Variety's Scores

For 1,334 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 8.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 4
Lowest review score: 10 The Last Templar: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 526
  2. Negative: 0 out of 526
526 tv reviews
  1. Dense and smart, Cards is still partially skating by on reputation--and for Netflix’s purposes, that’s good enough.
  2. The show succeeds, to the extent it does, thanks to the braininess of its characters, Mikkelson’s positively reptilian approach to Lecter--taking a character with which the audience is so familiar and making it his own--and the clever use of a bracing season-opening sequence that frames essentially everything to come as an extended flashback.
  3. If the lavish production doesn’t quite strike gold, it comes close enough to encourage further exploration.
  4. 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.
  5. Mosley and Daniels bring an easygoing banter to the central roles, and the series has considerable fun with the bluer aspects of the job. That said, the show’s preoccupation with below-the-belt comedy risks growing a trifle tedious even after the three previewed episodes.
  6. Mortimer and Wells are both fine, juggling dramatic moments with more farcical ones, but this is still a fairly slight project even by HBO’s less-exacting standards.
  7. For now, it’s an intriguing enough premise to warrant continued attention.
  8. In short, myriad things are going on all at once, some of them barely making sense, but all played with gusto by the talented (mostly British) cast.
  9. The start to the bifurcated final season feels more indifferently paced than most--and thanks to the gradual push further into the 1960s, perhaps too groovy and scattered for its own good.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer plays like an uneasy cross between "The X-Files" and "Clueless," with a slightly harder edge than the original, if less outright gore.
  10. Works a little too hard to be everything to everyone. However, beyond the carefully calculated diversity of the pilot lies a pleasant and heartwarming series that may bridge the generation gap at the WB. It's still a chick show, but at least Gilmore Girls could attract women well past the N' Sync phase. [4 Oct 2000, p.7]
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Concept is OK, but the humor's less sophisticated than expected from the exec producers of HBO's comedy series "Dream On," and the dialogue is not exactly snappy. Ross: "I honestly don't know if I'm hungry or horny!" Chandler: "Stay out of my freezer."
  11. The show does spring out of the box boasting snappy dialogue ... What the show doesn't have is an original premise... or a compelling dynamic between [Debra] Messing and co-star Eric McCormack. [16 Sep 1998]
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There's a laid-back nature to the performance that sometimes slows down the proceedings. [4 Jan 1993]
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    "NewsRadio" features a group of caustic neurotics that many viewers will find entertaining. But nothing especially creative is introduced.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    While some of the humor scores, too much is of the red-herring variety one-liners that don't really have anything to do with anything. And anyone even mildly versed in Gotham politics will find Spin City low on the believability scale, which is probably a good thing, as you'd need a Robert Altman to find much humor in the real thing. [16 Sept 1996]
  12. While this sci-fi spoof saunters onto the Fox midseason sked feeling a tad uninspired at first blush, the promise is clearly there. [29 Mar 1999]
  13. Both undeniably clever and utterly bizarre --- not always for the better. [28 Jan 1999]
  14. "Family Guy" begins its new life with a slightly more assured mix of satire and non sequiturs while still displaying the kind of hit-miss joke ratio that doesn't quite belong in the major leagues. [28 Apr 2005]
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Ultimately, though, the familiarity of the story might work against the show. As with last season's decent entry "The Fugitive," people may feel they've already seen this before and know where it goes. [16 Oct 2001]
  15. '24' isn't getting off to the spectacular start that it did in its debut season when the focus was singular and clear-cut. [29 Oct 2002]
  16. An absolute visual stunner with compelling freak-show characters --- but the series unfortunately takes a leisurely approach toward getting to a point. [12 Sep 2003]
  17. The series is again intriguing but less than satisfying --- a concept more notable for the unusual time and space the show occupies than what it achieves dramatically. [7 Jan 2005]
  18. As trite as it sounds, the series plays it all earnestly enough for its target audience, and the show is beautifully shot in North Carolina, the basketball mecca where the fictional town is set. Even the sports scenes are well staged (in the pilot, anyway) and less schlocky than "The White Shadow" norm, with Lafferty, at least, looking like he's actually got game. [23 Sept 2003, p.13]
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Main problem: Skein's star, Kathryn Morris, is a puzzle. She's unique and capable, but her energy is low and there's zero warmth.
