Mary McNamara, Television Critic
The PBS documentary series ‘Latino Americans’ covers nearly 500 years in its six hours. It’s a fascinating take on a diverse population.
A dashing Revolutionary War hero wakes up in modern-day New York (yes), where he’s paired with a female cop, and creepy story lines abound. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is all great fun, and it could be a keeper.
Critic’s Notebook: Once, it was unheard of for a movie star to do TV. Not anymore. Filmdom’s finest are jumping to the small screen, where the best stories are being told these days.
The tennis legend has been an advocate for women’s rights and gay rights and has a far-reaching influence, as documented in ‘American Masters: Billie Jean King.’
The USA series about an out-of-favor spy helped to redefine TV’s leading men. As the show reaches its finale, it remains wholly true to itself.
In ‘Derek,’ Ricky Gervais plays an intellectually challenged man in a retirement home. It’s about being nice, but may try your patience.
Critic’s Notebook: To see and listen to Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi, starring in PBS’ ‘Last Tango in Halifax,’ is a sublime affair indeed.
In this fascinating real-life procedural, crime fighters use their skills to help re-investigate small town homicide cases and hopefully bring closure to the families of the victims.
‘Last Tango in Halifax’ stars Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi as former flames, now a widow and widower with adult children, who reconnect.
The hit A&E series has found a family-values sweet spot by blending backwoods high jinks with swampy sophistication while savvily ducking divisive issues.
Critic’s Notebook: Al Jazeera America has shown an even reporting hand but has hardly proved it could be a solution to the woes of American journalism.
A refined three-episode series on PBS weaves archaic tradition with complex characters coping with sexism, classism and crime.
On A&E’s stay-at-home dads series, the fathers know what they’re doing, making this fun to watch and a change from the clueless-parent shows.
Critic’s Notebook: Artful comedies like Netflix’s new series ‘Orange is the New Black’ show there’s a world of dramatic possibilities beyond the troubled-man template, and women can lead the way.
PBS takes on Islam’s most revered prophet in an attempt to separate his beliefs from today’s extremists.
Some great moments crown this condensed version of three novels and 30 years of complicated history, but medieval murkiness prevails.
Emmy voters can’t get enough of “Downton Abbey,” having just added another dozen nominations to the tony soap’s already towering haul.
‘Breaking Bad,’ starring Bryan Cranston as chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-lord Walter White, begins its final eight episodes.
Critic’s Notebook: Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that the family on TLC’s ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,’ is true to itself.
Critic’s notebook: As the George Zimmerman trial, Paula Deen, CNN’s ‘The N-word’ and the film ‘42’ have shown, the present is inexorably linked to the past.
Aaron Sorkin seems to have dialed down the speechifying in what promises to be a more satisfying season of ‘The Newsroom.’
The attempt by ABC Family’s ‘Spell-Mageddon’ to blend a spelling bee with obstacle courses doesn’t look fun, and the distractions the contestants must endure are more annoying than compelling.
The moody, emotionally unsettling murder mystery series starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman starts Wednesday on BBC America.
‘The Walking Dead,’ one of TV’s best dramas, is shut out of the Emmy Award nominations.
Despite the versatile Rachel Griffiths heading an able cast, NBC’s new comedy ‘Camp’ rarely rises above sentiment and stereotype.
A strong supporting cast, featuring Gabrielle Union as a successful TV anchor, makes for a promising two-hour pilot for BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane.’
The Hallmark Channel adaptation of Debbie Macomber’s novels stars a radiant Andie MacDowell in a placid but hopeful drama series.
Netflix’s women-in-prison comedy ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ starring Taylor Schilling, features a very impressive group of female characters.
Defensive, rambling and downright odd with Matt Lauer on ‘Today,’ the celebrity chef fails to clean up her mess.
NBC’s scripted drama about a reality series is more fright-night than satire, but it does have fun playing with the tropes of the genre.
‘Difficult Men’ and ‘The Revolution Was Televised’ take on the transformation of modern TV. Do we owe this new era of quality shows to a few great men?
The widespread reaction to James Gandolfini’s death recalls the sensation his character Tony Soprano created among a male audience.
The CBS adaptation of Stephen King’s tale of a small town mysteriously trapped looks promising, if only it would slow down.
