Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 423 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 3.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 69
Highest review score: 100 True Detective: Season 1
Lowest review score: 10 Category 7: The End of the World: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 302
  2. Negative: 0 out of 302
302 tv reviews
  1. Here's hoping that the strong whiff of sanctimony in the pilot of "Studio 60" is blown away by fresh air in future episodes.
  2. "Jericho" doesn't pretend to be artistically risky, but it's got a scary and gripping theme in an age of terrorism and nuclear thuggery.
  3. All of this might seem silly if it weren't for Mr. Goldblum.
  4. You don't have to be a New Yorker to enjoy ESPN's eight-part miniseries, The Bronx is Burning, although it might help.
  5. It ought to be said that this strange slice of life about three male cavepersons making their way in the workaday world has its charms, even for those of us who would have preferred a sitcom peopled by that lizard.
  6. While little of this is boring, the movie only sizzles and sparks when it jumps out of flashback mode and into the 1950s "present," with Ms. MacLaine as a slightly cranky and tottering but totally grand old dame.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    The choice of villains is unoriginal, if predictably lazy: Think greedy corporations. That tedium aside, there's a cast both likeable and great to look at.
  7. No doubt Dollhouse will make a good computer game, although it looks like one already.
  8. Thomas Jane and Tanya Skagle's performances aside, Hung remains, despite all efforts to inform it with larger meaning, trapped in being all about just what that title says.
  9. For those of us who can't be bothered to decipher the mumbo jumbo, let alone take it seriously, there is diversion enough in each episode's discrete inner story, which doesn't require a mental decoder ring.
  10. The humor in Community is so soft that it will likely please only the tenderhearted. The river that runs through it is a comforting one, though.
  11. Showtime's new comedy series la la land can be torture to watch, whether you end up choking with laughter or cringing at the sight of well-meaning folks being made fools of.
  12. Over a mere three episodes for this season, it is difficult to know most of the characters. Some, like Sir Hallam, seem only half-drawn. Agnes's sister Lady Persie (Claire Foy)--a debutante who's become a fascist fangirl--is repellant in an uninteresting way. There are some plot touches, involving minorities, that clang as too modern. Then again, when the Duke of Kent cries over his brother Edward's abdication--"It's the sort of thing that happens in Romania"--memories of what was so entrancing about the original show come wafting back.
  13. This series, about an underground British antiterror team that has joined forces with U.S. Special Forces veteran Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), does succeed in wresting plenty of high-level suspense out of these low-aiming scripts--no small miracle.
  14. Unfolding simultaneously in two distinct worlds, the series has an enchanting premise, even if it plods at times when it should sparkle and soar.
  15. Substantial, atmospheric, a lure to lovers of mystery novels, though one undermined in the end by its predictable plot contortions.
  16. It's an unpretentiously low-down sitcom about a female odd couple--morally speaking, that is--with characters sufficiently odd, plots that unfold with sufficient zest, to lure a viewer in.
  17. Mr. Ramsay is not quite the raging beast in "Hotel Hell" that he is in his own kitchens.
  18. One must be anesthetized for the series to have its desired effect of making us root for Underwood or at least feel suspense until each of his miniplots pans out to successful competition. Yet rapacious viewing will be numbing too, and not in a useful way.
  19. Fortunately, there are some laughs in Hello Ladies and skewerings of the vapidness that runs like a river beneath the glitzy surface of show business.
  20. Although the first few episodes can be slow going and are inert in spots, the series finds a rhythm by episode four, as it develops characters and side themes to remind us just how dark those dark ages were.
  21. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is not quite the train wreck one might expect.... Mostly he vents. And whether Mr. Tyson delivers the truth as advertised isn't really the question. It's whether anyone, at this point, cares very much.
  22. [So far] the show has the elements of a gripping yarn.... But there was a vibe of something tedious when one of the kidnappers announced: "Today the bug is king"--and if Crisis really goes there, some of us will be tempted to run away.
  23. Despite some funny and even pungent moments, in fact, Doll & Em is so gentle that you can barely feel anything.
  24. Turn can be described as both sturdy and unsteady.... Mr. Bell is a less-than-charismatic centerpiece, but he also makes emotional sense.
