Variety's Scores

For 1,641 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: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Larry Sanders Show: Season 6
Lowest review score: 10 The Bachelor: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 643
  2. Negative: 0 out of 643
643 tv reviews
  1. Sleepless in America, more than most National Geographic fare, makes a pretty solid case for finding the time to watch, even if that requires staying up past one’s bedtime.
  2. I Just Want My Pants Back is easily the channel's best effort since plunging into the scripted business, a smart and funny look at a group adept at orchestrating hookups but with few genuine connections.
  3. Hunted doesn’t offer any rays of hope or notes of comfort. The film merely places its lens on a situation that, for those enduring it, must feel like a dystopian nightmare, and for those watching it, provides yet another disheartening glimpse of cruelty masquerading as righteousness.
  4. In a relatively short amount of time, A Good Job (a reference to a really serious fire) manages to be by turns touching and funny, capturing the camaraderie of firefighters--including the colorful hazing that’s part of hanging around in a firehouse all day--as well as the way danger and death become ever-present handmaidens of the work.
  5. Kitchen Nightmares is shockingly good storytelling and hilarious. This may be the most compelling show of the new season
  6. Breathless is a pretty near flawless condensation of soap-opera conventions into a delicious little package.
  7. Like plots on "Hustle," "24" and "The Shield," there's a bit of incredulousness that comes with each caper. But with persuasive writing, sharp visuals and editing, as well as a steady directorial hand, "Thief" is always convincing.
  8. The Walking Dead clearly appears bigger than any of its expendable parts, and unlike those zombies, has a whole lot of life left in it.
  9. TNT's take on the classic primetime serial is exactly as it should be: Texas-sized, frothy and unwilling to settle for a double-cross when a triple can be executed.
  10. At least within Ullman's cutting overview of America, in fact, it can be reported without reservation that the "State of the Union" is strong.
  11. While light on laugh-out-loud moments, this clever half-hour earns the gold in the category of "wry and bemused."
  12. Buoyed by a riveting supporting performance from Jon Voight, it’s a dense, highly organic world--at its best, playing like a present-day “Chinatown.” More often, it’s eminently entertaining, if not initially quite worthy of a spot alongside TV’s velvet-roped A-list.
  13. While the docu would have benefited from being fleshed out beyond its 40-minute running time, as is, it’s still an effective calling card for the animal-rights agenda.
  14. Based on two episodes, it’s premature to give the show an unqualified endorsement. But it does represent the kind of drama that should appeal to a sophisticated palate if the ongoing quality justifies first impressions.
  15. The League comes close to the goal of creating a TV show with "The Hangover"-type appeal.
  16. Girlfriends’ Guide is for the most part a pleasure, and unlike a lot of the network’s series, there’s nothing guilty about that.
  17. With the larger narrative diminished, what remains are the smaller moments. There Hall's terrific performance--full of sly wit and contradictions--elevates the show
  18. What makes it work beyond the sitcom-ish sound of that, to the extent it does, is primarily the genial camaraderie between Cam and Reggie, and the genuine warmth among the characters, even when they’re sniping at each other. Give part of the credit to director Ken Whittingham, who brings a natural, unforced quality to those scenes.
  19. Toy Story That Time Forgot--which will be paired with the perennial “A Charlie Brown Christmas”--actually fulfills that time-honored tradition of delivering genuine family fare around the holidays.
  20. The show's blessings, however, are more earthy - beginning with Hunter, who oozes anger, sexuality and irreverence, sometimes all at once. San Giacomo is perfectly cast as her friend and sounding board, and Johnson, Rippy and Woodbine all deliver solid support, with the jailhouse sequences among the show's best.
  21. This technically superior project intriguingly mirrors territory the producers explored in tackling Baltimore's mean streets, and while Baghdad's avenues are even meaner, the producers' impeccable craftsmanship is roughly the same.
  22. The pulpy style and brutality (torture is one of Daredevil’s tools) clearly seek a higher sense of realism, which must be balanced against the notion of a blind superhero who can shimmy up walls and whose spectacularly hearing lets him to function, among other things, as a human lie detector. Helpfully, Cox brings the necessary mix of grit and Marvel-esque self-doubts to the dual role.
  23. Simple, low-key (read: cheap) and a great deal of fun, Penn & Teller: Fool Us manages to wed some of the pizzazz associated with old-fashioned variety shows with the peeking-behind-the-curtain quality of “Breaking the Magician’s Code.”
