Variety's Scores

For 1,471 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 Arrested Development: Season 2
Lowest review score: 10 South Beach: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 569
  2. Negative: 0 out of 569
569 tv reviews
  1. In the mostly undistinguished roll call of new comedies, it goes to the head of the class.
  2. [The] pilot is cleverly written giving the characters a heady, just-specific-enough mix of mystery, intrigue and charm.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Strange and clever, "The Lost Room" is full of winding corridors, peculiar twists and wry, oddball humor, set against a mystery that recalls TV's better Stephen King productions.
  3. The four episodes previewed are far from flawless, but even with their lapses and excesses, I can hardly wait for the next hour.
  4. In its energy and penchant for the absurd, [it] resembles a latter-day version of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" pitched to the college-frat set.
  5. Another clever single-camera comedy.
  6. The selections in the first two episodes possess compelling strength, whimsy and ambiguity in both the stories and the characters, providing a solid transformation from radio to TV.
  7. The premiere plays like a solid thriller.
  8. Graced with a sly voiceover and strong supporting characters, it's the kind of breezy romp that dovetails nicely with [USA's] most popular fare and which manages to look more effortless than it surely is.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Bee has some promise, but the concept has the potential to grow old fast.
  9. As a serialized drama, the program's situations aren't especially stirring, even with its solid, perfectly outfitted cast. The sheer atmosphere, however, proves intoxicating.
  10. The producers have assembled a solid cast and deftly employ flashbacks to ratchet up suspense.
  11. Light and breezy, Hotel Babylon is a fairly simple conceit, built around the employees at a high-class London hotel and the guests they serve.
  12. Briskly paced if relatively unimpressive in its sets and effects (one "alien" more than anything resembles a Vegas showgirl), Torchwood has the fixings of a thinking-man's sci-fi series that doesn't take itself too seriously.
  13. A little messy in its conception, the series still exhibits considerable potential--the kind that inspires checking out a second episode.
  14. While the kids are alright, Pietz alone makes the series recommendable
  15. Michael C. Hall's portrayal of the title character remains a towering achievement, one that eclipses the show's other shortcomings and rough patches.
  16. So if it's not the great show it was, the latest incarnation proves extremely watchable, which is surely welcome.
  17. It's loud and only marginally coherent, but, for a made-for-TV version of a theatrical blockbuster, it looks utterly polished.
  18. It's a formula nevertheless--one that renders Eli Stone engaging but not fully involving, particularly once the vision/trial/puzzled-looks-from-colleagues ground rules are established, based on a sampling of two subsequent hours.
  19. Nothing in Welcome to the Captain is particularly fresh, but there's nevertheless a genial charm to this CBS comedy, whose main drawback is that it focuses on the wrong characters.
  20. Certainly nothing here is "groundbreaking," as WE's production notes claim, given past exercises such as Michael Apted's landmark "7 Up!" series. Yet High School Confidential is the kind of personal document that merits attention--inviting curiosity not just regarding how these teens navigated through high school, but what their lives will be like seven years from now and beyond.
  21. Comedy Central's programming usually falls squarely into the sublime or the ridiculous, so consider Root of All Evil a rare tweener in terms of quality--one that proves a whole lot of Black is preferable, albeit marginally, to a black hole.
  22. The adaptation is meticulous almost to a fault, including a fidelity to language and accents (a hybrid between British and American) that initially appears to handcuff some of the cast --beginning, most glaringly, with Giamatti, fresh off his turn as a jollier icon in "Fred Claus."
  23. Script by show creator Mick Garris and ensemble acting are serviceable but pale in comparison to the cinematography of Attila Szalay, production design of Stephen Geaghan and Brian Tyler's tension-inducing orchestral score.
  24. DeMange draws out the helplessness and frustrations of the men who visit Belle, which are complemented by Tat Radcliffe's framing of the action.
  25. Saving Grace is less about its procedural storytelling than it is about simply creating a venue to showcase Hunter's undeniable smallscreen star quality.
  26. The soapy elements are generally a rollicking snooze, and in the premiere, one worries that too many of the dinosaurs will resemble those in "Land of the Lost," stampeding around but never really doing much. Yet the investigation surrounding the anomalies--and Cutter's personal story--does thicken as the series progresses, and many of the computer-animated visuals are striking, especially given the TV budget.