  19. Slow-going in developing its web of interconnected plots, this latest demonstration of cable's series-for-every-interest-group strategy is watchable enough, but probably not likely to be the sort of buzzworthy addiction-in-waiting Showtime would like and certainly could use. [13 Jan 2004, p.06]
  20. At its best in the boardroom and still flabby in the buildup to it. [9 Sep 2004]
  21. The competent but uninspiring two-hour pilot doesn't deliver the kind of thrills destined to rock anyone else's world.
  22. The well-traveled Carell is a very talented guy, from "The Daily Show" to "Anchorman," but understatement and restraint are hardly his forte. As a consequence, he plays Michael bigger, and therefore harder to endure, than Gervais did --- a fine line that's significant in such a delicately balanced comedy. [24 Mar 2005]
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    What's missing is some reality; comparatively, "NYPD Blue," "Homicide" and so many other cop skeins offered more authenticity, while this comes off as something made to please a focus group. [22 Sep 2004]
  23. At some point, though, a program this reliant on workplace sexcapades begins to run out of combinations, and the writers haven't done much more to address the problem than pad on new layers of interns (starting with Meredith's younger sister, played by Chyler Leigh) to further confound things.
  24. "Boston Legal" suffers from the pervasive feeling of been here, seen this. The show's closer to "Ally McBeal" than "The Practice," which provided the Petri dish to nurture and grow it. Kelley's fertile mind still disgorges occasional gems, but for the most part here, he's delivered more rhinestones than diamonds. [1 Oct 2004]
  25. seven episodes in, I'm still not entirely sure what it's "about," in a big-picture sense. That Huff manages to stay interesting says something about its topnotch cast and occasional surprises, though at times the writing risks becoming too precious for its own good. All told, it's something less than the water-cooler show the network is seeking.
  26. Interesting but not especially funny. [1 Aug 2005]
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    "Conviction" does exhibit a bit more creative promise than "Trial by Jury."
  27. "Close to Home" lives up and down to its title -- staying very close to what's worked for CBS before.
  28. Yet even with the premiere sprinkling enough tantalizing bread crumbs to warrant a return visit, there's insufficient evidence as to how the more muddled aspects will unfold over future installments.
  29. Clever, if familiar. [2 June 2005, p.8]
  30. While "What About Brian" strikes some of the familiar chords about love, angst and the terror of young adulthood that have viewers swooning over "Grey's Anatomy," the show does so in a more laid-back tone, which should make its leap from a post-"Desperate Housewives" launch to its regular Monday moorings a commercial challenge.
  31. A child's quizzical utterance near the end of "Invasion" provides enough of a chill to warrant a return visit to what's otherwise a mildly intriguing pilot.
  32. A solid cast and marquee auspices make this effects-heavy exercise watchable enough even when "The Triangle" grows obtuse.
  33. [It] lacks the flavor of the original and would have worked better under a different title.
  34. It has a few points going for it: Mandy Patinkin's onscreen magnetism; some truly eerie episodes; and a smartness that it wears on its sleeve. On the downside, it draws on too many other recent hits -- "CSI," "Crossing Jordan," "Medium," "House," "Law & Order: SVU""Law & Order: SVU" -- for visual style, character tics, mind games and an ability to find the truth in confounding evidence.
  35. Breezy and fun, there are several reasons to sample "Emily," but also plenty of room for skepticism over whether this witty half-hour has the depth to survive a highly competitive timeslot.
  36. Recruiting Danny DeVito to play the estranged dad to half the show's central quartet might have seemed like a good idea, but the result is a more uneven and mean-spirited show that overreaches and forces some gags. [29 Jun 2006]
  37. An affable new sitcom.
  38. There's a breezy charm to the show.
  39. A half-hour firmly ensconced in the "witty" zone that seldom crosses all the way over into funny.
  40. [It] won't earn many points for subtlety, but for aficionados of the horror genre it's the kind of stylish gorefest that should keep them up nights.
  41. All told, the movie's a respectable and mostly watchable recounting of this notorious chapter in Stewart's storied career, despite being so stiff and formal that it never really comes alive.