  24. No one will mistake this well-produced but inevitably dialogue-driven piece for pure cinema, but Leon and adapter Paris Qualles open up the play just enough to avoid the usual stage-to-screen claustrophobia.
  25. Rich as the subject is, the mix of first-person reminiscence with archival material doesn't overstay its welcome by a moment. As such, it's a wholly satisfying portrait, even if the view is every bit as rose-colored as Steinem's glasses.
  26. It's an intriguing, mind-bending concept that's mostly well executed, with a built-in payoff cleverly timed to coincide with the May rating sweeps.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sleek and satisfying, Jerry Bruckheimer's latest is a compelling drama... The resolutions may sometimes be forced and the characterizations thin, but each episode still has a rhythm and a finality which brings to mind the exec producer's "CSI" in terms of ensemble performances and crimefighting handiwork. [23 Sep 2002]
    • Variety
  27. [A] slickly made, shrewdly conceived series.
  28. Mostly succeeds with cynically outlandish gusto, blurring the reality lines while rendering a fresh new antihero for the '90s in superagent Arliss Michaels. [5 Aug 1996, p.34]
    • Variety
  29. The best science fiction always has something to say about the present, and the show does that without skimping on the soapy or dramatic elements.
  30. Death Comes to Pemberley has the extra advantage of being perfectly cast and extremely entertaining, even for those who might need a Jane Austen refresher course.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The show's supporting cast assists tremendously in convincing viewers that they are watching behind-the-scenes wranglings at a well-known talkshow, and the creative decision to delve more into Sanders' off-screen life could be a wise one to help expand the show's appeal. [2 Jun 1993]
    • Variety
  31. Yet while the first episode basically does the heavy lifting setup-wise, the second is a knockout -- with great scenes involving Lynette's well-intentioned but intrusive parenting style, Gabrielle's social climbing and Bree's work/home juggling act.
  32. Occasionally, Fisher's one-liners (the title included) overreach into silliness, but as directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato--whose examinations of notorious women include "Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal," "Monica in Black and White" and "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"--Wishful Drinking plays like a knowing valentine to the boozy, blowsy, "Mad Men"-era days of Hollywood.
  33. ONN is a take-no-prisoners look at the absurdities of news coverage. Not everything works equally, but the best bits range from painfully clever (a white girl being tried as an African-American man) to surreally wacky (witness the headline "Suri Cruise Targeted by Yet Another Assassin From Future").
  34. Inevitably, not everything works, including some of the material devoted to Louie’s interactions with his young daughters, as he seeks to balance his standup career and parental duties. More often, though, the show is wonderfully absurd.
  35. Captivating.
  36. Appropriate Adult will hardly be everyone's cup of tea (or coffee), but it's such a formidable showcase for its leads as to merit the opportunity to reach a discriminating audience.
  37. Smart, tense, intellectually provocative and, perhaps most of all, unpredictable, this is popcorn TV of the highest order--even if the final act doesn't entirely measure up (albeit not for lack of trying) to the splendid opening installment.
  38. Unlike a lot of TV documentarians, Burns steadfastly refuses to include dramatic re-creations, relying (as he did in "Prohibition," an early-20th-century companion to this) on photographs, grainy video, actors' readings of diaries or news articles, and of course those aforementioned interviews. The last might be the most compelling, providing a bridge from the macro to the micro.
  39. Year two is actually more compelling and fun, morphing from the twin themes of bachelorhood and longing into tackling the challenges of monogamy--especially when one partner's lurid past keeps colliding with the present.
  40. Lone Star works as well as it does in large part by keeping an audience on edge regarding these questions [Could he possibly go legit, actually running the company, becoming a tycoon and settling down? And how long can he maintain the charade?]--and because Wolk manages to make Bob so appealing. As distasteful as his game is, you're half rooting for him to get away with it.
  41. While the characters here haven't yet had the chance to become as interesting as Carrie Bradshaw and company, this great adaptation of Gigi Levangie Grazer's story should help fill the void left by "Sex and the City."
  42. It’s a showcase for Tyson.
  43. Has the sharpness of the recent remakes of "Italian Job" and "Ocean's Eleven."
  44. Blue Bloods enters this rough neighborhood with the right personnel, and, living up to its name, a solid pedigree.
  45. Series creator Alan Ball and company have assembled a solid ensemble and instilled such a cheeky attitude the show remains great fun, and clearly benefits from being back on a better-directed course.
  46. NBC's stab at a big, serialized "Lost"-like premise gets off to an enticing start, though as with any such exercise, the ability to provide forward momentum--and satisfying answers--tends to quickly separate the few genuine events from the canceled afterthoughts.
