Variety's Scores

For 1,505 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 8.1 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 585
  2. Negative: 0 out of 585
585 tv reviews
  1. Despite fine elements, then, the show feels a trifle rudderless--content to deal in edgy high-school archetypes (a gay kid, an irreverent Muslim youth, even one boy with a "Dawson's"-like crush on his teacher), but archetypes nevertheless.
  2. 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.
  3. Jon Harmon Feldman’s naughty script doesn’t develop much chemistry among the guys.
  4. The result is a series that wants to do good and still have enough "edge" to do well in the rough-and-tumble, less-nurturing environment of reality TV, which feels out of step with all the good vibrations.
  5. Easy to dismiss at first glance, the series does exhibit some possibilities in its second episode, though it's still a relatively uninspired time-killer for those of us with just one life to live.
  6. "Flight" is pretty much a snooze until the music starts, at which point the show kicks up into something quite weird and occasionally wonderful.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Alex's gender does open the door to further explore the era's sexual politics, but much of that was still addressed in the first show, and Hawes' dry performance doesn't seriously alter the dynamics.
  10. There's nothing howlingly bad here (except perhaps for a few of the supporting performances), but nothing particularly distinctive, either.
  11. Baker does possess a certain roguish charm, and writer Bruno Heller ("Rome") and pilot-directing guru David Nutter mine that--as well as the central character's slightly menacing backstory--to try and invest the series with a bit of depth, mostly to little avail.
  12. It's understandable why CBS would take its own low-risk shot with "Flashpoint" as summer filler. Yet as viewing experiences go, the series itself possesses so little flash, finally, that it's difficult to see the point.
  13. Cupid remains a rather wispy premise, with this second go-round bookending other similarly themed premises, such as NBC’s “Miss Match,” which failed, too--and in that case also featured a female lead who couldn’t quite follow her own romantic advice.
  14. Harper's Island too often indulges in slasher-movie absurdities, with a murderer who seems to be everywhere at once and genuine clues in too-short supply.
  15. The series does feature some solid performers in supporting roles, including Kevin J. O'Connor and "The Wire's" Larry Gilliard Jr., and the close of the second hour offers a modest tug to see where the story arc might be heading. The actual cops-and-robbers stuff, however, remains mundane at best.
  16. While it's nice to see McCormack and Cavanagh back in episodic form, their similarities diminish their interplay, inasmuch as it's not a reach to envision both in either role. Everyone else pretty much falls into predictable archetypes, from the nerdy young creative team to Griffin Dunne as the constantly frazzled boss.
  17. The series has assembled a promising cast, including Perrineau, Goldberg and Terry Kinney as the unit's snarling captain. In addition, there are vague hints at more sober storylines to come--if, thus far, little reason to emotionally invest in them.
  18. Diva has potential, but just as when the revived Jane first squeezes into Deb's old clothes, it's an awkward fit.
  19. Throw a bouquet, then, strictly to the casting folks for the assortment of types they've assembled. Beyond that, Stylista qualifies as fierce, to borrow producer Tyra Banks' phraseology, only in its steadfast commitment to copying the same old models.
  20. Ultimately, it's harmless but pretty stupid, which generally describes most of actor-producer Ashton Kutcher's forays into primetime.
  21. As is so often the case, however, it's difficult to invest real-life police work with the sense of excitement that television doles out in scripted programming--even with music whose urgency borders on the comical.
  22. It all makes for an intriguing setup that doesn't quite gel, even by the end of the third episode.
  23. Perhaps appropriately, the period trappings and costumes are impeccable, part of a miniseries that weaves six production logos into its hemline--suggesting more commerce than art in its conception.
  24. Demons isn't bad, and some of the makeup effects are reasonably effective; still, compared with the better angels in BBC America's portfolio, it's as weightless and disposable as the fog that enshrouds its most dramatic moments.
  25. 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.
  26. The pilot is breezy enough, and there are solid supporting players, including Ashley Jensen and Grant Show. Those ingredients, however, are thus far more promising than what first comes out of the oven
  27. All told, it's a rather ignominious birthing process for a movie that isn't painful, necessarily, but delivers little that's worth paying admission to see, either.
