Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 518 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 63% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 34% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Bleak House: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Category 7: The End of the World: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 369
  2. Negative: 0 out of 369
369 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. It's a testament to the crackling intelligence of the script (written by Mr. Boyd) that the nature of that menace hangs elusively in the air until the end.
  3. 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.
  4. Thankfully, Caprica can be enjoyed without any reference to the literal past or the figurative future.
  5. [A] handsome and well acted period piece.
  6. Rectify is an ambitious and eloquent series, vivid in its portraiture of family and local citizens who don't know quite what to make of Daniel (a proclivity the film seems to share)--assurance enough of an engrossing six hours.
  7. As charming as all that is amid the macabre, Pushing Daisies is a show that only a grown-up can fully enjoy.
  8. There are precious few signs of trouble or uncertainty in the polished, instantaneously seductive finished product on display in its first episode.
  9. HBO's Bored to Death sneaks up speedily, an eight-part comic enterprise that's soon transformed into flat-out inspired comedy.
  10. All of us have common memories of that time. Yet this quiet but affecting program is Mr. Bush's story, told as only the man who was president on Sept. 11, 2001 could tell it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's genuinely hilarious and smartly written (Mike O'Malley), its observations are keen, its atmosphere warm but with a saving flinty undertone. Add to that a preening vulgarity that shows touching evidence of restraint.
  11. [The show’s writers revert] at least once to a Carrie who maunders on pathetically during a trip back to America, as she evokes loving memories of the psychopathic Brody for her infant daughter—a truly unbearable scene, fortunately brief. There’s not a lot likely to dim the attractions of this Homeland with its energized spirit--not to mention the implacable Carrie, capable of mounting a war on terror all her own.
  12. It is the small things that can elevate Mad Men above the level of ambitious soap opera.
  13. Jack will have his work cut out for him, and audiences will be as enthralled by 24 as they have ever been, if not more, and they'll have good reason.
  14. Ms.Tomlin and Ms. Fonda make an immensely potent comedy team. Together, and also separately, they’re the source of most of the ebullience, style and assorted other pleasures of Grace and Frankie, and those are considerable.
  15. An atmospheric thriller wrapped around a nugget of social commentary.
  16. A tartly written number, (by Paul Feig) that is amusing and frequently hard-eyed in its look back at certain not so dear old school days. [27 Sept 1999, p.A32]
    • Wall Street Journal
  17. The first episode of Under the Dome is so intriguing that you may be tempted to Wiki the Stephen King novel on which it's based to find out what will happen next. Don't do that.
  18. There's enough room left in the genre for another modern pairing, and Mr. Miller and Ms. Liu bring something memorably new to each character.
  19. While the documentary doesn't view the day through rose-colored glasses, it lets us approach that time in a new, less painful way.
  20. A hard-charging, unfailingly suspenseful mystery whose tonnage of side dramas and veritable school of red herrings don’t, miraculously enough, undermine its strength. Though it is, on occasion, a close call.
  21. Impressive... Ms. Mirren leaves her authoritative stamp on the role of Elizabeth.
  22. What makes this a standout family show is not the absence of dirty words. Who needs those when there's an abundance of eccentric humor and bright writing?
  23. It's far more beautiful than its predecessors.
  24. 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.
  25. The unit's work was top secret, its members' experiences, recounted in this film, fascinating above all for what they tell about the determined inventiveness, the all-out ambition to try everything, characteristic of that war effort.
  26. There's plenty of life and overall quality to sustain this series for a long time to come.
  27. The series couldn't have arrived at a more timely moment for such subject matter, but there's no point looking for even-handedness or a lack thereof in a work that offers only--give or take a caustic political observation or two--exhilarating drama.
  28. No sooner has Upstairs veered toward farce than it redeems itself, again and again.
  29. Maron is short, funny and coherent.
  30. Whatever the complaints about the movie, it brings home, as few films on such themes ever do, the terrors of accusation and conviction.
