Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 539 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 4.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Sherlock: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 Prime Suspect: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 387
  2. Negative: 0 out of 387
387 tv reviews
  1. Downton has returned with all its powers intact, not least its power to mesmerize its armies of devoted fans.
  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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Moment after moment the drama deepens, the rich complexity of Ford's characters make themselves felt in all their strangeness and variety.
  6. 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.
    • 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
  7. The PBS series is more marvelous, and thrilling, than ever.
  8. Taken together there is in these 5 1/2 hours, breathtaking in their scope and detail, nothing approaching a dull moment.
  9. Once you watch the first episode, it's going to be hard standing the wait for the next.
  10. The best parts of Treme are breathtaking. And then it exceeds that.
  11. 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.
  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. Perhaps the most glorious Masterpiece Theater of all time.
  15. The vibrant brew of upstairs-downstairs relationships is more savory now, the characters more complicated.
  16. There is no mystery about the potency of this series, slathered in wit, powered by storytelling of a high order.
  17. 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.
  18. It takes some while before the immensity of the history it covers dawns on a viewer of this extraordinary series, so deftly is that history--the reign of Henry VIII (Damian Lewis), Henry’s court, the dawn of the Protestant Reformation in England--woven into drama here.
  19. 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.
  20. This immensely absorbing drama is worth any trouble it takes to catch up with its singular pleasures.
  21. [A] captivating series created by Ann Biderman--sharply written, sophisticated even at its most melodramatic, with first-class performances throughout.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. The people of Orange offer some of the best times, and company, to be found on TV.
  27. [The best way] to view The Girl as an exquisitely lurid morality play in the Hitchcock style.
  28. [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.
  29. The glorious new PBS mystery series Grantchester is a revelation on two fronts and unforgettable on both. It turns back the clock to solve crime in a different era, offering respite from the world around us now even as it reveals how little ever changes about the human heart.
  30. It's clear that all that has made "24" so huge and deserved a success is on display again in these first smashing episodes.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  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.
    • 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.
  34. 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.
  35. The Americans unfolds a thoroughly seductive tale of sleeper KGB agents.
  36. A superbly stylish and scary French drama with no equal in its genre.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The first two episodes reveal a show that will benefit greatly from the time and space to develop story arcs, and to exhibit the same cinematic grandeur that distinguished “Breaking Bad.” The pace is a bit quicker, there’s more obvious humor. But the level of ambition is very much the same.
  37. All of which adds up to drama--which includes a fine turn by Bill Murray--of a notably high order.
  38. It is even more excruciating -- which in this case means better -- than last year's.
  39. 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.
  40. The Americans returns for a third season packed with tension, raw-nerve melodrama and enough levels of ambiguity, moral and psychological, to satisfy the most gluttonous appetite for the stuff. With, in short, all that has distinguished this series from its beginning.
  41. The Canadian wilderness scenery is spectacular and the cast is even better.
  42. The narrative is so intense and the details are so rich that you can forget to breathe.
  43. Beautiful, painful, almost lovingly languid but never, ever boring.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The exceptional writing and pitch-perfect acting of Southland is not to be missed.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  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. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. The HBO film Grey Gardens shines new light on old subjects, and the result--including a fantastic performance from Drew Barrymore--is beyond entertaining.
  50. Out of all of this, including the aforementioned excesses--which are, it should be said, carried off with style--there emerges a brawling, crowded and unfailingly compelling film.
  51. Onto this short list of tightly written and intensely acted thrillers now comes Boss.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. Thoroughly sharp, seriously compelling.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. 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.
  60. It's quickly clear that this skillfully sustained, sharply plotted series is a fighter saga you'll want to follow to the final bell.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. Mindy is not just soulful and amusing. It takes a genre full of clichés, adds something fresh and spins it into gold.
  65. 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.
  66. While they are every bit as wild and woolly as the historical figures of Norse sagas, such is the power of Vikings that we come to know and even root for them, so enthralling are they and almost everything else here.
  67. [A] complex, pathos-filled and very funny comedy series
  68. [The wife is] not to be ignored. The same holds true for these two splendid hours of entertainment.
