Variety's Scores

For 1,698 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 Murder One: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Painkiller Jane: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 665
  2. Negative: 0 out of 665
665 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Turner brings the necessary swoon-worthy qualities to the emotionally wounded lead (who knew there were ab exercises back in the 18th century?), but the cast is uniformly good.
  6. Under director David Nutter and show-runner Josh Friedman, the first two hours roll a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Lights proves not only that it's possible to produce a smart drama with teenage characters, but that a series can be better than the movie (itself inspired by a bestselling book) that spawned it.
  10. The first hour rather dutifully runs through Sinatra’s early biography, before becoming a star singing with Tommy Dorsey’s band and then acrimoniously splitting from him. The project really takes off, not surprisingly, when it moves on to Sinatra at the height of his powers.
  11. 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.
  12. If "Tiny Furniture" filmmaker Lena Dunham's series is in places too mannered, it's also fresh, honest and raw.
  13. There’s inevitably a bit of unevenness to the quality of the stories.... but the series is blessed with a concept, with the right stewardship, that’s built to last.
  14. The documentary goes beyond mere hazy tribute, offering parallel windows into the civil-rights era and the barriers women have faced in comedy.
  15. Somewhat plodding through its opening hour, "Elizabeth I" gains steam and then soars through its concluding installment.
  16. FX has often made its bones by seeking to push the pay-cable envelope in terms of standards, sometimes gratuitously so; Damages demonstrates that envelope-pushers needn't be edgier, necessarily, just smarter.
  17. Like its vague title, Men possesses a certain charm that's not always easy to characterize, but is, thankfully, easy to watch. And based on season two, the show, at least, is aging quite gracefully.
  18. Mary and Martha is a moving return to intimate form for HBO.
  19. Huge is one big circle of adolescent longing, and Holz-man and Dooley manage to find the pathos in the situation without condescending or going for cheap laughs at their characters' expense.
  20. The facts, then, are these: Pushing Daisies isn’t perfect, but there’s no other dance on TV remotely like it. And to echo last season’s review, that alone is reason to hope it finds a way to avoid death’s touch.
  21. 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.
  22. Proving that lightning can and does strike twice, High School Musical 2 actually surpasses the first movie in sheer energy and verve.
  23. In pulling these tried-and-true elements together, Smith and series creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters also garnish Reaper with several deft little touches--like pegging the Dept. of Motor Vehicles as a hiding-in-plain-sight portal to Hell, or the appropriate strains of Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper.'
  24. It’s an inordinately intelligent sci-fi series in which the flaws only enhance its overall underdog appeal.
  25. Sherman-Palladino's snappy banter and slightly melancholy characters only enrich the texture of a series perfectly pitched between comedy and drama.
  26. There's so much gaudy talent on display here that those with an appetite for it won't be able to get enough, and Little Dorrit gives them everything they could want in a big, gloriously messy package.
  27. Exec producers Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer possess a marvelous knack for dancing right up against the precipice with their narrative arcs without toppling over--aided immeasurably by their talented multigenerational cast.
  28. For all its implausibility, by the end of the "Dharma and Greg" pilot, you're smiling anyhow. [22 Sept 1997]
    • Variety
  29. After a plodding start, Mildred becomes increasingly absorbing.
  30. Series creator Vince Gilligan brings a quirky sensibility to the pilot, and the show grows increasingly rich and absorbing in the second and third hours.
  31. Ultimately, there's no substitute for amusing scenarios like the one with the dog, and clever writing, which The Goode Family boasts in abundance.
  32. In an ABC lineup eager to replicate that rarest of commodities--a good, and modern, family comedy--the show appears to have accomplished what Eddie yearns to do: Fit right in.
  33. For Leary fans, it's a treat to have him back on the air in a smartly drawn, non-PC drama with a heavy comedic element.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    [The] series retains such Kelley trademarks as arch dialogue, colorful characters and interesting, quirky and socially relevant situations. [4 Mar 1997]
    • Variety
  34. Although not for everyone, '24' remains the equivalent of a great popcorn movie or page-turning book ... [and] has become an accomplished exercise in storytelling that takes full advantage of the television form. [27 Oct 2003]
    • Variety
  35. 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.
