Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 584 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 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 The Hunt
Lowest review score: 10 Graceland: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 418
  2. Negative: 0 out of 418
418 tv reviews
  1. Portlandia is bellyachingly funny.
  2. 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.
  3. Ms. Comer delivers a compelling portrayal as Ivy, who, even in the grip of terror, projects an air of dangerousness. She’s fragile, but has also developed a core of steel—her experience has made her tough, as she shows throughout the five episodes of this thriller entirely worthy of the name.
  4. Billions has the posture of sociopolitical expose, the mechanics of a soap opera and the morals of grave robber. In other words, it’s irresistible.... The biggest reason to watch Billions is the acting talent, something which even the endlessly expository dialogue and absurd characterizations can’t totally quash.
  5. Sleepy Hollow is great fun and gorgeous to look at.... The mythology of Sleepy Hollow is richly complex.
  6. 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.
  7. The payoff is a work powered by imaginative energy, intelligence and a skilled cast, all of it adding up to smashing entertainment.
  8. Vide Shakespeare and all the other roles, Mr. Branagh has never been better cast.
  9. 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.
  10. From the evidence of the first few episodes, "Criminal Minds" may be a hit, and deservedly.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. An exhilarating burst of fresh air.
  14. The new season of Foyle's War could be the best ever.
  15. Its smartness comes shining through despite the claptrap (none worse than the parade of sex scenes, soft-porn variety, whose noisiness is exceeded only by their unconvincingness); its story, littered with intriguingly repellent characters, like Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), local evil tycoon, grows ever more enticing.
  16. The TV series picks up perfectly where the movie left off, adding spice along the way.
  17. These are, in short, characters with a long literary-and Hollywood-pedigree. Which makes all the more impressive the vividness and mystery they bring to this series (adapted by Andrew Davies from a 1936 novel by Winifred Holtby)--thanks, needless to say, to extraordinarily seductive performances.
  18. This is Southland, where the emotional underpinnings of the main characters give the show its outstanding grace and depth.
  19. [A] smartly ordered, sizzling drama, which establishes itself from the opening scene and builds from there.
  20. Silicon Valley, the latest creation of Mike Judge ("Office Space," "King of the Hill"), gets off to a rough start Sunday night; one might say it tries too hard. But it's certainly worth the 30-minute expenditure, because well before Episode 5 it's in a comedic groove and seems destined to run beyond the eight-week run HBO currently has planned.
  21. A wonderfully diverting film with Mr. David at his abrasive best.
  22. As painful as it is to see a fallen dog's body draped in the American flag, what Glory Dogs also does is deepen our appreciation for the servicemen who train them.
  23. This hour [is] packed with Mr. Brooks at his most endearing.
  24. 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.
  25. "House of Cards" is not without its flaws -- the occasionally heavy dribblings of symbolism, for instance, as exemplified by the regular appearance of gnawing rats. We could have figured out, without the rats, that this is black comedy. The last episode, further, is so written as to produce an Urquhart of considerably flattened character. By this time, however, it has been a superb ride for so long that no one will care. [25 Mar 1991]
    • Wall Street Journal
  26. A dark but artful and sophisticated drama.
  27. A sharply drawn and riveting one from the evidence on hand, and bolstered by a skilled cast. This club should lure plenty of customers, television-viewing variety. They'll have good reason.
  28. Once past an introductory flow of steamy images--plenty of stripping and unzipping, couplings in darkened rooms--it takes no time to recognize the quality in this sharply written and entertaining saga of four women destined to lead exceedingly complicated lives.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Although their characters are as vivid as they are distinctive, these two interact so effortlessly, in conversation and body language, it's easy to forget they are just acting. And inside these "lost boys" are real men struggling to get out.
  32. This is a more intimate series, with extended looks at the personal relationships of the characters (the connection between Kizzy and her master’s niece, who grew up together, is just one example). It’s also a gorier series—yes, showing all the abuse put to slaves, but also showing many of the perpetrators of that violence getting their comeuppance. Added to flashbacks and spiritually charged dreams, this lends the show an occasional shade of magical realism.
  33. It's one that's sharply plotted, fast-paced, with impressive performances.
  34. There's considerable charm in this medical-drama concoction, which comes with the usual generous supply of spectacular brain disorders nobody you know will ever get--and in Mr. Pasquale's Dr. Cole, a confident, dedicated surgeon.
  35. The omniscient-narrator device works very well for a complex story spanning many years and varied sets of players.
  36. As odd as poor Norman is, there's something about Norma that gives Bates Motel its true, and truly frightening, center. Vulnerable and malign, Ms. Farmiga pretty much nails it.