  31. We may have seen film of migrating wildebeest and zebras on the Serengeti before. But Great Migrations looks at everything from new and spectacularly beautiful angles.
  32. There is enough lively (if sometimes explicit) dialogue and reliable sexual appeal in all this to keep intuitive male viewers interested.
  33. Given the filmmaker's unrestricted access to Mitt Romney through both presidential campaigns, Greg Whiteley's Mitt is an unsurprisingly warm portrait. Which isn't to say it isn't full of tensions, when not outright suffering, perceptible through all the upbeat chatter from the candidate and his wife, campaign advisers, the Romney sons and their wives.
  34. All good stuff, plus a brief but powerful moment at the end that will leave longtime "Morse" fans in an agony of nostalgia
  35. This being a made-for-television environment, no one perishes, but there are no happy endings here, either.
  36. Some of the life forms in Almost Human are artificial. The intelligence is genuine.
  37. TNT's cop drama Southland is like a hot date on a Saturday night. Just waiting for another episode to begin each week is a thrill, and once the show gets going the rush is like nothing else on TV.
  38. While the series is not without humor--including the occasional sexual witticism--it is never camp, a huge plus for devotees of genuine drama.
  39. 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.
  40. The real Messrs. Gervais and Merchant haven't lost their touch with self-humiliating characters.
  41. A six-part saga awash in fashionable gloom, set in the mountains of New Jersey, and much of the time a compelling one in its picture of the tensions between the Van Der Veens, members of an Indian tribe, and the blue-collar Jensens, headed by Harold (Martin Henderson), a police officer.
  42. That these actors can make us care about their characters, or at least feel their pain so acutely, is what elevates Getting On above the miasma of its material.
  43. Most of the people [Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart--who pose as Georgie and Poppy Carlton] encounter seem to believe they're being filmed with real British aristos on a travel-type show about the U.S. Their surprise--and polite attempts to hide it--at the things the visitors from England say is the funniest part of the show.
  44. A series that is improving with age.
  45. After only one episode it's clear that the more we learn about each of them, the more we will want to know.
  46. The new Killing appears to have taken a sharp turn from the kind of emotional life that enriched the last season, with its drama of a disappeared daughter. In its portrait of family grief, beautifully nuanced to the end, the series landed a dramatic punch more potent than that of the key question, "Who killed Rosie?" Itself a mystery of considerable power, and one that the latest chapter of The Killing will have to go some way to equal.
  47. The plots are complex enough to sustain mystery, and if the mean streets of Toronto aren’t all that scary, this is a good thing for a show that is trying not to shock, but to entertain.
  48. The show's astringent tone, its excursions into low comedy--scenes like the one where everybody trying to diaper the baby ends up throwing up on her, and similarly stomach-churning fun--all work to counter the sentimentality of themes like this one. They work only in part here, and in this case that's all to the good. The show is meant to be a comedy, and it is--a smart and witty one--but there's no missing, either, under all that grotesquerie, its hard-core sweetness.
  49. It can be genuinely scary (the pilot has a "Lovely Bones" vibe that's not for children). But it has wit too, and avoids camp.
  50. Certainly things will get more exciting in future episodes, when everybody throws powerful stink bombs at Japanese ships, for instance, and--not for the first time in his career--Mr. Watson steals the show.
  51. Although their four-hour production sags and drags in places, it is overall a stylish and engaging new take.
  52. The show’s writers and producers may be trying to force-feed her to us as the health-care equivalent of the whore with a heart of gold. But Ms. Falco manages to shake off clichés and attract us to her for reasons never referred to in the script.
  53. Take the back stories, add the unfolding drama of love, loss, disappearances and danger, shake it all up with exotic locales from Paris and Berlin to Monaco and Rio--and it could be a tasty cocktail
  54. Will is so apparently happy that most of the pathos inherent in his arrested development will have to be supplied by the viewer. But there is uplift in the theme. A man whose life is passing him by has a chance to stop being useless and search for the origins of true joy--and a little child shall lead him. Even if there are not too many creative surprises here, it's a journey that never loses its appeal.
