Variety's Scores

For 1,543 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 35% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 62% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Five
Lowest review score: 10 Testees: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 601
  2. Negative: 0 out of 601
601 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. Clever, if familiar. [2 June 2005, p.8]
    • Variety
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A solid cast and marquee auspices make this effects-heavy exercise watchable enough even when "The Triangle" grows obtuse.
  6. [It] lacks the flavor of the original and would have worked better under a different title.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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]
    • Variety
  10. An affable new sitcom.
  11. There's a breezy charm to the show.
  12. A half-hour firmly ensconced in the "witty" zone that seldom crosses all the way over into funny.
  13. [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.
  14. 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.
  15. If the series doesn't generate any grand creative magic, it at least possesses a certain old-fashioned charm.
  16. Breezy, smart and occasionally funny.
  17. 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.
  18. 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."
  19. Interesting but not fully compelling, it's a long shot to make a big score.
  20. Two of the first three episodes [reveal] an assured, risque, semi-cynical air that should dovetail nicely with "Two and a Half Men."
  21. "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.
  22. This is a series for people with a reasonably high TV IQ, but not a particularly challenging formula.
  23. 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.
  24. The idea itself... is pretty damn good, even if the execution doesn't quite live up to it.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. While this "Trail" ain't exactly broken, some judicious editing could have fixed it.
    • 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.
  28. Strictly viewed on its merits, though, Cashmere Mafia suffers from a too-familiar feel.
  29. 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.
  30. In short, if you come for the sex, you'll only stay for the characters, and those represent an intriguing but decidedly mixed bag.
  31. 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.
  32. Gossip Girl hardly breaks any new ground.
  33. 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.
  34. "The Tudors" is not the great series that it might have been, but it's certainly a watchable and diverting one.
  35. Mixing equal parts court intrigue with Calvin Klein ad, the series falls short of greatness.
  36. Despite promising elements, then, Journeyman has set itself up with the daunting task of mastering a very tricky high-wire act
  37. Grammer and Heaton spar like old hands, but the punches (and punchlines) are so consistently telegraphed, the series seldom rises above the mundane.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
    • 55 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.
  52. 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.
  53. It's perhaps inevitable that this project will range from sobering and moving to, at times, feeling a bit too much like homework.
  54. 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."
  55. 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 ..."
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
    • 65 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.
  60. 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.
  61. These women aren’t looking for steady gigs on MTV, and they cry at the drop of a hat. That somehow makes them more real, however contrived the situation might be. The weak link, actually, is Conley, who sounds far too determined to make a positive impression and say all the right things.
  62. ABC's eagerly awaited spinoff of "Grey's Anatomy" initially qualifies as a disappointment -- hitting completely familiar medical-drama beats while pursuing a whimsical tone it never fully achieves.
  63. 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.
  64. The nice part about Louie is that its loose structure creates ample possibilities, while its grainy vision of New York approximates the feel of an independent film. For all that, the laughs come only intermittently, and the sequences of our hapless hero doing stand-up are generally superior to his limitations as an actor.
  65. Beyond the "Dark Shadows"-type atmosphere, The Gates is blessed with an attractive cast, many of whom have affiliations with past ABC dramas....The question is how long the show can get by on those assets before series creators Grant Scharbo and Richard Hatem shed some serious light on all these things going bump in the night.
  66. While Plain Jane hardly amounts to a feminist breakthrough (egad, far from it), given the appetite for such fare, the CW--having kissed plenty of unscripted frogs--might have found a glass slipper that fits.
  67. The resulting half-hour offered a breezy, inexpensive approach to comedy that brought to mind the panel shows of yesteryear.
  68. All told, there's still plenty here to hold an audience through the first two hours. Fulfilling that six-year charter, however, will depend on exhibiting a clearer directional sense, because in both TV and space, gravity can be a real bitch.
  69. Rubicon dares to be smart but, as conventional thrillers go, it's not very thrilling.
  70. So is it super? Not yet. But there's enough spinning around these extraordinary visitors to at least provoke a second visit.
  71. It's not bad, but it initially looks relatively uninspired next to TV's best copshows, including current entries such as TNT's "Southland."
