Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 452 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 64% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 33% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 The Sopranos: Season 6
Lowest review score: 10 The Millers: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 326
  2. Negative: 0 out of 326
326 tv reviews
  1. This season's "Sopranos" is quite simply dazzling in its inventiveness, its reach, and one other aspect -- its capacity to pound audiences emotionally as the series has never before done.
  2. Stunning in a different way are the three Marines at the center of the series. In their true stories and, more importantly, their individual responses to the demands of warfare, we find a perfect trinity of action, emotion and intellect.
  3. Perhaps the most glorious Masterpiece Theater of all time.
  4. The best parts of Treme are breathtaking. And then it exceeds that.
  5. What makes The Walking Dead so much more than a horror show is that it plays with theatrical grandeur, on a canvas that feels real, looks cinematic and has an orchestral score to match. For all its set pieces, however, Walking is most breathtaking in its small moments, in which the pain and glory of being human are conveyed with only the flick of a filmmaking wrist.
  6. There is no mystery about the potency of this series, slathered in wit, powered by storytelling of a high order.
  7. One welcome aspect of all this is that some of the plot threads which became so distracting last season, threatening to tip Big Love into crazy-flatulent "L.A. Law" territory, seem to be gone. There is more than enough left, along with consistently brilliant acting all over, to keep the show as mesmerizing as it ever was.
  8. They [the Loud family] are to the contrary enlarged, explained, their family loyalty honored, in a film that ends up packing an emotional punch that's as surprising as it is eloquent.
  9. Taken together there is in these 5 1/2 hours, breathtaking in their scope and detail, nothing approaching a dull moment.
  10. Once you watch the first episode, it's going to be hard standing the wait for the next.
  11. The vibrant brew of upstairs-downstairs relationships is more savory now, the characters more complicated.
  12. Intricate plots (many updated versions of old favorites), fast pacing and smart, witty writing make Sherlock one of the most dazzling confections on TV.
  13. Television's best drama series is, in short, back with all that was delectable about season one on vivid display again-first-class writing, sterling performances, rocketing suspense.
  14. Downton has returned with all its powers intact, not least its power to mesmerize its armies of devoted fans.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    What Mr. Lynch does so well is to imbue something as ordinary as small-town America with an inchoate threat, an ax waiting to fall. In short, Twin Peaks is creepy... After two episodes, Twin Peaks is riveting. And it's so cool, it's chilly.
    • Wall Street Journal
  15. Moment after moment the drama deepens, the rich complexity of Ford's characters make themselves felt in all their strangeness and variety.
  16. The drama unfolds in a series of flashbacks separated by many years. Hart and Cohle, no longer young, end up reporting on the past in separate interviews—a formula carried off with subtlety and high intelligence, like everything else in this detective story.
  17. The PBS series is more marvelous, and thrilling, than ever.
  18. The trick to Ray Donovan, its gift to TV art, is to make almost every character emerge fully formed, and each scene a stunning vignette: of tragedy.
  19. Watching "My Name Is Earl" unfold is like taking a hydrofoil ride and flying so fast above the ordinary surface of television life that when the show ends you feel dazed and amazed for hours afterward.
  20. What makes it uniquely entertaining are Mr. Rock's and co-creator Ali LeRoi's humorous insights into the terrors of adolescence and their tart observations about harsh realities of the wider world.
  21. Thoroughly sharp, seriously compelling.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It doesn't happen very often that halfway into the pilot for a new show, you're already looking forward to subsequent episodes just to find out more about the characters you've glimpsed in the first few minutes.
  22. A work as shapely as it is sprawling -- no small trick -- it renders the complex history that led to 9/11 with a ripping power that can at times feel overwhelming.
  23. It's clear that all that has made "24" so huge and deserved a success is on display again in these first smashing episodes.
  24. It is even more excruciating -- which in this case means better -- than last year's.
  25. Local stories can have more poetry than grand ones; that is the genius of The Wire. It's not what happens to the characters, or the societal trends the script explores, that matter so much as the authentic and precise way in which events are represented.
  26. Its capacity to maintain an unyielding grip on your attention becomes similarly evident fast, as does one's strong sense that that grip isn't going to weaken anytime soon.
  27. This three-hour production, starring most of the cast of the 2004 Broadway revival, flies by with lightning speed--and that cast led by Ms. Rashad, superbly authoritative, impossibly attractive as Lena, is no small part of the reason. Ms. McDonald is heartbreaking as Ruth, desperate to understand her husband's descent into misery, and Mr. Combs, who portrays that husband, delivers a sterling performance.
  28. It's not often that television with a scope so novelistic--so ambitious--comes along, and not often, either, that it yields drama so sterling.
  29. Its vivid, cliché-free writing has always been In Treatment's singular strength. That's even truer in its riveting new season--no small accomplishment.