  27. Nothing here is dramatic enough to be genuinely or consistently interesting, as if they couldn't get waivers to present any of the juicy stuff that might give the show sizzle. The result is a high school version of "The People's Court."
  28. The absurdity of watching the band engage in an escalating feud with a rival trio of kid performers is genuinely chuckleworthy, and the series' rough edges seem well suited to its latenight IFC berth.
  29. Fortunately, the series never veers terribly far from the central duo, each of whom--to borrow a bit of vernacular--is played in cracking fashion by Horne (from "The Catherine Tate Show") and Page ("Love Actually").
  30. The show's polished exterior, however, has seldom scratched the surface hard enough to find anything deeper underneath. Vince's career odyssey back from "Medellin" could provide just that--the season-long hook to make a show already on Hollywood's A-list match that with an actual A-game.
  31. Great it’s not, but the fizzy mix of soapy elements, screwy comedy, high-society hijinks and romance dovetails with where the netlet has been heading programming-wise.
  32. The episodes don't really go anywhere, but the star-writer-producer has a genial Everyman presence and surrounds himself with a rich array of characters.
  33. So far, so good, but while writer-director Graham Linehan (working with "The Office" producer Ash Atalla) has created a vivid trio of oddball characters, his ingenuity doesn't extend to finding consistently amusing situations in which to put them.
  34. Dialogue by Diane Ruggiero is sharply written and realistic, observational and unhurried. It remains to be seen, though, whether 9 p.m. Friday viewers are ready for the debate over Vivian's new Brazilian.
  35. That NBC has bought into this concept reflects network TV's lowered expectations, but the series' two-hour premiere is a respectable effort--handsomely shot and offering old-fashioned end-of-the-week escapism, albeit with a character unable to escape his own island purgatory.
  36. 30 Rock remains merely a good comedy whose shortcomings prevent it from joining the ranks of great ones.
  37. 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.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Damages works best when it doesn't show its cards early on, so it's hard to make definitive judgments after only a handful of episodes. Predicaments and positions can often change, and seeing a character move from one end of the ethical spectrum to the other can be reinvigorating. Here's hoping there'll be a few such shifts along the way.
  38. As the show progresses, the stronger moments indicate that Showtime has a more durable commodity here than just the sales pitch for "Sybil: The Series." That's in part because the producers have done an exceptional job of casting beyond the central roles.
  39. Director Coky Giedroyc's grittier, reality-based approach to Sarah Phelps' adaptation contrasts sharply the popular and nostalgic musical account "Oliver!" Nevertheless, this version does stay true to Dickens' original intent to call attention to social evils in harsh times.
  40. As constructed by series creators Lowri Glain, S.J. Clarkson and Rachel Anthony, there's a strong momentum to the serialized storylines, and the key players are so innately appealing.
  41. A series that departs from past pay TV heavyweights in possessing no more heft than a pleasant breeze. Then again, amid all the tumult in today's busy and bustling dramas, that may be just the sort of soothing balm that could make both HBO and an acceptable swatch of its viewers happy.
  42. Even those whose historical knowledge goes no further than the whole "six wives" thing can ascertain that the future doesn't bode well for poor Jane, but the particulars remain fascinating amid all the bodice ripping, torture and jockeying for the king's favor.
  43. Playing to the cameras, even many elements that feel slightly staged (including convenient intra-housewife feuding) prove nearly irresistible, again reminding us that horrible people you'd never want to associate with are often the spice of reality. This show puts the Bada-Bing in Bravo.
  44. It remains to be seen whether Teddy's work on behalf of the needy can become an unexpected gift to needy NBC, but strictly as light summer entertainment with a touch of heart, The Philanthropist delivers.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    After starting slow in the Nielsen race early on last year and then finding its footing, Fringe should settle in nicely.
  45. Cliffhangers help pull the episodes along, and the idea behind Trinity--whose murderous reign might date back three decades--is intriguing.
  46. The central duo's bond, of course, has been the program's one constant, and even with its periodic missteps and excesses, it's worth hanging around to see where series creator Ryan Murphy and company choose to leave them.
  47. The good news in general is seeing comedy exhibit signs of a comeback; the bad news for 30 Rock might be that like "Murphy Brown" in the 1990s--which soared to its highest heights, come to think of it, thanks to a dispute with a Republican vice president--the show's most golden moments might actually be behind it.
