Variety's Scores

For 1,472 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 3% 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 Office (UK): Season 2
Lowest review score: 10 Lil' Bush: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 569
  2. Negative: 0 out of 569
569 tv reviews
  1. If the premise sounds cheesy and busy, the execution is crisp and efficient--and manages to sell dialogue like, "Together, we can take this city back," which often sounds better in a word balloon.
  2. 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.
  3. Lights Out isn't an unqualified knockout, but in its milieu, leading man and rich supporting players, score the show a clear winner on points. And that's no bull.
  4. 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").
  5. 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.
  6. Fishburne captures Marshall's larger-than-life qualities, and in his playwriting debut, Stevens endows his portrait with a ripe sense of humor.
  7. While light on laugh-out-loud moments, this clever half-hour earns the gold in the category of "wry and bemused."
  8. After a plodding start, Mildred becomes increasingly absorbing.
  9. An enormously entertaining documentary that uses the colorful producer as an eager surrogate to breeze through a half-century of iconic Hollywood and pop music history
  10. Human Planet can't match the sweeping grandeur of the nature documentaries that preceded it under the same auspices, "Planet Earth" and "Life." But to paraphrase what a kindly farmer once said to his sheepherding pig, It'll do.
  11. Those who love it aren't likely to get that itch scratched anywhere else. Like jazz, though, that's a relatively narrow audience, one that Simon--perhaps even more so than in "The Wire" and "Generation Kill"--has chosen, for better and worse, to uncompromisingly serve.
  12. While the idea of crimefighter-dogged-by-personal demons hardly smacks of freshness, the former "The Wire" star so owns the character as to give it his own spin. Barring that, though, writer Neil Cross' approach to the crime yarns is so visceral and grim it's easy to be drawn in strictly on that level.
  13. The Curious Case of Curt Flood isn't perfect, but when a documentary can bring sports, culture and politics together the way this one does, score that as a home run.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Like "Manchurian Candidate," Homeland does some of its best work via flashbacks to Brody's time in captivity, sprinkling additional tidbits with each glimpse into the past.
  19. [It manages] to be extremely entertaining, packed with amusing details and highly relevant to today's politics.
  20. 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.
  21. Though clunky in places, at its best the series captures the essence of what the movie version of "A Chorus Line" didn't, providing an illuminating window into the creative process.
  22. 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.
  23. The Killing remains compelling, and the writers (led by Sud, adapting the show from a Danish series) are adept at overcoming the stodgy pace by dangling tantalizing clues near each hour's end, creating a strong pull to see what transpires next.
  24. There's no denying the emotion in what transpired, firmly placing this in the same elite league with some of the sports network's fine "30 for 30" documentaries.
  25. If "Tiny Furniture" filmmaker Lena Dunham's series is in places too mannered, it's also fresh, honest and raw.
  26. Even with some amusing bleeps and pixelation to obscure saucy language and (apparently) beer labels, L.A. Complex feels pretty authentic, and gets the relationships much better than something like the increasingly preposterous "Smash" does.
  27. [The Weight of the Nation is] a little flabby. Still, this multimedia endeavor delivers a powerful and important message.
  28. What has the potential to be absurd--a title pun in search of a series--plays, albeit slowly, as taut and absorbing.
  29. [A] slickly made, shrewdly conceived series.
  30. 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.
  31. Sherman-Palladino's snappy banter and slightly melancholy characters only enrich the texture of a series perfectly pitched between comedy and drama.
  32. While it's hard to anticipate the next several moves, Braugher, Speedman and supporting players like Robert Patrick (a "Unit" alum) provide incentive to tag along for the voyage, at least for awhile.
  33. it all works--or at least most of it does--in no small part because everyone has known (or God forbid, has been) one of these kids, stupidly initiating school clubs to impress a girl (as Will does in a later episode) or being embarrassed by that horrible-looking starter car cheerfully purchased by dad.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. The program returns from its surprisingly tasty maiden run clicking on all cylinders, with plenty of bed-hopping, two-timing and Texas-sized dealmaking to go around.
  38. There's no pulling punches, and exec producer Kevin Williamson delivers a full-throttle ride that, four episodes in, proves twisty, unpredictable and tense.