  37. It's a bit old-fashioned, which in today's TV universe makes it seem light and fresh--like the entrancing Ms. Applegate herself.
  38. 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."
  39. A suspense story enriched by its psychological dimension and three quietly compelling performances.
  40. Jokes like that ["You gonna go all 'Twilight' on me?"] and the wisecracking Sally occasionally threaten to turn Being Human into a mild, campy thing. As we get to know the characters, however, and begin to identify with their sense of loss and isolation, humor helps make what is preposterous about their situation seem real.
  41. After the stage-setting of the first two episodes, however, Looking becomes less frenetic and begins building emotional resonance.
  42. [Schwimmer's] the great strength of the series, along with Mr. Sturgess, whose Dion is a commanding portrait of endless faith in his dream, to say nothing of endless resilience. ... [A] beguiling tale whose kitchen scenes and gourmet dish preparations provide the ultimate sizzle.
  43. Making, and enjoying, a commitment to watch Showtime's new dramedy The Big C requires a deliberate decision to ignore nagging questions. Such as: Why are so many of the TV and cinematic cancer stories of the past few decades about women? And in an era when more and more of us know someone with cancer, or have experienced it directly, does that mean that we are now ready to embrace the subject as entertainment? Dwell too long on those questions, and what is good about The Big C may pass you by.
  44. The suspense is ripping, the combat violent, in its own peculiarly satisfying way.
  45. The script by Sarah Treem, the show’s co-creator with Hagai Levi, can be murky. Then again, Noah and Alison are telling their stories to a detective, apparently in the aftermath of a major event or crime. It will be a jaded viewer indeed who can resist coming back for more after the first episode ends.
  46. A spectacularly entertaining enterprise.
  47. It’s hard, after this encounter with the Muppets, to imagine any confidences from them, private or public, one wouldn’t want to hear more of.
  48. With its sharp writing and a uniformly fine cast, this show about lives in pieces is impressively, entertainingly whole.
  49. White Collar takes off in its own refreshing directions, with enough wit and sparkle to make the time fly by.
  50. As the series proceeds, the scheming, criminality and even bloodshed that swirl around many of these objects and their acquisition becomes a mounting weight atop Graham and Roxanna in particular. Seeing the bad karma pile on is what makes The Art of More difficult to stop watching.
  51. 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.
  52. An often engrossing attempt to explore the way needful alliances between Indians and settlers may have had a transforming, even enlightening, effect on some of the English.
  53. If the first hour is any guide, though, there will be enough action and interplay and people to feel safe around, or suspect, to keep it constantly entertaining.... So far, paying attention to all that is exciting.
  54. After only one episode on preview, it is not clear how well or long this premise can work and still be so engaging. But so far, the new series works well in every way.
  55. Some viewers may be dismayed to see so much more of Brody's sulky daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor), or put off by another Carrie meltdown. But those are minor annoyances. Overall, the new Homeland looks to be back on track in marvelous ways.
  56. Despite its fantastic nature, the story is an onion with a thousand layers, each one a satisfying mystery of its own.
  57. Of all the new shows I've watched, it's also the one I'm most eager to see again.
  58. A stellar Toby Huss portrays the hard-driving Bosworth, a commanding presence. There are more than a few of these in Halt and Catch Fire, a drama set in Texas, filmed in Georgia--and from the available evidence an immensely seductive enterprise.
  59. The casting is effective. William Miller gives Oliver the requisite vulnerability and steeliness.
  60. It is sharp comedy enriched by a cast led by Allison Janney as Bonnie, the mother in question, and Anna Faris as Christy, her daughter.
  61. The Path delivers a sharp and persuasive commentary on the needs fulfilled by faiths of this kind, on the unyielding determination of the believers to continue believing.
  62. As was true in season one, the first thing to notice about Togetherness--in addition to its spectacularly talented cast--is the amount of sophisticated wit the writers manage to dredge from standard sitcom craziness, the exuberance they wring out of emotional pain and everyday sodden travail.
  63. The fantastic Ms. Ullman is as funny as ever, depicting a new slew of characters in sketches that mock the way we are.
  64. Its unyielding moral passion, exemplified in the character and pursuits of its hero, Detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones), is the life force that propels this powerful--and powerfully violent--tale of New York City, 1864.
  65. Behind the Candelabra, a snapshot from the last decade of the pianist and showman Liberace, is sublimely entertaining.
  66. 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.
  67. The writing is sharp, the atmosphere thick with tension from, among other things, car and foot chases.
  68. The good stuff: To the music that nobody can take down or chip away at. To the energy and excitement and drama of a James Brown performance, from the footwork and the sweat to the drama of the moment when Brown, apparently near death from exertion, was draped with a cape and lead shuffling slowly offstage until, UNH! he would turn around, spring back to the microphone and the whole frenzy would begin again.
