Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 539 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 4.3 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 387
  2. Negative: 0 out of 387
387 tv reviews
  1. Plenty of twisty plotting, grim atmosphere and MI5 staff with a rich variety of psychological afflictions, in six parts.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Only one thing is certain now--the season that begins Friday has a lot to live up to.
  5. Thankfully, we are spared the misty earnestness of "Seventh Heaven."
  6. The World Wars has a few annoying habits, including pared-down descriptions that can be depressingly inane.
  7. 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.
  8. This series... is, for all its noise, sharply plotted, visually rich, heavily informed by intrigues and intriguing characters
  9. "Ugly Betty" shines because Ms. Ferrera is luminous and credible as a character surrounded by caricatures. It's a strange mixture, but it works.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The writing is almost always smart, sharp and funny.
  16. There's more than enough absurd charm in the show, meanwhile, to make the wait worthwhile.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Forget the preposterousness of the plot -- it's easy enough to do -- and enjoy the suspense, of which there's plenty.
  20. 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.
  21. By the end of a few episodes everything meshes nicely, and the prospect of watching more has become enticing.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Even when it drags a tad early on, there is always something good coming down the pike.
  31. 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.
  32. It promises to be a journey that should draw plenty of viewers.
  33. This is a show that has to be watched with full attention since it unfolds so quickly through endless twists and turns.
  34. Some occasional tastelessness aside--ranging from tired pregnancy-test urination jokes to a few gags that are unprintable--One Big Happy evolves into something a cut above the usual fare. It is brightly written, and tender at heart. Most of all, it is endowed with a great ensemble cast.
  35. Their new effort--about a band of young careerists--shows considerable signs of promise along these lines, its depressing heroine notwithstanding.
  36. Smarter and snappier than one might have expected from a familiar sitcom premise.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. The fine cast, both regulars and guest stars, elevates the proceedings considerably.
  40. Think "Legally Blonde" meets "Working Girl." Kyle MacLachlan plays Martina's perceptive boss in this series, promising for its deft plotting and, perhaps above all, its high spirits.
  41. While the graphic gore has no discernible artistic function, the tale is a classically compelling one, revolving around a man who is striving to stay moral (and alive) in a wild and cruel world.
  42. Ms. Heche's Beth is just madly menacing enough to keep things interesting.
  43. They all talk the talk that we want to hear: "We're after the worst people on this planet," one marshal says, looking at the camera: "You're going to live like an animal for the rest of your life until I catch you."
  44. 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.
  45. Any way you portray Karol Wojtyla, he comes out looking extraordinary.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. To judge by the first episode, Wicked City compensates for some pedestrian dialogue and only-on-TV coincidences with bouts of genuinely scary intensity, and doesn’t default to eruptions of gore.
  49. Journeyman has a decent hook.
  50. 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.
  51. Fun even when it's ludicrous, forgivable when the clichés fly.
  52. 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.
  53. There's a lot going on in Bent. A lot of absurdity, a lot of characters, and that vital thing, a lot of talent.
  54. 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.
  55. 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.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. 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.
  59. The story occasionally gets convoluted, or slightly exhausting....But the cast is so strong that there is always something to marvel at.
  60. There’s a large cast and its characters grow in increasing depth.
  61. 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."
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. Slick and entertaining.
  67. Good fun, and not as bastardized as its advertising campaign suggests.
  68. A slick production.
  69. Highly compelling most of the time.
  70. This is suspense that goes well beyond that of most medical shows.
  71. The otherwise unknowable details of conversations, wonder and doubt about the apparent resurrection, and political maneuvering are filled in a respectable but usually lively way by a cast of accomplished actors.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. The Conan Doyle of this series has considerable charm as played by Mr. Clunes, though that takes some time to emerge from the effects of episode one.
  75. An intriguing look at Americans with their own ideas of the purpose-driven life.
  76. 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.
  77. 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.
  78. As show titles go, Naked and Afraid is inspired. Better still, the new Discovery series is even more entertaining than its title.
  79. Syria and refugees are only the beginning of this season’s potent mix of ripped-from-the-headlines crises.... Carrie is, unsurprisingly, headed back to her old identity as master snoop on the hunt. Between that and the news focus, not to mention the glittering Berlin street scenes, welcome to the new Homeland.
  80. Mr. Gad is utterly seductive. Mr. Crystal’s endlessly changing facial expressions flow into one another, each containing its own little world of loathing, of mockery. They’re perfect. He’s perfect. All that he, Mr. Gad and this series need is more coherently themed comedy of the kind in the pilot, which they don’t quite have down yet in some subsequent episodes, as one talent-squandering revel in a supermarket shows.
  81. 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.
  82. The vibe so far is part "Hunt for Red October," part "Lord of the Flies."
  83. 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.
  84. Political Animals crams elements of conventional TV fare into a blender and makes something that is wildly different and kind of liberating.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. You don't have to be a New Yorker to enjoy ESPN's eight-part miniseries, The Bronx is Burning, although it might help.
  88. 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.
  89. 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.
  90. Here's hoping that the strong whiff of sanctimony in the pilot of "Studio 60" is blown away by fresh air in future episodes.
  91. As beloved as Mr. Wilson is from “The Office,” as it is written the character of the curmudgeon Backstrom doesn’t seem trenchant enough to be memorably offensive or socially tart. Yet if enough viewers pray long enough for his evolution, they may be rewarded by taking other pleasures from the show.
  92. Substantial, atmospheric, a lure to lovers of mystery novels, though one undermined in the end by its predictable plot contortions.
  93. Turn can be described as both sturdy and unsteady.... Mr. Bell is a less-than-charismatic centerpiece, but he also makes emotional sense.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. After the male action sequences, alas, the feminine interludes tend to be soporific.
  97. The nastiness of Babylon is refreshing, even while the writing fails to support either the level of acting or the atmosphere, which aspires to something far more clever than what the writers ... have delivered.
    • 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.
  98. No doubt Dollhouse will make a good computer game, although it looks like one already.

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