Variety's Scores

For 1,646 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 8.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 57
Highest review score: 100 The Larry Sanders Show: Season 6
Lowest review score: 10 The Bachelor: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 645
  2. Negative: 0 out of 645
645 tv reviews
  1. seven episodes in, I'm still not entirely sure what it's "about," in a big-picture sense. That Huff manages to stay interesting says something about its topnotch cast and occasional surprises, though at times the writing risks becoming too precious for its own good. All told, it's something less than the water-cooler show the network is seeking.
  2. Chocolate News is a moderately tasty, low-nutrition snack--the kind that, with apologies to perhaps the next ethnic frontier, will leave you hungry a half-hour later.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Show is cast better than it deserves, with Williams gamely in for film's Susan Sarandon, Polly Holliday nicely restrained as Momma Love and Ossie Davis noble as the friendly judge who pops up all over the place. [15 Sept 1995]
    • Variety
  3. Nothing here really pops, even with Torv holding her own as the tough femme protagonist, the welcome presence of "The Wire's" Lance Reddick as her hostile boss and Noble exhibiting alternating strains of brilliance and psychosis.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    There's a laid-back nature to the performance that sometimes slows down the proceedings. [4 Jan 1993]
    • Variety
  4. Ultimately, there’s enough meat here to engender morbid curiosity on where Valerie’s latest journey back into the maw of the beast will lead. Other than a rarefied slice of media mavens and those few aforementioned devotees, though, to borrow Valerie’s early catchphrase in assessing this latest Comeback, I’m not sure you need to see that.
  5. "Boston Legal" suffers from the pervasive feeling of been here, seen this. The show's closer to "Ally McBeal" than "The Practice," which provided the Petri dish to nurture and grow it. Kelley's fertile mind still disgorges occasional gems, but for the most part here, he's delivered more rhinestones than diamonds. [1 Oct 2004]
    • Variety
  6. While this "Trail" ain't exactly broken, some judicious editing could have fixed it.
  7. Unusually Thicke is more staged than most sitcoms, and Thicke’s history as a sitcom dad (“Growing Pains”) and latenight host (honest, kids, he had his own show back before you were born) has helped him cultivate his repertoire of deadpan looks and direct-to-camera winks.
  8. All-American Muslim should not be dismissed for its laudable aspects, but it's difficult to escape a sense TLC took its game up a notch merely by virtue of the title.
  9. It's potent enough--more in subject matter than execution--to deliver for History.
  10. "The Tudors" is not the great series that it might have been, but it's certainly a watchable and diverting one.
  11. It's perhaps inevitable that this project will range from sobering and moving to, at times, feeling a bit too much like homework.
  12. Even if there are traces of "Desperate Housewives" in "Revenge's" DNA, ABC's latest serial feels oh-so-last decade, which, particularly in the Hamptons, is about as thematically stylish as wearing white after Labor Day.
  13. Strictly viewed on its merits, though, Cashmere Mafia suffers from a too-familiar feel.
  14. While "What About Brian" strikes some of the familiar chords about love, angst and the terror of young adulthood that have viewers swooning over "Grey's Anatomy," the show does so in a more laid-back tone, which should make its leap from a post-"Desperate Housewives" launch to its regular Monday moorings a commercial challenge.
  15. These women aren’t looking for steady gigs on MTV, and they cry at the drop of a hat. That somehow makes them more real, however contrived the situation might be. The weak link, actually, is Conley, who sounds far too determined to make a positive impression and say all the right things.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Ultimately, though, the familiarity of the story might work against the show. As with last season's decent entry "The Fugitive," people may feel they've already seen this before and know where it goes. [16 Oct 2001]
    • Variety
  16. As usual, it's all a roundabout way to create a cop dynamic with the mildest of twists--what plays like a polished procedural, with a bit more character--as well as built-in romantic tension between the leads.
  17. Based on the first few hours, then, it would be premature to suggest the sky is falling. But as the producers labor to manage and advance all the show’s moving parts, they appear to have lost a couple of battles.
  18. Written and directed by Matthew Arnold, the pilot does a nifty job of capturing the tics of such unscripted programs, from the convincing casting and first-person interviews to the shaky camerawork and overhead helicopter shots. In fact, the producers have done their mimicry a little too well; it’s easy to zone out on the blah, blah, blah of the contestant banter while waiting for the twist to actually happen.
