James Poniewozik

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For 744 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 2.9 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

James Poniewozik's Scores

Average review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Legion: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 I Wanna Marry Harry: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 64 out of 744
744 tv reviews
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    If what you want from “Only Murders” is to watch its characters do more of the same things that made you laugh the first time around, then the new season is a good time. But — like many of TV’s attempts to turn what felt like a completed story into a multi-season saga — it does not send its investigation in a whole new direction.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    “For All Mankind” excels in all the ways a space-pioneer drama needs to, including precision-ratcheted tension and white-knuckle flight maneuvers. But its secret fuel source is that blue-sky hopefulness.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It’s a sincere tribute to the parthenogenesis of a pinup. Angelyne, it argues, became her own work of Pop Art — even if, to paraphrase the Sex Pistols’ “E.M.I.,” she only did it ‘cos of fame.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    But while “Pistol” amply looks and sounds the part, it struggles with the lyrics. It aims to place the band within the larger context of an economically and culturally stagnant 1970s Britain, but at heart it’s a standard behind-the-music tragedy.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    “We Own This City” is still a very good show, with granular realism, a sly sense of humor and fine acting top to bottom. But its indictments lack the character shading that animated Simon’s adaptations of the housing-policy story “Show Me a Hero” and his own book “The Corner.” ... “We Own This City” instead works as a kind of appendix, an updated extra for Simon and Pelecanos’s existing, well-earned fan base.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    The two-episode Season 3 premiere, airing Thursday, is “Atlanta” in top form, going to new places while maintaining that unsettling sense of never knowing how the ground might shift. ... Spectacular and haunting first episode. ... The two episodes sent to critics for review are a mere peek, but they give no sign of the show’s having lost a step in the past four years.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    Few shows on TV have funneled as much complicated feeling through a camera lens as “Better Things.” And the terrific final season lets you have it at full blast. ... As this remarkable final season shows, it is anything but [small].
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    Playful and mordantly funny, “Severance” is like a Charlie Kaufman-designed nightmare, from the midcentury-menacing set to the way it sketches the innies’ hermetic lives. ... The nine-episode season suffers from streaming slump in the middle, but it hooks you early and accelerates late.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    The series is outstanding enough for how it contextualizes Cosby’s legacy, especially for Black America, and the charges against him, which Cosby denies. ... But [W. Kamau Bell] also has a sharp critic’s eye as a performer himself. ... It’s in bringing the two sides together that “We Need to Talk About Cosby” does something too rare in cases like this. It holds Cosby’s achievements and his wrongs close, and it recognizes that there may be unresolvable dissonance between the two.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    “Pam & Tommy” isn’t consistent in its tone or arguments, but it is consistently entertaining.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Overall this is a confident show that knows its power without landing on the sappy side of sentimental.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    Lovely and eccentric. ... “Somebody Somewhere” can be generous to a fault, in that Sam’s struggle gets lost at times as other stories in the ensemble are foregrounded. But I see this broad focus mostly as a strength, giving the season a depth (over a quick seven episodes) that feels as if it could sustain the series for a long run.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    At times dark and heartbreaking, it’s also luminous, wondrous, even funny — the most uplifting show about life after the end of the world that you are likely to see.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    Its first four episodes (of 10) feel like two shows. One, which tries to grow with the women as they navigate their 50s and mortality, is a downer, but it takes risks and in moments is very good. The other, which tries to update its sassy turn-of-the-century sensibility for an era of diversity, is painful.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    The good news for fantasy-hungry viewers is that this lush and ambitious series quickly approaches “Thrones,” and even Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films, in grandeur and polish. It’s in the verve of life and depth of character that “Wheel” is a few revolutions behind.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    After the six episodes screened for critics, it’s not entirely clear what kind of series “Yellowjackets” is becoming. Every so often, it teases at supernatural forces behind the bloody events in the woods. ... But for now I’m willing to go along on the strength of its voice, its chaotic energy and its characters’ evolution from riot grrrls to riot women.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 James Poniewozik
    What we don’t get, in the four competent but redundant episodes screened for critics, is the “new”: any hint of a fresh creative impulse in a series that had worn itself out years before it left the air. ... Sanguinary and superfluous, “New Blood” ends up being an example of the worst traits of two different TV eras at once.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    A fresh, entertaining take on the genre that emphasizes character and story as much as message.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 James Poniewozik
    Scabrously funny. ... You can only hope to see a terrible person do something terrible to a more terrible person. This makes “Succession” both an addictive spectator sport and one of TV's great horror stories.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    In both episodes, the comedy seems to be working on a parallel track to the journalism rather than building with it to a climax, as on Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” But the satire in the second episode hits harder. ... For now — and talk shows need a long breaking-in period — maybe the best thing Stewart and “The Problem” can do is refine an entertainment sharp enough to draw the attention that he wants to redirect.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    “Foundation” is more consistent than “Wolves,” but less magnetic because of its concessions to sci-fi expectations. It could have been better, if only, like Hari Seldon’s disciples, it had faith in the plan.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    It’s arch, playful and pop literate. ... The rapid-fire jokes don’t all land, the supporting characters can be cartoonish and the satire didactic. The show’s strength is its confident, consistent voice.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Smart and surprisingly cathartic.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Two of the anniversary’s most striking documentaries present Sept. 11 as an event that struck at America’s democracy and even its soul. ... From the beginning, the special argues, America’s response was driven by paradox: the moral rhetoric of President George W. Bush and the strategies of his vice president, Dick Cheney, who said that America would need to work with “the dark side” to survive. The dark side won, “America After 9/11” argues.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    Lee’s interviews — with hundreds of people, from high elected officials to heavy-equipment operators at ground zero — are warm, emotional, sometimes sparring. ... Lee’s passionate heckler’s breed of New York-ness may be the best suited to this subject. He is loving and critical, impulses that New Yorkers know as synonyms. And his focus on diversity and race helps him find less-heard voices in a much-told story.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    It’s all well observed and exquisitely acted, yet this "Scenes" seems to have defied Tolstoy by finding an unhappy family that is unhappy in a very familiar way. ... If you have [seen the original series], this "Scenes" feels less like a reimagining than like a highbrow stage revival — movie stars spending a few weeks doing Ibsen at a summer theater fest. ... Of course, "Look at these talented stars in this classy production" has been a successful draw before. Whether it’s enough for you may determine whether you call it a wrap before "Scenes From a Marriage" does.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    Despite several striking performances, its perspective and ideas break out only occasionally from underneath the pancaked strata of details.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 James Poniewozik
    It was not the boisterous return-to-life party we might have hoped for a year ago, nor was it the retreat we might have expected. It was a halfway, transitional ceremony for a halfway, transitional, precarious moment.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    “The White Lotus” could use more attention to the downstairs half of its upstairs-downstairs story; it flicks at, but doesn’t really explore, the lives of the native Hawaiian staff busing tables and performing dinnertime rituals. And it sometimes strains to be topical, with its culture-war Mad Libs references to triggering and cucking, canceling and doxxing. But this is a sharp, soulful series that knows its characters in full and gets richer as it goes on.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 James Poniewozik
    Blisteringly funny. But it’s more than that. ... The new season is as bizarrely funny as the first, but it can also shade bittersweet, even poignant. Over and over, the sketches find a twisted path to pathos.

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