Wall Street Journal's Scores

For 486 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 Downton Abbey: Season 3
Lowest review score: 10 The Black Donnellys: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 348
  2. Negative: 0 out of 348
348 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. It promises to be a journey that should draw plenty of viewers.
  3. This is a show that has to be watched with full attention since it unfolds so quickly through endless twists and turns.
  4. Their new effort--about a band of young careerists--shows considerable signs of promise along these lines, its depressing heroine notwithstanding.
  5. Smarter and snappier than one might have expected from a familiar sitcom premise.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The fine cast, both regulars and guest stars, elevates the proceedings considerably.
  9. 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.
  10. Ms. Heche's Beth is just madly menacing enough to keep things interesting.
  11. 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."
  12. 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.
  13. Any way you portray Karol Wojtyla, he comes out looking extraordinary.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Journeyman has a decent hook.
  17. 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.
  18. Fun even when it's ludicrous, forgivable when the clichés fly.
  19. 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.
  20. There's a lot going on in Bent. A lot of absurdity, a lot of characters, and that vital thing, a lot of talent.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. The story occasionally gets convoluted, or slightly exhausting....But the cast is so strong that there is always something to marvel at.
  27. 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."
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. Slick and entertaining.
  33. Good fun, and not as bastardized as its advertising campaign suggests.
  34. A slick production.
  35. Highly compelling most of the time.
  36. This is suspense that goes well beyond that of most medical shows.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. An intriguing look at Americans with their own ideas of the purpose-driven life.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. As show titles go, Naked and Afraid is inspired. Better still, the new Discovery series is even more entertaining than its title.
  43. 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.
  44. The vibe so far is part "Hunt for Red October," part "Lord of the Flies."
  45. 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.
  46. Political Animals crams elements of conventional TV fare into a blender and makes something that is wildly different and kind of liberating.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. You don't have to be a New Yorker to enjoy ESPN's eight-part miniseries, The Bronx is Burning, although it might help.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. Here's hoping that the strong whiff of sanctimony in the pilot of "Studio 60" is blown away by fresh air in future episodes.
  53. 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.
  54. Substantial, atmospheric, a lure to lovers of mystery novels, though one undermined in the end by its predictable plot contortions.
  55. Turn can be described as both sturdy and unsteady.... Mr. Bell is a less-than-charismatic centerpiece, but he also makes emotional sense.
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. After the male action sequences, alas, the feminine interludes tend to be soporific.
  59. 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.
  60. No doubt Dollhouse will make a good computer game, although it looks like one already.
  61. "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.
  62. [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.
  63. 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.
  64. Despite some funny and even pungent moments, in fact, Doll & Em is so gentle that you can barely feel anything.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. It requires a certain patience to stay with "Thief."
  68. "Justice" chugs along nicely, its plots gratifyingly tense, its dialogue sharp and uncluttered.
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. All of this might seem silly if it weren't for Mr. Goldblum.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. Unfolding simultaneously in two distinct worlds, the series has an enchanting premise, even if it plods at times when it should sparkle and soar.
  75. 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.
  76. 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.
  77. The show confirms almost everything we already knew or suspected about local TV stations. It is amusing.... What is less clear is whether some of them are as spectacularly clueless as they appear to be.
  78. Once Matthew Perry and (especially) Thomas Lennon kick in as the slovenly Oscar Madison and the fastidious Felix Unger, respectively, their timing and physicality, and some tart writing, pull the show up like a water-skier behind a motorboat.
  79. Mr. Ramsay is not quite the raging beast in "Hotel Hell" that he is in his own kitchens.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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.
  84. 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.
  85. 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.
  86. 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.
  87. 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
  88. 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.
  89. Despite its updated gloss and cast, in fact, Raising the Bar doesn't really break a mold.
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. The series, unevenly written, frequently given to strange tonal lapses, is nevertheless lively, its dramatization of events abetted by its setting.
  93. 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.
  94. It seems determined to eschew high style in favor of a flat, dark world that's appropriately grim yet also numbingly static.
  95. 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.
  96. The main thing in its favor is the chemical tension between its stars. That may not be enough, but it's something.
  97. It's a good refresher course, but not a hugely gripping one.
    • 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.
  98. Magic City is a little slow at getting under our figurative skin.

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