Variety's Scores

For 2,067 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 Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 The Ten Commandments
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 833
  2. Negative: 0 out of 833
833 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. The third season isn’t nearly so neatly constructed [as the second]; the end of the season feels less like a conclusion and more like a plateau. But without the smooth lines of deliberate plotting, the show is able to find some really brilliant sweet spots.
  4. [A] slickly made, shrewdly conceived series.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. It is a plot that is reminiscent of nothing more than “Braveheart.” This might make Frontier a little predictable--but it’s a highly entertaining and satisfying journey, too, if you’re in the mood for it. The story is vast and at times either slow or confusing. But it always reads as considered and thoughtful--an adventure epic full of characters, not caricatures.
  11. 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").
  12. 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.
  13. A claustrophobic but ultimately affecting TV movie starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins.
  14. Captivating.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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."
  21. It’s a showcase for Tyson.
  22. Has the sharpness of the recent remakes of "Italian Job" and "Ocean's Eleven."
  23. Blue Bloods enters this rough neighborhood with the right personnel, and, living up to its name, a solid pedigree.
  24. Much of what transpires comes off as an homage to complex dramas like “The Wire” and “The Shield,” and though The Last Panthers isn’t in the league of those American classics, it’s a credible and illuminating look at the movement of cash, guns and lucrative contracts in the interconnected Europe of today.
  25. Ultimately, Lady Dynamite presents such an amusing combination of humane wisdom and goofy wit that it quickly establishes itself as must-see fare. But don’t binge on this distinctive concoction. It’s best savored over time.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. The political comedy, starring Nick Nolte and Sela Ward, is both genuinely funny and genuinely moving, displaying a kind of rigor in its storytelling that is frequently lost on networks new to original programming.
  34. Berlin Station is not quite as cerebral as “The Americans” or “Rubicon,” and it occasionally cuts corners in its rush to create narrative momentum, but the Epix series has an outstanding cast that takes its reasonably solid storytelling and raises it a few notches through sheer talent and charisma.
  35. 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."
  36. 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.
  37. It's a mildly unsettling mentality, to be sure, but thus far Bad's mercurial formula adds up to one really good trip.
  38. Even if Love & Anger largely rehashes the legacy Kramer has already written for himself, it still captures the inspirational spirit of its subject.
  39. If it’s all rather familiar (the material is adapted by Simon Block from a book by Julie Summers), it’s nevertheless beautifully played.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. The Americans picks up pretty deftly from where last season’s cliffhanger left off, while advancing that storyline at a relatively slow pace.
  43. [The Weight of the Nation is] a little flabby. Still, this multimedia endeavor delivers a powerful and important message.
  44. 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.
  45. A wildly charismatic performance by star Mike Colter and solid work from the rest of the show’s cast are usually enough to power this addition to the Marvel TV universe through its rough spots, which include a somewhat clunky pilot and a notable tendency to sprawl (a common trait among streaming and pay-cable dramas, and not just in the superhero realm).
  46. 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.
  47. The premiere is the strongest, largely because Sudeikis is the perfect serious foil to Richardson and Robinson. (Sudeikis isn’t a regular cast member, but according to press materials, he will reprise his role as the Chrysler rep.) Without him, the show is a weirder journey, one that de-emphasizes story for the more elusive quality of atmosphere. But it’s a bizarre, rollicking joy to watch.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. The pilot does everything it needs to, checking off the necessary boxes for the unwilling American hero-president in efficient, compelling scenes. This show isn’t going to be for everyone, but it comes with one of the highest-quality pilots broadcast is offering this fall, and it’s ABC’s strongest drama.
  52. 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.
  53. There's no pulling punches, and exec producer Kevin Williamson delivers a full-throttle ride that, four episodes in, proves twisty, unpredictable and tense.
  54. About a Boy is an utterly charming pilot, and almost certainly the most endearing half-hour NBC has developed in some time.
  55. 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.
  56. In terms of succeeding creatively, they haven’t just tried; done it, they have.
  57. Much of what’s likable about the series stems less from the particulars than from its general tone.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. "My Name Is Earl" isn't the best comedy around, but it's pretty darn good.
  61. 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.
  62. What really stands out, though, are the interviews with those who sat across the negotiating table from Holbrooke, such as Bosnian president Bakir Izetbegovic.... Obviously, there’s something intensely personal about Holbrooke’s son writing, directing and narrating the film, but in some respects, the biographical elements are its weakest sections.
  63. 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.
  64. 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
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. The one-hour production slowly builds a compelling case, as the women lay out details of what they say happened, without being flanked by attorney Gloria Allred or a bank of microphones.
  68. One of the best conventional half-hours to come along in a while.
  69. 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.
  70. Meticulously produced, cast to the hilt and boasting powerful performances by Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce in the lead roles.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. For those unfamiliar with the Broadway version, the songs are great fun, and work particularly well juxtaposed with animation.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. An enchanting six-part series about lost love, missed opportunities and second chances.
  79. 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.
  80. Facing almost impossibly high expectations, Stephen Colbert seemingly raced through a checklist of agenda-setting moments in his mostly terrific The Late Show debut.
    • 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
  81. Most impressively, Vikings captures the grim reality of these times and the limitations of these characters--barbarous, superstitious creatures that they are--in a manner that draws one into their world without necessarily evoking sympathy for it. And even the ostensible good guys, like Ragnar, are prone to do very bad things, without making them any less watchable.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. Fugit depicts Barnes with the scraggly desperation of a starving, wounded animal. With his poignant portrayal securely holding each hour’s center, Outcast quickly mutates from a creepfest into a tragedy about doubt, coping and human frailty.
  88. Under director David Nutter and show-runner Josh Friedman, the first two hours roll a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. If "Tiny Furniture" filmmaker Lena Dunham's series is in places too mannered, it's also fresh, honest and raw.

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