  39. Developments are doled out at a measured clip, and the filmmakers seem less interested in sustaining forward momentum than in painting a vivid panorama of this broken community, a town cloaked in a dark and vaguely incestuous malaise.
  40. Without giving anything away, the guest cast is unusually strong, offering the prospect of fertile subplots going forward, while some of the regulars don’t figure prominently at first--again, pretty par for the course.
  41. Hosted by Vice founder Shane Smith--hardly a natural on camera--the magazine nevertheless resonates precisely because it zeroes in on unsettling tales of violence and cruelty abroad, at a moment when TV news frequently seems preoccupied with trifles at home.
  42. Rectify is a more-than-credible addition to the DVR menu--one more worthy option as we escape into our own little electronic cells of solitary amusement.
  43. Mary and Martha is a moving return to intimate form for HBO.
  44. Somewhat diluted in its split focus on Richard Nixon’s presidential malfeasance and the movie devoted to those acts, the two-hour doc doesn’t break much new ground, but does pore over familiar terrain, and its lingering implications, in an entertaining way.
  45. Perfectly cast and cleverly paced, consider it a mini-"Masterpiece Mystery" for that franchise’s crime-loving loyalists.
  46. Amazon’s Alpha House is a polished comedy--not a game-changer, but the kind of show a premium service should be happy to have.
  47. 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.
  48. Although the series hardly breaks any new ground, Elba’s commanding presence--and Luther’s willingness to walk a tightrope in terms of police protocol--manage to elevate the material above standard procedural fare, as do the clever callbacks to earlier episodes and characters.
  49. In general, the dialogue she [director Marina Zenovich] creates between her interviewees and the comedian’s own words and routines, seen in extended excerpts, makes for a highly fascinating exchange that shortchanges no one, least of all the outspoken Pryor himself.
  50. 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
  51. Not every beat works, but after watching an hour it was hard not to stick with The Returned for the full ride.
  52. [Axe Cop emerges] as a wacked-out, irreverent hoot, full of colorful absurdities.
  53. The new season relies heavily on the show’s rich mood and atmosphere, inasmuch as series creator Terence Winter and his crew appear content to ease back into the proceedings while hitting the reset button.
  54. Accompanied by interviews as well as audio from the secret tapes Nixon recorded in the White House, it’s a truly absorbing look at the 37th president and the devoted insiders who surrounded him--and in several instances went to jail in his service.
  55. An enchanting six-part series about lost love, missed opportunities and second chances.
  56. 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.
  57. Impeccably cast, extremely handsome, predictably soapy and a trifle slow moving, it’s another first-rate costume drama.
  58. 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.
  59. Toy Story of Terror! is about a quarter the length of the average animated feature, but everything else here could easily be mistaken for the bigscreen version, from the pacing and humor to Michael Giacchino’s score.
  60. 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.
  61. Superheroes is for the most part a credible and serious look at the medium’s history, viewed through the filter of its surprisingly robust present.
  62. The movie approaches the story with enough time having passed to feel fresh, emerging as a small but engaging international production--one that feels pretty timeless in its look at cover-your-ass bureaucracy--helped by first-class casting that in addition to Hurt includes Bruce Greenwood and Brian Dennehy.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. The documentary goes beyond mere hazy tribute, offering parallel windows into the civil-rights era and the barriers women have faced in comedy.
  66. 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The second episode in particular has touchstones of what made the show so great under Harmon.
  67. Prone to slow starts and whiz-bang finishes, Justified opens its fifth year in midseason form.
  68. Created by Cameron Porsandeh, it’s a delicate balancing act [between science and thrills], but the two-episode premiere (airing with limited commercials) and a subsequent hour--enhanced by Campbell’s stiff-upper-lipped performance, and the clever promo slogan “Play God. Pay the price”--dangle enough DNA strands for a discerning audience to want to see where they might lead.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. About a Boy is an utterly charming pilot, and almost certainly the most endearing half-hour NBC has developed in some time.
