Washington Post's Scores

For 1,207 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 40% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 58% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 The Larry Sanders Show: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Super Fun Night: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 526
  2. Negative: 0 out of 526
526 tv reviews
  1. There’s something almost revolutionary about the complex and utterly human teenagers that Ridley has conceived here and that his young actors bring to life. This season will get right under the skin of parents who worry too much (or not enough) about their kids.
  2. Hauntingly effective.... Going Clear’s only small problem is how much of Wright’s book it tries to cram into two hours.
  3. I trust completely the template laid out for The Killing by the original "Forbrydelsen" (which I've not seen) and the artistic instincts evident in the first three episodes.
  4. It's achy, moody, glum, stylized and almost criminally pretentious. ... All the performances seem mannered. The show is plagued with arch, actorly acting, the kind that rings false and calls attention to its own falseness. ... Already some critics have hailed the show as a breakthrough. True enough -- it's a breakthrough from tedium into torpor. [27 Oct 1996]
    • Washington Post
  5. It's often difficult for them to shed the topical baggage they are made to carry and simply be themselves. Still, if you stick with them, you'll see Treme becoming a well-paced work of fiction rather than see Treme spending too much effort speaking truth to an indifferent power.
  6. You needn't be the least bit interested in sports to enjoy Sports Night, the best new ABC sitcom of the season. [22 Sept 1998, p.E01]
    • Washington Post
  7. The first four episodes of this new season have the same raw and gritty-cool feel as the first season's (it takes no time at all for Dunham to bare her now-famously doughy naked body in a sex scene), but the show has become significantly more predictable.
  8. Making a Murderer is at its best when it taps into our collective fascination with the grisly details of a story that may read like fiction, but isn’t.
  9. American Crime is an intentionally exasperating viewing experience; sooner or later, every character does something that’s just flat-out wrong. And yet I can’t remember the last time a network drama had my rapt attention and respect on this many levels at once.
  10. Sons of Anarchy may be wild fantasy and melodrama, but it is tempered by a feeling of verity.
  11. It still isn't quite the hugely confident, competent hit one longs for--especially considering that "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels is an executive producer--but it's high in quality, as well as in spirit.
  12. A compelling and sometimes harrowing hour of high-tension urban trauma, different from Bochco's "Hill Street Blues" and at least as good as any other drama series now on the air. It delivers a good, stiff shock now and then, and what's wrong with that? It's surely preferable to shows that lull you into numbness. [21 Sept 1993, p.D1]
    • Washington Post
  13. It’s a precise, sharply executed sendup of the high-tech, billionaire-making culture and economy of Facebook/Google/Apple/Amazon/Yahoo that has infiltrated (“disrupted,” as they say) contemporary life. Better still, Silicon Valley is also here to make you laugh.
  14. So rousingly well done that it seems to come from a different solar system than most contemporary episodic television shows, and yet too many rapturous panegyrics could spoil some of the fun. The two-hour pilot for the series...is so terribly and industriously entertaining that you hate to see the program lumped in with things that are supposedly "good for you." This isn't a John Chancellor commentary. This is living, breathing matter -- clever, thoughtful, ribald and hard-boiled. [15 Sept 1986, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
  15. Downton Abbey comes back stronger and more muscular this time, with intriguing and shocking new plots that provide a bit of vital momentum and an uncharacteristically wrenching dose of tragedy.
  16. Orange Is the New Black is in a state of wheel-spinning and status quo, with its many characters repeating scenarios that have played out before. And that’s mostly fine since the women of Litchfield (and their guards) have become some of the best characters on TV.
  17. Viewers are in for another high-powered pulse-pounder. [29 Oct 2002]
    • Washington Post
  18. The new Roots fulfills its primary obligation to be a compelling saga, doing what it can to reflect what the last 40 years have meant to our collective understanding of black history.
  19. Mad Men is fading away as beautifully--even indifferently--as one would expect.
  20. It’s a 13-episode remake/update lovingly shepherded by Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, who worked on the original series, and hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a worthy heir to Sagan’s legacy, even if he doesn’t quite possess Sagan’s natural ability to captivate viewers.
  21. Former fans of "Twin Peaks" who feel that show has become too ridiculous to bear may find the snowy terrain of Northern Exposure a pleasing substitute. The series seems to have struck a happy balance: just ridiculous enough. [8 Apr 1991, p.C2]
    • Washington Post
  22. [An] endearingly ribald six-episode dramedy import from British TV.
  23. Behind the Candelabra is one long downward spiral, a gratuitous tale of a man who drowns in his own opulent acts of denial.
  24. Aside from the occasional inspired hairstyle and music cue, Halt and Catch Fire’s sense of period detail has never seemed adequately obsessive. Yet I also find that the show has smoothed out enough kinks to become compelling on its own terms, which is often the case with slower shows.