  42. If the series doesn't generate any grand creative magic, it at least possesses a certain old-fashioned charm.
  43. Breezy, smart and occasionally funny.
  44. That said, there are some qualms surrounding how long the producers can mine the Leonard-Penny aspect of the show, a shallow vein if there ever was one. More promising is the interaction among the key duo and their Mensa-worthy friends.
  45. Despite sharp casting, the real trick will be to develop Cold War-style fear while dribbling enough clues to elevate this above being just a post-apocalyptic "The Young and the Restless."
  46. Interesting but not fully compelling, it's a long shot to make a big score.
  47. Two of the first three episodes [reveal] an assured, risque, semi-cynical air that should dovetail nicely with "Two and a Half Men."
  48. "Friday Night Lights" ultimately feels like one of those family programs middle America and conservatives pine for that too few of them actually bother to watch -- a portrait of decent, God-fearing folks wringing joy from America's game as an escape from their hardscrabble lives.
  49. This is a series for people with a reasonably high TV IQ, but not a particularly challenging formula.
  50. Lacking "Prison Break's" tough milieu and its initial narrative drive, "Vanished" doesn't exactly scream "Watch me." Nevertheless, it's polished enough and very much a work in progress.
  51. The idea itself... is pretty damn good, even if the execution doesn't quite live up to it.
  52. Ferrara... is consistently endearing, bringing heart and soul to a character that could easily be a cartoon. Too bad that doesn't extend to the rest of the series, which oscillates from screwball comedy... to florid soap elements.
  53. Brotherhood certainly has its moments and does an especially artful job conveying violence in a brutal but not gratuitous way--one that's often more harrowing precisely because of its restraint. Ultimately, though, once you get past the brothers, the whole thing's a bit too grim.
  54. While this "Trail" ain't exactly broken, some judicious editing could have fixed it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    By the end of night one, however, the show grows intriguing, and the second and third episodes are more engrossing. Then episode four begins to drag, and the fifth hour feels like filler until the inevitable reveal, which, alas, isn't equal to the build-up.
  55. Strictly viewed on its merits, though, Cashmere Mafia suffers from a too-familiar feel.
  56. Yet despite an unusually high-octane (and yes, reasonably sexy) cast ably led by "Six Feet Under's" Peter Krause, the pilot doesn’t quite gel--feeling too determined to be quirky and provocative, and baited with a mystery that lacks the allure of the suicide that set "Housewives" in motion.
  57. In short, if you come for the sex, you'll only stay for the characters, and those represent an intriguing but decidedly mixed bag.
  58. The whole Chuck-Sarah relationship has been played from so many angles as to have grown a bit tedious--how many longing looks can two characters exchange?--and the actual capers are generally pretty slim. Despite a semi-serialized riff involving a shadowy organization, the stakes never feel particularly steep.
  59. Gossip Girl hardly breaks any new ground.
  60. At first blush, anyway, Californication isn't necessarily a bad place to be, but unless the series finds viable avenues to pursue beyond wallowing in Hank's self-pity, it'll be Showtime subscribers before long who wind up feeling screwed.
  61. "The Tudors" is not the great series that it might have been, but it's certainly a watchable and diverting one.
  62. Mixing equal parts court intrigue with Calvin Klein ad, the series falls short of greatness.
  63. Despite promising elements, then, Journeyman has set itself up with the daunting task of mastering a very tricky high-wire act
  64. Grammer and Heaton spar like old hands, but the punches (and punchlines) are so consistently telegraphed, the series seldom rises above the mundane.
  65. The overall approach, though, inevitably yields a series of individual images as opposed to a cohesive perspective, relying upon various directors to capture the sometimes harrowing, sometimes heartbreaking scope of the problem.
  66. Chocolate News is a moderately tasty, low-nutrition snack--the kind that, with apologies to perhaps the next ethnic frontier, will leave you hungry a half-hour later.
  67. Tara" also acquires some new supporting players, but the show feels more disconnected in scattering to pursue these various plots. In addition, the evolving interaction between Tara and her alters as she becomes "co-conscious" with them feels like little more than split-screen gimmickry.