  69. Ms. Reilly, who is otherwise appealing, brings an all-too-steady intensity to the role of Catherine--a kind that makes it hard to tell, on occasion, whether the doctor is on her medication or off it. That aside, and despite some madly improbable adventures in the hospital's brain-surgery unit, creator Amy Holden Jones and team have delivered a Black Box whose content is both smart and seductive.
  70. All told, a heavily crowded series, stuffed with characters and interwoven tales of vengeance, betrayal, murder--unyielding in its darkness, unfailing in its power to hold you in its grip.
  71. It takes a while to build up satisfying dramatic steam, so it may require more patience than some are willing to give.... but there has to be something great about a show that keeps you staring at it episode after episode, waiting for attraction to take its course.
  72. 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.
  73. There’s a lot of lying going on in this police headquarters. A lot of smart, superbly sustained entertainment, too.
  74. This highly personal view of the Nixon years is, for obvious reasons, a sad and wrenching one--a film that is nonetheless filled with spirit, humor and a beautiful sense of irony.
  75. Mike & Molly may not at first seem to offer much (other, that is, than streams of fat jokes), but it boasts a cast with distinctive looks and a capacity to deliver quick comedic jabs that can make you howl. That these come unexpectedly in the midst of endless gross clatter is one of those mysteries of the creative process best not to dwell upon.
  76. A high-hearted script awash in flinty wit and two extraordinary performances.
  77. Fantastic (as in crazy) though much of this may be, so danger-laden is the misty, smoky air and so claustrophobic are the richly detailed sets that it is difficult to look away.
  78. It's no small miracle that Mr. Azaria makes this soppy character work. He does. The same can be said for just about everything else in this appealingly hard-headed, smartly written comedy.
  79. No vampires (so far). But no matter what materializes in the town, it's satisfying to see in the first episode that Haven already revolves around grown-ups.
  80. That this rich, impressively ambitious film says far more about Martha Gellhorn than about Ernest Hemingway was inevitable.
  81. The new Melrose Place may not be the old, but it is, all told, instantly engaging and--from the evidence--likely to remain so.
  82. It seems impossible to say enough for the unfailing wit and nuance of Sally Wainwright's script, or for the skill that shaped this mix of family melodrama and romantic comedy into the marvelous brew it is.
  83. The plot--absurd as it is that a handful of people would be alone and in charge of saving the world, or in an encounter between organizations named Section 20 and Office 39--has enough twists and momentum to keep you eager to know what happens next. What’s also cool, and helps further elevate Strike Back in its genre, is the artistic attention to detail.
  84. It is not an exaggeration to say that the effect is of opening a treasure chest and being showered with its riches.
  85. Longmire is the best of two worlds: a modern crime drama with dry wit and sometimes heart-wrenching emotion that's also got a glorious setting under the big sky of Wyoming.
  86. Overstuffed yet altogether gripping work.
  87. Even with an occasional made-for-TV-movie flatness, Gracepoint seems poignant and complex and even frightening enough to sustain interest all over again.
  88. Portlandia is bellyachingly funny.
  89. 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.
  90. Sleepy Hollow is great fun and gorgeous to look at.... The mythology of Sleepy Hollow is richly complex.
  91. Hey, it works. Probably because Falling Skies tells a gripping story, full of people whose fate we cannot guess on a playing field whose contours are not yet clear.
  92. The payoff is a work powered by imaginative energy, intelligence and a skilled cast, all of it adding up to smashing entertainment.
  93. Vide Shakespeare and all the other roles, Mr. Branagh has never been better cast.
  94. Married turns out in succeeding episodes to be an increasingly sturdy comedy-drama of married life--dour, but recognizable, with strong performances from Ms. Greer and Mr. Faxon.
  95. From the evidence of the first few episodes, "Criminal Minds" may be a hit, and deservedly.
  96. It succeeds despite its little kinks in logic, mesmerizes despite the fact that we're moved to pause periodically to marvel at a plot line that requires an audience to believe that the sharpest-witted characters can be oblivious to the screaming-in-neon signs of disaster lying just ahead.

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