  25. Morose aesthetics aside, it also feels as if Gobert and company are pawing around in the dark, looking for a way to extend The Returned and not coming up with anything other than to further puzzle the viewer.
  26. This is not an angry documentary; it's just such a downer--and necessary medicine for those who've remained personally unaffected by events of the last decade.
  27. The reason it works so well is that performers and script are ideally matched; they join forces to obliterate resistance. [14 Sept 1985, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
  28. It's singularly unique, crazily nuts and perturbingly disturbed. [8 Nov 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
  29. Community stands on its own intangible excellence.
  30. The Honorable Woman is a slow-building but gripping story, regardless of where you stand on Mideast politics; Gyllenhaal delivers a remarkably measured and moving performance.
  31. Darabont and his cast excel at conjuring up a taut social study, but let the horror scenes fall oddly flat.
  32. If Rectify was winnowed down to the length of a feature film and shown at a festival, we could better judge whether or not it accomplishes what it set out to do. Delivered this way, as a meandering, weekly TV show (with commercial breaks), it has spread itself too thin.
  33. The Walking Dead can still surprise us that way. And that's one of the reasons why we must keep watching.
  34. Boardwalk Empire is doing what I wish Prohibition had done--it's tempting me to stick around for one more.
  35. Reaper works on its own cleverly devilish level and proves one of the happier, snappier surprises of the season.
  36. The film, which kicks off HBO's long, annual summer of well-curated documentary offerings on Monday nights, is certainly absorbing. For those only vaguely familiar with the competitive chess circuit (or even the game's 1,500-year history), Bobby Fischer Against the World is both an easy introduction and a thorough recounting of Fischer's improbable rise to superstardom some 40 years ago.
  37. Burton and Taylor is intelligently winnowed down to a moment in time, firmly planting itself in the last days of disco.
  38. It's not so much a narrative as a collection of character studies, and the characters aren't particularly fascinating.
  39. Watch Mr. Robot simply for its beguiling oddness, personified in Malek’s outstanding, trip-wired lead performance. ... Mr. Robot asks an entire generation of harried and hurried viewers to pay attention, think about it and, most of all, wallow in it.
  40. It's got edge galore, but it's the kind that sneaks up on you and proves again that Gervais has the subtlest kind of brilliance, hard to categorize but easy to enjoy.
  41. The New York City-based hero earns her living as a private investigator, which gives the show its engrossing noir vibe, along with Jessica’s deadpan--occasionally corny--narration, which is delivered sporadically throughout each episode.
  42. Director Nancy Buirski's engaging HBO documentary (a Valentine's Day treat, airing Tuesday night), rescues the Lovings from the perfunctory realm of footnotes and newspaper clippings and brings them into a more emotional light.
  43. No matter how opulent this production, Mirren is never upstaged, and she is the best reason to keep watching.
  44. You know you will laugh, but you know you will cringe. You know you will guffaw, but you'll also likely wince. It's hard to imagine comedy that's any edgier, without being topical, than this.
  45. The first half of Vito plays almost like a 45-minute "It Gets Better" ad. [Then] Vito exchanges its subtle storytelling technique for a sobering session of gay rights homework, resembling a recent raft of documentaries about the early years of the AIDS crisis.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    One of those "almost" shows--almost funny, almost interesting and almost family-friendly. There is potential here, particularly in the mother-daughter relationship between 32-year-old Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and 16-year-old Rory (Alexis Bledel), who could develop a real bond if they'd stop zinging one-liners for a few minutes. And if they can't stop the quips, maybe they could just speak more slowly so the audience can understand what they're saying. [5 Oct 2000, p.C07]
    • Washington Post
  46. An engaging yet taciturn new miniseries.
  47. The cast is terrific, and some of the lines are screamingly funny, but there’s also an empathetic, moral undercurrent to the story--the usual cautionary tale about having all your dreams come true.
  48. Dharma & Greg goes beyond merely funny all the way to enchanting. There's nothing momentous or groundbreaking about the new ABC sitcom, but it's good-hearted, lightheaded and delightful, a kind of miracle cure for the blues -- especially the blues you might get from most of the other new sitcoms this season. [24 Sept 1997, p.D01]
    • Washington Post
  49. The common thread, of course, is the marijuana, which neither increases nor decreases the happiness in its users; it’s simply another form of brief release from the human condition, which High Maintenance portrays with subtly observed skill.
  50. The cast is marvelous, the gritty, post-war set pieces are meticulously recreated and, even with all the warm-water enemas and splattered afterbirth, the story always has its eye on uplift and good cheer.
