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 Deadwood: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Fashion House (2006): Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 702
  2. Negative: 0 out of 702
702 tv reviews
  1. Admittedly, it does make for a fairly enjoyable if rather nutty stew, albeit one that requires ignoring things like, say, the plunging neckline of the ambitious prosecutor seeking to advance her career by using Lucious as her political springboard.
  2. With our hero having already sacrificed a hand to the cause, nobody should be surprised if the series version doesn’t possess long legs. But as a short-term lark, it’s goofy, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and certainly feels well-calibrated to a very particular appetite that’s uniquely suited to pay cable. From that perspective, the show does justice to its campy, low-budget roots.
    • 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 kids' concerns and apprehensions feel poignant and real.
  4. Admittedly, the premise is a little fragile for syndication--who ever heard of a five-year remodel?--but Bent is so breezy as to sort of beg for more.
  5. Public Morals doesn’t yet feel like a top-tier cable drama, but it has the makings of a highly watchable one, and stands a cut above much of TNT’s lineup in terms of ambition.
  6. What makes it all work, moderately, is Union, who manages to portray Mary Jane as relatable, sexy and vulnerable, without being a saint or goody-two-shoes.
  7. [The} New Normal won't be for everybody, but there's enough here to suggest it can connect with a loyal core, enticing some to stick around and see what develops.
  8. Surrounded by a solid supporting cast, it's a workable if not quite prime piece of development.
  9. 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.
  10. While covering a good deal of ground, the filmmakers don’t linger over the ordeal of the Crucifixion in the way, say, Mel Gibson did in “The Passion of the Christ,” and the program benefits from that sense of economy. Still, the three-hour telecast (about three-quarters that length, sans commercials) must recover from a truly terrible opening.
  11. While the concept is hardly original (and probably hews closest to the movie “EdTV”), the series still feels fresh and timely.
  12. A solidly crafted if mostly undemanding piece of summer entertainment, shifting to a new high-profile case with a ripped-from-the-headlines quality.
  13. The good news is if you’ve enjoyed the shows in the past--and perhaps felt New Girl lost a bit of its fastball--the kickoff episodes suggest there might be more to like in the year ahead.
  14. Compared with Martin Scorsese's exhaustive docus about Bob Dylan and George Harrison, Crossfire feels almost too brisk and workmanlike. But like a good concert, it ably balances major hits, back-catalogue oddities and plenty of showmanship.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Down deep, however, this is the old, highly workable stuff, tidily refurbished. [12 Sep 1994]
    • Variety
  15. The series still remains a trifle weak in terms of the support staff.... Still, the interplay between Kaling and Messina is actually quite good--much better, in fact, than their squabbling when they were at each other’s throats earlier in the run.
  16. Ellroy's potboiler style will be off-putting to many people, but the lurid subject matter actually feels like a pretty good fit with Investigation Discovery's unabashed immersion in crime.
  17. Viewers are pretty quickly drawn into the two-tiered plot, in a manner that goes beyond just admiring Bean’s verbal calisthenics as he flits from one accent to the next.
  18. [ABC's] infatuation with translating the [country music] genre to series still appears questionable. Despite that, credit Nashville with crafting a reasonably catchy hook.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. For now, it’s an intriguing enough premise to warrant continued attention.
  23. 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.
  24. Has the potential to be a real guilty pleasure.
  25. The show is a shrewd if not terribly exciting bet on upping the network's hip quotient without straying far from its procedural wheelhouse.
  26. Carter's dialogue is fresh without being self-conscious, and the characters are involving. Series kicks off with drive and imagination, both innovative in recent TV.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    A sound drama that does for father-son relationships what "Gilmore Girls" does for the women of the family. As quirky as it is comfortable. [16 Sept 2002, p.45]
    • Variety
  27. While Liz & Dick is wobbly at times, the movie ultimately stands on its own.
  28. While watching the show isn’t particularly enjoyable, once drawn into Stevens’ story, it’s also difficult to turn away.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. What emerges is surprisingly compelling, if decidedly constricted take on the singer’s life, focusing squarely on her relationship with Bobby Brown, and ending well before her untimely death at age 48.
  32. 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.
  33. Like “Hannibal” (another NBC drama built around an antihero with a peculiar diet), this series pushes boundaries in terms of gore, torture and sex, flourishes that feel both organic and perhaps a bit less jarring given the fantastic setting and situations.