  30. The HBO film Grey Gardens shines new light on old subjects, and the result--including a fantastic performance from Drew Barrymore--is beyond entertaining.
  31. The new season returns with a full roster of the vivid characters who have distinguished the series from the outset, and in ways more important than the cultural detail for which Mad Men has been rightly praised. They're smart, they're self-seeking, they're recognizably human.
  32. It is not very often that a TV series invents a new look, or even a new genre. After only two weeks on the air, it may be too soon to gush that way about FX's new drama Justified, but this is one cool show.
  33. The stories are complex and contemporary, with references to a remembered past. But it's easy to forget the past--the present Sherlock, droll yet naive, is so wonderfully weird.
  34. There is scarcely a central figure in American film, whether Cecil B. DeMille, Darryl Zanuck, Frank Capra, William Wyler, Orson Welles or a legendary star--that list is far too long to recite--who doesn't come to life here, in fresh perspective. It's entertainment for grown-ups all right, and you won't find that at the multiplex.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The exceptional writing and pitch-perfect acting of Southland is not to be missed.
  35. It's quickly clear that this skillfully sustained, sharply plotted series is a fighter saga you'll want to follow to the final bell.
  36. What distinguishes this drama from countless mysteries about missing young women gone to terrifying deaths is the unrelenting focus, complex and haunting, on the family left behind. A riveting tale with a hunt for the killer that's no less compelling.
  37. Onto this short list of tightly written and intensely acted thrillers now comes Boss.
  38. [Bill Nighy] is the riveting, breath-stealing, can't-take-your-eyes-off-him center of drama where every actor and every moment is like that, too.
  39. The cast is crowded and uniformly splendid. There's little about this captivating fusion of music, dance and potent storytelling of which the same couldn't be said.
  40. Each week the story unfolds like a tapestry, its intricate stitches slowly creating not just a scene but a whole world. It's a world to get lost in, but not always easy to endure.
  41. It is, in its artfulness and drama, a smashing pilot and--from the evidence of the next episodes--a reliable indicator of the quality to come.
  42. Mindy is not just soulful and amusing. It takes a genre full of clichés, adds something fresh and spins it into gold.
  43. [The best way] to view The Girl as an exquisitely lurid morality play in the Hitchcock style.
  44. This immensely absorbing drama is worth any trouble it takes to catch up with its singular pleasures.
  45. The Americans unfolds a thoroughly seductive tale of sleeper KGB agents.
  46. The cast--including Michael Cudlitz, Ben McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy and Regina King--is perfection. No ensemble of actors on television is more stunning or exciting to watch.
  47. Golden Boy is packed with fine performances, but no amount of actorly talent could have done for this series what its intelligently twisty plots, its nuanced dialogue bearing a distinct resemblance to human exchange--even from the mouths of TV police detectives--has done.
  48. The narrative is so intense and the details are so rich that you can forget to breathe.
  49. To watch Mr. Pacino's Spector pull himself back from the edge to shout, bitterly, that of course he knows this is only a rehearsal--he'll go on, awkwardly, to assure the shaken defense team that they've done well--is to feel the full force of the intelligence behind this drama.
  50. What makes this documentary so fascinating are the narratives by many of the CIA analysts, operatives and others who worked in the shadows over almost two decades to lay the groundwork for identifying Islamic radicals and tracking terrorists.
  51. [A] captivating series created by Ann Biderman--sharply written, sophisticated even at its most melodramatic, with first-class performances throughout.
  52. As a murder mystery, Broadchurch is satisfyingly complex (even if the accents may take some getting used to). As an exploration of grief it is even better, with Ms. Whittaker and Ms. Colman pointing the way. But in its long, slow unfolding Broadchurch is most magnificent in another sense--as an elegy for the happy innocence of ignorance.
  53. It was impossible to imagine anything like the gripping power of Life According to Sam.... Not long into the film, it becomes difficult to look at anyone but Sam--who has by sheer force of his intelligence, his unmistakable assurance, become a magnetic presence.
  54. A superbly stylish and scary French drama with no equal in its genre.
  55. The Canadian wilderness scenery is spectacular and the cast is even better.
  56. The new season--suspenseful as ever, more brutal in its violence, perhaps, and more expansive in its reach into history--easily upholds the standard of the first.
  57. The question of whether Malvo is a Satan or some kind of avenging angel is what helps elevate Fargo above the realm of merely clever black comedy.
  58. In a film directed by Ryan Murphy and with strong performances, including those by Mr. Ruffalo, Ms. Roberts, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina, Mr. Mantello's anguished lament ["...can't you see how important it is for us to love openly...without guilt?"] may be the most haunting.
  59. The people of Orange offer some of the best times, and company, to be found on TV.
  60. It has cinematic production values that give it the heft of a movie, and the lead characters are so natural and believable that the alien angle is less ludicrous than usual.
