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Todd VanDerWerff

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For 224 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 3.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Todd VanDerWerff's Scores

Average review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 O.J.: Made in America
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 224
224 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 61 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.
    • 77 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    When it works, there’s nothing like it on TV. When it doesn’t, it’s hard not to watch in fascination as the train flies off the tracks, wondering if it might land back on them or this time finally plummet into the gorge below.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Todd VanDerWerff
    The thrill of exploration, or the examination of family dynamics, never feels like it arises organically from the action, in the way it might have on the show’s most obvious forebear that isn’t its direct predecessor: Lost.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    Season six, then, feels like it’s finally homing in on the series’ great theme, which is to say it’s about communication, about the gaps that open up when we don’t tell each other what’s necessary and instead stick to what’s self-serving.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    It takes a little while to rediscover its rhythms, but once it does, it feels tuned in to its world and its country in a way few sitcoms are anymore.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Todd VanDerWerff
    The storytelling here, from a team led by David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, gains strength from its slow burn. The utter desolation and horror of the series’ back half is made more potent by how relatively normal things are for the first few episodes, before reality starts to buck and heave like the ever-shifting ice.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    All the Money frequently felt truncated, its story too sprawling for any of its characters to really connect, only Plummer holding the story together; Trust, meanwhile, feels a little scattered and bulky, constantly distracted by whatever catches its fancy when it might be better off bearing down and focusing on a particular storyline.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Every time you think you have Hap and Leonard pegged, it heads off toward something different. It’s pulp, but with its head firmly on its shoulders.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Looming Tower, despite its high stakes and its ostensibly true story (though many details have been changed), is a cop show. A really well-done cop show, admittedly, but a cop show. And more power to it.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 40 Todd VanDerWerff
    Like so many prestige dramas right now, then, Here and Now lacks a strong reason for any of its individual episodes to exist. The show is just a chronicle of stuff that happens to this family, with a vague promise that something important will happen somewhere along the line.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    For a series that makes a lot of basic storytelling stumbles and often seems to feature characters who can only speak in exposition, Altered Carbon’s first season is surprisingly gripping, especially in its superior back half. This is probably the best first season of a Netflix drama since The Crown’s first year dropped in late 2016.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s in the interactions between the Branch Davidians and the federal government that the Dowdles best capture the sense of an easily avoidable yet nonetheless inevitable catastrophe. Where they struggle is in conveying how it would feel to live a life so tightly entombed in cataclysm that manipulation and abuse become simple facts of life, not dark horrors to overcome.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Todd VanDerWerff
    The Alienist might go very, very wrong in future episodes, and it’s already clear how the series might be more interesting if it took the plot of the novel as a suggestion instead of a road map. But there are enough pleasures around its edges to keep me watching.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s a slower burn than you might expect, but it also grows a little more rewarding with every episode. It’s one to keep an eye on.
    • 97 Metascore
    • 80 Todd VanDerWerff
    Blue Planet II will be one of your favorite TV events of the year, and its deep dive beneath the waves of the world’s oceans will prove both soothing and engaging.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 90 Todd VanDerWerff
    It’s a cliché in TV criticism to say that the real protagonist is the setting, but Corporate flips that idea on its ear: Here, the setting is the antagonist, and every day you can stay alive within it is another day when you might lose yourself completely. I realize that maybe doesn’t sound very funny, but trust me, at a certain point, you laugh because your numbing corporate job has sapped you of the ability to cry.

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