Variety's Scores

For 1,409 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 3% 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 Larry Sanders Show: Season 4
Lowest review score: 10 Standoff: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 548
  2. Negative: 0 out of 548
548 tv reviews
  1. That restraint, if that's the right word for it, leaves the program feeling muddled, spending too much time with the younger Borgias--who only live up to the "bore" part--and the labyrinthine workings of Vatican politics.
  2. Although Harrison's baffled newcomer, Slater's mysterious honcho and the elaborate CalTech-style pranks have potential, there's cause to fear the gizmo-driven plots will become repetitive quickly. And while the pilot is fast-paced--with rapid-fire flashes to visual gags, almost like one of Seth MacFarlane's animated Fox comedies--it's not like the nerd-spy-girl template has enabled "Chuck" to hack its way into the hearts of Nielsen viewers (or at least, their peoplemeters).
  3. Happy Endings isn't unpleasant, certainly, but might face the same dilemma as its characters: An inability to make--or at least keep--enough new friends.
  4. Cinema Verite harbors some merit, and is worth seeing if only for Lane. That said, it's a disappointingly shallow treatment considering the wealth of potential within the premise and period.
  5. As is, South Riding (named for its fictional community in Yorkshire) is a handsome production, but not an especially memorable one--conjuring only a few moments worthy of the "Masterpiece" pedigree before riding into the sunset.
  6. The series generally gets the mood right but proves miserly in the details, from fleeting glimpses of the werewolf to Scott's eventual moon dance, which leaves him looking too much like Eddie Munster.
  7. It's the very epitome of Winfrey's pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps," live your best life" motto. For all that, she's a poor object of sympathy--whining about having squandered a privileged and pampered existence few could imagine ever enjoying.
  8. Joining the story a decade into the colonists' stay does provide series creator Ben Richards ("MI:5") an opportunity to gradually putty in the backstory, but other than Tate--thanks mostly to Cunningham's commanding presence--it's difficult to determine who we should care about here, beyond the littler matter of the human race's collective survival.
  9. Taken on its own terms, this eight-part series--which begins in the middle, months after aliens have invaded Earth, thus turning a ragtag New England band into modern colonial resistance--has its moments action-wise, but the soapier elements mostly fall flat.
  10. Strike Back does incorporate a few wrinkles regarding its leads, with hints of a larger plot to guide its 10 episodes. Mostly, though, pretty much everyone is reduced to geopolitical stereotypes--starting with the American cowboy and more cautious (if equally sweaty and buff) Brit.
  11. In this case, being respectful comes pretty close to donning a straightjacket. Fortunately, there's enough interest in the couple to provide a built-in audience for this modestly scaled (shot in Bucharest) exercise.
  12. Adopting a kitchen-sink approach, Ringer dumps out so many bread crumbs at the outset it's hard not to wonder where they might lead.
  13. As usual, it's a new kid who provides a wide-eyed introduction to the shenanigans, though nothing in the pilot conjures any genuine magic, TV-wise.
  14. Given the emphasis on soapy doings and shiny exteriors, the serial threatens to short-change its most interesting attributes, glancingly commenting on issues pertaining to sociology and the sexual revolution (such as a Bunny marveling, "I make more money than my father") while lacking the latitude to truly probe them.
  15. Despite cosmetic flourishes (this time even Bosley has six-pack abs) and a few modest wrinkles, it's hard to escape feeling this is the same old excuse to put "babes" in skimpy outfits, both to thwart evil and inspire swearing off fatty foods.
  16. Other than Cummings' slightly off-kilter view of relationships as writer and star, Whitney as a construct is more spindly than her legs.
  17. As is, the pilot created by Emily Kapnek ("Hung") and directed by Michael Fresco finds some warmth in the father-daughter bond and labors rather feebly to expose Hines' character in a less-than-harsh light, but the too-familiar start doesn't bode well for consistently tapping into such elements.
  18. O'Donnell's program didn't exhibit the fireworks one might have expected, allocating most of the hour to guest Russell Brand, in an interview that was relaxed, charitably, but almost wholly uninteresting.
  19. As for Good Vibes, think of it as another one of those ho-hum waves you can safely let roll by.
  20. While the diverse mix of characters could work to the program's advantage over the long haul, jumping to and fro among them creates a diluted, herky-jerky ride in the early going.
