're given a script that doesn't feel so derivative and stuck on a single note, show could blossom. [23 Sept 2002, p.22]
    • Variety
  26. Forgive TNT for returning to the ampersand well (following “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Franklin & Bash”), but creatively speaking, this is all fairly stale & mediocre.
  27. Granted, the women--mostly in their early 20s, and seemingly chosen to reflect every bad stereotype harbored about their demo--do their part to inspire viewers to root for those aiming to deceive them.
  28. Exec producers David Simkins and Jack Kenny might still make something of this hash, but the concept has the decided feel of an idea that's been batted around and put through a homogenizing blender.
  29. The central mother-son dynamic and its moments of warmth can’t overcome the weariness that permeates the rest of the show and cast.
  30. If brilliant, psychotic lunatics are your bag, by all means, climb aboard.
  31. The real puzzler is how many clients seem completely unabashed about having their preferences and fetishes captured on film--undaunted by paid-for frolicking (between two, or more, consenting adults) with a camera crew in tow. Once you get past that, the series proves reasonably compelling while relying on typical tricks of the trade--a brand of pandering commonly known as "reality TV."
  32. Life Is But a Dream simply plays like a video diary, a less-salacious version of the brand of self-confessional "celeb-reality" shows overpopulating cable TV, albeit with lower-octane stars.
  33. The shiny exterior and show-within-a-show construct can't obscure the pilot's general incoherence--or nagging questions about where any of this might be heading.
  34. Hollywood Heights comes out flat in a manner that, far from Loren's contortions to see Eddie, isn't worth breaking curfew to see.
  35. Far from any inspiration, this show feels not just like it was created by a committee, but a Senate subcommittee at that. And in TV terms, that’s a pretty sorry state of affairs.
  36. Everything about the show screams small potatoes -- including the $5,000 payday for successfully fulfilling a challenge--which would be fine if the execution didn't feel so stilted. As is, this lightweight diversion yields a few amusing moments thanks to the assortment of folks the two actors encounter.
  37. Its characters, while mildly colorful, are so eager to please they become kind of a drag.
  38. Sticking absurdly close to the same formula as the original, down to the opening theme and the filming style, the new version lacks that same sense of wonder and awe that Beverly Hills decadence and excesses once held over viewers.
  39. Rob might be a lot things, but "smart" isn't an adjective apt to crop up frequently in connection with it.
  40. For a show like this to work, ultimately, the characters have to take hold and be able to move viewers beyond the initial set-up. But if the pilot is any indication, these folks don’t fill the bill.
  41. The cast and writing (the showrunner is Mike Kelley, coming off CBS' vastly superior "Swingtown") are efficient enough, but nothing really pops--other than perhaps the desire to run out and eat a nice, heavy, carbo-laden meal.
  42. So boring? You betcha--perhaps even for many who otherwise admire Palin.
  43. Like a test-tube baby, "Inconceivable" has the feeling of a series birthed less by passion than clinical precision.
  44. Credit the veteran cast with making the series barely tolerable, but for the most part "Crumbs" is pretty crummy, the sitcom deconstructed to its most primordial form.
  45. There is one genuinely laugh-out-loud sight gag at the opener’s very end, although that probably comes too late to spray enough air freshener over this revival to cause Felix to honk and wheeze.
  46. It’s hard to escape a sense that in a slightly earlier era, this sort of enterprise would have been offered as Saturday-afternoon syndicated filler as opposed to a ready-for-primetime player.
  47. Eccleston, who lacks much of a physical resemblance to Lennon, certainly nails the biographical portrait, but Lennon Naked spends a lot of time probing around its subject's thin skin without exposing much that augments his legend. It's a movie with music as its foundation that hits occasional high notes but, ultimately, can't carry a tune.
  48. A sly, cleverly understated concept -- for about three minutes. Stretched to a half-hour, it's a tedious exercise.
  49. There's nothing initially compelling enough to warrant regular visits, much less house calls.
  50. Probst's heart certainly appears to be in the right place. Still, in terms of surviving in the rough-and-tumble of reality TV, he ought to be the last guy who needs being told it's a jungle out there.
  51. There are some nice elements, such as the infatuation of British officer Maj. Hewlett (Burn Gorman) with Anna (Heather Lind), who is working with Woodhull as part of the spy ring. There’s also the return of the venomous Simcoe (Samuel Roukin), so evil that he practically hisses out his dialogue. The pieces, however, never quite add up to anything with enough cohesion or narrative flow.
