Variety's Scores

For 1,759 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 7.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Game of Thrones: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 The Ten Commandments
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 684
  2. Negative: 0 out of 684
684 tv reviews
  1. The show is mildly likable, with Chris Geere and Aya Cash as the grudgingly involved central couple, who chafe at any suggestion they might settle down or become boring like, well, other people. The central joke, however, has a repetitive quality, and if series creator Stephen Falk brings a singular voice to the proceedings, it’s partially dulled by the fact that every character essentially speaks with it.
  2. 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
  3. 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 ..."
  4. 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
  5. Agents of SHIELD remains a flawed construct, but the less viewers thinks about that, the more they’re apt to enjoy it.
  6. 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.
  7. 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."
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. If it’s a flawed exploration of the old nature-vs.-nurture debate, the players and Mei’s predicament consistently make it interesting.
  11. The loony group conjures some witty moments, but the tiny conceptual wrinkle differentiating these half-hours--which ABC will air back to back--tends to yield diminishing returns.
  12. This ABC comedy is the equivalent of a big fat pitch over the heart of plate, and will need to get mileage out of more characters, but what’s here has the potential to hold its lineup spot between leadoff hitter “The Middle” and ratings slugger “Modern Family.”
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
    • 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]
    • Variety
  15. Part of that shortcoming relates to the structure, which deals with one story unfolding across all six hours, with a self-contained “B” player in each. Ultimately, the series is worth a look if not necessarily worthy of the whole journey, as Death doesn’t completely become Showtime.
  16. Producer/director/co-writer Jeffrey Roth spent extensive time with the man and endeavors to humanize him, but ultimately delivers a film long on biography and short on insight.
  17. Yes, it’s worth watching for the historical moment it represents--particularly since that moment continues to echo through to the present--but it’s less compelling than it might have been.
  18. 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]
    • Variety
  19. 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.
  20. A standard cowboys ‘n’ Indians, good vs. evil horse opera where good looks and good shots come together for the good of mankind.
  21. While this latest version of the show remains above that sometimes-toxic mix [stories of missing women, murderous husbands (or did he?) and obviously staged moral dilemmas], these hours prove that it is not, alas, immune to its influence.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    While the pilot packs a lot of story into a half-hour show, most of it is comprehensible to those who saw the movie, presumably the core audience for the TV series. Although many of the actors have a tough act to follow, particularly McMurray in the Tom Hanks role, the performances are good, with slick-talking Lovitz a standout. [12 Apr 1993]
    • Variety
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. Kelley is no stranger to writing comedy, even if it’s traditionally been in service of hourlong shows, and between his gifts as a wordsmith and Williams’ frenetic energy (best displayed in a closing-credits outtake sequence), The Crazy Ones has potential beyond what the pilot demonstrates.
  25. Although there's no shortage of romance surrounding Alcatraz -- and the idea of hardened criminals becoming dangerous anachronisms is a time-worn concept -- there's a nagging sense these are just going to be (very) cold cases, which will grow tedious without something more, and quickly, to fuel the larger mystery.
  26. The premise calls for a level of creativity from the producers (Forte is joined by directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord of “The Lego Movie”) that these episodes don’t consistently deliver. That’s not to say “I wouldn’t watch him if he were the last man on Earth.” But like the fate of humanity within the series, while the future certainly isn’t hopeless, neither does it look particularly bright.
  27. The Americans is an intriguing and provocative concept.... The execution, alas, initially isn't worthy of the premise, becoming fairly standard spy stuff, and relying heavily on awkward flashbacks to fill in the backstory.
  28. 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.
  29. Wilmore exhibited a quickness and light touch about sensitive topics, yet struggled to bring much coherence or flow to the overpopulated discussion that took up most of the premiere. The unknowns, at this point, outnumber the knowns, making an unqualified tip of the hat premature.
  30. An affable new sitcom.
    • 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.
  31. Although light on laughs, with its spare design and limited animation Unsupervised does create a reasonably cohesive, grimy little world, made tolerable by the absence of actual kids.
  32. The template sets up a semi-serialized storyline hewing pretty closely to the original but with some interesting twists.