  61. From the evidence of the first few episodes, "Criminal Minds" may be a hit, and deservedly.
  62. Mr. Gervais has in no way lost his touch.
  63. Impressive... Ms. Mirren leaves her authoritative stamp on the role of Elizabeth.
  64. This being a made-for-television environment, no one perishes, but there are no happy endings here, either.
  65. There are precious few signs of trouble or uncertainty in the polished, instantaneously seductive finished product on display in its first episode.
  66. The standard caution is relevant -- debut episodes tend to be highly polished. All the more reason to enjoy the hilarious scenes and fine ensemble cast here.
  67. A wide-ranging work and a compelling one.
  68. The production is set among English traders in 19th-century Japan, the timeline of the action is altered, and some beloved examples of word play are no longer in the script. These are small matters, though, compared to the fresh gorgeousness on display and the elements of the story that come into focus here in new and moving ways.
  69. Despite its fantastic nature, the story is an onion with a thousand layers, each one a satisfying mystery of its own.
  70. As the denizens of K-Ville move among the ruins of the city, the real and the fake merge until you forget that this is mere entertainment. It's a new experience, and an invigorating one.
  71. Of all the new shows I've watched, it's also the one I'm most eager to see again.
  72. As charming as all that is amid the macabre, Pushing Daisies is a show that only a grown-up can fully enjoy.
  73. It's a bit old-fashioned, which in today's TV universe makes it seem light and fresh--like the entrancing Ms. Applegate herself.
  74. If Welcome to the Captain can sustain its tone of tender quirkiness, it may find an appreciate audience stretching from those who loved "Arrested Development" to fans of "My Name Is Earl."
  75. The underlying theme here, once the fantastic elements are stripped away, is loneliness. That (plus the interesting face of its star) gives New Amsterdam a true and very tender heart.
  76. It is not an exaggeration to say that the effect is of opening a treasure chest and being showered with its riches.
  77. The fantastic Ms. Ullman is as funny as ever, depicting a new slew of characters in sketches that mock the way we are.
  78. It's best to get quickly past the confused and shapeless first episode and on to the rest, where the characters become individualized.
  79. The story of rising (and falling) movie star Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his entourage of high-living pals is as amusing as ever; and as the show matures so, ever so slightly, do the characters.
  80. It's all more like a steady burn--of talent, of smart writing, of chemical reactions--and it may take a few episodes to feel the heat.
  81. There is enough lively (if sometimes explicit) dialogue and reliable sexual appeal in all this to keep intuitive male viewers interested.
  82. Four episodes of Life on Mars have by now aired, each livelier and more confident than the last and--despite its mush of a lead character--justifiably so. That's no small triumph.
  83. It is funny in the manner of "Best in Show" or "A Mighty Wind," but much more biting. Although that means there are some truly painful moments, the talent of Mr. Lilley, a brilliant mimic, is a divine salve.
  84. Ms. Jones's president is compelling--a force to contend with. Much the same can be said of the new 24 itself--a force now returned in strength and, once again, highly addictive.
  85. Everything happens quickly -- scenes, cameos, comments and quips fly by. But nothing is throwaway or stupid, and in the midst of laughter, the emotion, when it comes, feels real. That's good acting. It also happens only when writers respect their audience.
  86. The casting is effective. William Miller gives Oliver the requisite vulnerability and steeliness.
  87. Magnificent cinematography, abundant animal life and lovely music that may contain harmonies unique to Botswana--all these make The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency a distinctly foreign affair. In the end, though, what comes through most strongly is not what's different, but how easily we recognize it all.
  88. Divorce, father issues, an aging Peter Pan—we've seen these things before. Not like this, though, with no false notes, and reactions, from pain to optimism, that feel honest and not manufactured.
  89. There's promise, plainly, of rich developments ahead.
  90. It's an old story rolled out with all the power of the new--meticulously plotted, irresistibly suspenseful.
  91. Thankfully, Caprica can be enjoyed without any reference to the literal past or the figurative future.
  92. It's far more beautiful than its predecessors.
  93. Prattle is, in any case, a minor note compared with the crackling pace of the first script, its evocative mood of menace at every turn, each police car racing to destinations that will reveal who knows what tragedy or unspeakable sight.
  94. The new Melrose Place may not be the old, but it is, all told, instantly engaging and--from the evidence--likely to remain so.
  95. HBO's Bored to Death sneaks up speedily, an eight-part comic enterprise that's soon transformed into flat-out inspired comedy.
  96. There's plenty of life and overall quality to sustain this series for a long time to come.
  97. For their part, Messrs. Levitan and Lloyd set their ambitious sights on a rare kind of comedy, and they have, it appears, found the gold.

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