  51. A fresh and even stirring reminiscence.
  52. It’s hard to deny that The Leftovers can be both visually and emotionally arresting. It is also hard to deny that it is absolutely no fun to watch, a fact that doesn’t necessarily lead one to abandon it. The addition of a new family in Jarden/Miracle, the Murphys--headed by strong new cast members Kevin Carroll and recent Emmy-winner Regina King--is reason enough to tread lightly and see if Lindelof, et al, have worked out some of the kinks when it comes to pacing and payoff.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    We can only be assured that Gunn's presence in the workroom will keep Project Runway's creative fires burning bright and any maudlin meltdowns to a satisfying but tasteful minimum.
  53. It is, as always, beautifully filmed and patiently assembled. Everyone in it clearly believes in the project (and the city) down to their bones, even if the writers have shortchanged their best actors this time. What comes through most is a feeling of over-indulgence--one drink too many, one plate of etouffee too far, one too many hangovers and five too many episodes of an otherwise memorable series.
  54. Although Justified qualifies as cryptic, and its mouth is plenty potty, it definitely lacks edge, the most important quality of the three. In fact, it can get downright sleepy between killings. It moseys. It meanders.
  55. Wright says. "After the Vietnam War ended, the onus of shame largely fell on the veterans. This time around, if shame is to be had when the Iraq conflict ends--and all indications are there will be plenty of it--the veterans are the last people in America to deserve it." Generation Kill makes that point so powerfully as to stand among the truest and most trenchant war movies of all time.
  56. It's a grim, evocative look at some of this country's ruggedest but most disreputable roots -- a meticulously detailed portrait of a time, place and people that makes even today, with its punishing headlines about suicide bombs and other terrorist atrocities, seem almost safe and sane.
  57. Although Jane the Virgin could easily devolve into a frenetic sendup of telenovela cheesiness, it is a remarkably sure-footed, enjoyable dramedy full of strong performances, particularly from Rodriguez.
  58. Circus has no difficulty finding all the usual, romantically enthralling ideals contained within circus life, which unfortunately causes a lot of the series to feel predictable.
  59. It's all so real it verges on the mundane, but the show is also strong and necessary medicine for these times.
  60. A fascinating new PBS documentary.
  61. The problem is that the little scenes from the old shows seem so much more intriguing than the new show they interrupt. [7 July 1990, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
  62. No one could maintain that the show deals in grueling realism. But the characters and their time do seem affectionately and thoughtfully portrayed, and genuineness along these lines is rare in TV. The Wonder Years is first-class time travel. [15 Mar 1998, p.1]
    • Washington Post
  63. The show seems somehow sleeker and better paced. Characters may now be people first and archetypes second. This has the subtle but immediate effect of making The Walking Dead less predictable and more frightening.
  64. Frasier at this point seems much more amusing when he's at home contending with his father than when he's at the workplace fielding phoned-in woes. But wherever he is, he's clearly in good hands -- the hands of old pros who still have the brash enthusiasm of young Turks. [16 Sept 1993, p.C1]
    • Washington Post
  65. All of which is to say that even for the most open minds, Game of Thrones can be a big stein of groggy slog. On the plus side, the first six episodes are impressively free of sorcery and special effects, and instead rely on the stuff of any deeply dark HBO epic: corruption, deceit, illicit sex (incest in this case), unflinchingly gory violence, and a willingness to kill off a prominent character or two in the service of plot.
  66. As Feynman, it takes the workmanlike Hurt a little too long to shuffle through the slate of go-to moods and characters he’s played already, but he eventually lands on a unique and compelling take on the man.
  67. Scorsese (with Tedeschi’s help) has found a more worthy sweet spot between introducing viewers to a whole other world and simply making film tributes to people he knows and likes.
  68. Gripping ... It sure gets off to a spine-tingling, heart-pounding start. [19 Sep 1994]
    • Washington Post
  69. House of Cards is almost willfully and sadistically atonal. Its schemes and subplots and internecine politics undulate and intertwine with a suffocating kind of flatness. I find these new episodes watchable yet sterile.
  70. Better Things may not seem all that original, but it makes up for it with sharp pangs of family intimacy.
  71. In Jenji Kohan’s magnificent and thoroughly engrossing new series, Orange Is the New Black, prison is still the pits. But it is also filled with the entire range of human emotion and stories, all of which are brought vividly to life in a world where a stick of gum could ignite either a romance or a death threat.
  72. Orphan Black has apparently just scraped the surface--not only with the overall narrative arc but with the depth of character development in each of the clones that Maslany plays.... [However] It is chewing so voraciously through its story lines--at such a rapid pace--that it often verges on collapse.
  73. In visual style, witty language, borderline surrealism and overall mad attitude, "Desperate Housewives" stands on a mountaintop all its own, the best new drama of the season and perhaps the best new comedy, too. [3 Oct 2004]
    • Washington Post
  74. Driver brings the right energy and sets the overall mood as a mother who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to JJ’s rights; John Ross Bowie, as her husband, Jimmy, offers a nice counterbalance as a casual, laid-back dad.