  34. 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.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    But as for the overall approach, it's hard to nick any latenighter that actually tries to say something and doesn't have a sidekick or a bandleader. From the Twin Tower reconstruction efforts to duct tape mania to his ceremonial kick in the ass after ABC dumped him, Maher alone is ready to take on the universe, and that's a gutsier fight than most.
  35. It’s to the credit of all concerned, frankly, that Kingdom is more compelling than it sounds, conjuring a gritty atmosphere (you can practically smell the gym through the TV) around its fractured family ties, along with familiar questions regarding redemption and second chances.
  36. The show’s assemblage of pint-sized personalities demonstrates enough natural charm to sustain a season and potentially give both Fox and Ramsay another reliable reality franchise.
  37. 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.
  38. The telepic has an old-fashioned quality, from building the movie around one of the ostensible good guys (Anthony, played by Virginia Welch, is featured only sparingly) to the prosecution assembling its case to the simple yet effective urgency of Richard Marvin's score.
  39. Those who got on board last year have enough reason to continue flying these not-so-friendly Skies.
  40. Inevitably, there are stereotypical aspects on both sides of the age gap--from the flakiness of Kelsey’s contemporaries to Diana too often coming across as a bitter scold--but the series seldom pitches so far across those lines as to be unable to find its way back.
  41. The performances are splendid throughout, starting with Latifah.... Coupled with the plentiful music, those assets largely overcome the fact that the movie itself is somewhat scattered, narratively speaking, not so much ending as simply covering different aspects of Smith’s colorful life before running out of time.
  42. 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.
    • 74 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.
  43. There is still, frankly, something confining (never mind morally questionable) about building a series around the Lecter character, although Mikkelsen’s magnetic performance and piercing gaze offer ample compensation.
  44. Mostly, the intrigue in the half-hour pilot proves a trifle head-scratching, but there's a fair amount of action and an impressive look.
  45. [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.
  46. While Battle Creek hews relatively close to CBS’ procedural comfort zone, the series also exhibits the wry, slightly jaundiced view of the world that has always characterized Gilligan’s work.
  47. It’s all strangely compelling and fun, if still a little half-baked, including what’s motivating the rival group apparently determined to prevent Axl from completing his mission by trying to kill the poor kid off.
  48. Addressing these complexities [the women hav[ing] to be more creative in their scheming], however, and incorporating the other tentacles of Gregory’s history eventually begin to dilute the story’s central thrust (and there’s a lot of thrusting) toward the end of the eight episodes previewed out of the 10-part run.
  49. Anyone who ever tried out for a team should derive some satisfaction from tuning in to the show.
  50. It's so stylishly executed, with Mimi Leder's direction, a crisp script and magnetic lead by Dominic Purcell, that the John Doe indeed has a solid identity.
  51. Result is more a series of entertaining parts than a substantial whole. But it’s smoothly assembled, with a solid tech package and lively pace.
  52. 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.
  53. Ennenga (last seen in “Treme”), Wright and Pellegrino are in a way the show’s emotional linchpins, and they’re very good at capturing the mix of relief and confusion the situation elicits.
  54. This companion series warrants further monitoring. And while it’s premature to say I can’t get enough Satisfaction, at this point, I definitely want more.
  55. Production values are outstanding, and the producers have captured the appropriate tension and devotion that surrounds this world.
  56. Making it all about one woman’s journey keeps the field of vision rather narrow, and the pilot (directed by Michael Trim) doesn’t provide quite enough depth to fully appreciate the gravity of what changing Becca’s past might mean. Other than the styles of the era, scant effort has been made to reflect the passage of two decades on the characters, which is a quibble, perhaps, but a trifle disorienting at first.
  57. Some of the contestants come off as so over the top as to feel like plants, which is at the very least distracting. Nevertheless, it’s worth watching (or not immediately zapping away) if only for Oberg’s antics.
  58. First episode lacks the energy and grit of the first season of "Law & Order," but Anthony Jannelli's camera work reveals the guilty, and director Jean De Segonzac and editor Doug Ibold keep the action taught even when it's apparent exactly where things are headed.
  59. Spader has always been a particularly interesting actor, and he’s well suited to this sort of twisted figure, where so much is going on behind those eyes. That said, he’s all that lifts The Blacklist above the mundane.
  60. The WB has created the love child of "Friends" and "Sex and the City" -- no surprise considering talent from both series are behind it. While this one-hour comedy drama doesn't have that kind of instant karma, there's plenty of chemistry at work with the matriarchal Sorelli family.