  33. 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.
  34. Adapted by Hilary Winston from the movie, the show quickly falls into a predictable pattern.... Still, taken on its own terms, the series is pretty amusing.
  35. Yet if the premise sets up a promising square-off of titans, the premiere retreats to a rather predictable, time-killing murder mystery, which serves to establish Lamb's new role, but also smacks more of CBS' stodgier procedurals than a character-driven drama.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. It’s a welcome respite from some of the network’s noisier fare. The main problem here is that even when they’re not being whiny, the kids (beginning with Breeanna, our ostensible tour guide) simply aren’t articulate enough to trigger a genuine discussion about the sometimes-thorny issues surrounding procreation via test tube or the nature of being “a sperm donor kid.”
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Unoriginal but brisk and occasionally poignant, its biggest selling point is Ritter himself, who can still turn minor problems into charm points via stammers and double takes.
  39. It's all played solidly enough, though so many elements seem plucked from other fare.
  40. At its best in the boardroom and still flabby in the buildup to it. [9 Sep 2004]
    • Variety
  41. 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Don't expect Dave's World to be as funny as the Dave Barry newspapercolumns that the series is supposedly based upon, but there are enough chuckles and a solid cast, led by former "Court" jester Harry Anderson, to keep this one going.[20 Sept 1993]
    • Variety
  42. Interesting but not fully compelling, it's a long shot to make a big score.
  43. As usual, Glee also occasionally veers out of its lane to score political points and pick fights.... From a musical standpoint, however, there are impressive and characteristically eclectic highlights.
  44. This is, quite simply, a Frankencom, stitched together from pieces of other comedies. To their credit, Sheen, the talented cast and seasoned writers know how to make it all look slick and polished.
  45. [A] breezy guilty pleasure.... [Samantha Munro's] performance channels the special blend of spoiled brat poutiness and air of superiority that often results from growing up as a working actor and ultimately landing the top spot on the call sheet of a hit show.... Beyond the Shannen saga, this Unauthorized account doesn’t dig up much dirt, preferring instead to indulge in a mix of random factoids
  46. Created by Barbara Hall, Madam Secretary has enough interesting pieces, as well as a great big world of trouble to mine, to have significant potential. The premiere, however, doesn’t bode particularly well for being able to maximize those assets, and as they say in diplomatic circles, the devil is in the details.
  47. Another sumptuous-looking hour based on a famous hero, infused with scads of potential but also some problematic underpinnings. [1 Oct 2003, p.7]
    • Variety
  48. 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.
  49. Essentially, Saul is an extended origin story, possessing Bad’s flavor and black comedy but at least initially lacking its emotional core. While that dictates a mixed verdict, the creative auspices nevertheless bode well.
  50. 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.
  51. It's just too bad a show paved with such an enticing premise doesn't get a little deeper under your skin.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. Interesting but not especially funny. [1 Aug 2005]
    • Variety
  55. If the series doesn't generate any grand creative magic, it at least possesses a certain old-fashioned charm.
  56. While it’s fun to see the band Chicago drawn into a subplot about the sexual history of Nathan’s ex (Amy Ryan)--or savor an in-joke playing off the name of HBO CEO Richard Plepler--even some of those intricately woven gags feel like a bit of a distraction.
  57. A half-hour firmly ensconced in the "witty" zone that seldom crosses all the way over into funny.
  58. Grammer and Heaton spar like old hands, but the punches (and punchlines) are so consistently telegraphed, the series seldom rises above the mundane.
  59. 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."
  60. There’s also such a chilliness to the interactions that while there’s some debate and uncertainty over whether the protagonists will wind up together, there’s less reason to care. That said, the show represents a credible twist on the familiar romantic-comedy notion of characters being drawn to each even when they shouldn’t be.
  61. [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.
  62. This is a series for people with a reasonably high TV IQ, but not a particularly challenging formula.
  63. It’s a clever enough idea--or at least a serviceable one--primarily to give the leads an excuse to play off each other. Lowe also has the mix of casual egomania and well-trained earnestness down to a science.
  64. The glossy you-won't-see-this-on-cable production values support a relatively straightforward competition structure, whittling down 14 contestants until a single winner emerges.