  21. Admittedly, nothing here will make anyone forget "3rd Rock" or "Seinfeld." But watching The Exes after TV Land's "Retired at 35" or "Happily Divorced," it seems reasonable to settle.
  22. Barson has made a doc too narrow in scope, with about as much substance as a meringue pie in the face.
  23. That backdrop [water and bikinis] hardly casts enough of a glow to offset the nondescript characters and premise in a series that isn't bad, necessarily, but simply ordinary in most every way--as if it were plucked, via time capsule, from 1984.
  24. After three installments, The Fades' existential components remain somewhat muddled, with the portentous warnings offering small compensation or incentive to hang around long enough to see whether mankind survives.
  25. The mixture isn't dynamite but does have moments of quirky charm, and at least marks a step up in class from "Allen Gregory."
  26. Touch has its "We Are the World" heart in the right place. But like another song says, we don't need another "Heroes."
  27. All told, it's a respectable niche addition but won't make anyone old enough to remember "In Living Color" apt to forget it.
  28. Measured against the yardstick of their own lofty standards, the show comes up a little short.
  29. What sounds like a daring concept is quickly undercut by attempts to wrap the show in a police-procedural format.
  30. GCB will need a lot more meat on its bones if these 'horns are going to hook 'em.
  31. Aside from the fact spying and parenting don't mix, though, there's nothing fresh about Missing.
  32. As constructed, though, the series has no teeth, and a sensibility that's slim even for cable.
  33. While the show's vision encompasses a touch more character than the average procedural, this latest case of the NYPD blues is hardly a reason to start spreading the news.
  34. Nothing here is especially hot, perhaps, but compared with the best period dramas currently on TV, it is pretty pallid.
  35. Aside from what's happening with Charlie, the rest of Hope plays like a stock hospital-set soap.
  36. The production has grit, yes, but for all its poking and prodding at what makes the title character and his quarry tick, Thorne never gets under your skin.
  37. A breezy but uninspired half-hour defined by Matt LeBlanc's willingness to portray Matt LeBlanc as a swaggering jerk.
  38. Perception feels like an entry-level course, and isn't nearly as cerebral as it pretends to be.
  39. Those who enjoyed "The Closer" will still find something, if probably not as much, to like about this closer, too. Or really, "Closer 2."
  40. It's all fairly predictable.
  41. While hardly a breakthrough on any level--indeed, about as unoriginal as the genre gets--if the goal is simply to keep the torch flickering between the Games and the fall season, mission probably accomplished.
  42. While the story does capture a sense of the times--and provides intriguing glimpses into the Manhattan of 160 years ago--as constructed, this can't help but feel like "Deadwood" lite.
  43. Coma still provides a few arresting images of what happens to the coma victims, but there's simply too much silliness in the overwrought second half.
  44. So while The Crimson Petal is tough, grim and explicit--and by the last measure provocative, at least relative to those accustomed to Dickens or Austen--the production finally feels unworthy of its length or leading lady.
  45. The show isn't necessarily bad; if only it thought with something other than its schmeckel.
  46. Made in Jersey looks reasonably polished, without doing much to plant its hook particularly deep.
  47. Arrow certainly looks polished (having David Nutter direct a pilot virtually insures that), but there's only so much action an hourlong drama can afford, and the characters necessary to sustain the series are, initially, strictly two-dimensional, even with the island as a go-to flashback.
  48. Like a lot of newly minted grads, Underemployed doesn't qualify as an instant success. Yet viewed in the context of its ambitions, neither can it be dismissed as an underachiever.
  49. Baio doesn't do much to elevate the limp material, but he doesn't sink it either.
  50. This is really just a protracted, more explicit (virtually a prerequisite, given the venue) "Mission: Impossible," spreading its caper across multiple episodes. Yet even with bursts of bloodshed, Hunted bogs down in the episodes previewed.
  51. More like great water-cooler gossip than actual true-crime material, the self-deprecating humor helps but doesn't exactly distinguish the series from other examples of this genre.
  52. Jungle Gold uses every available editing trick to heighten the tension and get the audience rooting for Scott and George, but the approach is so steeped in xenophobia and Great White Hunter short-hand this might as well have been made in the 1930s.