  19. ABC's eagerly awaited spinoff of "Grey's Anatomy" initially qualifies as a disappointment -- hitting completely familiar medical-drama beats while pursuing a whimsical tone it never fully achieves.
  20. While the premise is refreshingly gimmick-free compared with "RJ Berger" or "Teen Wolf," the situations aren't compelling enough to make this much more than a latter-day "Doogie Howser, M.D." with a gender switch.
  21. Clever, if familiar. [2 June 2005, p.8]
    • Variety
  22. Wonderland is equally handsome [as "Once Upon a Time"], but behind those virtual sets lurk many potential flaws. An appealing Alice certainly helps matters, but past performance reduces the likelihood of a fairy-tale ending.
  23. The show (slated for a six-episode summer flight) represents a breezy diversion, with obvious potential to return and plug a gap left by a canceled series come fall.
  24. Perhaps inevitably, with so much going on, the law students sort of blend together in the pilot (a few weeks after watching the premiere, it was difficult to remember who did what), while Davis’ scenes quickly expose sides of Keating that suggest there’s far more to her than meets the eye.
  25. Concept is OK, but the humor's less sophisticated than expected from the exec producers of HBO's comedy series "Dream On," and the dialogue is not exactly snappy. Ross: "I honestly don't know if I'm hungry or horny!" Chandler: "Stay out of my freezer."
  26. An absolute visual stunner with compelling freak-show characters --- but the series unfortunately takes a leisurely approach toward getting to a point. [12 Sep 2003]
    • Variety
  27. The program is moderately entertaining and very much in keeping with the tone of "Californication."
  28. All told, there's still plenty here to hold an audience through the first two hours. Fulfilling that six-year charter, however, will depend on exhibiting a clearer directional sense, because in both TV and space, gravity can be a real bitch.
  29. Viewers will have to survive a rocky, at-times jarring first hour before the series begins coalescing into something interesting--flawed but unpredictable, with a characteristically intense Ian McShane at its core.
  30. That's not a bad starting point for beginners, maybe, but this "History of Hollywood" feels a little ho-hum for those TCM viewers craving a more advanced course.
    • Variety
  31. So as starts go, this one picks up speed, but still feels a little rocky. That said, there’s enough here to want to hang around for a spell, waiting to see whether this crew can find its sea legs--and what dangers lurk just over the horizon.
  32. The biblical setting provides an arresting backdrop for soapy material that otherwise falls squarely in Lifetime’s wheelhouse.
  33. At first blush, anyway, Californication isn't necessarily a bad place to be, but unless the series finds viable avenues to pursue beyond wallowing in Hank's self-pity, it'll be Showtime subscribers before long who wind up feeling screwed.
  34. It's pleasant enough, but has the potential to stand out only in the manner and pace at which Connie and Larry unspool, without the fairy-tale sparks enjoyed by Ben and Kate.
  35. Luck--for all its quirky exchanges and marquee performers--proves at best a photo finish as to whether it's worth the effort.
  36. The truth is once you've moved beyond the set-up, the only real moment that counts is the inevitable reunion, when the women return and the men, presumably, tell them just how much they were missed and how indispensable they are.
  37. "Close to Home" lives up and down to its title -- staying very close to what's worked for CBS before.
  38. Given the number of dunderheaded pundits holding forth nightly, Lebowitz does feel like a throwback to a wittier era. That said, Scorsese could have gotten his point across in a third less time--as Public Speaking demonstrates, twice over, how even ballsy Manhattan artist types can benefit from an editor's touch.
  39. Ultimately, there’s more ambition in the concept than ingenuity in the execution.
  40. They're colorful, yes, but as such concepts pile upon each other, the effect is less ennobling that enervating.
  41. '24' isn't getting off to the spectacular start that it did in its debut season when the focus was singular and clear-cut. [29 Oct 2002]
    • Variety
  42. What ensues is pretty typical of the genre, but it’s still kind of a risible kick, if only for how seriously the show takes itself.
  43. At its best The Sixties is admirable, but to riff on an old promotional slogan, it isn’t all that it could be: Yes, it’s an exercise that might capture the magic of landing on the moon, but doesn’t take the extra step that would send viewers over it.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Granted, the lack of punchless punchlines was a welcome change of pace, but the canned self-introductions that replaced them were jarring in terms of pacing -- not to mention the awkwardness of the blatant self-referencing involved.