  55. Clearly, the creators of Filth (Amanda Coe, writer, Andy De Emmony, director) had their problems settling down to a comfortable tone for this figure who was, after all, famous entirely for her career on behalf of censorship. Julie Walters, who portrays her with grand and ebullient sympathy, shows evidence of no similar problems.
  56. Deception scores a point or two higher than the estimable "Revenge" in some regards. The atmosphere is darker, the story less outlandish, if only slightly, and Ms. Good's heroine boasts an attractively firm moral center.
  57. Another preposterous television premise perhaps, but one that may be comforting to viewers looking for gentle escape with dash of uplift and hope.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    [Has an] intimate, ensemble feel, without grandstanding or fussiness or mugginess. It keeps the four feeling like good company for a half-hour. [4 Aug 2005]
    • Wall Street Journal
  58. Terra Nova stakes out its own universe, and the fact that we have been on such journeys before may enhance the experience of this one.
  59. An elaborate mystery is always compelling, and here, episode after episode, we search for clues, for some sign that will let us distinguish between reality and imagination.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The series ... is graced by a quirky charm that brings to mind such classic shows as "The Rockford Files" and "Magnum. P.I." [24 Jul 2000]
    • Wall Street Journal
  60. It's Mr. Sutherland's portrayal of the father--unyielding in his effort to break through to his mute child and grasp what he's trying to say with his numbers--that is the heart of this story, the power likely to sustain this promising enterprise.
  61. As familiar as this tableau may be, Hell on Wheels finds enough beauty, danger and emotion to make some part of every episode seem fresh and worth waiting for.
  62. Mr. Connelly is one of the writers and executive producers, along with co-executive producer Eric Overmyer of “The Wire” and much other fame. They know good writing, with not a word wasted. They know cop lore and lingo and what turns viewers on about the genre. There’s a solid cast. The rest... who knows? It just happens.
  63. When all is said and done, none of these back stories is as inspiring as what happens when these people open their mouths and just sing.
  64. Nobody here offers shattering insights into the meaning of life or even of modeling. They're just among a large group of attractive women telling stories to the camera.
  65. [The Renaissance and Leonardo] bring moments of transcendent beauty to the series, which was written by David S. Goyer, and is laced with aha moments of glorious invention and the scent of mysticism. The line between mystery and bafflement is a thin one, though, and at times it is impossible to tell what's going on or who's who in the flickering torchlight. There is also a distraction, at least initially, in the portrayal of Leonardo--who comes across as a weird amalgam of Peter Pan, MacGyver and a Chippendale.
  66. Inquiring minds who liked "Lost," or "The 4400" and "The Event" will find much to feast on.
  67. The case involves a body found in a wood and the mysteries of a Lewis Carroll manuscript, all of it strangely satisfying in its own familiar, unsuspenseful way.
  68. It's a straightforward story of iron determination to succeed against the odds—the options for drilling are now risky, and a failure means the loss of half a million dollars. But it is, beside that, a picture of a family, a portrait limited in its detail but dramatic nonetheless in its evidence of the tense relationship between the assured and driven CJ and his younger, college-educated brother.
  69. If ever a show was made for hate-viewing, it’s The Slap.... Where The Slap will be going in subsequent episodes is unclear and, mostly, irrelevant. Any and all misfortune, however, will be warmly welcomed.
  70. Cold Justice is about simple people in forgotten places, a far cry from the rich New York socialites and corporate villains of an entertainment like "Law & Order." Yet with real pain comes the promise of real closure.
  71. Whether you come away seeing Scientology as a cult that ensnares vulnerable people or as a faith of self-empowerment, the film leaves a terrible taste of too much information. This must be its point, but take heed just the same.
  72. The whole enterprise is less goosed and glitzy than NBC's successful show, "The Voice." But it's easier to concentrate that way, on the experts who know what they want and talk to the contestants with a brutal honesty that's still softer than the real world.
