Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 482 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 3.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 Big Love: Season 5
Lowest review score: 10 The Millers: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 345
  2. Negative: 0 out of 345
345 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The writing is sharp, the atmosphere thick with tension from, among other things, car and foot chases.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. While the series is not without humor--including the occasional sexual witticism--it is never camp, a huge plus for devotees of genuine drama.
  8. 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.
  9. The payoff is a work powered by imaginative energy, intelligence and a skilled cast, all of it adding up to smashing entertainment.
  10. 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.
  11. "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
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Despite some clumsy exposition by its creators, Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, it has a well-researched sense of place.
  16. For all its emotional agony and slow pacing at times, Happy Valley is always moving forward and the fifth episode explodes off the screen.
  17. An exhilarating burst of fresh air.
  18. Even with an occasional made-for-TV-movie flatness, Gracepoint seems poignant and complex and even frightening enough to sustain interest all over again.
    • 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.
  19. [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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. [A] complex, pathos-filled and very funny comedy series
  26. Forget the preposterousness of the plot -- it's easy enough to do -- and enjoy the suspense, of which there's plenty.
  27. A slick production.
  28. Any way you portray Karol Wojtyla, he comes out looking extraordinary.
  29. Highly compelling most of the time.
  30. Thankfully, we are spared the misty earnestness of "Seventh Heaven."
  31. This is a show that has to be watched with full attention since it unfolds so quickly through endless twists and turns.
  32. 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The writing is almost always smart, sharp and funny.
  33. While "Broken Trail" is plot driven and not without action, it is most of all a languid elegy about the olden days on the Western ranges.
  34. This series... is, for all its noise, sharply plotted, visually rich, heavily informed by intrigues and intriguing characters
  35. "Ugly Betty" shines because Ms. Ferrera is luminous and credible as a character surrounded by caricatures. It's a strange mixture, but it works.
  36. Ultimately, what makes "Friday Night Lights" compelling is not the football or the cast. It's the accumulation of little details, like the eager faces of the pee-wee players as they meet and respectfully worship the big high-school boys whom they dream of becoming.
  37. Following the show will require some effort for viewers accustomed to less demanding fare.
  38. Slick and entertaining.
  39. No contestant wants to hear that his or her artistic creation looks "like a litter box" or something at "an assisted-living facility." But we do. And we lap the insults up.
  40. Good fun, and not as bastardized as its advertising campaign suggests.
  41. This is suspense that goes well beyond that of most medical shows.
  42. 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.
  43. Despite his nearly affectless face and inflectionless voice, Mr. Duchovny does fill the screen as Hank, forcing us to take his side whether we like it or not.
  44. 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.
  45. Journeyman has a decent hook.
  46. 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.
  47. Their new effort--about a band of young careerists--shows considerable signs of promise along these lines, its depressing heroine notwithstanding.
  48. Even viewers who had thought they never wanted to hear about a dimpled chad again will find that Recount moves along at a satisfying clip and can make the old drama and suspense seem surprisingly fresh.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. In many respects, HBO's The Alzheimer's Project is nearly identical to the Emmy-winning PBS Alzheimer's presentation, "The Forgetting," which was first broadcast in 2004 and updated last year.
  52. 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.
  53. Smarter and snappier than one might have expected from a familiar sitcom premise.
  54. 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.
  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. He's Washington, D.C., consultant Cal Lightman, helping authorities solve crimes and suss out liars by reading their facial gestures and demeanor cues. As science, this is a slim reed indeed, but it can make stories go around.
  57. There's more than enough absurd charm in the show, meanwhile, to make the wait worthwhile.
  58. Kenneth Branagh is perfect as one of its broken-down men. His face telegraphs defeat even as he relentlessly answers the call to duty, on a cell phone that never stops ringing with news of another crime.
  59. 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.