  28. Season two, unfortunately, takes that start and heads in the wrong direction.
  29. For those who buy into the MacFarlane formula this is all riotous fun. For the rest of us, it's a bit like Dane Cook's stand-up act--a reminder that what tickles current teens and twentysomethings is often markedly different from the satirical material that amused their parents.
  30. Series creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur provide the show with moments of dry wit, and Poehler certainly has acting oblivious down to a wide-eyed science. Yet there's no escaping that this feels like "Office Lite," thrown together as a vehicle for the star rather than out of any grand inspiration.
  31. Directed by Mikael Salomon from Masius' script, the debut hour proves busy but not particularly distinctive.
  32. Tucson hasn't done much to invigorate the formula. Mostly, the situations provide an excuse for Labine to fast-talk his way into and out of trouble, which is amusing so far as it goes.
  33. Grading on a curve amid TV's viral nurse outbreak, the series proves more engaging than "Hawthorne" and less dour than "Nurse Jackie." Initially, though, it just doesn't quite possess the requisite spark that would leave people begging for Mercy.
  34. The presence of camera crews is explained by saying it's for a documentary about entry-level jobs, allowing the CEO to secretly interact with several parts of his company before the big reveal. There's some power in that, but the premiere's emotional crescendos come across as surprisingly muted.
  35. Community embraces the traditional sitcom notion of “family” being what you make of it, but it’s a little too self-conscious about the genre’s cliches--or at least, feels that way because its satirical elements aren’t as crisp as they need to be.
  36. The Middle appropriately falls somewhere in the middle, in a zone where the immediate challenge has less to do with being flown-over than flipped-away from.
  37. So thus far, anyway, it's a promising concept inconsistently executed, and perhaps a trifle miscast.
  38. The series' overall sweetness makes up for a number of its failings.
  39. The pilot goes down smoothly enough, but lacking a single novel beat and with no one but Peregrym registering, there's simply no compelling reason to make another visit to this precinct
  40. It's pretty clear The Real L Word is just another reality show that's only moderately real --the further adventures of "The L Word" with a non-SAG cast.
  41. Virginia Madsen cuts a fine figure as the matriarch trying to hold her family of four kids together while their dad goes to prison, but the fanciful tone makes the show a little too pastel-colored when a bolder palette would seem to be required.
  42. Aside from the lurid nature of the crimes and some salty language, though, Rizzoli & Isles is just what the title sounds like--a place for second-hand goods at reasonable prices.
  43. Still, the raw materials--from the island setting to the underused Kim and Park--have more potential than punch in the pilot, resulting in just another crime procedural with a nifty blue-sky backdrop.
  44. Despite its modest merits, Life ultimately spends most of its time paddling in the shallow end of the dramatic gene pool.
  45. 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."
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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).
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. Other than Cummings' slightly off-kilter view of relationships as writer and star, Whitney as a construct is more spindly than her legs.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. As for Good Vibes, think of it as another one of those ho-hum waves you can safely let roll by.
  85. Measured against the yardstick of their own lofty standards, the show comes up a little short.
  86. 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.
  87. Touch has its "We Are the World" heart in the right place. But like another song says, we don't need another "Heroes."
  88. 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.
  89. Barson has made a doc too narrow in scope, with about as much substance as a meringue pie in the face.
  90. The mixture isn't dynamite but does have moments of quirky charm, and at least marks a step up in class from "Allen Gregory."
  91. All told, it's a respectable niche addition but won't make anyone old enough to remember "In Living Color" apt to forget it.
  92. What sounds like a daring concept is quickly undercut by attempts to wrap the show in a police-procedural format.
  93. 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.
  94. GCB will need a lot more meat on its bones if these 'horns are going to hook 'em.
  95. As constructed, though, the series has no teeth, and a sensibility that's slim even for cable.
  96. Aside from the fact spying and parenting don't mix, though, there's nothing fresh about Missing.
  97. A breezy but uninspired half-hour defined by Matt LeBlanc's willingness to portray Matt LeBlanc as a swaggering jerk.
  98. Nothing here is especially hot, perhaps, but compared with the best period dramas currently on TV, it is pretty pallid.
  99. Aside from what's happening with Charlie, the rest of Hope plays like a stock hospital-set soap.
  100. Perception feels like an entry-level course, and isn't nearly as cerebral as it pretends to be.

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