Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 473 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 4.5 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 341
  2. Negative: 0 out of 341
341 tv reviews
  1. This is a different series, one whose good start has to do with its capacity to be affecting, which it is in its picture of loss and longing--a sense this young Carrie projects persuasively.
  2. The tapestry of characters in George R.R. Martin's fantasy kingdom has grown so huge now that only the most avid fan can hope to identify them all, let alone keep track of the family ties, alliances and enmities which make this quasimedieval world so dangerous to nearly everyone in it.
  3. [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.
  4. A marvelously complex atmosphere of wartime tension hovers over the peacetime lives of these characters--no small saving grace in a script that includes the hunt for yet another tiresome serial killer/rapist with strange sexual tastes, now a staple of British television mysteries.
  5. While the show is full of comic highs and witty insight, it isn't funny all the time because some of the jokes are disappointingly crude.
  6. Ms. Heche's Beth is just madly menacing enough to keep things interesting.
  7. 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.
  8. The humans are still mostly good guys. Their dilemmas and antics--including blowing up a nuclear plant and giving birth to an infant who can stand up in her crib a few hours later--remain fun to watch.
  9. The sets are somewhat spartan, and the cast of investigators almost uniformly young and good looking (a token geezer gets eviscerated early on), never a good sign if big budgets and verisimilitude are your thing. Yet the animals that matter look terrifyingly real, and the prospect of watching the human cast try to put the ferocious visitors back where they came from before "history unravels" is exciting.
  10. 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.
  11. As show titles go, Naked and Afraid is inspired. Better still, the new Discovery series is even more entertaining than its title.
    • 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
  12. 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.
  13. With the second and third episodes ever more predictable, and, not least, with Martha's character gone flat under the weight of a preening righteousness. If bad scriptwriting were a prosecutable offense, Ms. Peake might have a case here. Still, episode one of Silk is smartly written and highly entertaining--a treat, in short, and at two hours a sumptuous one.
  14. 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.
  15. Some fans of the series--created by Frank Darabont and based on the comic-books by Robert Kirkman, who is a writer and producer for the television show--would prefer more combat and less talking.
  16. Like the book on which it is based, Killing Kennedy sticks pretty much to knowable facts. While this means some suspicions are not ruled out, Oswald is depicted as acting on his own--and seems able to get off several shots quickly--so there is no grassy knoll, etc. Think of it as a Cliffs Notes version of the Warren Commission.
  17. By the end of a few episodes everything meshes nicely, and the prospect of watching more has become enticing.
  18. 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.
  19. There's a strange sense of distance in the picture here of a decade not exactly in the remote past, but there's also something sweetly enticing about its portrayal of relative innocence.
  20. Although their four-hour production sags and drags in places, it is overall a stylish and engaging new take.
  21. The World Wars has a few annoying habits, including pared-down descriptions that can be depressingly inane.
  22. 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.
    • 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
  23. When it isn't outlandish, it has a more seriously entertaining side in the mystery of a hooded man who was mortally wounded while trying to tell Martin that even his identity as Martin is not real.
  24. Likable work.... though it's very soon clear that this high-minded enterprise could use a good jolt of acid, and at least a modicum of granite authority in the character of the new secretary of state.
  25. Amid occasional incongruities--wait and see--there are entertaining glimpses of period party food, hints of primitive forensics, and a village trial with inebriated jurors and a cheering, jeering peanut gallery that seems eerily authentic.
  26. Plenty of twisty plotting, grim atmosphere and MI5 staff with a rich variety of psychological afflictions, in six parts.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. You don't have to be under 30 to enjoy this. It's no more, or less, ridiculous than ABC's massively-hyped hit about sex, love and secrets among housewives and other oldsters.
  30. After the male action sequences, alas, the feminine interludes tend to be soporific.
  31. Ultimately, though, it's not what happens to the folks on this show that is so revealing. It's what goes on in our own minds as we watch and listen to them try to navigate the shoals of racial differences.
