Variety's Scores

For 2,044 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: 57
Highest review score: 100 Rectify: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 Modern Men: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 823
  2. Negative: 0 out of 823
823 tv reviews
  1. The “Superstore”-“Telenovela” combo not only strikes a blow for diversity by presenting two shows with Latina leads (Eva Longoria headlining the other), but actually delivers some laughs in the process. And even if they’re not actually quite as cute as a panda, for NBC, that’s still pretty, pretty good.
  2. Always fun, the first two hours of the FX drama's fourth season are also meandering, introducing several new players, but as yet failing to betray much about how or when they'll intersect. Fortunately, star Timothy Olyphant by himself remains ample reason to tune in.
  3. While the series possesses enough pleasures, guilty or otherwise, to warrant a secure place in the DVR queue, it still feels like a program that is finding its way--seeking a balance between the seedy underbelly of L.A. glamor and the most dysfunctional of family dramas, connected by a fixer who’s mostly a downer.
  4. There’s a brazen quality to Doubt that is frothy enough to be silly but grounded enough to take on topical, controversial subjects. It doesn’t require too much effort to let unfold, and with such a talented, deep bench of actors, it’s usually enough to watch them bounce off of each other while flaunting their impossibly stylish accessories.
  5. Some of the plots travel in expected directions, and you won’t mistake this brightly lit show for something on AMC, but there’s sincerity and some grit to Recovery Road.
  6. 24" works best when the show doesn't take itself too seriously -- incorporating just enough sobering geopolitics to establish a credible foundation before indulging in wild flights of counterespionage fancy. Moreover, having one villain drive the plot for a handful of episodes before being supplanted by another has added greater satisfaction and closure to the program's high-wire storytelling.
  7. The selections in the first two episodes possess compelling strength, whimsy and ambiguity in both the stories and the characters, providing a solid transformation from radio to TV.
  8. Saving Grace is less about its procedural storytelling than it is about simply creating a venue to showcase Hunter's undeniable smallscreen star quality.
  9. Sure, Shannara, which harks back to the golden age of syndicated genre fare, is a standard quest journey in which there are troll, gnomes, living trees and magic books, and characters say things like, “If Allanon is here, there are dark days ahead.” But there’s conviction in the show’s execution.
  10. For all the talk about tech, nothing here reinvents the wheel, but the action is crisp and the dialogue breezy.
  11. Light and breezy, Hotel Babylon is a fairly simple conceit, built around the employees at a high-class London hotel and the guests they serve.
  12. Whitechapel can be enjoyed for what it is--an excuse to take another bloody stroll down memory lane, while tacking on yet another cinematic addition to the house that Jack built.
  13. There's enough comedy content in this first seating to warrant keeping Mike & Molly on the TiVo menu, even if it's not quite love at first bite.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. The cast, generally, is superior to the complexity of the situations, with the series delivering its most enjoyable moments via interludes that often do little or nothing to advance the plot.
    • 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.
  17. The kids' concerns and apprehensions feel poignant and real.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. [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.
  22. Surrounded by a solid supporting cast, it's a workable if not quite prime piece of development.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. While the concept is hardly original (and probably hews closest to the movie “EdTV”), the series still feels fresh and timely.
  26. A solidly crafted if mostly undemanding piece of summer entertainment, shifting to a new high-profile case with a ripped-from-the-headlines quality.
  27. 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.
  28. 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
  29. 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.
  30. Not everything works, but the previewed episodes again establish this as a series with a singular vision, elevating the indignities of dating to an epic level.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. [ABC's] infatuation with translating the [country music] genre to series still appears questionable. Despite that, credit Nashville with crafting a reasonably catchy hook.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. For now, it’s an intriguing enough premise to warrant continued attention.
  38. 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.
  39. Has the potential to be a real guilty pleasure.
  40. Those tuning in are likely to be won over by its bawdy humor and fascinated by the crisp, frenetic choreography during the premiere’s numerous fight scenes; literally every central character gets a chance to get his or her licks in. What remains to be seen is whether those who fall for Preacher’s premiere have the patience to stick with it after the pace slows, which it does quite noticeably by episode two.
  41. The show is a shrewd if not terribly exciting bet on upping the network's hip quotient without straying far from its procedural wheelhouse.
  42. 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
  43. While Liz & Dick is wobbly at times, the movie ultimately stands on its own.
  44. While watching the show isn’t particularly enjoyable, once drawn into Stevens’ story, it’s also difficult to turn away.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. Those who got on board last year have enough reason to continue flying these not-so-friendly Skies.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. Because the romantic aspect has begun to grow tedious, there’s more pressure on the workplace setting, which, fortunately, mostly delivers, without deviating much from season one.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. [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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. Anyone who ever tried out for a team should derive some satisfaction from tuning in to the show.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. Production values are outstanding, and the producers have captured the appropriate tension and devotion that surrounds this world.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. Secrets and Lies is a solid, twisty version of the increasingly popular murdered-kid-sets-series-in-motion formula.
  79. 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
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. There’s a light, nimble humor to the show’s treatment of superpowers and heroic antics--a much needed respite from the angst and self-seriousness of so many superheroes on the small-screen, who are all so fixated on saving the world.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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."
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. 30 Rock remains merely a good comedy whose shortcomings prevent it from joining the ranks of great ones.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. The show not only gives its devoted fans what they love most --- continuity monitoring --- but rejuvenates a somewhat tired notion. [27 Sep 2001]
    • Variety
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.

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