  60. What women really want was never more simply put than in the CW's compelling Vampire Diaries.
  61. Sons of Tucson has a sharp edge that can be funny even as it makes you feel uneasy for laughing.
  62. Hearing the opening notes of "New York, New York" and seeing Tom Selleck at the start of the show may hurt some viewers like a retro kick in the gut. Yet by the end of the pilot a new, hip-hoppish version of that old tune cements Blue Bloods in the here and now, even if the here and now is a wee bit squaresville.
  63. While some criminals may escape, it's all happening in sunny Hawaii; and every time bad guys kick up a fuss, we know the good guys will kick back harder. The closing line, 'Book 'em, Danno,' may be a cultural joke, but it also sounds good as a promise.
  64. Its pilot episode (which will be repeated Saturday from 8-9 p.m.) felt like a fusion of "E.T." and a "Frontline" documentary on Guantanamo.
  65. 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.
  66. Dead Set is less remarkable, because this import from the U.K. is more typical of the genre and gets campy, although it will scare the bejeebers out of you.
  67. What this comedy has is the charm of its brash comic energy. That it's an energy located mostly in a single character, and not the main one either--officially, anyway-makes little difference.
  68. It's not likely the audience for The Kennedys will be spending much time pondering what it was about this potent, lavishly produced eight-hour miniseries airing on ReelzChannel beginning Sunday night that caused former JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen, self-described political activists like the filmmaker Robert Greenwald, and concerned others to go to so much trouble to get the project quashed.
  69. Some fans apparently don't think the sloe-eyed blond actor Jamie Campbell Bower is studly and thrusting enough for Arthur. But boyishness gives him room to grow, and there is plenty that's masterly about Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, who is occasionally seen in a studded hoodie and always shrouded in mystery, but other otherwise all man.
  70. The film draws effectively on the power of two seductive performances--those of Nico Evers-Swindell as William and of Camilla Luddington as Kate Middleton....It's a familiar story and an entertaining one.
  71. 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.
  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. What's appealing here is that they, and the show, manage to create something close to real drama, including stretches where there is not a gag in sight.
  74. 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.
  75. The fine cast, both regulars and guest stars, elevates the proceedings considerably.
  76. 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
  77. Another preposterous television premise perhaps, but one that may be comforting to viewers looking for gentle escape with dash of uplift and hope.
  78. 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.
  79. It promises to be a journey that should draw plenty of viewers.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. The story occasionally gets convoluted, or slightly exhausting....But the cast is so strong that there is always something to marvel at.
  83. It's hard to know why a conventional sitcom turns out to be better than average, with some of the same appeal--mapcap and yet still warm and relatively gimmick-free--as the 1980s' "Kate & Allie."
  84. Jerry Lewis is not only a "genius," a word that crops up so often that only in show business would such an outpouring not be mistaken for parody.
  85. Inquiring minds who liked "Lost," or "The 4400" and "The Event" will find much to feast on.
  86. A film that so deepens the dimensions of the known-all thanks to a masterful performance by Rob Lowe--it has the force and mystery of a new story.
  87. 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.
  88. An intriguing look at Americans with their own ideas of the purpose-driven life.
  89. 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.
  90. There's a lot going on in Bent. A lot of absurdity, a lot of characters, and that vital thing, a lot of talent.
  91. It's still a fun, fast ride, with lots of twists and turns, murder and menace, and after only a few episodes we know enough back story about most of the main characters to care what happens to them.
  92. The latest version of Treasure Island on Syfy, stands out as a gem--although some plot changes for the sake of agitprop make it a flawed one.
  93. 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.
  94. The accomplishment here is that tight writing and editing, a solid cast with good timing and Mr. Sheen's chops as the ne plus ultra of sitcom performers, make the whole thing feel, if not entirely fresh-then crisp.
  95. Political Animals crams elements of conventional TV fare into a blender and makes something that is wildly different and kind of liberating.
  96. 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.
  97. Fun even when it's ludicrous, forgivable when the clichés fly.
  98. The stage is thus set for an epic showdown between the dogged Lamb and Vincent, under whose calm facade lies a vicious shark of a man.

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