  48. Men isn't a great series yet, but it has the assets to grow into one. And in the interim, watching it certainly isn't a Sisyphean task.
  49. At this point, the show's creative team has earned the latitude to trust that it knows where it's heading, as unpredictable and soapy (times three) as that path might appear. So while the series has so many plates spinning as to feel messy at times, the course of true "Love" never did run smooth.
  50. 24" works best when the show doesn't take itself too seriously -- incorporating just enough sobering geopolitics to establish a credible foundation before indulging in wild flights of counterespionage fancy. Moreover, having one villain drive the plot for a handful of episodes before being supplanted by another has added greater satisfaction and closure to the program's high-wire storytelling.
  51. Survivors isn't great or groundbreaking, but it's a whole lot more than nothing.
  52. Familiar as it all sounds, series creator Michael Rauch plucks most of the right chords.
  53. Tim's world is so consistently outlandish as to be difficult to resist, especially since Dildarian plays the whole thing with the understatement of Bob Newhart's old phone routines.
  54. Ultimately, the series contains just enough skepticism to mitigate charges of being exploited as a questionable enterprise's PR tool.
  55. Wells and company have delivered a cop drama with its own racing pulse, albeit for a network that's uncomfortably close to flatlining.
  56. It's a familiar formula, to be sure, but handled with enough panache and conviction to invest the BAFTA-honored pic series with an element of freshness.
  57. Not everything works--starting with the split-screen gymnastics footage--but there are enough juicy bits here to forge a solid foundation with plenty of plot tendrils.
  58. So while the checklist of assets might not add up to 10, there are several things to like about this series, which bodes well for its desire--shared by TV and teenagers--to become popular.
  59. As presented, Dating in the Dark mercifully makes the orchestrated search for TV romance a little less deaf and dumb than it could have been.
  60. Williamson and Julie Plec--working from L.J. Smith's books, which actually preceded "Twilight"--mix these familiar elements into a crimson cocktail that even gets reasonable mileage out of its cliches, which ought to give this early riser a chance to establish some fan loyalty before the other networks launch their Thursday lineups.
  61. The Good Wife doesn't win many style points for originality, but nor does it seek to squeeze into unflattering hipster clothes. And on a network where meat-and-potatoes drama has generally performed beyond merit or expectations, that's probably a very good fit, indeed.
  62. The series can at best be lauded for its efficiency and at worst be chided for resorting to the convenient fallback of Mexican drug lords as its initial heavies.
  63. So while Sherri doesn't rock any better than "Rita" does, for Lifetime, that's probably enough.
  64. All those plot threads could be beneficial in sustaining the series on a serialized basis, but Parenthood's multifaceted vision of family risks feeling too precious in places.
  65. The show is full of nonsequiturs, and the writing doesn't always measure up to the look....Still, stick with the show and there are elements so bizarre as to be difficult to resist.
  66. Good Guys isn't a perfect construct, but it's a well-executed one--albeit more a breezy, busy diversion than appointment TV, placing greater reliance on guests than its limited supporting cast to prop up the principals.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Whether Work of Art winds up engaging with any of those larger questions or simply provides an addictive mix of catfights and craftsmanship, it certainly has the goods to become more than just a knockoff.
  67. Tartly written with good actresses in clearly defined roles, this sitcom hardly breaks new ground but unearths old gags in such unapologetic fashion that it proves reasonably good company.
  68. The payoff, alas, proves a little too pat to be wholly satisfying, but the fun is in watching Longworth stagger around this somewhat novel setting.
  69. While Q is probably more adept at flaunting her butt-kicking skills than emoting, the pilot is head-turning enough to warrant a second look at the show.
  70. Created by Ted Griffin and produced with "The Shield's" Shawn Ryan, Terriers is all about atmosphere. The individual cases aren't particularly enthralling, the characters are kind of a downer, yet each hour ended with enough momentum to drag me somewhat grudgingly into the next.
  71. There's enough comedy content in this first seating to warrant keeping Mike & Molly on the TiVo menu, even if it's not quite love at first bite.
  72. Fortunately, Rappaport is a fairly effective Everyman, and the wince-inducing aspects of the premise quickly fade into standard workplace comedy deriving a twist from its location.
  73. The writers do indulge in a few amusing L.A.-centric detours--including a pointed scene of "reality TV" being filmed, complete with retakes--but there's ultimately no escaping the mostly unchanged (and undeniably durable) formula.
