James Poniewozik

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For 713 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 4% same as the average critic
  • 55% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

James Poniewozik's Scores

Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Master of None: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 The Playboy Club: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 64 out of 713
713 tv reviews
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It does a good job convincing the viewer, as Dave rapped to Charlamagne, that his heart is in the right place. But it’s also getting better at asking whether that’s enough.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Sweet, shaggy special. ... The special is better when it gets out of the cast’s way and shows us what drew us to them, and them to each other.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    This new “In Treatment,” occasionally stilted but still fascinating, may be the most organic so far because while all of its stories are unmistakably influenced by the events of the last year, they are only occasionally about those events. ... Eladio’s arc is the strongest even though he and Brooke interact entirely through screens and telephones.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    Transfixing. ... Yes, you will see atrocities. But you will also see humanity and resistance and love. You will see a stirring, full-feeling, technically and artistically and morally potent work, a visual tour de force worthy of Whitehead’s imaginative one.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Where the sitcom shines — and, like early “Parks,” shows a promising upward trajectory — is in fleshing out the Minishonka community. ... The show’s biggest problem is structural, but it’s fixable. “Rutherford Falls” treats Nathan as a colead, but really Reagan is its center. She’s at the fulcrum of all the tensions, and Schmieding is an out-of-the-box charismatic star.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    “Girls5Eva” is easy to like: There’s a strong cast of actors I’ve enjoyed in other things, trying a brand of comedy I remember fondly from other shows. It’s funny and fun. But it feels more like a flashback than a comeback.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 James Poniewozik
    “Yasuke” is an action adventure at heart, and in its excited rush to layer twists, genre elements and mythology in six half-hour episodes, it feels hurried and overstuffed. ... Still, there’s a lot to see and hear and like in this story: the balletic swordplay, the hallucinatory visions of psychic combat, the subtler battles between competing conceptions of honor. By fancifully filling the gaps of history, “Yasuke” has created an intriguing hero, even if you may end it wanting to know him a little better.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    It’s as captivating, timely and relevant a legal drama as you’re likely to watch this spring.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    The expansive, thoughtful “Hemingway” shows us the man in full, contrasting the person and the persona, the triumphs and vulnerabilities, to help us see an old story with new eyes.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    ["Genius: Aretha"] has an argument, and an opportunity to shake up the format. It does — sometimes. The new “Genius” spends most of its time in routine music-biopic mode: exposition, childhood traumas, historical checkpoints. But in the moments when it finds its groove, thanks to Erivo’s incandescent performance and its insight into Franklin’s process, it socks it to us. ... “Aretha” is a vibrant effort to give her artistry some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, even if we don’t entirely find out what it means to her.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The first episode is nostalgic and a little bittersweet, but not exactly urgent. The castmates hug and cry, share family pictures and sip white wine. Most of the drama comes in flashbacks to the race- and hormone-driven clashes of the original season. But combine “Homecoming” with a rewatch of the first season (also streaming on Paramount+, along with several other “Real World” seasons), and you get an overwhelming sense of how much and how little has changed, in TV and in America.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    Like a lot of our mediated experiences over the last year, the night begged to be rated on a curve. It was more often fun in a “Good for them for giving it a shot” way. Even with living-room champagne, teleconferencing is still teleconferencing. ... The association acknowledged the racial issue in a perfunctory, we-have-work-to-do statement from the stage. It addressed the self-dealing charges not at all. ... This disjointed version of a usually carefree production felt like it was ailing.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    Davies’s skill with structure is on full display here; the first installment is an immaculate introduction that builds and builds and ends with a wallop. His consistent cleverness, rather than coming off glib, charges the work with immediacy and verve. The storytelling is urgent, with few wasted moments. ... This is a stirring requiem for the dead, shot through with defiant life.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    At just four episodes, “Saints” is rare among docu-series today in not feeling stretched out. I could imagine a longer version that spent more time with the players and coaches at home. But there’s something to be said these days for a series that leaves you wanting more.