Variety's Scores

For 1,722 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 8.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 The Sopranos: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 The Last Templar
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 675
  2. Negative: 0 out of 675
675 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. In short, Same Name is too respectful to both halves of its equation to be fully engaging by reality-TV standards.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. The series is a pretty good metaphor for the original law firm: outwardly slick and polished, but with a hollow core.
  10. Even with an attractive cast and tart moments, the whole remains less than the sum of its parts.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. [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.
  16. 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.
  17. Visually uninspired and stiffly animated, the show indulges in lots of talk and little action.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. [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."
  22. 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.
  23. For anyone engaged in this discussion, merely capturing how the Constitution remains relevant can’t help but feel a trifle wishy-washy and simplistic.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. As it stands, to put it in Western terms, Longmire is all hat, and no cattle.
  28. Zoo might build toward something more satisfying, but based on the premiere, there’s not particularly strong incentive to take the bait.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. It's a fairly impressive cast (of characters, not cars), albeit one left skidding around on a rather slippery premise.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. It's hard to escape the sense we're watching the bastard child of the union between "Shark" and "House."
  42. Admittedly, there are still things to like about the show--mostly having to do with the casting.... Unfortunately, the series hasn’t figured out how to bring any sense of order to the ranks of those who come back, and feels as if it builds much of the first hour around a twist that’s telegraphed far in advance.
  43. By the time it was over, all I could think was: See no more of "The Voice." Hear no more of "The Voice." And after Tuesday, no reason to speak any longer about "The Voice."
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Has a heart of gold, but ends up delivering no big laughs and leaving no lasting impressions. [6 Oct 2000, p.24]
    • Variety
  44. There's no escaping a nagging sense that the series springs from a well-worn playbook.
  45. The network has cast a strong ensemble adrift in a bland workplace environment.
  46. Appropriately for a pilot with so many threads, there's little time invested in establishing basic character before delving into their particular peccadillos.
  47. There’s an “Under the Dome”-type vibe to the situation--especially with those tall, barbed-wire fences that immediately sprout up--with a “Lord of the Flies” wrinkle. That all has to be taken on faith, however, given the messiness of the premiere, which races about introducing undistinguished characters whose subplots have yet to connect.
  48. The intent seems to be baiting a drama with a tantalizing marketing hook, but the resulting gumbo--despite a few promising ingredients--is all gristle, no beef.
  49. Alas, [the guest judges are] the only fresh ingredient in the series, from the format to the cast, with a dozen participants--all in their 20s and 30s--who arrive spouting the usual "I'm here to win" platinum-plated platitudes.
  50. It's presented in such a familiar single-camera manner it would be easy to mistakenly assume "Man Up!" is a rerun of recent sitcoms past.
  51. As is, though, the series seeks a tone of whimsy and settles for irritating, leaving Applegate to look perpetually baffled and perhaps longing for the subtlety of "Married ... With Children," without doing much to humanize her character.
  52. This stately effort manages to be too big, and not nearly big enough.
  53. The dialogue is generally muted underneath the narration and a positively abusive musical score, which never approximates anything less than a swelling crescendo.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    There's not a lot of originality being shown here, which is distressing to see in an initial effort that's so glacially paced. The audience literally knows what's coming and is forced to wait for the conclusion for the scenario to come to fruition.
  54. Mirroring the kind of shtick he’s done for Conan, Triumph proceeds to insult fading luminaries like Hulk Hogan, William Shatner and “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Brent Spiner (“You’ve clearly been aging at warp speed”). It’s a taste of what Triumph fans have come to savor over the years, but also so much livelier and better than what came before that it’s hard not to wish they’d scrap the sitcom conceit and simply feature Triumph in these situations.
  55. The series keeps retreating to familiar tropes of the docu-soap genre, from a contentious dinner to a pool party that produces more finger-wagging verbal pugilism.
  56. Those who do tune in will find the Rose they see here as being as natural at mugging for the camera as he was at the plate. Whether that will be enough to keep the series around long enough for Kim to actually earn her "Mrs." stripes, well, don't bet on it.
  57. The series--adapted by Daniel Cerone with an assist from genre specialist David S. Goyer--nearly chokes on its mythological mumbo-jumbo, and frankly, yelling at demons in foreign tongues seemed a whole lot scarier back when “The Exorcist” first turned heads.
  58. The challenges prove as murky as the cinematography.
  59. It's tough to get an audience to care for any of the players in a show that's just 30 minutes long.
  60. The fact all three have fairly large broods of kids turns the children into props, a tried-and-true TLC formula, which makes the show not much of a risk, development-wise, and still mostly a snooze, TV-viewing-wise.
  61. Beyond the central duo’s initially sparsely connected threads and the splendid addition of Peter Sarsgaard as Ray Seward, a hollow-eyed Death Row inmate, much of the narrative meanders--so slow, bleak and dreary, it’s difficult to muster much interest as to when (inevitably) it’s all going to begin to intersect.
  62. Given the edginess generally associated with pay TV's forays into reality--focusing on things like whorehouses and bail bondsmen--this is a surprisingly toothless affair, as if Showtime bought a concept, wound up with nothing to show for it and figured what the hell, let's take a shot, as it were, by airing the episodes.
  63. 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.
  64. Beyond Greer's latter-day Mary Tyler Moore shtick, there's not a note or character that doesn't feel warmed over.
  65. Tomorrow People simply feels too much like a knockoff of more familiar genetic superhumans.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. The cloak-and-dagger stuff, however, proves terribly mild, and the romance stiff and hackneyed.
  72. Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, a by-the-numbers extension of another Eye network franchise.
  73. 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.
  74. The strongest and one redeeming storyline involves Raver.
  75. To the producers' credit, this storyline advances fairly rapidly; it's just not that engaging or surprising.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. Sense8 becomes a pretty mundane, chaotic soap opera, following the lives of its various characters without doing much to advance what binds them.
  83. It’s possible the Berry-Morgan pairing will produce the right DNA to justify CBS’ decision to give this show about possible human extinction a second shot at life, but based on the available evidence, these recombinations might have birthed a different sort of series, but not a measurably improved one.
  84. 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
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. The bosses serve up enough cringe-worthy exchanges to make the series a sort-of wonderful hot mess.
  88. 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.
  89. 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
  90. Forgive TNT for returning to the ampersand well (following “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Franklin & Bash”), but creatively speaking, this is all fairly stale & mediocre.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. The central mother-son dynamic and its moments of warmth can’t overcome the weariness that permeates the rest of the show and cast.
  94. If brilliant, psychotic lunatics are your bag, by all means, climb aboard.
  95. 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."
  96. 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.
  97. 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.
  98. Hollywood Heights comes out flat in a manner that, far from Loren's contortions to see Eddie, isn't worth breaking curfew to see.

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