Variety's Scores

For 1,722 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: 56
Highest review score: 100 The Shield: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 WAGS: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 675
  2. Negative: 0 out of 675
675 tv reviews
  1. 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
  2. While Liz & Dick is wobbly at times, the movie ultimately stands on its own.
  3. While watching the show isn’t particularly enjoyable, once drawn into Stevens’ story, it’s also difficult to turn away.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Those who got on board last year have enough reason to continue flying these not-so-friendly Skies.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. [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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Anyone who ever tried out for a team should derive some satisfaction from tuning in to the show.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Production values are outstanding, and the producers have captured the appropriate tension and devotion that surrounds this world.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Secrets and Lies is a solid, twisty version of the increasingly popular murdered-kid-sets-series-in-motion formula.
  37. 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
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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."
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 30 Rock remains merely a good comedy whose shortcomings prevent it from joining the ranks of great ones.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. The show not only gives its devoted fans what they love most --- continuity monitoring --- but rejuvenates a somewhat tired notion. [27 Sep 2001]
    • Variety
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. Survivors isn't great or groundbreaking, but it's a whole lot more than nothing.
  56. 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.
  57. 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
  58. 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.
  59. The series is anything but ordinary, a cosmic blend of high school angst and otherworldly intrigue.
  60. Michael C. Hall's portrayal of the title character remains a towering achievement, one that eclipses the show's other shortcomings and rough patches.
  61. 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
  62. 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
  63. 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.
  64. 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
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. There's a breezy charm to the show.
  68. While certainly not bad, the series would be better if it came with fewer built-in speed bumps, and a little more narrative momentum.
  69. Goodman does a fine job of helping the experts to explain the science, from the use of graphics to the way news footage is woven into the film. But Emperor of All Maladies also stalls at times along the way, to the point where a more focused treatment and fewer anecdotal stories, condensed to two nights, would have likely been beneficial all around.
  70. Girls continues to operate in a very limited range, both benefiting from, and in some ways handcuffed by, its generational specificity.
  71. 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.
  72. Good actors pop in and out of their lives (including Richard E. Grant as another rehab patient, and Bob Balaban as a shrink), but Dunham’s narrow field of vision doesn’t accommodate much beyond her core. That’s fine, in most respects, except that as played, it tends to sap the reality from situations.
    • 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.
  73. 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.
  74. "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]
    • Variety
  75. Tyrant finds more nuance in these episodes, as well as some pretty overt biblical overtones in Barry’s emotional arc. And while the character remains a rather tepid protagonist, his role in driving the story is mitigated by the unfolding events in Abbudin.
  76. [It] lacks the flavor of the original and would have worked better under a different title.
  77. Rhimes (who co-wrote the premiere with Marti Noxon) weaves the dense web of life-or-death medicine and romantic whimsy well enough, and the program is so slickly written and performed it's easy to overlook the familiar patterns that are emerging; still, it would behoove both the characters and show to take a deep breath and find the key players some kind of extracurricular hobby--even if that just means lusting after strangers, perhaps, instead of co-workers.
    • 80 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.
    • 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.
  78. [Even with Matthew Perry,] the familiar game plan and trappings make it at best a crapshoot as to whether Ryan and his wounded heart will, well, you know.
  79. The idea itself... is pretty damn good, even if the execution doesn't quite live up to it.
  80. The net effect, though, has a slightly tired feel to it--or at least, one that doesn’t feel wholly worthy of Netflix’s premium-TV niche. Indeed, in terms of laughs, the show essentially peaks in its first few minutes.
  81. Surprisingly witty...Hardly great comedy, program still has spirit and Asher and Manasseri, who are good, developing comedians. [4 Mar 1994]
    • Variety
  82. The competent but uninspiring two-hour pilot doesn't deliver the kind of thrills destined to rock anyone else's world.
  83. 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]
    • Variety
  84. 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 ..."
  85. 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]
    • Variety
  86. Agents of SHIELD remains a flawed construct, but the less viewers thinks about that, the more they’re apt to enjoy it.
  87. At this point, about all one can definitively say is whether the cast has potential (they do) and the situations are involving (they aren’t, unless you’re predisposed to such nonsense). On the plus side, the producers pay sly homage to the program’s roots without appearing beholden to it, indicating that the show will have the latitude to evolve into its own entity.
  88. In short, if you come for the sex, you'll only stay for the characters, and those represent an intriguing but decidedly mixed bag.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    "Conviction" does exhibit a bit more creative promise than "Trial by Jury."
  89. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright remain splendid as the central couple, but with their quest for power having succeeded, series architect Beau Willimon seems forced to resort to unconvincing contortions to maintain the drama. Even then, the first half of Season 3 feels flimsy.
  90. 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.

Top Trailers