  25. An escapist, absurdist universe of barely credible plots, stellar GPAs and flawless faces.
  26. Yes, it's all fairly formulaic.
  27. The result is ridiculous; but it's far more amusing than Hollywood Squares, which is where other formerly famous go to die.
  28. The main thing in its favor is the chemical tension between its stars. That may not be enough, but it's something.
  29. For the time being it's a hard slog.
  30. The writing could be sharper, the vision less soft-headed.... That aside, there's no mistaking the sense of life and vitality that comes bouncing out of this series, or its cause -- namely, its two stars.
  31. Despite its updated gloss and cast, in fact, Raising the Bar doesn't really break a mold.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    True Blood is supposed to be a sexy, easy-to-swallow mystery, but too often it ends up leaving a bad taste in one's mouth.
  32. Kings, which also serves up melodrama and mystical happenings, is far more ambitious [than Aaron Spellings' shows]. Yet it can have the effect of a real sleep potion.
  33. It seems determined to eschew high style in favor of a flat, dark world that's appropriately grim yet also numbingly static.
  34. [Why do] The husbands come across as total bums? Not just because of the way they lounge around all day moaning about how hard (sniff) it is (sniff) not to be able to provide for their family. They dress like bums, too.
  35. The series might be more fun if "jobmother" Hayley Taylor didn't have to stop each time she utters a harsh truth and comfort an angry or weeping spouse.
  36. Magic City is a little slow at getting under our figurative skin.
  37. [The show is] so tame, in fact, that viewers may be forgiven for hoping, against their better instincts, that things get a little wilder, if not more wanton, down the road.
  38. There are aspects of the series that are engaging--Daniel's intricately conceived sleuthing for the FBI, for instance--but, as the voices in your own head soon tell you, there's a lot more of it that's wearisome.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    SEAL Team Six offers no new revelations, and the plot's factual background will be familiar to most viewers.
  39. The veracity of this series is, in the end, less important than what it says about a culture in which people blithely create online worlds on a collision course with the truth. Schadenfreude may be the lifeblood of reality television, but in "Catfish," it's fairly guilt free.
  40. There is some suspense here, even if it is mainly because the violence when it comes is so swift and sickening. But the show still feels slack.
  41. It's a good refresher course, but not a hugely gripping one.
  42. It is, in short, a busy, fearlessly idealistic president (Martin Sheen) who struts through the neatly packaged, frequently deft and invariably predictable first episode of NBC's The West Wing, If the series continues at this level -- continues, that is, being handsomely produced, polished and thoroughly unexceptional in its content and aspirations, it should stand a very good chance of winning a bunch of Emmys. [22 Sept 1999, p.A32]
  43. It's a far superior piece of filmmaking [than Encore's Hindenburg: The Last Flight], impressive in its special effects, its dramatic displays of technical know-how in the face of unthinkable catastrophe caused, you will not be surprised to learn, by an avaricious driller.... The cookie-cutter quality of the sermonizing in these films is hard to miss.
  44. While there's a nice ensemble cast, Mr. Samberg is meant to steal the show and he does--although not often in a good way.... But the nearly laugh-less pilot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is like one of those SNL sketches that doesn't work but you don't mind too much because it's possible the next sketch will be hilarious.
  45. It has its strengths--most of them derived from the skilled cast--but none related to any capacity for originality.
  46. Watching NBC’s Dracula isn’t always easy, and not only because its Dublin-born star, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is often compelled to speak with a cartoonish American accent.... The biggest distraction of all may be the series’ sociopolitical construct, seemingly ripped from the headlines about Occupy Wall Street, as told to climate-change zealots and written up by Dalton Trumbo.... To its credit, this one isn’t camp and doesn’t clown around.
  47. A docudrama, the REELZ film finds its focus in ballistics talk, much of it intriguing, and ballistics tests. Better yet, it manages to maintain a certain suspense--that having to do with the wait for the inevitable other shoe to fall. The time that invariably arrives in films of this kind, when documentary moves on to derangement.