  32. It requires a certain patience to stay with "Thief."
  33. The language in "Huff" is still graphic and foul. What redeems it, as always, is the artful acting and occasional small scenes of quiet beauty.
  34. The writers deploy the savant protagonist's gift so cleverly in moving the plot along, we wonder why they can't lend more nuance to the characters.
  35. There are entirely too many convenient coincidences, car accidents, Acts of God and gang-related atrocities for one insular neighborhood, and the violence starts to feel contrived, even gratuitous.
  36. The pilot moves along at a cracking pace, introducing new clues and characters and settings so fast that it's very tempting to sit back and enjoy the ride, ludicrous though some of it may be.
  37. "Justice" chugs along nicely, its plots gratifyingly tense, its dialogue sharp and uncluttered.
  38. Here's hoping that the strong whiff of sanctimony in the pilot of "Studio 60" is blown away by fresh air in future episodes.
  39. "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.
  40. All of this might seem silly if it weren't for Mr. Goldblum.
  41. You don't have to be a New Yorker to enjoy ESPN's eight-part miniseries, The Bronx is Burning, although it might help.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
    • 68 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.
  44. No doubt Dollhouse will make a good computer game, although it looks like one already.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. Unfolding simultaneously in two distinct worlds, the series has an enchanting premise, even if it plods at times when it should sparkle and soar.
  52. Substantial, atmospheric, a lure to lovers of mystery novels, though one undermined in the end by its predictable plot contortions.
  53. 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.
  54. Mr. Ramsay is not quite the raging beast in "Hotel Hell" that he is in his own kitchens.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. [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.
  60. Despite some funny and even pungent moments, in fact, Doll & Em is so gentle that you can barely feel anything.
  61. Turn can be described as both sturdy and unsteady.... Mr. Bell is a less-than-charismatic centerpiece, but he also makes emotional sense.
  62. Since the series was filmed partly aboard U.S. Navy vessels, aircraft and with other working equipment, when the big guns go off it looks and sounds satisfyingly earthshaking. Inevitably, some things are formulaic.
  63. An escapist, absurdist universe of barely credible plots, stellar GPAs and flawless faces.
  64. Yes, it's all fairly formulaic.
  65. The result is ridiculous; but it's far more amusing than Hollywood Squares, which is where other formerly famous go to die.
  66. The main thing in its favor is the chemical tension between its stars. That may not be enough, but it's something.
  67. For the time being it's a hard slog.
  68. 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.
  69. Despite its updated gloss and cast, in fact, Raising the Bar doesn't really break a mold.
    • 63 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.
  70. 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.
  71. It seems determined to eschew high style in favor of a flat, dark world that's appropriately grim yet also numbingly static.
  72. [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.
  73. 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.
  74. Magic City is a little slow at getting under our figurative skin.
  75. [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.
  76. 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.
  77. SEAL Team Six offers no new revelations, and the plot's factual background will be familiar to most viewers.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80. It's a good refresher course, but not a hugely gripping one.
  81. 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]
    • Wall Street Journal
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. It has its strengths--most of them derived from the skilled cast--but none related to any capacity for originality.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. 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.
  89. The series, unevenly written, frequently given to strange tonal lapses, is nevertheless lively, its dramatization of events abetted by its setting.
  90. 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.
  91. As Bruce meanders through these segments, determinedly inoffensive, the "Seinfeld" team's immortal notion via George Costanza--"let's do a sitcom about nothing"--comes to mind
  92. Nothing much new here, although there's always another case for the audience to watch Laura solve.
  93. The series manages to maintain a certain melodramatic tension, at least from the evidence of the pilot, but it could be hard to overcome the sledgehammer cynicism and mess of nefarious plot turns.
  94. 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.
  95. Nagy's showy ventures in stylization, the raucous jokiness substituted for story are heavy encumbrances for this tale.
  96. "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.

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