  36. Although this series isn't for everybody, it's the kind of solid single HBO can use while waiting for a new batch of heavy hitters to arrive; it's a refreshing favorite within the YouTube quadrant that won't leave their elders muttering about the crap those damn kids watch.
  37. This series about suburban angst circa 1976 exhibits rare depth for the procedural-packed web, and includes plenty of nifty touches, from the pop-song score and "Boogie Nights" fashions to the first-rate cast.
  38. 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.
  39. Offbeat, engaging and smartly written ... "Ally McBeal" is the rare example of a broadcast network premiering a series that feels fresh and different, if occasionally contrived. [8 Sep 1997]
    • Variety
  40. Fishburne captures Marshall's larger-than-life qualities, and in his playwriting debut, Stevens endows his portrait with a ripe sense of humor.
  41. [Axe Cop emerges] as a wacked-out, irreverent hoot, full of colorful absurdities.
  42. 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.
  43. With David's eccentricity permeating every aspect of the show, these new episodes feel more unrestrained than ever.
  44. This gritty series about L.A. cops does have a niche cable sensibility, but it's exceptionally well made, with sharply drawn characters and, happily, more intense focus on the best of them in these initial patrols.
  45. Continuing Warner Bros. Animation’s welcome strategy of aiming its DC-derived animation at comics-loving adults as well as tykes, the writing is crisp and even above-their-heads literate.
  46. Homicidal clown Twisty (John Carroll Lynch puts the horror back in Horror Story, and runs neck and neck (and neck) with Paulson’s Tattler twins as “Freak Show’s” most intriguing breakout character.... Elsa initially comes off as more cartoonish and less complex than Lange’s previous turns. That changes for the better once Lange lays bare the vulnerability beneath Elsa’s hardened exterior in a few poignant scene.
  47. It's a handsomely mounted production that will surely be welcomed by English majors the world over, especially those who would rather watch their homework than read it.
  48. Striking the right balance with such a character-driven construct can be perilous, but with the casting and initial tone, The Affair appears well ahead of the game, to the point where many will find further attendance compulsory.
  49. The major stumbling block remains that it's odd to contemplate seeking algorithmic solutions to crimes or having a guy who got beat up a lot in high school answering 911 calls. So even with Charlie functioning as a kind of adjunct to the bureau, it's muddled how they'll consistently capitalize on his abilities. [17 Jan 2005]
    • Variety
  50. In the mostly undistinguished roll call of new comedies, it goes to the head of the class.
  51. "Looking" distinguishes itself by moving past the tired cliches involving gay life to a more matter-of-fact, intensely personal snapshot of these characters and struggles, told in a serialized fashion.
  52. Dense and smart, Cards is still partially skating by on reputation--and for Netflix’s purposes, that’s good enough.
  53. 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.
  54. For those whose similarly themed projects are still on the launchpad, they could do worse than to take a look at Showalter and Wain’s road map in devising their quirky trip back to the future.
  55. Allegiance certainly won’t win many points for originality, but the episodes do clip along on a serialized basis, keeping the principals constantly scheming to stay one step ahead of the two sides between which they’re caught.
  56. Soapy, well cast and boasting uniformly strong performances, the show's servant-class stories still don't measure up to more regal doings, [but] the series proves enjoyable.
  57. Writer-director Mike Robe does a nice job of exploring the repercussions of life choices.
  58. 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.
  59. 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."
  60. By alternating significant time between Cathy, Christopher, Carrie and Corinne, the ADD storytelling in Petals ensures there’s never a dull moment--or a sensible one either--and the events retained from Andrews’ novel are just bonkers enough to make the approach pay off.
  61. While "Hot Properties" doesn't generate big guffaws, there's a breezy quality to it that makes for good company at what's mercifully a lower decibel level than its lead-in or the WBthe WB's competing "Living With Fran."
  62. Last Tango returns for its third season, having drifted somewhat from the spark that initially made the show so bracing, becoming a more conventional family soap, albeit still with wonderful moments.
  63. Still fun in fits and starts, the series begins with enough energy to help it coast along, abetted by rock cameos that provide an additional helping of street cred.
  64. The fourth day in the life of '24' begins slowly but gathers momentum through the second and third hours, promising another satisfying thrill ride for those willing to get on board. [3 Jan 2005]
    • Variety
  65. This second Hour remains an interesting historical document, but at least initially appears more determined to replicate qualities that distinguished the first rather than advance them.