  75. One weak link is fellow stand-up comic Michael Richards as Seinfeld's wacky neighbor. He isn't wacky or neighborly enough; it just doesn't work. But he's in the minority where "Seinfeld" is concerned. You may not convulsively guffaw, but you're bound to convincingly smile. Here's one that worked out just right.
  76. Even though Scrubs is the best of the season's new comedies, it may not have the most laughs. But oh mama, it has the most heart. Scrubs is to the average sitcom as a steak at the Palm is to a Big Mac. We are talking an entirely different, and superior, species. [2 Oct 2001, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
  77. But sprawl it must. "True Blood" is a soap opera at its core, which is why it is so overpopulated with sexy characters.
  78. Though deliberately and even artfully paced, Lights Out also feels protracted. It has difficulty establishing momentum in its first few episodes, even with a smattering of intriguing subplots and story lines, and no one character exerts that intangible ability to make us keep watching.
  79. It's to the network's credit that it undertakes projects that aren't necessarily big crowd-pleasers but have a palpable artistic integrity and social significance. [1 June 2002, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
  80. Smash is a case where not bad is plenty good enough.
  81. You could call it a formula, but it works. The jokes actually land and they deftly cut the tension in scenes that would be otherwise dour.
  82. At an hour in length, Parenthood seems like a prolonged, and rather melancholy, sitcom. There are too many characters, and it's hard to keep the relationships straight. Replacing the irreplaceable Steve Martin as the father of a 10-year-old problem child -- and a man who remains something of a problem child himself -- is the capable but unexciting Ed Begley Jr. [20 Aug 1990, p.B1]
    • Washington Post
  83. The fizzily entertaining pilot of White Collar works hard to establish a vibe of style and smarts, and almost gets the job done.
  84. West Wing is not a dramatic powerhouse as it gets off the ground tonight but, indeed, it does get off the ground. There are good performances, crispy-crunchy lines of dialogue and a few sizzly sparks. Subsequent episodes will have to improve on the premiere, however, if there's really going to be anything must-see-ish about the show. [22 Sept 1999, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
  85. Elliot may just be another of TV’s millennial hackers-in-hoodies, but Malek’s subtle yet strong performance indicates that there is something wounded and believable about this kid, drawing out the viewer’s sympathies--and suspicions.
  86. Home Fires is noticeably cheesy in parts (feel free to enhance your fun by supplying arch commentary to the dialogue), but it’s also easily absorbing. Also, for those paying close attention, the series is a contextually and satisfyingly feminist take on war.
  87. Joan of Arcadia may mean well, and it showcases a charming new star, but the premiere suggests viewers are being asked to wade heart-deep into a drearily portentous muddle. [26 Sept 2003, p.C01]
    • Washington Post
  88. HBO’s mildly funny yet thematically redundant half-hour series.
  89. With the line between documentary and amusement-park ride now crossed, it's easy for a critic to start noticing Vietnam in HD's other narrative and technical shortcuts with filler and stock footage, splicing in wherever needed the images we have seen before, including those familiar payload-perspective views of bombs being dropped over the hills and villages.
  90. The fact that Barr's show seems cut so authentically out of middle-class experience gives it a solid familiarity from first encounter. ... "Roseanne" is really different and really funny. [18 Oct 1988]
    • Washington Post
  91. Her initial escapades feel overwhelmingly dour, a byproduct of stilted, emotionless dialogue. Keough plays her role with an almost impenetrable detachment that frustrates at first, but feels necessary in retrospect. ... Things start to get more interesting when Christine learns that one of her wealthy clients has kicked the bucket and left her a large sum of money, setting off alarm bells for the client’s family.
  92. Though the title lamentably plays into the stereotype that all women are just a breakup away from psychosis, there’s plenty else to like about this exuberant and slightly strange dramedy.
  93. Boss works hard to resist the usual "this is how we do things in Chicago" nonsense and dutifully aims for a somewhat "Wire"-esque believability. Yet it can also feel like a burden to watch.
  94. Seems too self-consciously and schematically a vehicle for the actor, a vehicle that sputters and stalls when one wants it to zoom. [10 Oct 2000, p.C01]
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    With so many characters to introduce in a one-hour show, at least a few broad strokes are unavoidable.
  95. From the writing to the performances to some overly artistic visuals and camera cuts, the first episode could not be more crammed with self-seriousness if it tried.... Some strong performances peek through anyhow, especially from Manhattan’s star, John Benjamin Hickey.
  96. Great Migrations lets us be amazed rather than telling us to be, and the amazement quotient is, yes, amazingly high.
  97. The instant the duct tape is ripped off his mouth by his captors, a certain Saul-ness kicks in and Odenkirk’s talent is on full display as Jimmy delivers a pleading, philosophical monologue on--among other things--the awful nature of revenge.

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