  44. The show's ethereal qualities are interesting in places but never particularly enlightening.
  45. The episodes are certainly watchable, but as constructed by writer-producers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg, the train also takes its time getting out of the station.
  46. It's a show for a very narrow slice of the channel's subscribers.
  47. This dark biker-gang drama certainly has its share of fans, but held up against the larger pantheon of cable dramas--including some of FX's recent and upcoming additions--Sons emulates its ride: Plenty noisy, but a relatively low-octane vehicle.
  48. The show has already received considerable acclaim in the U.K. (including the 2008 British Comedy Award), a level of praise that seems a bit generous; still, in the long continuum of teen comedies, "Inbetweeners" does qualitatively register toward the high end of the scale.
  49. The Honorable Woman certainly doesn’t evoke any enmity. The problem, rather, is that it doesn’t provide enough thrills or momentum to completely reward the viewing commitment of its friends.
  50. A child's quizzical utterance near the end of "Invasion" provides enough of a chill to warrant a return visit to what's otherwise a mildly intriguing pilot.
  51. A solid cast and marquee auspices make this effects-heavy exercise watchable enough even when "The Triangle" grows obtuse.
  52. Both undeniably clever and utterly bizarre --- not always for the better. [28 Jan 1999]
    • Variety
  53. The resulting half-hour offered a breezy, inexpensive approach to comedy that brought to mind the panel shows of yesteryear.
  54. The nice part about Louie is that its loose structure creates ample possibilities, while its grainy vision of New York approximates the feel of an independent film. For all that, the laughs come only intermittently, and the sequences of our hapless hero doing stand-up are generally superior to his limitations as an actor.
  55. Played partly tongue in cheek, the show's premiere isn't quite unabashedly trashy enough to completely qualify as a guilty pleasure, but one can see it developing into that.
  56. The series is again intriguing but less than satisfying --- a concept more notable for the unusual time and space the show occupies than what it achieves dramatically. [7 Jan 2005]
    • Variety
  57. That said, there are some qualms surrounding how long the producers can mine the Leonard-Penny aspect of the show, a shallow vein if there ever was one. More promising is the interaction among the key duo and their Mensa-worthy friends.
  58. While the first four parts (airing in two-hour blocks) of National Geographic Channel's sweeping nature film rival the majesty and wonder of Discovery's "Planet Earth" and "Life," the final three amount to DVD extras, padding out the exercise.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    While some of the humor scores, too much is of the red-herring variety one-liners that don't really have anything to do with anything. And anyone even mildly versed in Gotham politics will find Spin City low on the believability scale, which is probably a good thing, as you'd need a Robert Altman to find much humor in the real thing. [16 Sept 1996]
    • Variety
  59. While this sci-fi spoof saunters onto the Fox midseason sked feeling a tad uninspired at first blush, the promise is clearly there. [29 Mar 1999]
    • Variety
  60. Works a little too hard to be everything to everyone. However, beyond the carefully calculated diversity of the pilot lies a pleasant and heartwarming series that may bridge the generation gap at the WB. It's still a chick show, but at least Gilmore Girls could attract women well past the N' Sync phase. [4 Oct 2000, p.7]
    • Variety
  61. It's all incredibly cheesy, true, and the premiere engages in a whole lot of vamping and time-killing before any action begins. By that measure, this is perhaps the perfect show to DVR, excising all the baggage to get down to the fun of watching these consciously Transformers-like creations trade blows, as sparks and fluids fly.
  62. The second chapter isn't much more eventful than the first.
  63. Simply being quirky, however, only goes so far, so my preliminary diagnosis is that these Pains don't amount to much more than a second-degree "Burn."
  64. Not that the show doesn’t yield some insights, moments and even laughs, but it generally falls within a limited range of people who talk a lot about their feelings and, in the case of the central couple, don’t let more general comforts get in the way of agonizing about their problems.
  65. Even lensed for TV, the special isn't wholly satisfying, but for anyone who visited "Pee-wee's Playhouse" in the late '80s, the experience is good enough. As for those who might say dismissing the show at that is snobbish, I know you are, but what am I?