  66. Although history obviously mixes with fiction, there’s enough here left under-covered by traditional textbooks to make The Book of Negroes an intriguing window into the period.
  67. Boomtown, which has a debt to "Law & Order's" nose-to-the-grindstone subtlety, could represent a bold move in episodic TV.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. Ultimately, the series contains just enough skepticism to mitigate charges of being exploited as a questionable enterprise's PR tool.
  71. There are enough winning moments here to come back for an encore.
  72. The early prognosis: bizarre, unsettling, perplexing, captivating. [6 Oct 1999, p.10]
    • Variety
  73. An inspired wedding of sharp comedic sensibilities with primetime soapiness ... The one cautionary flag is preventing the soapy elements from bubbling over the top, as they threaten to do on only a few occasions in the premiere. [27 Sep 2004]
    • Variety
  74. DeMange draws out the helplessness and frustrations of the men who visit Belle, which are complemented by Tat Radcliffe's framing of the action.
  75. 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."
  76. Almost everyone speaks in the same rat-a-tat voice, which, as some discovered with Aaron Sorkin on “The Newsroom,” can begin to yield diminishing returns. The series also remains a bit too precious in sidestepping issues of partisanship, a conceit that has grown somewhat more tolerable over time. For all that, the Emmy-winning Louis-Dreyfus remains an inordinately gifted comedic actress.
  77. When it’s the two leads, the effect is utterly charming. But the circumstances that set all this in motion, while relegated to the background, tend to occasionally get in the way.
  78. As impressive as the filmmaking is, the grim material and spare storytelling makes Witness a slog at times--more to be admired for its ambition and unflinching lens, along with the courage of its subjects, than savored or understood.
  79. While the show’s payoff is likely to strike many as strained and unsatisfying, as well as disturbing, its raison d’etre is as much about the atmospherics and the getting there, with the twists trumping the actual whodunit.
  80. Nobody will confuse Total Blackout with high-brow fare, certainly, but it's still modestly entertaining.
  81. Strictly in TV terms, Lee has done an admirable job of bringing the 86-minute performance to the screen, for the most part avoiding tight close-ups because Tyson’s body and movements are such a part of the show, working up a noticeable sweat as he prowls the stage.
  82. 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.
  83. The Whispers has a polished feel, enough twists, and moves just well enough to steadily build on its central mystery. So for now, anyway, even if the kids aren’t all right, the show is.
  84. A scripted eight-part miniseries from a subdivision of ABC News, “The Assets” is an unexpectedly good placeholder for regular time-period-occupant “Scandal,” if perhaps a little too slow-going to connect with that show’s “OMG TV” crowd.
  85. The show exhibits some welcome bite.
  86. "Life on Mars" has the makings of an intoxicating treat, proving how far a little atmosphere can go in breathing life into a format that occasionally appears close to flatlining.
  87. 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.
  88. Not everything works on the show--and its principal device, providing glimpses foreshadowing what's to come, can become a bit maddening--but there's a clear focus to these first two hours auguring what could be a truly whiz-bang finish.
  89. So while Sherri doesn't rock any better than "Rita" does, for Lifetime, that's probably enough.
  90. 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.
  91. 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").
  92. Zen works, to the extent it does, thanks to Sewell's shell-shocked gaze as he navigates the shark-infested bureaucracy, the way-cool Adrian Johnston score and Rome's intoxicating beauty, with Murino (a Bond girl in "Casino Royale") among the more arresting of Italy's natural assets.
  93. The four episodes previewed are far from flawless, but even with their lapses and excesses, I can hardly wait for the next hour.
  94. Naturally, Idol is still heavy on crying mothers, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat, Ryan Seacrest saying things like “This ... is your show,” and an on-air script resembling a heart-disease public-service announcement that reads, “Life Can Change in a Heartbeat.” All told, though, the show feels brighter and breezier, and initially avoids some of the heavier-handed pomposity “X Factor” exhibits during these rounds.
  95. 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.
  96. A little messy in its conception, the series still exhibits considerable potential--the kind that inspires checking out a second episode.
  97. "Weeds" still isn't quite funny or startling enough to become a compulsion but delivers enough tantalizing hits to merit the TiVo "season pass" treatment.
  98. 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.

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