Todd VanDerWerff

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For 239 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 3.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Todd VanDerWerff's Scores

Average review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 The Handmaid's Tale: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 239
239 tv reviews
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    A compliment, even if it might not sound like one: Deadwood: The Movie feels like the best TV episode of 1997. ... There is so much here that will be rich and meaningful to any TV fan, and its story is self-contained enough that you could use it as an entry point to the entire series. (That is, if you don’t mind being spoiled on several major events from all three seasons, which are depicted in flashbacks.)
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s one of the best seasons of TV I’ve seen in ages.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    A terrific start to the series’ final run.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    Fosse/Verdon can never quite escape its deteriorating orbit, plunging closer and closer to the black hole that is its central subject, because it knows, deep down, how essential he is to American art. That could have tanked the whole project. And yet ... it doesn’t. Because, deep down, this is a fantastic show about a marriage.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    It manages to find some middle ground between the typically cynical, technology-obsessed Black Mirror and the original Twilight Zone. The stories have been updated for the modern era in theme and content (sometimes people swear, which is honestly a little jarring), but the visuals continue to suggest more than depict.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    Season three is as good as the show has ever been — even better, really.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    Even though the season clocks in at around six hours in total, it feels more momentous than that, and in a good way. By grounding its laughs, its tears, and its storytelling in the ups and downs of a family, One Day at a Time avoids feeling gimmicky. ... The episodes themselves are beautifully constructed, too, with some of the best third acts in television today.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    The series is probably too weird to win a bunch of Emmys, but God willing, Lyonne will be nominated. She’s so good. ... Already one of the best shows of the year.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Good Trouble strikes me almost as TV’s first good Gen Z drama. It’s forthright and earnest, and it wears its politics on its sleeve. It understands that the world is filled with junk, but sometimes you can make something beautiful out of that junk. And it knows that even if the end is near, it’s not quite here yet. There’s still time.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The five episodes I have seen take the best stuff about True Detective and finally wed it to a story that proceeds in a mostly satisfying fashion.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Whenever Midge gets up on the standup comedy stage, her scenes are electrifying. ... It’s also a show that can never quite see past its own blinders on anything that doesn’t relate to a 1950s battle of the sexes. It knows issues around race and class exist. It even knows that issues around religion exist. But it never knows what to do with them, because it needs them to remain off camera, so that it might construct a more perfect, candy-coated world.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    Book fans may be at a slight advantage, since if you’ve forgotten who someone is in a book, you can always go back a few pages. That is a minor complaint in the face of a series that gripped me from frame one, despite telling a very small, intimate story that occasionally amounts to two girls learning lessons about how the world works and little else.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 30 Todd VanDerWerff
    By the time the last three episodes roll around, House of Cards’ final season has abruptly buried itself in a whole host of weird, borderline anti-feminist tropes. ... Every time season six starts to build some momentum behind either of its other two major ideas, it lumbers backward to ponder what Frank would have done, or what Frank would have wanted, and it kills that momentum immediately.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Dream Door sags considerably in its midsection, but it ends well. And any time Pretzel Jack appears on screen, it’s understandable if you feel low-grade terrified.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The series is at its best when it captures the small, human moments that play out amid these flashes of chaos--stolen kisses and thwarted connections and pitched hand-to-hand battles. It’s not perfect, but if it strove for clean perfection, it wouldn’t be nearly as good.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The two episodes I screened also made me laugh quite a bit. None of the jokes are going to be all-timers--okay, maybe one line about Pierce Brosnan will make it into the time capsule but the characters have a warm and funny way about them that the original Roseanne had in spades and the new version too often replaced with mean-spirited insults and the like. While the characters still tease and insult each other incessantly, there’s more warmth to it.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The most salient detail I can share about all of these episodes is that they’re all at least 15 minutes too long. ... Still, the qualities that made Mad Men so good are present here, if buried a bit beneath all the excess.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    At its best and its worst, Big Mouth is a vivid, excruciating voyage back to a time in life that so many of us would love to completely forget, but laced with enough humor and good-hearted horniness (for those of all genders and sexual persuasions) to remind us why getting to the other side of puberty is worth it after all. ... Season two has made a case that Big Mouth should run for as long as it can keep telling painfully funny stories about horribly painful moments of life.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    They’re not good. I didn’t laugh, the jokes are mostly easy potshots at Trump. ... Every so often, there’s a flash of the old show’s panache, or a line-reading that Bergen knocks dead, or a flicker of terror at how bad things have gotten and how bad they could still get, and the show comes to life, for a moment at least. It’s not good, but it’s comforting.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    Maniac isn’t weird enough to really achieve what it wants to, but it does say something--however accidentally--about how reality is already weird enough.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    The most 2018 thing about Viceland’s new series The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold is how impossible it is to tell which portions of it are self-promotion and which parts of it are sincere. ... There’s something oddly watchable about Arnold throwing himself against the rocks of reality, trying to wear them down.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    In season five, BoJack Horseman brings all of that character development down around its ears, in a stretch of episodes that represents the most precise dissection of BoJack Horseman yet--and perhaps the first truly sustained artistic response to the #MeToo movement.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    What The First is: a surprisingly affecting drama about several families and a planet in crisis.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    The illusion of depth without any actual there there is an Ozark specialty. By the end of season two, it’s dragged itself to exactly where you’d think it would go, and racked up quite a body count (also proving it hasn’t really learned the lessons of the shows that came before it, which did their best to hold off on killing major characters). But none of it feels as if it has any meaning beyond getting from the end of season one to the start of season three. It’s a bridge to nowhere that keeps building itself right in front of you.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    Season six isn’t as messy as the show’s fifth season--which took place over just three days and chronicled a prison riot--but it’s also nowhere near as ambitious. It’s just good enough to make me interested in watching season seven, but not good enough to make me want to see anything beyond that.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    There are instances when Cohen exposes moments of genuine American racism or Republican gun love that feel like they’re coalescing toward a point. But a lot of the humor is cruel and cynical, for the sake of being cruel and cynical, and even more of it points and laughs at the rubes, provoking them simply to provoke them.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    Sharp Objects’s touch remains delicate throughout, thanks to its gifted lead, its beautiful writing, and, yes, its laser-sharp editing.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The episodic focus also allows the show to skip over big swaths of time when nothing interesting is happening, the better to get to the good stuff. That leaves GLOW slightly less than the sum of its parts. But at the same time, the parts are so inventive, so stylish, and so fun that I feel churlish pointing out how they don’t quite cohere into anything more in the end. Maybe the best advice I can give is: Watch this show. Watch it several times. It’s a good one
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Its tenderness makes up for any flaws, to the degree that I know I should tell you about the flaws, but I almost want to lie and say they aren’t there, because it carries itself with the confidence of a show that knows it’s good, and if you can’t recognize that, well, that’s your problem.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    But trying to recreate the past is almost always impossible, as every TV revival other than Twin Peaks: The Return has been forced to grapple with. And that leaves Arrested season five feeling half finished. It’s fun in places and labored in others, sometimes in the same scene.

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