  69. Even on the basis of the two episodes made available, it's easy enough to see that Mob City has plenty up its noir sleeve, including some rich plotting. Above all there's the cast, mainly responsible for the aforementioned life and energy.
  70. As always, figuring out what makes the sheriff tick is the best puzzle of all.
  71. Hard as it may be to imagine, there is still drama in the subject of crime families. And National Geographic Channel's contribution, the six-part Inside the American Mob, is impressive on that score. Most of its persuasiveness derives from first-person reflections both by federal officials and by Mafios.
  72. The Killing returns with all its powers intact, its uniformly superb performances--not least Ms. Enos's Detective Linden and Mr. Sexton's Stanley.
  73. It is, along with the raunch, the flinty outlook, the “War of the Roses” echoes, and the fun, also about the pull of marriage. Thanks to the aforementioned fine performances, it’s a guide that entices.
  74. Mr. Steinberg, a comedian who is now also an admired television director, is the ideal interviewer.
  75. Darkly wondrous.
  76. All are reintroduced in a premiere episode that lumbers along, overpopulated, burdened by the weight of its ambitions, flattened by misbegotten detours--but one, nevertheless, that surges to life in the end.
  77. [A] thoroughly captivating Rolling Stones documentary.
  78. If the quality of this one, so irresistible in its vitality and suspense, does fail to hold up, its creators will have delivered, at the least, one remarkably fine hour.
  79. A fact-based film of exceptional power.
  80. It's best to get quickly past the confused and shapeless first episode and on to the rest, where the characters become individualized.
  81. Although the film ends on an odd note that seems to endorse near-subsistence farming as the only moral and sustainable form of agriculture, it makes an important record of a receding era.
  82. It would be grim if it were not for the poetry itself, and Mr. Hollander’s soothing approximation of the way Thomas declaimed it on recordings he left behind.
  83. Director Liz Garbus conveys much of the excitement and turmoil surrounding the subject of her documentary, Bobby Fischer Against the World.
  84. The arrival of one pure and unadulterated drama about a passion as old as man is something to celebrate. That's particularly true when that drama is as spellbinding in its satisfyingly gaudy way, as Revenge turns out to be.
  85. There's promise, plainly, of rich developments ahead.
  86. The lineup of episodes has been rich in their revelations, moving in their testaments to the lives of the employees and, especially, to the meaning to them of their daily labor. There is above all no simulated emotion in what those workers say, no artifice—a new and revolutionary turn for the genre.
  87. A wide-ranging work and a compelling one.
  88. 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.
  89. Mr. Gervais has in no way lost his touch.
  90. How this works out over its many episodes isn't easy to predict, but we have, at minimum, a strong beginning--Zamani notwithstanding--one that reaches undeniably satisfying levels of menace.
  91. Season three's In Treatment [scripts are] entirely original. That may partly account for the so-far stagey quality of the episodes involving Jesse (Dane DeHaan), a 16-year-old gay male adoptee confronting a birth-mother problem....There is, otherwise, little that can detract from this series now roaring back with its old miraculous suspense and flinty intelligence.
  92. After the static and bloodless world of “The Girlfriend Experience,” the Showtime comedy Dice is like an explosion of heat and vigor and passion.
  93. Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, brothers and the show’s creators, have done their homework when it comes to ’80s cinema. Whether you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” or “The Goonies” is more your speed, there’s plenty to like in Stranger Things.
  94. Just two episodes of this 13-part series have been made available—enough to indicate the enormous care devoted to the look of the '40s, to the primitive living quarters. We get an immediate sense, as well, of the characters likely to command attention.
  95. It's a dramatic premise that should yield high rewards for Hostages, whose confident pilot episode ends with a cliffhanger worthy of the name--a kind that should bring audiences back lusting for more.
  96. There isn’t much that can pass for comedy here, but there’s plenty of compelling viciousness and two powerful performances.
  97. 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.
  98. This workplace comedy comes out of the gate with instant appeal. Mr. Williams is never less than formidable in his delivery; the writing is never less than crisp and sometimes it's crisply hilarious.
  99. Most of the editors here have charm and pizazz that seem more appealing than the photographs they masterminded.
  100. A series about a high-school girl that's neither maudlin nor alarming nor conceived with intent to preach or to shock. It's further distinguished by its focus on entirely recognizable teenage pains, as endured by an entirely recognizable teenager, Jenna. Its other distinction: strong echoes of an older kind of storytelling, the sort whose characters grow and acquire depth.

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