The dreamy young guy with a troubled past makes for a promising setup in a new show debuting right after ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
The new USA series starring Aaron Tveit and Daniel Sunjata evolves around a beachfront condo in Southern California that is home to FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs agents. It’s a darker version of the network’s bright fare, but not too dark.
ABC’s ‘Whodunnit’ doesn’t yet have the pace of a thriller. And shouldn’t the audience be able to play along more?
Critic’s Notebook: The Writers Guild list will delight and appall. Its real value comes in reminding us of all the wonderful stories that have been told over the years. Oh, Netflix ...
Comedy is hard, in large part because it’s supposed to look easy.
Aside from producer Eva Longoria’s aim to bring talented Latinos to the screen, there’s little else to applaud about the cliche-ridden Lifetime series.
Liz Garbus takes a pointed, poetic and occasionally overwrought look at the actress’ life. The star’s own words form the heart of the HBO film.
Despite a promising premise — mature women making the mistakes of youth — this ABC remake of a BBC soap is lame and ridiculous.
Steven Soderbergh’s HBO biopic with Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as the pianist’s young lover is a dazzling if superficial tale of star-powered excess.
Critic’s Notebook: There’s nothing funny about the enraged granny at the heart of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ a Tyler Perry creation that’s so at odds with Oprah Winfrey’s aim to enhance TV.
Critic’s Notebook: Showtime’s cold-bloodily funny series sparked the rise of the TV serial killer, but it’s long past time to stop this sociopath.
Why tune in for this Canadian import? Kristin Lehman — it’s fun to watch her nail her lines on this otherwise ho-hum series.
Eccentric beyond-the-grave dad Beau Bridges is the best part of this stupid yet sweet limited-run Fox sitcom.
An NBC comedy about a housewife who has a new mission after apparently being saved by divine intervention features ludicrous machinations.
Greg Barker’s documentary on HBO tells of the actual women and men who gathered the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden’s death — and is aware of its limitations.
The unusual release strategy for the series starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright created initial buzz, but the show hasn’t stayed in the cultural conversation.
Critic’s notebook: The ABC drama ‘Scandal’ has become a social-media phenomenon and a test case for TV networks trying to navigate new media.
Addict, political wives, bipolar CIA operative and more: TV’s female leads are breaking ground with their unexpected choices. Thanks to the feminist revolution and TV’s increasing ascendancy, women are allowed to make mistakes without paying the ultimate price. It’s all quite refreshing.
Turning the show into a tribute to music in movies results in uneven tone and bad rhythm.
The actor shines in the dramatic anithero role of corrupt Chicago Mayor Tom Kane in the political drama on Starz.
This was a year that gave us a double dose of high-quality Sherlock Holmes in BBC America’s ‘Sherlock’ and CBS’ ‘Elementary.’ Be still, fluttering heart.
Secrets, security, sex and socialites. The Petraeus affair plays like a TV reality show — and we’re all hooked.
Diane Keaton’s memoir, ‘Then Again,’ is elliptical and beautiful, covering her mother, motherhood, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, but not much acting.
Lindsay Lohan is a bad fit for Elizabeth Taylor’s captivating grown-up charms in ‘Liz & Dick,’ but what really works against the Lifetime movie about Taylor and Richard Burton’s relationship is that it tries to cover the whole exhausting decades-long affair.
The bodybuilder-actor-politician’s purported ‘tell-all’ steers clear of anything remotely salacious, a PG-account that suffers from a startling lack of self-reflection.
On ‘Damages,’ Glenn Close’s and Rose Byrne’s attorneys circle each warily. They can only hope for the sort of closeness the performers share.
The lesson that the movie, with its G rating and Disney imprimatur, imparts is that no matter how famous you are, family and friends should always be the foundation. And that’s a wee bit boring.
When it came to putting on the Academy Awards, Gil Cates had a golden touch.
The famed British mystery writer was a master of succinct storytelling. Her memoir, now rereleased, tells of a life much larger even than her considerable literary output.
‘Glee Live! In Concert!’ shows that the show is as much about marketing as it is about music.
The host pulled no punches, but he should have knocked himself out.
As the actress receives a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, her groundbreaking work on her 1970s sitcom is being compared to new female-centered comedies.
