Variety's Scores

For 1,423 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 8.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 56
Highest review score: 100 Downton Abbey: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 Category 7: The End of the World: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 550
  2. Negative: 0 out of 550
550 tv reviews
  1. Undercovers has its moments, but the show itself in some respects mirrors the initial problem with the central duo's relationship--comfortable, perhaps, but failing to spark the kind of passion necessary to elicit fidelity from viewers.
  2. This latest legal franchise appears to harbor no such ambitions [as "The Good Wife"]--and the gambling, booze and sexual debauchery associated with the town is inevitably going to be rather tepid and implied, even in a 10 p.m. timeslot. The show would be more defensible, oddly, if its characters could be a trifle sleazier.
  3. Better With You fits in with that lesser two-thirds of ABC's returning sitcom block, and while it's by no means an eyesore, it hasn't done anything to improve the neighborhood.
  4. The Big C gets an "E" for admirable effort but still feels like a squandered opportunity. Given the chance to explore what truly matters in life, the show ultimately provides little more than a showcase for a terrific actress, while treating death like the next slightly zany frontier.
  5. 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.
  6. It's just that we've seen this movie (or rather, reality-TV show) before, dozens of times, in more glamorous settings. And having each half-hour (two will air back to back) conclude with an auction doesn't really foster much suspense.
  7. Once he got past the opening, very little in the premiere could be called inspired. The set didn't break any ground cosmetically, and director Allan Kartun's fondness for shooting O'Brien from behind during the monologue seemed perplexing, if not distracting.
  8. As handsome as the production is, the nature of Boyd's novel makes the miniseries episodic, and the tone of those encounters tends to be highly uneven. While experiencing abundant tragedy in his life, the protagonist's vulnerability doesn't translate very well in carrying the story, even with such a stalwart trio of actors playing him.
  9. Gold Rush brims with can-do spirit, but such an exercise is only as good as its characters, and after two installments, it's hard to distinguish one prospector from the next.
  10. For the most part, there's nothing here to be ashamed of. It's just that at a time when TV drama is so flush with riches, Shameless plays like a poor relative.
  11. While the varied events coming to the center each week do create comedic possibilities, Sunshine will wax or wane less on what passes through that revolving door than on the underwhelming occupants of its regular offices.
  12. This feels at best like a utility player--a hodge-podge of gameshows past. In other words, if there's anything else compelling to watch on another channel--Whoosh!--look out below.
  13. Halfway through episode two, anybody with a feel for such material will see where every beat is heading, even if the trip there isn't always unpleasant.
  14. 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.
  15. Assembled through an open call, the cast (many of whom are 17 or 18) is extraordinarily natural. Where Elsley stumbles--especially in the opener--is the exaggerated dialogue, often more borscht-belt comedian than actual kid.
  16. All told, Fairly Legal feels as if the network--despite riding a nifty string of successes by placing a light spin on familiar genres--has dipped into this particular shallow pool once too often.
  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  19. While the playful banter among cops and robbers thrown together on the same side has its moments, the characters aren't strong enough, initially, to set off any alarms.
  20. 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.
  21. What Secret Millionaire has no time to explore, conveniently, are the causes of poverty or any larger issues. It is, essentially, all about creating a cathartic experience, where the millionaire's checks affix band-aids to everything from soup kitchens to kidney-dialysis patients.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Other than Cummings' slightly off-kilter view of relationships as writer and star, Whitney as a construct is more spindly than her legs.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. As for Good Vibes, think of it as another one of those ho-hum waves you can safely let roll by.
  40. Measured against the yardstick of their own lofty standards, the show comes up a little short.
  41. 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.
  42. Touch has its "We Are the World" heart in the right place. But like another song says, we don't need another "Heroes."
  43. 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.
  44. Barson has made a doc too narrow in scope, with about as much substance as a meringue pie in the face.
  45. The mixture isn't dynamite but does have moments of quirky charm, and at least marks a step up in class from "Allen Gregory."
  46. All told, it's a respectable niche addition but won't make anyone old enough to remember "In Living Color" apt to forget it.
  47. What sounds like a daring concept is quickly undercut by attempts to wrap the show in a police-procedural format.
  48. 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.
  49. GCB will need a lot more meat on its bones if these 'horns are going to hook 'em.
  50. As constructed, though, the series has no teeth, and a sensibility that's slim even for cable.
  51. Aside from the fact spying and parenting don't mix, though, there's nothing fresh about Missing.
  52. A breezy but uninspired half-hour defined by Matt LeBlanc's willingness to portray Matt LeBlanc as a swaggering jerk.
  53. Nothing here is especially hot, perhaps, but compared with the best period dramas currently on TV, it is pretty pallid.
  54. Aside from what's happening with Charlie, the rest of Hope plays like a stock hospital-set soap.
  55. Perception feels like an entry-level course, and isn't nearly as cerebral as it pretends to be.
  56. 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.
  57. Those who enjoyed "The Closer" will still find something, if probably not as much, to like about this closer, too. Or really, "Closer 2."
  58. It's all fairly predictable.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. The show isn't necessarily bad; if only it thought with something other than its schmeckel.
  62. Made in Jersey looks reasonably polished, without doing much to plant its hook particularly deep.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. Baio doesn't do much to elevate the limp material, but he doesn't sink it either.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. The show doesn't feel authentic enough to be convincing, nor silly enough to rise to the level of worthwhile sitcom.
  71. 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.
  72. The series doesn't generate nearly enough highlights to merit a filibuster-proof yea vote, much less a ticker-tape parade.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. Created by David Schulner, the series has done itself a disservice by hewing away from the fantastic and toward the mundane.
  78. Arrested Development’s long-awaited encore is like a lot of TV development--namely, an interesting idea that was more exciting on paper.
  79. Season two yields modest improvement thanks to shrewd cast additions, augmenting the pleasures of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. Jackie remains watchable thanks primarily to Falco, although the best moments are almost invariably dramatic, not humorous.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. Modestly diverting on its own terms and well-cast at the fringes, the show’s leads probably aren’t as compelling as they need to be.
  89. 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.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. 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.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. Despite clever and uncomfortable moments, Ladies falls short of the pay-TV plateau.
  96. 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]
  97. 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.
  98. As guilty pleasures go, this one certainly doesn’t lack for moments at which to hoot.
  99. 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.
    • 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]

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