  72. Played partly tongue in cheek, the show's premiere isn't quite unabashedly trashy enough to completely qualify as a guilty pleasure, but one can see it developing into that.
  73. That's not a bad starting point for beginners, maybe, but this "History of Hollywood" feels a little ho-hum for those TCM viewers craving a more advanced course.
    • Variety
  74. While the first four parts (airing in two-hour blocks) of National Geographic Channel's sweeping nature film rival the majesty and wonder of Discovery's "Planet Earth" and "Life," the final three amount to DVD extras, padding out the exercise.
  75. Given the number of dunderheaded pundits holding forth nightly, Lebowitz does feel like a throwback to a wittier era. That said, Scorsese could have gotten his point across in a third less time--as Public Speaking demonstrates, twice over, how even ballsy Manhattan artist types can benefit from an editor's touch.
  76. Animation would seem to be an ideal vehicle for this, but there's only so much it can do--in part because there's no adhesive to the episodes. The three guys sit and bullshit for 20-some-odd minutes--at times entertainingly--until the program simply ends.
  77. It's pleasant enough, but has the potential to stand out only in the manner and pace at which Connie and Larry unspool, without the fairy-tale sparks enjoyed by Ben and Kate.
  78. Lost Valentine occupies the softest side of the Hallmark universe. Thanks to White, though, it's still worth opening this heart-shaped box, even if you already have a pretty good idea what's inside.
  79. Even lensed for TV, the special isn't wholly satisfying, but for anyone who visited "Pee-wee's Playhouse" in the late '80s, the experience is good enough. As for those who might say dismissing the show at that is snobbish, I know you are, but what am I?
  80. While stately and reasonably smart, the first three episodes unfold at a less-than-galvanizing pace, featuring a young King Arthur whose appeal seems more calibrated to please the "Twilight" demo than action-craving men.
  81. They're colorful, yes, but as such concepts pile upon each other, the effect is less ennobling that enervating.
  82. It's just that creatively speaking, the current season looks like it's going to require a major late-act rescue.
  83. And so it goes. The same mix of sob stories, as anxious relatives looking on from the wings. And if there's not quite a Susan Boyle or Paul Potts moment (though one in particular comes reasonably close), the tears flow freely, and one or two genuinely stirring performances emerge.
  84. Even if there are traces of "Desperate Housewives" in "Revenge's" DNA, ABC's latest serial feels oh-so-last decade, which, particularly in the Hamptons, is about as thematically stylish as wearing white after Labor Day.
  85. Creatively speaking, though, Expedition travels such a familiar course it's merely proof that when it comes to unscripted competitions, even top producers like Burnett continue to be extremely eco-friendly--starting with their conceptual commitment to recycling.
  86. Although the series undeniably embodied a certain place and time for a showbiz-savvy contingent of the HBO audience, the show's best days are behind it, and the eighth-and-final-season curtain appears to be coming down none too soon.
  87. While the premise is refreshingly gimmick-free compared with "RJ Berger" or "Teen Wolf," the situations aren't compelling enough to make this much more than a latter-day "Doogie Howser, M.D." with a gender switch.
  88. The show (slated for a six-episode summer flight) represents a breezy diversion, with obvious potential to return and plug a gap left by a canceled series come fall.
  89. If the target audience can endure tortured dialogue like, "A lie's a lie, but if the reasons are reasonable, then maybe you can forgive the lie," then, truth be told, Lying might stay in the game for awhile.
  90. As usual, it's all a roundabout way to create a cop dynamic with the mildest of twists--what plays like a polished procedural, with a bit more character--as well as built-in romantic tension between the leads.
  91. It's all played solidly enough, though so many elements seem plucked from other fare.
  92. AHS derives inspiration from so many horror films there's some fun in simply identifying those moments. But there's also a surreal quality that feels wildly overdone--and periodically risks tumbling from inspiring fright into inducing giggles.
  93. The show's ethereal qualities are interesting in places but never particularly enlightening.
  94. While their chemistry hasn't quite gelled--especially difficult with the show still rushing from segment to segment--there's not a bad apple in the bunch.
  95. All-American Muslim should not be dismissed for its laudable aspects, but it's difficult to escape a sense TLC took its game up a notch merely by virtue of the title.

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