  72. Maintaining this sort of rat-a-rat patter is no small feat, but the series gets off to such a promising start as to bode well for future installments. Moreover, the shifting pairings from episode to episode create a semi-serialized element that deftly builds off the groundwork laid the previous week, conjuring questions about who’s going to wind up with whom.
  73. The premiere episode nimbly balances information with visual spectacle, forging a middle ground between sci-fi and science fact.
  74. It’s a showcase for Tyson.
  75. There’s a lot to like, in a series with genuine laughs.
  76. It’s an inordinately intelligent sci-fi series in which the flaws only enhance its overall underdog appeal.
  77. The statistics used are occasionally mind-boggling (enough forest lost every year to cover Germany), and the stars’ intense reactions at times perhaps a little too studied. Nevertheless, the producers build a compelling case, and keep the production moving by flitting among two or three separate celeb investigators in each hour.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. Shows great series potential.
  82. If these first three hours are any guide, Boardwalk looks like it’s heading toward a finish worthy of what preceded it--one that might not be black and white, but will at least provide a sense of where all the bodies are buried.
  83. What Capaldi lacks in youthful energy, he more than makes up for in gravitas and wry eccentricity.... Everyone involved can take particular pride in the centerpiece restaurant tiff between Clara and the Doctor, which cements their new relationship and showcases the instant chemistry between Coleman and Capaldi.
  84. It’s hard to do the show justice, honestly, based strictly on a description. But the characters are so sharply drawn and the situation so suspenseful that Netflix’s famous binge function will likely be put to good use here.
  85. Breathless is a pretty near flawless condensation of soap-opera conventions into a delicious little package.
  86. 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.
  87. As good a couple as he and Sarah Michelle Gellar made, Boreanaz was too boxed in by the "Buffy" love story. The actor, formerly tagged by some as just another pretty face, is given much more to do here and proves that he can handle the load. [4 Oct 1999, p.4]
    • Variety
  88. While toying with chemistry is always dicey--especially when somebody as prominent as Grissom is involved--the storytelling remains the star, a fact neatly underscored by the casual nature the Petersen-Fishburne baton pass plays at least within this fast-paced hour.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The key, as with all action series, is turning repetitive, predictable outcomes into suspenseful beats, and at this, the series seems to have a genuine flair. [5 Oct 2000]
    • Variety
  89. Carter's dialogue is fresh without being self-conscious, and the characters are involving. Series kicks off with drive and imagination, both innovative in recent TV.
  90. Charmed has an entertaining little way about it, with Spelling and company mostly striking a solid balance between escapist slap-schtick and mild horror. If the opening hour isn't terribly concerned with issues of believability, relatability and self-parody (pilot is notably short on humor), it's likely a saucy enough brew for the WB's target 12-24 demo to swallow. [7 Oct 1998, p.5]
    • Variety
  91. Savage is just fine as the sharp boy with lots of ideas, and Daniels is excellent in what might have been a routine role. Writers Michael Jacobs and April Kelly have even included a message in the format -- the value of love, something Cory presumably learns. [23 Sept 1993]
    • Variety
  92. Promising ... The comic timing by limber Malick and by SNL's Spade, Segal's nifty interp[retation] of Gallo, the warm self-assurance of San Giacomo and a bright premise concocted by Levitan and director MacKenzie add up to something worth checking out. [4 Mar 1997]
    • Variety
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    "JAG" borrows from recent features "Crimson Tide" and "Apollo 13" in being jargon-heavy to help generate atmosphere but as Rabb's character is allowed to develop, "JAG" could become one of the season's highlights. [22 Sep 1995]
    • Variety
  93. Debut is plenty funny yet Fox has a tough job ahead trying to lure ["Beavis & Butt-head"] audiences, which may grow tired of the comic targets, or "The Simpsons" crowd, which may find the antics too restrained. [10 Jan 1997]
    • Variety
  94. The series is anything but ordinary, a cosmic blend of high school angst and otherworldly intrigue.
  95. A hip-sounding and visually entertaining piece that might best be summed up as "The Odd Couple" meets the "The Brady Bunch" meets "teensomething." [28 Sept 1999, p.10]
    • Variety
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Down deep, however, this is the old, highly workable stuff, tidily refurbished. [12 Sep 1994]
    • Variety

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