    • 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.
  65. It's just that creatively speaking, the current season looks like it's going to require a major late-act rescue.
  66. Rubicon dares to be smart but, as conventional thrillers go, it's not very thrilling.
  67. The well-traveled Beghe nevertheless convincingly sells the gravelly voiced tough-guy routine, and Chicago PD plays to the cathartic aspects of crime-fighting, provided one tries not to think too much about terms like “enhanced interrogation techniques.” And the show is aided by having the likes of Jon Seda, Elias Koteas and Sophia Bush on the case, even if most of the plotting has a musty and manipulative aroma.
  68. Mixing equal parts court intrigue with Calvin Klein ad, the series falls short of greatness.
  69. There’s a good possibility the first two “Watching Ellie’s” won’t generate more than four out-loud chuckles, but that’s no reason for audiences or networks to give up on this series’ prospects.
  70. Aside from the coup of landing Berry--a woman, apparently, irresistible to sentient life throughout the galaxy--the show’s strong cast hints at more promise than the premiere ultimately exhibits, racing as it does to establish a foundation for what’s to come.
  71. No one associated with Political Animals needs to hide under the covers, exactly, but nothing here qualifies as a game-changer, either.
  72. While the big-finned Cadillacs and old pop songs create an aura of pre-"Mad Men" nostalgia, the show is conventional in most other respects.
  73. While The Address is laudable, based on how loudly Burns’ voice echoes across the network, this one-off amounts to little more than an understated bit of throat-clearing before the next event.
  74. 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.
  75. With Birds of Prey, Kalogridis has crafted a tidy concept, crossing an idol with a villain to make a new breed --- slightly naughty, definitely conflicted but with some serious kick-ass power.
  76. The Newsroom essentially presents viewers with two options: Lament how the series doesn't match the lofty crests of Sorkin's finest work, or admire the show's ambitions and embrace of serious ideas, and grudgingly roll with its uneven tides.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Madigan Men feels absolutely dated at times, but rises above stale humor due to Byrne and Dotrice's pleasant deliveries and vet helmer James Burrows' brisk direction. [5 Oct 2000, p.20]
    • Variety
  77. 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]
    • Variety
  78. Together, the stars instill the movie with sweetness and a sense of melancholy, and will likely manage to get those who buy Mother’s Day cards embroidered with flowers rooting for them, even if the situation doesn’t.
  79. To its credit, Legends goes a bit beyond the expected stings, as a shadowy figure prompts Martin to doubt everything he knows and question whom he can trust. For the most part, though, almost everything here feels culled from earlier variations on this theme.
  80. 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.
  81. In the Flesh has potential, even if it just shuffles along at times en route to driving home its point.
  82. These latest episodes represent a tentative first step toward seeing whether the show can re-ascend to those heights or, conversely, plummet into an abyss of implausibility. Like so much else pertaining to Homeland, at this point, it could go either way.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. The series--adapted by Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, with a premiere written by “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall--is competently executed.... Yet while it’s hard to pinpoint, Gracepoint can’t help but feel as if something significant has been lost in translation.
  86. It's the program's central device--the prolonged trial-like exchanges between Hooten and whoever might have tripped up--that overwhelm the more promising elements, and keep "Monday Mornings" from being worthy of a Monday-night appointment, despite the tonal compatibility with its "Dallas" lead-in.
  87. 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.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The kids are allowed to be smart, one consequence of which is that the show features the most literate p.c. kids, black and white, on TV; their references are as likely to be to John Keats as to Jim Carrey (often in the same sentence).
  88. A second episode, fortunately, improves matters considerably, mostly in charting how the uncertainty of what’s happening begins to break down society, from civil unrest to rampant fear of the unknown. This hour points in a more promising direction, although as yet the characters still seem a little malnourished, particularly compared with the original.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    "NewsRadio" features a group of caustic neurotics that many viewers will find entertaining. But nothing especially creative is introduced.
    • Variety
  89. So is it super? Not yet. But there's enough spinning around these extraordinary visitors to at least provoke a second visit.
  90. 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.

Top Trailers