  52. Despite featuring slickly executed action sequences (though nothing viewers couldn't see on Universal's "Backdraft" ride), Fire is almost as drab as a pile of ash.
  53. Tyson is joined by a colorful group of guys who easily could have been extras on "The Sopranos," but his quest to become a champion in this new arena simply doesn't hold enough interest to stay airborne.
  54. The show consistently produces a "Who cares?" response.
  55. As constructed, The Messengers is one of those teasing constructs that elicits more skepticism than enthusiasm, initially revealing little about the nature of the threat or what must be done to prevent it, while introducing its players without conjuring much of an investment in them.
  56. Tin Man proves a bit of a mess. Sci Fi has done well with minis in December, but despite the intriguing concept three consecutive nights of this adventure falls several Yellow Bricks shy of a load.
  57. "John From Cincinnati" might be the strangest show ever produced for American television.
  58. Speaking bluntly, though, the show simply isn't as piggish as would be required to feel truly provocative.
  59. Despite flashes of what initially made the Danish adaptation so intriguing, this stretch drive can’t escape the feeling of a show ready to be put out of its misery.
  60. Despite solid tune-in out of curiosity about the new kid, Fallon’s Late Night got off to a rocky start, with uninspired writing and taped pieces, an at-times visibly nervous host and a first guest, Robert De Niro, whose taciturn nature made him a poor choice for the assignment.
  61. Nobody fares particularly well here, due largely to a script credited to exec producer Leslie Greif, Darrell Fetty and George Nihil. That said, the wholly one-dimensional way the Mexicans are depicted is troublesome.
  62. Distilled into a half-hour, there's just enough to keep the show from overstaying its weekly welcome, and audiences have clearly demonstrated their fondness for the "Jersey" bunch.
  63. Broadly aimed at kids, with cheesy monsters and two youthful protagonists joining in the world-saving exploits, the series may be modestly entertaining for the moppet crowd but will test the patience of adults in this dimension or any other.
  64. The backdrop is obviously meant to be relatable, but the execution brings such a stale approach to sexual politics as to feel dated by the first act break.
  65. Airing on consecutive weekends, the third and fourth installments, like many a sequel, reinforce the law of diminishing returns.... As the self-proclaimed demon spawn, Cook appears to relish the role, making a good case for villain of the year. Other performances are so wooden it’s no wonder purging fires are a recurring theme.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Brand X works when Brand doesn't force himself to play with the trappings of the show and he just sticks to the monologue.
  66. Despite the attractive cast, these “Friends” are a mostly nondescript bunch, so much so it wouldn’t be a shock to find that those who initially tune in after the “How I Met Your Mother” finale ultimately decide that this life experience is best left as a one-night stand.
  67. Ultimately, one needn’t be a purveyor of snark to view The Newsroom as a disappointment--too smart to be dismissed, but so abrasive as to feel like Media Lectures for Dummies.
  68. The astrological outlook for Star-Crossed hinges almost entirely on whether the chemistry between Lanter and Teegarden yields the desired swoons. Because through two episodes, anyway, the impediments thrown in the way of their relationship, while duly soapy, aren’t interesting enough to make any of the supporting players pop.
  69. There's no nice way to state the obvious--that despite the creative stamp of producers Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and John Calley, stars Chris O'Donnell, Alfred Molina and Michael Keaton simply don't work in their roles, obscuring the solid supporting work, especially by Tom Hollander.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Samurai Girl tries to spice things up visually with comicbook-style act breaks, but the fighting sequences would need to be staged more imaginatively to compensate for the various deficiencies, and frankly -- even with a few skewerings and a torture scene -- those shiny swords can do only so much damage on ABC Family
  70. The Newsroom continues to represent a failed experiment--a series that won’t win any converts and too often risks irritating what should ostensibly be its allies.
  71. Phil Spector is watchable, but given the lofty expectations raised by HBO movies, it’s also the cinematic equivalent of a bad hair day.
  72. Lehman’s character is allowed to exhibit a bit of a personal life, but for the most part the series doesn’t stray far from its criminal motif. Nor do other members of the squad have enough material to register beyond a blip.
  73. As constructed, it amounts to a Peter Pan prequel lacquered up with a revisionist space-age paint job.
  74. The bottom line is that while the show tackles its spooky subject matter earnestly enough, for those expecting to enjoy a mere single life, time's simply too precious to squander on this.