  66. There are certainly enough moving parts here (pardon the expression) to merit further attention, but there’s also a feeling that the whole thing is running in mud (or at least sand).
  67. Mostly, this is undemanding escapism with all the requisite pay-TV trappings, along the lines of what Cinemax is offering in episodic form.
  68. It’s harmless enough given how broadly most of it’s played (think the Three Stooges in basic training) but nothing here is particularly distinctive.
  69. Nobody will ever confuse Impractical Jokers with high art, certainly, but as low-brow, micro-cost comedy in the context of TruTV's programming resources, it's actually quite practical--and occasionally funny.
  70. The new season thus showcases both the program’s strengths and inherent weaknesses, alternating between feeling clever (the promise of a trip to a Golden Globes gifting suite represents an effective bribe) and tired (seriously, aren’t we done with the agent-doing-business-on-the-treadmill gag yet?).
  71. Good casting and a strong sense of L.A. noir make the series watchable enough, but four episodes in, this page-turner feels undercooked.
  72. NCIS: New Orleans bears a closer resemblance to “CSI: Miami” than anything else, simply in terms of trying to use a specific locale to differentiate a spinoff that otherwise doesn’t orbit far from the mother ship with a Big Easy vibe.
  73. Overall, Instant Mom is mild and unobjectionable.
  74. What's left, then, is Danza playing (and there's really the operative word) at being a teacher, with the show employing the customary musical cues and editing tricks to try to generate suspense about whether he can actually teach the kids to appreciate "Of Mice and Men."
  75. In Treatment's intensity does build as the weeks progress, but it's never completely absorbing, and you wonder how many viewers will commit to such a demanding regimen even with multiple plays to catch up on missed half-hours.
  76. Clone Wars--the "Star Wars" animated series that amounts to an "interquel" between Episodes II and III--is vastly superior to the advance theatrical movie. That's mostly beacuse the half-hour episodes are so jam-packed with action the clunky dialogue flies by less obtrusively, and the irritating characters have less time to annoy.
  77. There's nothing howlingly bad here (except perhaps for a few of the supporting performances), but nothing particularly distinctive, either.
  78. [The] first episode of this weeklong experiment does a creditable job building suspense, but it's hard to imagine the premise... possessing much staying power.
  79. Sure, it's mildly intriguing to unearth details about your ancestors, but even allowing that the stars are being good sports here, their reactions often reflect off-putting degrees of self-absorption.
  80. 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.
  81. 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]
    • Variety
  82. This is... one of those concepts seemingly destined to leave a small but outspoken fan contingent grumbling next summer at Comic-Con about its cancellation.
  83. While there’s a fairly dense mythology here, as adapted by Daegan Fryklind Bitten feels stitched together from pieces of werewolf tales of yore--undermined, in terms of casting its own spell, by TV’s familiar version of a pack mentality.
  84. Despite some beautiful images--starting with bright blue butterflies--Believe has the makings of a very old-fashioned procedural, with Tate and Bo destined to journey from place to place changing the lives of those she meets with her cryptic insights while staying one step ahead from those who would capture her.
  85. Although the program has never wasted much time developing characters, the banter between detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) seems even more disposable than usual.
  86. 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.
  87. Corden comes across as natural and likable, including the self-effacing little song with which he closed the show.... Still, having landed that golden ticket is one thing; possessing the imagination to make it last is going to require not just good fortune, but based on first impressions, some ongoing tinkering with the assembly line.
  88. The mean-spirited (if ultimately loving) nature of the series could easily be a turn-off for some. Others will simply wish the writing was as consistently clever as McKellen’s line readings.
  89. While the project proves something of a logistical triumph, it’s only fitfully interesting.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. Beyond its handsome locations (shooting extensively in Israel) and impressive list of players, Dig keeps referencing the grand forces at work, but also does little to divulge what they are. And while that might be fine for those determined to hunker down for this entire 10-episode event, it can feel a bit tiresome to others still debating whether the show merits such a commitment.
  93. Pioneers of Television often provides less than half the story, and in some instances, that’s enough.
  94. Four episodes in, the writers have taken steps to reconnect the key characters, but it’s a too-slow update of the software on a concept that came back with a relatively shallow pool of goodwill and critical buzz.
  95. ESPN's eight-episode mini-series plays remarkably flat despite a sharp portrayal by John Turturro as the eye at the center of the storm.

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