  74. James Gandolfini lends his celebrity to the project, which would have benefited from either greater focus or more time, but nevertheless delivers a sobering message regarding the psychological wounds war inflicts even on survivors.
  75. Granted, the writers recycle so many gags--from the stirring pledge speech to a loopy pot-hazed discussion about time being "a fluid concept"--that there's a temptation to wince at Glory Daze's brazenness. Still, it's all done in such an unabashed way it's sort of hard to stay mad at them.
  76. Being Human isn't nearly as well done as that [AMC's "The Walking Dead"], but the early episodes are likable, if unworthy of love at first bite.
  77. Kathy Bates is just the person to deliver David E. Kelley's tart dialogue, and he surrounds her with enough quirky characters to make this Cincinnati-set spiritual companion to "Boston Legal" a breezy diversion.
  78. Pioneers of Television is a once-over-lightly treatment, admittedly, but it's still a concept worth celebrating.
  79. [Jason Clarke's Jarek Wysocki's] a rich, unpredictable character, and easily the best thing Code has going for it--like the show, just messy enough to be interesting.
  80. Silly in places, the show seldom careens over the top, and manages to elicit periodic laughs from all three of its couplings, though the strategic marital ground war waged between Mike and Lisa will probably resonate best.
  81. The exercise isn't entirely successful, but still proves eminently watchable, indeed almost hypnotic--something only HBO, frankly, would likely bring to the screen in such cerebral, uncompromising form.
  82. Based on the two episodes available for preview, Restaurant is admirably low on trash-TV antics, lending it additional family-friendly appeal in the 8 p.m. hour leading into another competition, "Celebrity Apprentice."
  83. The show will thus ultimately sink or swim on its protagonist, and while it's a long way back to her TV-medicine internship on "China Beach," Delany can still make scrubs and dialogue about fatal drug combinations and post-mortem wounds sound surprisingly interesting.
  84. Trios of twentysomething slackers are hardly a new construct--see "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," among recent examples--but there's always room for more when the group is as brazen, funny and drug-addled as the gang in Workaholics.
  85. After a slow start, the second and third chapters become pretty absorbing, showcasing a first-rate cast--including original series creators Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh--and an interesting subplot regarding the growing Nazi threat in 1930s Britain.
  86. At times, the chat can become a trifle wonky--more like an academic seminar than mass entertainment. Still, the comics' conflicting styles and easy rapport make the banter amusing enough.
  87. Stacey represents one of those too-good-to-be-true movie teachers, but VanCamp possesses such innate likability that she can make that sense of commitment believable. Nor does it hurt that the producers did an impeccable job casting the various students, including Liam McKanna and Paola Andino as two of Stacey's more significant pupils.
  88. An entertaining if slightly dry account of the 2008 government bailout of the financial industry, as viewed over the shoulder of then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose agony is deftly conveyed by William Hurt.
  89. Nobody will confuse this with "L.A. Law" in its prime, but the vibe is similar to that show's more whimsical side--a breezy tone that carries through the handful of episodes previewed.
  90. ABC Family has another bright and bouncy addition to the family--one that with proper care and feeding looks born to run for a good long time.
  91. Oxygen's The Glee Project--designed to give an unknown performer a seven-episode arc on the Fox series--debuts amid a glut of music-related TV contests, including "The Voice," "America's Got Talent" and "Platinum Hit." Still, undeniable Gleek appeal should be enough to make the fun if formulaic show a basic-cable breakout.
  92. Despite only marginal spring in the exposition-heavy pilot, the promised mix of action, angst and serialized mystery should make for a purr-fect little summer escape.
  93. Written by Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro and directed by Kevin Dowling, Roughness smoothly exploits the winning combination of Thorne--who practically oozes sex appeal, while still conveying an approachable vulnerability--with the macho NFL setting.
  94. If not nearly as gripping, creepy or tightly constructed as the five-hour "Children of Earth," Torchwood's fourth flight nevertheless remains grand, intellectually stimulating fun--precisely the kind of smart popcorn fare Starz has stated its intention to provide.
  95. At first blush, though, give Alphas high marks for effort and ingenuity, demonstrating a TV show needn't provide major pyrotechnics or a reinvented wheel to lay the groundwork for solid summer entertainment where the characters, somewhat refreshingly, are only sort-of super.

Top Trailers