  48. The miniseries itself never quite reaches dramatic liftoff. Could be the know-how-it-ends curse of biopics at work. Or perhaps it's because it is so difficult to spare time and emotion for a couple of punks.
  49. The action sequences that ensue are intriguing enough. The trouble is that the show doesn't trust the viewer's capacity to infer. Nor does it tolerate the slightest ambiguity. Thus we get long, dull passages of dialogue.
  50. The series, unevenly written, frequently given to strange tonal lapses, is nevertheless lively, its dramatization of events abetted by its setting.
  51. When not trapped in the effort to wring excitement from Fleming's adventurous sex life, the series rolls on compellingly with his spying adventures, his role in creating a special operations unit.
  52. Much of this is utter nonsense. Life at a real fertility clinic is certainly a lot more humdrum, with fewer sexy nurses and doctors, a lower success record and longer debates about which clients to treat.
  53. Nagy's showy ventures in stylization, the raucous jokiness substituted for story are heavy encumbrances for this tale.
  54. "10.5: Apocalypse," is visually dazzling, relentlessly hysterical and also a sequel, which means that most viewers sitting down to watch it know what they're getting into. That should damp down any untoward expectations -- the appearance of a believable character, for instance, or piece of dialogue, neither of which, be assured, is to be found here.
  55. "Shark" suffers from a variety of flaws too numerous to detail here, not least its sentimentality, its wooden characters, its tin-eared dialogue.
  56. There is a lot that is ridiculous here.
  57. It's all done in an over-the-top, low-budget sort of way.
  58. After just one episode, I was interested enough to make a mental note to watch the final one someday, just to see who won and what the race was all about. People with more time on their hands and a tolerance for utter implausibility may choose to make the whole journey.
  59. If you can view The Company's as a basic thriller, and ignore its gaffes, you'll find entertainment here.
  60. It has one thing going for it--the essential thing. That is, deft writing that yields the kind of suspense that causes people to want to know what comes next. That's no small achievement for a series whose characters are so entirely devoid of, yes, character--or anything resembling an interesting thought.
  61. In other words, deconstructionists of the world, there is nothing here for you. Nor, it must be said, for anyone who is not entertained by family-friendly fare. Perhaps future episodes will get down and dirty. So far, however, the series is straight as an arrow.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    As disrespectful to his victims as it may be to view The House of Saddam as entertainment, that is the only level where it succeeds.
  62. From its looks so far, the new Leno show is the old Leno show. Even so, much remains to be seen of this enterprise, described as the hour that may change the nature of television.
  63. Ms. Hunt gets some humorous lines, and the banter between partners Callen and Hanna can make them seem like a new-age Starsky and Hutch.
  64. Less successful in the spinoff is what comes in between--the texture and character parts, the scripts heavy with pronouncements of the obvious and with horror plots whose strained premises are so elaborate they undercut the impact of all the gore and terror.
  65. The production has a satisfyingly brooding, ominous look and it's possible to see the basic appeal for role-players and other fans of a realm that provides a limitless playing field for their own imaginations. Thrones also has wolf pups, which is always cool. But then we're back to the familiar favorites of the infantile.
  66. The only bright light in this grimness is Mr. Piven's Ari--ever his electric self even in the middle of heartbreak (he's separated from his wife). Long may he shine.
  67. This light-as-a-feather comedy can be fun.
  68. [It] leaves only the flashes of comedic brilliance, and even they don't light up the sky very often.
  69. Truth be told, Game Change does not make anyone look good.
  70. She's not funny, the aide is told--a line that elicited in this viewer a stream of unstoppable thoughts about what was not funny about this show, which is a lot, all of which ended up pointing, inexorably, to its writers. What saves the show is Ms. Louis-Dreyfus's Selina.
  71. Amid memorable villains, Dickens always gave us someone to like and root for. It's hard to find anyone to cheer on here.
  72. There didn't seem to be anything like [a plot] for the first two episodes, though there has been no lack of good looks, with Taylor Kinney and Jesse Spencer around and filling out their firemen togs nicely. Still there's hope. In episode three, to be exact, where we find a hint that the writers have caught on to the uses of a story line, this about a corrupt police detective.