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    A hypnotic, meandering, surreality-TV walk into the knotty jungle of Lurie’s mind that explores living as an art form in itself. ... Lurie isn’t teaching painting. But he’s teaching something. Patience, purpose, attentiveness to your inner voice. It may seem rambling or self-indulgent at times. But the digressions are the point. The show, which at six half-hour episodes does not overstay its welcome, is like an apprenticeship with a crotchety bohemian Yoda.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    The running device of the Nobody apparition makes Season 2, while still raucously funny, a more serious and spooky outing. So does the advance of real-life history, as the Civil War looms closer. ... There is little hard documentation from this period in the poet’s life. All of which frees this show to take poetic license — to tell its version of the truth, but to tell it weirdly, delightfully slant.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    The various marriage plots and melodramas feel familiar (and, in the season’s back half, drawn-out), and the gestures at upstairs-downstairs class-consciousness are underdeveloped. But what works here is fizzy and fun enough that you may not care. Page is magnetic. ... Dynevor likewise balances Daphne’s romanticism and independent-mindedness, and the bow-chicka-wow-wow physical chemistry between the two leads is a character in itself. ... The old-newness of “Bridgerton” is a kind of statement in itself.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    The thriller, adapted by Peter Moffat from the Israeli series “Kvodo,” is good at ratcheting up the pressure but not at investing the viewer beyond the plot machinations. The characters feel like stock illustrations in a moral-philosophy seminar hypothetical.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    A sweeping, radically curious five-part series. ... It’s a complicated mural of civic life that lets its subjects speak for themselves and resists reducing their concerns to bumper stickers. ... A final episode that might have seemed like a postscript instead brings the series’s threads together.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    As on “Orange,” the comedy of “Social Distance” is sharp, provocative and cathartic, and more often than not, it’s rooted in pain. Though the episodes are short, some less than 20 minutes, watching them feels like entering the lives of full characters who have stories and conflicts that predate the pandemic and would be interesting even without it.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    It’s earnest, reasonably ambitious and lightly funny. But “Connecting …” lacks connection, its characters and dynamics too standard-issue to attach to. Too many of the quick-banter jokes feel as if they need a laugh track.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    “The Comey Rule” is not good drama; it’s clunky, self-serious and melodramatic. But it makes an unsparing point amid our own election season.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    If a stylish thrill ride is what you want, “Ratched” may do the job. It’s a wild drive through the dark in a pristinely restored roadster, even if the driver often seems to forget the destination. But if you’re actually looking for what “Ratched” promises, a nuanced explanation of a woman who’s been caricatured as a demon, you may find yourself wishing that you could have met Mildred Ratched before “Ratched” got to her.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Guadagnino’s gift here is more for atmosphere and emotion, and the episodes burst with them. They’re rich with sun and salt and a touch of melancholy.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It’s charmingly true to the character, who in retrospect has the kind of insistent energy, nosiness and thirst for attention that makes him perfect for late-night. “Not-Too-Late” is actually closer than “Muppets Now” to the format of the old “Muppet Show,” with chaos backstage and Bert and Ernie squabbling in the control room. But the spirit is all Elmo.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    “Muppets Now” improves on the ABC sitcom because it understands what the Muppets are and why we love them. ... But with the segmented format of “Muppets Now,” you lose the big-scale interaction among characters that animated the 1970s variety show. The connective tissue here mostly consists of Kermit and Scooter teleconferencing. There are some nice throwaway jokes there. But just like all the Zoom webinars you’re attending these days, it’s not quite the same.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    An hourlong, sporadically funny grinfomercial that occasionally recalled how good the show was at its best, but mostly underlined how long ago its cultural moment had passed.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    Dull, generic and padded, the series, one of the premiere offerings for NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service on Wednesday, transmutes a provocative warning into a vision of a sci-fi world that feels neither brave nor new.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    “P-Valley” is a lot of show, a noir melodrama about struggle and secrets, family strife and business machinations. But above all, it’s a confident and lyrical story with an intimate understanding of the sort of characters who are too often used as decoration in the Bada Bings of antihero drama.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    It’s a richly character-based story about growing up, dealing with change, growing apart from and back together with friends. It’s sweet but not cloying, smart but not cynical, full-hearted and funny enough to please both grown readers of the original books and the young target audience of the new series — and even plenty of viewers (like me) who are neither. ... The result is pretty magical.

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