  68. The supporting players aren’t nearly as interesting initially as the intense bond between Sookie and Bill, though they do keep the first few installments busy, including some nicely gratuitous sex, adventures in the Viagra-like effects of vampire blood and a tepid murder mystery.
  69. Like "High School Musical," it's a painfully simple but efficient fairy tale for a generation that never heard of Frankie and Annette, blending music with teen angst about fitting in--all built around a likable protagonist, multiethnic cast and hot pop trio.
  70. Nothing here really pops, even with Torv holding her own as the tough femme protagonist, the welcome presence of "The Wire's" Lance Reddick as her hostile boss and Noble exhibiting alternating strains of brilliance and psychosis.
  71. It focuses on twentysomethings and employs the tired device of a character speaking to the camera, producing a video blog about herself and her equally self-obsessed friends.
  72. Working with directors Allen Coulter and Michael Dinner, Sutter does bring a visceral quality to the violence, while detailing the club's code and commitment to functioning as an extended family; there's just so little dimension to the characters early on that it's difficult to care.
  73. Viewers will have to survive a rocky, at-times jarring first hour before the series begins coalescing into something interesting--flawed but unpredictable, with a characteristically intense Ian McShane at its core.
  74. The pilot gingerly lays out most of the elements My Own Worst Enemy will need to survive--leaving it to the show to either make its strange case or live down to its name.
  75. Aside from an easygoing quality and mild comic flair, there's not much here to steal the hearts of viewers; instead, it's another modest, lightweight addition to TNT's diner-style menu of comfort food for a weary nation.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The humor is sexist, racy and often falls flat, but when it does work, it connects in a way a male-centric audience--and that's Spike's bread and butter--will appreciate.
  76. The show has already received considerable acclaim in the U.K. (including the 2008 British Comedy Award), a level of praise that seems a bit generous; still, in the long continuum of teen comedies, "Inbetweeners" does qualitatively register toward the high end of the scale.
  77. What the production most sorely lacks, though, is a strong sense of cohesion, which often makes the hours play more like loosely assembled snapshots of the war without a compelling hook to pull the audience along. Nor do any of the key performers really distinguish themselves, dwarfed as they are by the general sense of pageantry--the sound and fury--that usually surrounds them.
  78. Collision wins points for ambition, perhaps, but as the quaint little stopovers on PBS' highway of British drama go, it's one of those rare rest stops that's just as easily skipped.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Like "Saturday Night Live," "Important Things" is often hit and miss, but the simplest way for Martin to smooth over the bumps would be to become more comfortable in the stand-up segment.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Granted, the lack of punchless punchlines was a welcome change of pace, but the canned self-introductions that replaced them were jarring in terms of pacing -- not to mention the awkwardness of the blatant self-referencing involved.
  79. This dark biker-gang drama certainly has its share of fans, but held up against the larger pantheon of cable dramas--including some of FX's recent and upcoming additions--Sons emulates its ride: Plenty noisy, but a relatively low-octane vehicle.
  80. It's perhaps inevitable that this project will range from sobering and moving to, at times, feeling a bit too much like homework.
  81. Simply being quirky, however, only goes so far, so my preliminary diagnosis is that these Pains don't amount to much more than a second-degree "Burn."
  82. While the title character is consistently rough and the language blue, in subsequent episodes (Showtime sent six out for review) the series increasingly feels like all style and limited substance--a star showcase that's less "triumphant return" than "Nice to have you back, but ..."
  83. Yet while Jackie remains a fascinating conundrum--a woman who takes noble stands and cuts corners on behalf of her patients, while hanging by a tenuous thread in her personal life--the brooding tone can become stifling.
  84. Fitfully funny, there's undeniable energy but also obvious limitations to this approach, which perhaps explains each half-hour's segmentation into back-to-back 11-minute episodes.
  85. This is a template as well-worn as "Marcus Welby, M.D.," albeit with greater visual style and an accelerated pace--as well as an underlying "pay it forward" message about organ donation.
  86. The episodes are certainly watchable, but as constructed by writer-producers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg, the train also takes its time getting out of the station.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There's something intriguing about a summer show that is at once too complicated in storytelling and too simplistic in aesthetics to comfortably mesh with CBS' flashy procedural-stacked lineup.