In this edited Q&A of an hour-long discussion held in The Times’ Chandler Auditorium, Michelle Forbes, Walton Goggins, Josh Charles and Johnny Galecki talk with Mary McNamara about the very real honor of being nominated, about the work left at the office and about who’ll get a tackle-hug on the red carpet.
Ever since Vanity Fair put her on its January 2010 cover in what looked like a Wonder Woman costume, Tina Fey has seemed in danger of falling for the very canard she has spent a career satirizing: that a woman can “have it all” if she’s willing to lose 20 pounds, show her breasts and regularly remind everyone that, although she writes and stars in an Emmy-winning TV show, she is still essentially a loser who eats a lot of cupcakes.
Tom Selleck’s good-guy appeal and a strong supporting cast make for an engrossing police tale that isn’t afraid to linger over the details.
The TV awards seem to be shaking things up this year, with hard-working and talented actresses like Margo Martindale and Kelly MacDonald recognized and even fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’ in the running.
A novelist and Times critic offers tips on how to write the book you’ve had in your head while not losing your mind or forgetting your family’s needs.
His works, precious in youth, seem like all talk in adulthood.
Before the kids get too jaded, one L.A. family decides to celebrate Christmas in London. They discover a wonderland of twinkling lights, mini-carnivals and a fab dinosaur exhibit.
In an Olympics in which the host country almost seems to be trying too hard to put on a perfect show, the U.S. team takes a ‘Never let ‘em see you sweat’ ethos and runs with it.
An apparently cataclysmic financial disaster begins our tale -- an experiment in serial storytelling in Calendar during the next three weeks.
Nora Ephron throws together two or three moderately fine pieces with an assortment of lists and previously published mini-rants.
A riveting series’ finale fails to top the six seasons that preceded it. But then, it was always about the journey.
She embodied many fairly significant shifts in how women were viewed, on television and in the culture.
Young stars Anne Hathaway and James Franco host a professional, predictable Academy Awards telecast.
‘The Last Templar’ is the latest in the hot quest-for-holy-relic trend. It knows its genre, but not its story.
Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic play a mystery writer and a cop working together on cases in the new ABC show.
From a box hidden under the Christmas tree each year, a father’s love of reading is passed on to his daughter, a gift they share right up to their final day together.
The award show was a celebration of television, set to an up beat.
The brutes and their guns who helped build a new style of TV show have been pushed aside. Enter the smart drama, often with a woman in the lead.
A reporter flies all the way across the country with family in tow only to find that Europe would have been more relaxing.
The History Channel series works hard to keep viewers caught up in the tension but often slips into tedium.
The teens in this collection— penned by the actor — are alienated and unsure of themselves. Unless you’re a Franco fan, check out ‘Catcher in the Rye’ or ‘The Outsiders’ instead.
There were funny and poignant moments, but the evening seemed to drag because of poor pacing.
Miniseries with Dougray Scott has intrigue and accents.
Four women’s romantic lives are jammed with issues you’ve seen before. But the acting is terrific.
One gut-wrenching episode from 1995 still packs a powerful punch, and a fragility-of-life lesson too.
Campbell, the former member of 2 Live Crew, juggles a porn career, two sons and a fiancé on his new VH1 show.
Kevin Bacon gives a riveting performance as a Marine who escorts the casket of a fallen Marine back to his hometown. The film is based on a true story.
Long-lost relatives and loved ones are reunited, and well, tears flow.
Rory Kennedy’s documentary is a too-short encounter with the dogged, last-of-her-breed journalist.
It’s youth versus maturity. Change versus experience. A lot like our presidential race. The results could tell us plenty about what we value.
‘The Deadliest Catch’ and ‘Ax Men’ show gritty work. Fictional TV is stuck in the stratosphere.
The Sherlock Holmes template has worked so well on “House” that really it was only a matter of time before it was reclaimed by a detective show.
The National Geographic Channel show returns with a compelling report on dogs that had to learn how to play.
Mom turns her children on to her music. Then it’s a night out at a show for all ages.
Child carriers, strollers and other equipment that help the trip roll more smoothly.
The suburbs are left behind, but the show remains a delectable trifle.
The leads are out and the quirky best friends are in: See the successes of ‘Baby Mama’ and ‘Harold and Kumar.’
A quick primer will get you up to light speed on one the best shows on television.
Bravo’s new reality series is more about self-promotion than romance.