  47. Mind Control is much cooler than your average foray into this realm, and by whatever methods its host employs, he has pretty well convinced me to watch again
  48. The cast is so uniformly good, frankly, it’s tempting not to single anyone out, and Fellowes continues to juggle the dizzying assortment of plots with what appears to be effortless ease. That said, one can see him repeating himself in some of the flourishes as the season progresses.
  49. There's considerable strength in the performances (Forbes and Sexton are especially good), while delivering a reminder how TV can tease out such a narrative in a way almost no other medium can.
  50. The result self-consciously approximates the feel of a stage play--a trifle theatrical and showy, admittedly, but nevertheless oddly addictive as you wait to see how one story will bleed into the next.
  51. Gervais and Merchant excel at capturing scenes of quiet discomfort as well as palpable desperation in the face of near-constant rejection. Those qualities elevate "Extras""Extras" above the surface-deep "Entourage" or often-frustrating "The Comeback."
  52. Whatever its flaws, this edition of 24 features smart, crisp and densely woven storytelling whose subplots look to be on a well-orchestrated collision course.
  53. It's a mildly unsettling mentality, to be sure, but thus far Bad's mercurial formula adds up to one really good trip.
  54. Whatever deeper meanings one might extrapolate, the show's approach proves refreshingly unpretentious and a great deal of fun, playfully exploring the mythologies surrounding ghosts, vampires and werewolves.
  55. Terror at the Mall surely isn’t a picnic to watch. Yet in terms of enhancing understanding of the threat--and the challenge presented by those who wantonly kill and expect to die--those cameras, fixed though the images might be, zero in on the nature of the problem.
  56. The Americans picks up pretty deftly from where last season’s cliffhanger left off, while advancing that storyline at a relatively slow pace.
  57. [The Weight of the Nation is] a little flabby. Still, this multimedia endeavor delivers a powerful and important message.
  58. The takeaway from The Take again proves an old showbiz saw: Cast the right actor as a mobster, and being bad can be pretty damn good.
  59. That the show delivered so ably under the stewardship of Glen Mazzara makes season three less surprising but no less riveting, with the first couple of episodes offering a buffet of character, tension and the inevitable can-you-top-this, stomach-churning gore.
  60. The challenge, structurally, will be finding a way to keep these characters interacting (logic that already seems a bit strained in the pilot) as the incident drifts into the distance.
  61. This is the kind of meticulously handsome period piece one would expect to find via the BBC--mostly because it would surely struggle Stateside. Judged by the most bottom-line measurement of all, The Hour is an hour well spent.
  62. Gamble and Hoggart manage to strike just the right tone, sounding alternately wide-eyed and priggish, without coming across as mean-spirited--which is no small feat.
  63. There's no pulling punches, and exec producer Kevin Williamson delivers a full-throttle ride that, four episodes in, proves twisty, unpredictable and tense.
  64. About a Boy is an utterly charming pilot, and almost certainly the most endearing half-hour NBC has developed in some time.
  65. It’s bracing to see a series that has weathered offscreen changes, and all but redefined expectations for cable viewership (as reflected in its soaring ad rates), continue to take creative chances--proving it can still leap ahead not just by shuffling along, but at breakneck speed.
  66. In terms of succeeding creatively, they haven’t just tried; done it, they have.
  67. Much of what’s likable about the series stems less from the particulars than from its general tone.
  68. he come-on of the title notwithstanding very little about that is groundbreaking, or even surprising. But it is, almost without exception, highly watchable and entertaining.
  69. While enthusiasts of the genre might warm to the idea of an open-ended mystery, it's suspect how well the show will hold up without a more concrete sense as to what's really happening, barring Gilligan and the Skipper showing up to whisk them away.
  70. "My Name Is Earl" isn't the best comedy around, but it's pretty darn good.
  71. Foremost, the series operates on a number of levels, beginning with its effortless, nostalgic cool and subtle re-litigation of the culture wars -- revealing how the pre-Vietnam era wasn't always so grand for women and minorities. Those tiers smartly coexist with big-business shenanigans and sudsy family drama--an intoxicating stew for demanding viewers, but one likely forever destined to blunt the show's broad mainstream appeal.
  72. In some respects, the latest episodic flight feels less like Season 5 than Season 4, Part B, what with so much unfinished business to transact. That’s not a serious knock on the show, necessarily, although the latest storyline doesn’t contain the sort of signature events that have dictated the course for past runs.
