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 The Office (UK): Season 2
Lowest review score: 10 The Bachelor: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 702
  2. Negative: 0 out of 702
702 tv reviews
  1. Jane and Adams' interplay, the willingness to let the story gradually unfold and the project's disarming sensitivity (exemplified via a splendid fourth-episode guest shot by Margo Martindale) helps elevate Hung well above its gimmicky title--and gives HBO another improbable series that actually looks well worth hanging onto.
  2. Crews quirky mannerisms don't overwhelm the plot, and the show does strikes a nice balance between whimsy and its much darker backstory.
  3. The plot is a trifle chaotic, but the action culminates in an impressive sequence of special-effects derring-do and whooshing bloodsuckers.
  4. 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.
  5. Shows great series potential.
  6. 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.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The show's minscule budget has turned into one of its greatest assets, using real-life Austin locales and citizens to bring an authenticity that only adds to the drama.
  7. 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.
  8. While the climax isn't entirely satisfying, Pillars does create strong roles for its female characters, Natalia Woerner's earthy Ellen and Atwell's determined ingenue balancing Parish's delicious wickedness. Frankly, the whole exercise would be worth the price of admission (or rather, subscription) simply for the cobra-eyed McShane.
  9. The pilot rumbles forward on crisp action and light-hearted humor, while hinting at higher stakes that offer room for narrative growth. While easily dismissed as another "Alias" (like Jennifer Garner, Perabo can do wonderful things to a simple skirt and heels), the show also makes clever use of Walker's newbie status.
  10. Nothing here is especially groundbreaking. But Bloodline smartly dives into its soapy doings with multiple plots, as well as an impressive acting roster.
  11. Mostly, Judge has an unerring ear for pop culture and outright stupidity.
  12. The pilot represents a polished product that neatly introduces an array of characters and establishes Eastwick as a project with no small measure of potential. As for how well that's realized, as they say, the devil is in the details.
  13. Inevitably, there’s some overlap (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is cited in both of these first two hours), but Makers offers an evenhanded look at the barriers women have faced, while celebrating the accomplishments of those pioneers who have overcome them.
  14. While In Treatment isn't perfect by any means, given its uneven start and improbable origins, it's as good as anything with two characters yammering probably has a right to be.
  15. 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.
  16. A scabrous, profane and darkly funny satire.
  17. [It manages] to be extremely entertaining, packed with amusing details and highly relevant to today's politics.
  18. Granted, given much thought, the show's various conceits risk crumbling the way Dracula did when he was exposed to daylight. With a little patience and forgiveness, however, Being Human remains a bloody good time.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Kitchen Nightmares is shockingly good storytelling and hilarious. This may be the most compelling show of the new season
  24. Breathless is a pretty near flawless condensation of soap-opera conventions into a delicious little package.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. While light on laugh-out-loud moments, this clever half-hour earns the gold in the category of "wry and bemused."
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. For anyone familiar with the history--or who even just saw the movie--a lot of this will feel familiar.... Yet even those interludes are played well enough to work in this context, and will certainly come as revelations. And there are several lump-in-the-throat moments in seeing loved ones have to endure watching a husband or father blast into the unknown.
  33. 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.
  34. The League comes close to the goal of creating a TV show with "The Hangover"-type appeal.
  35. Girlfriends’ Guide is for the most part a pleasure, and unlike a lot of the network’s series, there’s nothing guilty about that.
  36. 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
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. The series has settled into a nice groove thanks to the clever writing and strong interplay among the cast.
  40. 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.
  41. At its best, what Homeland achieves better than most is tapping into not just the apprehensions raised by terrorism--and the sacrifices undertaken by those who combat it--but also the moral and political tradeoffs associated with that struggle.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.”
  45. 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.
  46. As written by Sam Esmail, this has the jittery feel of a British thriller, and an absurdist sense of entrenched interests vs. a weird insurgency: a conceit that vaguely recalls Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” While commercial prospects appear hazy, it’s hard to remember the last time USA put on anything more intriguing.
  47. 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.
  48. 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
  49. [A] slickly made, shrewdly conceived series.
  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. 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.
  52. 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
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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").
  56. 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.
  57. Captivating.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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."
  64. It’s a showcase for Tyson.
  65. Has the sharpness of the recent remakes of "Italian Job" and "Ocean's Eleven."
  66. Blue Bloods enters this rough neighborhood with the right personnel, and, living up to its name, a solid pedigree.
  67. 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.
  68. In the first four episodes of Manhattan’s second season, the atomic-age drama contains quite a bit of fruitful conflict and meaty character development, all of which amp up the show’s energy level and move it into much more compelling territory.
  69. 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.
  70. 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
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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."
  75. 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.
  76. It's a mildly unsettling mentality, to be sure, but thus far Bad's mercurial formula adds up to one really good trip.
  77. Even if Love & Anger largely rehashes the legacy Kramer has already written for himself, it still captures the inspirational spirit of its subject.
  78. If it’s all rather familiar (the material is adapted by Simon Block from a book by Julie Summers), it’s nevertheless beautifully played.
  79. 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.
  80. 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.
  81. The Americans picks up pretty deftly from where last season’s cliffhanger left off, while advancing that storyline at a relatively slow pace.
  82. [The Weight of the Nation is] a little flabby. Still, this multimedia endeavor delivers a powerful and important message.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. The show has constantly reinvented itself by both shifting venues and turning over characters, a formula that has kept the program’s soap opera aspects fresh, even if the threat from marauding zombies remains continuous.
  89. There's no pulling punches, and exec producer Kevin Williamson delivers a full-throttle ride that, four episodes in, proves twisty, unpredictable and tense.
  90. About a Boy is an utterly charming pilot, and almost certainly the most endearing half-hour NBC has developed in some time.
  91. 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.
  92. In terms of succeeding creatively, they haven’t just tried; done it, they have.
  93. Much of what’s likable about the series stems less from the particulars than from its general tone.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. "My Name Is Earl" isn't the best comedy around, but it's pretty darn good.

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