  53. The show doesn't feel authentic enough to be convincing, nor silly enough to rise to the level of worthwhile sitcom.
  54. As a whole, the project cries out for the voices of third-party historians--or at least some voice, beyond the grainy newsreel footage and dramatic readings by actors, other than Stone's.
  55. The series doesn't generate nearly enough highlights to merit a filibuster-proof yea vote, much less a ticker-tape parade.
  56. The show has some unorthodox elements, but feels fairly cliched in most of its beats, largely serving as an excuse for bouts of grisly violence and gratuitous sex.
  57. The '80s setting does allow the show to be more frank in tackling issues like sex and drugs, but other than that, the premiere deals in typical teenage girl stuff, the sort one can find in any number of ABC Family shows.
  58. Former "Revenge of the Nerds" stars Carradine and Armstrong (who helped develop the concept) do appear to have fun, but after the opening kick of seeing them reunited in this fashion, even that begins to yield diminishing returns.
  59. While The Taste certainly works hard to foster a sense of excitement and tickle the palate, this appetizer feels like just the latest half-baked competition idea that doesn't deliver.
  60. Created by David Schulner, the series has done itself a disservice by hewing away from the fantastic and toward the mundane.
  61. Ultimately, though, the story boils down to its central love triangle, with the sides stretching out a little too long as viewers wait for Tietjens to return home and choose whether to pursue happiness and risk public humiliation, or remain in his shattered and unhappy marriage.
  62. All told, there's enough here to stick around a little while, but this is one of those premises almost designed to strain plausibility over time.
  63. To their credit, the producers do keep things interesting, for the most part without resorting to the cheap tricks that have characterized the vastly overrated “American Horror Story.” Nevertheless, the premise becomes its own creative prison, fostering a hurry-up-and-wait attitude as the story metes out its examples of the things that make this duo, well, different.
  64. Even if you’re skeptical about the carefully massaged drama, it’s hard not to admire a single show so meticulously accessorized with that many commercial points of entry.
  65. Single and in their 30s, each is a distinct blend of guile, guts and needfulness, traipsing through the dating world with predictable and even trite results, their chatter constantly hitting on sex, relationships and sex. Some good acting and some nicely shot romantic interludes provide some redemption for the series, but scripts need to loosen up and inherit some of the playfulness the actresses bring to their roles. [3 June 1998]
  66. Season two yields modest improvement thanks to shrewd cast additions, augmenting the pleasures of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
  67. Jackie remains watchable thanks primarily to Falco, although the best moments are almost invariably dramatic, not humorous.
  68. These hours rely on devices like seeing dead people, while detouring from the central character’s selfless concern about her family to explore subplots that are, almost without exception, relentlessly ordinary. It’s a shame, since Linney still delivers compelling moments.
  69. But more often than not CSI isn't sure if it's trying to be intellectual or just sensational. John M. Keane's heavy-handed music, inversely proportional to the events onscreen, doesn't help. Subsequent episodes would do better to pull back on attention-grabbing stunts in favor of the mystery and drama that lies at the core of this premise. [4 Oct 2000, p.2]
  70. Guest’s approach is as much about creating atmosphere and fostering discomfort as it is about belly laughs, but there’s a difference between being droll and positively arid.
  71. It’s only too bad the writers (Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Chris Harris) don’t start by grounding their charges with a little more humanity; instead, the trio proves so mismatched and exaggerated as to have a very long way to reach any sort of common ground.
  72. A bleak, agonizingly downbeat and occasionally over-stylized vision of prison existence. It's about as pretty as a decaying corpse, and there is no one to root for. [11 July 1997]
  73. Diminished expectations might be the best thing the program has going for it, though if forced to commit, it’s at best a “hold” recommendation.
  74. The structure of the movie compels the two to operate without much in the way of backup singers, and the story casts June as such a noble, one-dimensional spirit, it doesn’t so much end as simply run out the clock. That said, some will no doubt be satisfied just to soak in the atmosphere and the music.
  75. Brooklyn DA does provide some behind-the-curtain looks at the legal process (including a superior helping a young attorney massage and strengthen her opening statement for court), but for any regular viewer of TV legal dramas, there’s not a lot here you haven’t seen before, in one form or another.