  73. Parlaying its success into a deeper cast, and thrusting ahead in its storytelling with the lusty abandon of a Scandinavian raider, the scripted drama takes big chances in the four episodes previewed, and most pay off.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is a series that's all about the fine print, finding its most emotional moments not in violent confrontations between good guys and bad guys in the drug war, but in depicting the battles of bureaucrats. So while it's less original than genre-busting "The Sopranos," the ultrapensive "Six Feet Under" or the uninhibited "Sex and the City," "The Wire" is still sophisticated and significant television. [31 May 2002, p.12]
    • Variety
  74. Smart, star-studded and anchored by another fine-tuned performance from Kevin Spacey, Recount finds the sweet spot between theatrical fare and TV that's precisely the constituency HBO wants to reach.
  75. Based on this preview, though, Archer gives FX something that the drama-heavy channel hasn't enjoyed for awhile--namely, a sharp comedic arrow in its quiver.
  76. One of the best conventional half-hours to come along in a while.
  77. Beyond a couple of truly gut-churning moments courtesy of the special-FX wizards, the second season showcases the topnotch cast the producers have assembled, as well as the program's skill milking terror in broad daylight.
  78. The storytelling is spare, with few of the by-now customary compromises to reality-TV (or dramatic expectations weaned on "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy"), other than the oncamera interviews and musical flourishes that close each hour.
  79. Corden and Baynton bring considerable charm to their broadly drawn roles, and have the natural rapport necessary for any odd couple pairing.... Production values are solid, and film and TV director Jim Field Smith opts for a classic style that foregrounds both the action and comedy without any stylistic fuss.
  80. For those unfamiliar with the Broadway version, the songs are great fun, and work particularly well juxtaposed with animation.
  81. Based on this first of four installments, State of Play augments that profile [aggressive and serious journalism], at a time when sports has become such big business it’s incumbent on the media--often grappling with conflicts by being in bed with the various leagues--to step up their games.
  82. There’s admittedly nostalgia in seeing Cosby perform again after a 30-year TV standup special hiatus, but he still delivers some of the old wonderfulness.
  83. It helps enormously that Dinicol and Soni find the right mix of vulnerability and awkwardness in the leading roles. The show also captures a general atmosphere of Silicon Valley as a youthful place not far removed from absorbing the Harry Potter books.
  84. Gripping and slightly unnerving, Durst’s impassive demeanor ensures this six-part series will be widely discussed, trumping some artistic choices that, like Durst’s account of events, can easily be second-guessed.
  85. An enchanting six-part series about lost love, missed opportunities and second chances.
  86. Chuck possesses modest charm, impressive stunt work and another mildly appealing reluctant hero.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Cheeky and charming, Joss Whedon's attempt to fuse oaters with "Star Trek" is just silly enough to work -- and there's absolutely nothing else like it on TV.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An impressive, handsomely engineered launch. ... "Voyager" includes all the elements of Roddenberry's original vision: a future full of hope, curiosity, wonder and respect for all cultures; sexual and racial (and for that matter, species) equality, embodied in a diverse but largely harmonious crew; and adventures that intrigue rather than lull viewers. [16 Jan 1995]
    • Variety
  87. It's too early to declare victory just yet, of course, but Tower Prep appears to have the right lesson plan for the task at hand. And based simply on the needs of a network still getting its feet wet in a new genre, the show passes its first test with flying colors.
  88. If this prequel can maintain the quality of its initial salvo, that will likely motivate at least those viewers to beseech whatever gods they pray to that Caprica be blessed with a prolonged stay in this place called Earth.
  89. Those who wade through the slow-going first three or four hours of this stately production will be richly rewarded by the engrossing final four.
  90. Galavant largely overcomes the challenges that have traditionally bedeviled TV musicals with rambunctious energy, cheeky lyrics and music, and — significantly — a half-hour format, thus condensing the need to create songs into a manageable task.
  91. Under director David Nutter and show-runner Josh Friedman, the first two hours roll a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line.
  92. Unlike “Girls,” it feels less self-conscious about being provocative, with the situations flowing organically out of the characters. It is also, happily, occasionally pretty funny.
  93. The producers do a shrewd job of not just building toward the reveal, but then following its aftermath, with the emotions of the previously unseen party brought into the equation.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Sutter, a writer and producer on "The Shield," fully understands the power of violence in getting a point across, yet the premiere's closing sequence runs a very fine line between demonstrating the neo-Nazis' brutality and a gratuitous display.

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