  73. Judging only by the results of the first episode, the crowd that rules by voting here is more easily excited by entrepreneurs with sappy slogans than by the ones with sound business plans.
  74. A situation brimming with the potential for suspense, and irony. Those may yet emerge, if only someone produces a script to make it possible. For the moment, all that is brimming here is the evidence of an ill-advised faith in the drawing power of depressive police dramas.
  75. There is no edge to Dancing on Edge, a drama sunk by its pretensions--one, to be sure, that does come clanking to life somewhat in a madly melodramatic final episode. A long wait, for little.
  76. Judging from the first episode, "Emily" needs not only a new boyfriend, but also some more grownup material.
  77. The grotesqueries of "Dexter" are not something that can easily be dismissed with the old "you don't have to watch" line. We don't have to watch. We do have to live among the viewers who will be desensitized, or aroused, by this show.
  78. "The State Within" has so many inauthentic touches, that-would-never-happen moments, and is so often off in the details, that it's difficult to take seriously.
  79. We're left with a heap of hocus-pocus that will offend some viewers and seem pretentious or silly to others.
  80. Perhaps Tara will, over time, find something interesting to say. Perhaps it will be about the trauma that presumably led to the split in Tara's personality. Right now, however, what makes the show so painful is the abuse of her children, inflicted by Tara both in and out of split mode, and abetted by her pathologically laid-back husband.
  81. Suffice it to say that Bravo has found yet another group of not-very-appealing women to represent their gender and, more broadly speaking, the lifestyle of the heterosexual cheeseball.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    An early scene from this Tuesday’s premier of the new Fox series Mental, a drama about a psychiatric ward in a fictional Los Angeles hospital, is representative of the larger problems that plague this ill-conceived show.
  82. It was nothing short of painful recently to watch the first episode of NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"--one of the more interestingly focused reality shows--about efforts, by a handful of celebrities, to trace their ancestors
  83. Jules will search for self-esteem in frequent sex and the proof that she is still "hot." Such a quest could be made funny, but here it mostly isn't. Ms. Cox is struggling with some ugly material and often seems desperate.
  84. Gold Rush is jaw-dropping television. Not only are most of these men total boobs and incompetents, but their stupidity borders on criminal at times.
  85. Over five-plus hours, the miniseries would have had time to explore every nuance. But there are so few that rise above artifice, and so little dramatic action driving the plot, that even an actor as talented as Ms. Winslet can hardly fill the dead spaces.
  86. Some shading aside, some occasional twinges of remorse, nothing can hide the fact that these people have no souls to lose, no character to develop. Apart from looking for "Godfather" homage moments, there isn't more to root for here than there is at a cage fight.
  87. The real deficiency, the one that matters, that's evident in all of them is in the writing of comedy, the capacity to imagine characters--a lack impossible to overcome, and this case is no exception.
  88. House of Lies about the thievery of management consultants, manages to turn a theme with reasonable comedic potential into a vehicle for 16-year-old males, though dressed up as satire for sophisticates.
  89. It's clear that Mr. Sorkin's main interest in The Newsroom runs to concerns other than characters and storytelling.
  90. The problem is--as is ever the case in sitcoms with no future, and this is one of them--vapid writing and characters drawn according to formula.
  91. The greatest problem for Ms. Gummer, and everyone else in the cast, has to do with the script, a terminal case of the well-known vacant mind disorder, to which large quarters of the TV writing world are, it would seem, particularly susceptible.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 30 Critic Score
    Start-Ups: Silicon Valley may be set in the Bay Area, but its heart beats on the Jersey Shore.
  92. Spontaneity is scripted; hopes and dreams are meant to be crushed; the woeful are exalted; characters are unsympathetic.
  93. In the three episodes HBO made available to reviewers, however, the only moment of transcendence for the viewer occurs when some of the characters take to the sea on their boards and ride the waves in an "Endless Summer" moment that comes as a blessed relief after the inexplicable chaos of what precedes it -- and is over too soon.
  94. Nonorganic dialogue quickly becomes boring for viewers. The directors seem to have lavished so much energy on the choreography of the sex scenes that they have nothing left for verbal expression.