  76. Arrested Development’s long-awaited encore is like a lot of TV development--namely, an interesting idea that was more exciting on paper.
  77. Polo and Saum are good actresses, but they appear pretty well hamstrung in their initial scenes together, as Stef and Lena banter about not taking in more stray kids, prompting Stef to quip, "We are not 'The Brady Bunch.'" Take away a few elements, though, and they sort of are.
  78. While everything here is reasonably compatible with lead-in “Burn Notice,” the few high notes ultimately can’t disguise how ordinary a visit to Graceland feels.
  79. An uneven opening stanza for new series 'Flying Blind,' written by exec producer Richard Rosenstock, shows that the show has possibilities, that Corey Parker has the stuff and that there are a few solid laughs still to be caught in eccentric characters. But not necessarily characters intro'd in the pilot. [11 Sep 1992]
  80. The whole melting pot of European coppers swapping insults is a rather stale twist on an old formula. That’s not to say Lines is without its merits, starting with Fichtner.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    [The] cast generally rises above the material, with Lithgow a sort of cross between Steve Martin and Matt Frewer, and tall, raspy-voiced Johnston a real find. Curtin is fine, but somewhat wasted as an uptight professor. [9 Jan 1996]
  81. It has heart but no teeth, charm without chutzpah. [21 Sept 1998, p.46]
  82. A mixed bag both creatively and conceptually. [24 Sept 2003, p.2]
  83. While there are creepy moments--and the show continues to peel away the layers of what makes a monster while questioning whether its protagonist truly is one --Dexter remains well short of the operatic highs it reached in previous cat-and-mouse games between the protag and well-matched foes.
  84. As guilty pleasures go, this one certainly doesn’t lack for moments at which to hoot.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    If the other four new regulars are anything like the three shown here, "Real World II" may be hard to watch for anybody who doesn't slow down to linger on car wrecks. [24 Jun 1993]
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    This first episode scores on most accounts ... But as show progresses, the first-meeting euphoria of the racially and morally diverse contingent gives way to the ubiquitous whining and bickering. [23 Jun 1994]
  85. Although there are elements here that merit continued attention, most notably Demian Bichir as a dedicated Mexican cop, there are too many missteps to ensure safe passage.
  86. By the second hour, though, Camp has already resorted to a “capture the flag” team competition and a slow-motion water-balloon fight, and over-employed the device of having Mackenzie bare her deepest, darkest secrets to a small chorus of friends. The third hour rebounds only slightly, and by then it’s pretty clear an energetic and attractive cast isn’t enough to make the Down Under-lensed doings rise much above the mundane.
  87. For now, Low Winter Sun has created a reasonably compelling universe, without as yet establishing the gravitational pull necessary to ensure viewers stay in its orbit.
  88. While the project proves something of a logistical triumph, it’s only fitfully interesting.
  89. Not as wacky as “Police Squad” or as droll as “Barney Miller,” Brooklyn occupies a comedic no-man’s land--affecting an irreverent tone seemingly designed to keep as many people out as it invites in.
  90. While the show is certainly handsomely done, the fish-out-of-water dialogue already feels a little green around the gills.
  91. Despite promising elements, there simply isn’t a lot in this premise that demands a second date, much less a longterm commitment.
  92. Harmless as it is, The Michael J. Fox Show remains a pretty thin concoction, built heavily around the appeal of its leading man.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The Guardian isn't nearly as watchable as its star. The Eye web already has a chamber full of noble justice hounds thanks to "Family Law" and "Judging Amy," so this legal drama, though powered by a terrific perf from fresh face Simon Baker, feels a bit late to the ex parte. There's even a small subplot in the pilot about young tech titans involved in a dot-com takeover. How yesterday can you get? [17 Sept 2001, p.30]
  93. Despite clever and uncomfortable moments, Ladies falls short of the pay-TV plateau.
  94. Even if the series plays it right down the middle--it’s not exactly good, but not terrible either--that might be all that’s needed to succeed.
  95. Dancing [isn't] without elegant moments. It’s just that in the slow waltz of a miniseries that envelops them, someone forget to hone its edge.
  96. While there are intriguing anecdotes and stories scattered throughout the chapters made available, anyone reasonably well versed in African-American history will have to wade through plenty of padding to find the highlights.

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