Variety's Scores

For 1,852 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 7.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Shield: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Dane Cook's Tourgasm: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 731
  2. Negative: 0 out of 731
731 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. [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
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. It's just too bad a show paved with such an enticing premise doesn't get a little deeper under your skin.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Interesting but not especially funny. [1 Aug 2005]
    • Variety
  12. For fans of fantasy, this might be worth a try; there’s just enough of interest to make one wonder if Beowulf’s future alliances and aspirations will place it within striking distance of “Vikings,” on par with the enjoyable “Shannara Chronicles” and maybe ahead of BBC America’s very similar drama, “The Last Kingdom.”
  13. If the series doesn't generate any grand creative magic, it at least possesses a certain old-fashioned charm.
  14. While it was easy enough, and mildly enjoyable, to binge through the 10 episodes (all of which were made available), having now seen this extended introduction to their story, it would be hard to muster much enthusiasm for devoting another two hours--much less five--to see where this modern tale of “When Gus Met Mickey” goes from here.
  15. 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.
  16. A half-hour firmly ensconced in the "witty" zone that seldom crosses all the way over into funny.
  17. Grammer and Heaton spar like old hands, but the punches (and punchlines) are so consistently telegraphed, the series seldom rises above the mundane.
  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. 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.
  20. [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.
  21. This is a series for people with a reasonably high TV IQ, but not a particularly challenging formula.
  22. 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.
  23. There are, admittedly, some funny lines (Valerie laments about a guy, “His favorite movie is ‘Underworld’ ”), and a bittersweet quality throughout that approximates some of Reitman’s films.... Still, the series just isn’t distinctive enough to separate itself from the pack, from the casting to the premise, in the way something like Hulu’s “Difficult People” did
  24. 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.
  25. It's just that creatively speaking, the current season looks like it's going to require a major late-act rescue.
  26. Rubicon dares to be smart but, as conventional thrillers go, it's not very thrilling.
  27. 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.
  28. Mixing equal parts court intrigue with Calvin Klein ad, the series falls short of greatness.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. No one associated with Political Animals needs to hide under the covers, exactly, but nothing here qualifies as a game-changer, either.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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
  37. Shades of Blue is reasonably compelling by that measure [helping lure viewers into the program’s serialized plot], and clips along smartly enough (eight episodes were made available) that the show should inspire some return business if it can generate the requisite sampling. Nevertheless, it’s too bad Blue couldn’t bring at least a few new, more colorful hues to a crime drama that paints, ultimately, with a rather familiar palette.
  38. 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
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. In the Flesh has potential, even if it just shuffles along at times en route to driving home its point.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. After opening with a bang, the story meanders a bit in the middle hours, before racing toward the finish, somewhat blunting the impact of the inevitable casualties suffered along the way. While there’s some satisfaction in where the series ends, anything approaching harmonious closure proves elusive.
  48. 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.
  49. 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).
  50. 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
  51. So is it super? Not yet. But there's enough spinning around these extraordinary visitors to at least provoke a second visit.
  52. 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.
  53. Gossip Girl hardly breaks any new ground.
  54. While hardly for everyone, to a genre-savvy crowd that can appreciate the joke, score it as a near-miss.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. Breezy, smart and occasionally funny.
  58. 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.
  59. Although writers Vince Marcello, Mark Landry and Robert Horn try to have fun with evolving teenage idioms and technology, the sequences between musical interludes occasionally feel as much like punishment as the sinew connecting the story.
  60. Goofy, moderately sweet and too rarely funny, it’s a natural thematic companion to “Modern Family,” if not an especially strong one.
  61. 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.
  62. Some viewers will no doubt find this intriguing, while others will be quick to dismiss it as overwrought poppycock. Fortunately, the show has Anthony Edwards at its center, bringing a much-needed Hitchcockian Everyman quality to his role as Hank Galliston.
  63. Such extremes are out there, and the series is riveting in a way, if slightly uncomfortable when contemplating that the kids have been innocently drawn into an entertainment that invariably sets up their parents as objects of curiosity and derision.