  61. Secrets and Lies is a solid, twisty version of the increasingly popular murdered-kid-sets-series-in-motion formula.
  62. For the most part, exec producer David Jacobs, director Robert Butler and writer/co-exec producer Deborah Joy LeVine succeed, bringing a fresh cleverness to the well-worn Superman mythos without trampling on its tradition. [10 Sept 1993]
    • Variety
  63. The casting is key to make these fairly stock situations pop, all loosely revolving around questions of fidelity, although the title--like most everything else in the show--is a little bit over the top.
  64. The no-frills approach--people sitting around a table BS-ing--relies heavily on the wit of those participating, but in terms of celebrating TV’s best and brightest, it’s still an interesting exercise of navel-gazing about the creative process.
  65. While the show breaks little ground, it’s a fairly polished and inordinately well-cast pilot. ... Mom has the bones of a pretty durable TV show.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. Riley takes a bit of getting used to as Da Vinci, but once one adjusts to the program’s tone, it’s an entertaining serialized plot with plenty of twists, nudity and violence, but not the same grim streak or stuffiness of something like "The Borgias."
  69. All told, though, there's a lot to like here, and even an evolution to the Chloe-June relationship that--the former's eccentricity notwithstanding--borders on a budding friendship.
  70. Not all that much happens, but the episodes nip along just smartly enough to sustain interest as to what this jigsaw puzzle will look like once assembled, the disclaimer being that viewers will have good reason to be ticked off if the payoff doesn’t justify the commitment.
  71. 30 Rock remains merely a good comedy whose shortcomings prevent it from joining the ranks of great ones.
  72. Series creator Joe Weisberg--who wrote the Thomas Schlamme-directed season premiere along with Joel Fields--and company have done about as well as is possible in keeping the plates spinning while adding new ones to the act. Even so, it’s hard to escape a sense that if this series runs much beyond a second season, it’s less about serving up art than it is about bowing to the needs of old-fashioned capitalism.
  73. 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.
  74. The show not only gives its devoted fans what they love most --- continuity monitoring --- but rejuvenates a somewhat tired notion. [27 Sep 2001]
    • Variety
  75. At times the portentous dialogue can sound hokey, but for the most part, the slick pilot and three subsequent episodes set the tone for a series with enough of a hook to get under one’s skin.
  76. 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.
  77. Suffice to say the legal jockeying and cat-and-mouse games are mildly juicy and suspenseful (thanks in part to Kebbell’s unsettling performance as TV’s latest deranged lunatic with a pleasant face), provided one doesn’t work too hard at seeking to decipher them.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. Survivors isn't great or groundbreaking, but it's a whole lot more than nothing.
  81. 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.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Bee has some promise, but the concept has the potential to grow old fast.
  82. House could well be one of those development stories where the operation is successful but the patient still dies. A well-made medical hour with an intriguing star, the show feels somewhat mismatched with Fox's lineup and instantly stale based on its resemblance to NBC's "Medical Investigation," which was clearly grown in the same Petri dish. [15 Nov 2004, p.4]
    • Variety
  83. 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.
  84. The series is anything but ordinary, a cosmic blend of high school angst and otherworldly intrigue.
  85. Michael C. Hall's portrayal of the title character remains a towering achievement, one that eclipses the show's other shortcomings and rough patches.
  86. Promising ... The comic timing by limber Malick and by SNL's Spade, Segal's nifty interp[retation] of Gallo, the warm self-assurance of San Giacomo and a bright premise concocted by Levitan and director MacKenzie add up to something worth checking out. [4 Mar 1997]
    • Variety
  87. Savage is just fine as the sharp boy with lots of ideas, and Daniels is excellent in what might have been a routine role. Writers Michael Jacobs and April Kelly have even included a message in the format -- the value of love, something Cory presumably learns. [23 Sept 1993]
    • Variety
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Taut and tense, show boasts the twists, turns, gadgets and gimmicks made famous by its Las Vegas-set progenitor. It could, however, use a dash of personality --- everybody is relentlessly dour. [20 Sep 2002]
    • Variety
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Yes, it's sentimental and often strains credibility. But Dangerous Minds is also keenly humane, a belligerent bulwark against cynicism. Moreover, Potts heads a terrific ensemble that makes you care about these kids and this teacher. [30 Sept 1996]
    • Variety
  90. Through three episodes the series manages to mine the arbitrary nature of her predicament without being cloying--no small feat, given the venue and subject matter.
  91. 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.
  92. There's a breezy charm to the show.

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