  75. All told, the series--handsomely shot in Ireland--represents what amounts to a sleight-of-hand act--an attempt by CW to look like it’s trying something different while really just churning out more of the same, albeit with more splendid settings and ornate costumes.
  76. Too much of Bill Gallagher's self-consciously arcane script and Nick Hurran's direction unfolds as if through a funhouse mirror, offering less in the way of clues than marking time until the vague, conspiratorial reveal in the closing chapters.
  77. Too bad we've seen it all before, with more inspired execution and interesting characters.
  78. American Odyssey feels strained, tired and devoid of nuance, related less to the disenchantment associated with what’s happening today than the paranoid political thrillers of the 1970s. Nor does the series gain strength over four subsequent episodes
  79. In almost every case, even the good concepts (like Kroll as a mic'ed up referee during an NBA game, needily badgering the players) peter out, while the more esoteric ones, such as a spoof of Canadian dramas, are a little too precious for their own good, eh?
  80. Gang Related is a dense serial about loyalty and betrayal, but without enough redeeming qualities to offset its high quotient of ugliness and mayhem.
  81. There's just not that same level of drama when designing a standard blue blazer.
  82. The folksy appeal of the premise--home cooks challenge professional chefs--[is] lost in a muddled whirl of fast-paced, low-impact execution.
  83. While the idea doubtless looked good on the chalkboard, Brothers turns out to be all game plan, and no game.
  84. Granted, some of these throwback-style shows can work sparingly, but the comedy here feels so tepid and predictable as to virtually cap the upside.
  85. Clearly, the producers have endeavored to offer a snapshot of their service, but because Carrier lacks a sharp point of view, there's a kind of "duh" quality to the results.
  86. The first two half-hours drive home just how set up every conceivable beat of Chrisley is, concocting situations to provide Todd Chrisley--the perpetually exasperated, catchphrase-spouting, appearance-obsessed Southern family patriarch--opportunities to roll his eyes and assert his authority.
  87. Allen Gregory's over-the-top characters don't promise to age very well. That's a shame, really, since the show has a cool look and actually the potential to be about something in dealing with how a pretentious egghead tries to fit in.
  88. If basketball really has enabled the Lakers star to see himself more clearly as a person, it’s equally apparent that Kobe Bryant’s Muse only reveals the narrow portion of Kobe that he’s willing to share.
  89. Mostly, though, Sit Down is simply off-the-charts silly--a disappointingly blunt instrument from creative collaborators associated with better.
  90. It's hard to imagine Practice ever being more than tolerable, much less making perfect.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Everything about Beat, from the accents to the Elvis impersonators lining the police station, from Hendricks' after-hours hobby singing at a bar to his underdeveloped co-workers, suggests a series working too hard to achieve the evocative atmosphere and offbeat characters that come so effortlessly in FX's superior Southern-set drama "Justified."
  91. There’s just not enough life in the concept thus far to prevent The Intruders, like its namesake, from hiding in plain sight.
  92. So while there's a genial enough beat at Ruby's heart, based on the pilot, the prospect of regularly watching the show is enough to make you "Da Doo Ron Ron" for the hills.
  93. There are a few amusing lines in the multiple episodes previewed.... Yet while the series ostensibly appears compatible with its lead-in “Archer,” there’s an art to being aggressively obnoxious, and other than pushing the boundaries of young-male-oriented animation, the similarity pretty well ends there.
  94. The expansive, kaleidoscopic sets and swiveling camerawork--including an aerial view--didn’t really serve to enhance any of that. At times, Neverland appeared less a magical place than a cut-rate throwback to the days of Sid and Marty Krofft. Stretched to three hours to “eventize” and amortize the proceedings, Peter Pan also had the misfortune to peak early--about 30 minutes in.
  95. Sullivan's theatrics notwithstanding, Castle's home environment also proves relatively bland (does primetime really need another precocious teenager?), which means the two episodes previewed pivot largely on the strength of the cases, whose twists certainly don't break new ground (though it is nice to see Keir Dullea in a guest role).
  96. Among Grimm's more immediate challenges are Giuntoli's initial blandness as its lead, along with questions regarding how long his confused partner ("Lincoln Heights'" Russell Hornsby) can continue showing up at crime scenes without ascertaining something's weird in the state of Oregon.
  97. The premise, in other words, lacks heft, which leaves not much more than admiring Simmons--a highly versatile actor — as he does what he can with gags about his character’s insistence on doing things like driving and cutting down trees.

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