  64. For every arresting image, there's a lot of wandering around in the overgrown woods, and reason for skepticism as to whether audiences will patiently stick with the show.
  65. 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.
  66. The Quest doesn’t entirely dodge the obvious potential for cheese, but the surprisingly impressive production values help keep things on the right side of ridiculous.
  67. Viewed charitably, the series isn't bad as a sort-of "Dallas" knockoff, though it's worth noting TNT's rebooted "Dallas" covers similar territory in a more satisfying manner.
  68. As presented, it’s moderately suspenseful but also an awfully dry, unimaginative approach to the story, with McCormack’s personality and natural sense of humor completely lost in this straightforward cop role, and Davidovich burdened by Frankenstein makeup. Barr, at least, is convincing as the ladies man with a dark streak, however familiar that might be.
  69. "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.
  70. It’s generally interesting, but seldom digs farther than skin-deep.
  71. While the first couple of episodes don’t reveal much in terms of who within this group really has the right stuff, who knows, Funny Girls might even advance a few careers in the process of creating drama--the irony being that the show is at its best, or at least most relatable, in those exchanges where its characters let their guard down just enough to actually stop working at being funny.
    • 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.
  72. Mostly, it’s another throwback to the twin notions that writers like tackling what they know, and adolescence--with all its potential for humiliation and exultation--offers fertile if not particularly original ground for comedy.
  73. Two of the first three episodes [reveal] an assured, risque, semi-cynical air that should dovetail nicely with "Two and a Half Men."
  74. Still fun on its own terms, the encore takes an unexpected little gem and transforms it into “Murder, She (and She and She and She) Wrote.”
  75. The cast is certainly strong...[however] the formula could become awfully repetitive if the primary characters' story is augmented each week by a "B" plot regarding another resident, which is what transpires in the pilot, and doesn't prove particularly compelling.
  76. 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.
  77. Weed Wars presents its quirky combatants with only the vaguest aroma of condescension, and should find a fairly receptive audience subset among the many Americans who view smoking pot as a law they have no trouble violating.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. Everything about Last Week Tonight felt like another spin of the latenight-satire wheel, with nary a new groove in it.
  81. So lightweight the show might fly away if not tethered down, the concept's interesting, broadly speaking, from what it represents.
  82. Manhattan certainly isn’t a bomb creatively speaking, nor is it yet the bomb, in latter-day vernacular. And perhaps appropriately, as admirable as some of its elements are, what’s missing in the opening hours is the elusive spark necessary to make them genuinely pop.
  83. 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.
  84. A preview of the first two parts of what the channel is billing as a “miniseries event” yields some insight regarding the historical and cultural relationships between man and food without doing enough to whet the appetite for additional courses.
  85. Despite promising elements, then, Journeyman has set itself up with the daunting task of mastering a very tricky high-wire act
  86. Occasionally beautiful and emotional, but also bleak and frustrating, Treme certainly hasn’t sullied that reputation. Yet despite the writer’s contention that it’s his best show, for all but those few who savored every note, this rumination on a beleaguered The Big Easy doesn’t belong in the august company of those earlier gems.
  87. 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.
  88. If it's not high art, the moody exercise achieves a level of atmosphere and momentum that makes it work as a mild diversion, and the plot and pacing pick up in subsequent hours.
  89. As derivative as it is, Seed is perfectly harmless, and might even deliver an occasional smile. Yet even with the Harry-Rose relationship offering a small serialized thread, it’s just hard to see any part of Seed ever developing into much.
  90. It ain't bad by basic cable standards. That is to say, Langton is a poised female lead, sufficiently alluring to make you forget the fact that what's going on is all pretty implausible. [13 July 1998, p.34]
    • Variety
  91. Accompanied by its own behind-the-scenes Web series, Inside Amy Schumer still represents more the promise of talent than one fully realized.
  92. While St. Clair and Parham play well off each other, they also affect almost the exact same comedic voice. In other words, there’s no Lucy and Ethel in this pairing, with each being a little bit of both.
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. [Ground Floor] yields an occasional chuckle; it’s just more of a slacker than an overachiever.

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