  73. While the tale is not always exciting and the parade of suits grows blurry at times, other times Fail takes on the urgency of an imminent nuclear disaster. Shop talk, cutting quips and appropriately ominous music add atmospherics.
  74. Following the show will require some effort for viewers accustomed to less demanding fare.
  75. What women really want was never more simply put than in the CW's compelling Vampire Diaries.
  76. This relaxing series about small-town lives is as burden-free as a day on the beach with an umbrella, a book and a breeze.
  77. Mad Men is infinitely more concerned with entertainment, an effort at which it succeeds, thanks mostly to its first-rate cast, disarming humor and period detail.
  78. Its semi-psychic hero is intriguing enough and confident enough--not everybody can sneak a hypnosis-inducing trance into an exchange with a reluctant witness as deftly as he can--to bring viewers under his spell.
  79. Mei’s dogged and often clumsy efforts to bring the truth to light ought to seem laughably naive. Yet the more we grasp the enormity of what she is up against--a relentless apparatus of which every citizen of China is aware--the harder we root for Mei and her tiny Chinese family.
  80. Those who find unremitting gloom too much to bear will be cheered to know that the show’s complicated mysteries and interpersonal dramas may provide sporadic relief. Whether the storytelling will be as good as the acting is too early to say.
  81. Sons of Tucson has a sharp edge that can be funny even as it makes you feel uneasy for laughing.
  82. Watching [Valerie’s entourage] fawn over stars, such as Seth Rogen playing himself, is still irresistibly painful, like pushing on a sore tooth. But watching Paulie G. puff with deceptive calm on his fat e-cigarette, we see through the smoke, and the laughs, the faint shape of a show going pleasantly darker.
  83. The mind reels from all the action. Most of the time it is an entertaining sensation.
  84. Plenty of twisty plotting, grim atmosphere and MI5 staff with a rich variety of psychological afflictions, in six parts.
  85. The result is strangely illuminating--who knew that the sight of six motorcycles parked outside a bar will keep 88% of female customers away?--and sometimes hilarious.
  86. Some viewers, accustomed to less-original TV fare, may miss having stock gags and situations rammed down their throat. "Sons & Daughters" is a savory for more discerning palates.
  87. Only one thing is certain now--the season that begins Friday has a lot to live up to.
  88. Thankfully, we are spared the misty earnestness of "Seventh Heaven."
  89. The World Wars has a few annoying habits, including pared-down descriptions that can be depressingly inane.
  90. A series both formulaic and limited in the writing department, Allegiance shows no signs of the immense ambitiousness of “The Americans.” ... The theme [of sleeper agents] does its work and carries Allegiance, as do Hope Davis, outstanding as the desperate Katya, and Scott Cohen, impressive in the role of her husband.
  91. This series... is, for all its noise, sharply plotted, visually rich, heavily informed by intrigues and intriguing characters
  92. "Ugly Betty" shines because Ms. Ferrera is luminous and credible as a character surrounded by caricatures. It's a strange mixture, but it works.
  93. Set as far as possible from the canyons of New York, the series has a cool, original look--despite its C-movie moments when burly guys in black jackets zoom down the highway to the accompaniment of country metal rock.
  94. Lipstick Jungle has some good things going for it, including actresses in roles that call for slightly more maturity than we're accustomed to, and juicy enough meanies to give it a little suspense.
  95. By the time the three episodes available for review end, a plot is thickening suspensefully, Blackbeard is exhibiting still more interesting propensities, and nobody can possibly mind not being able to figure out which woman in the Commodore's court is doing what with whom.
  96. As the series proceeds, the fiction of the bigger events--e.g. global immortality--is made believable or at least compelling by tiny touches that perfectly anticipate how society would respond.
  97. What Back to You lacks in bite, it compensates for with chemistry and pure talent. The center of it all is the relationship between Chuck and Kelly, and Mr. Grammer and Ms. Heaton work together like they have been doing it all their lives.

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