I have two rating systems I use, the Star Ratings and Breakdown Ratings. Each of these may be slightly different than you’re used to seeing, but they should be pretty self-explanatory if you remember that for me, 50% of the maximum rating is exactly average. That means 3-stars or 25/50 is not necessarily an awful thing or a failing grade. Most media should fall into a bell curve between 10 and 90% of the maximum value, with only a very small number of media being exceptionally bad or good.
Star Ratings are given to each episode based on my impressions of the average of what the series has to offer. On a small scale, from moment to moment, the series is at its absolute average. Usually, this involves characters talking a little, walking around, maybe grabbing a piece of fruit from the fridge. It is boring, but not offensive or cringe-worthy. As an example, think of the breakfast scenes in Breaking Bad — that’s the kind of baseline we’re talking about. Really engaging things that I receive either positively or negatively push the bar toward the extreme ends of one or five stars, with intensity based on how much of said good or bad engagement happens or how much it is offset by events with the opposite effect. Basically, the Ratings look like this:
* ~ This episode is bad
** ~ This episode is fairly bad
*** ~ This episode is bland or mixed
**** ~ This episode is fairly good
***** ~ This episode is good
Because the ratings for an episode are weighted more heavily for memorable good or bad moments, the average of the sum of a series’ episodes may be higher or lower than the assumed average of three stars for the whole series. That means you’ll have to take each episode one at a time to get much use out of this rating system.
This rating system applies to all reviewed media, including things that already have star ratings. It provides a few categories weighted evenly and given points based on how exceptional or unexceptional those elements are in a given film/book/etc. compared to other films and books. These points are subjective as they are in most rating systems, but they are designed to show what areas a film, etc., does well in and what areas falter. The values are summed in an easy-to-read final score given out of a maximum possible score determined by the number of categories, with each film, etc., being adjusted based on what elements are important. For instance, one breakdown might look like this:
A score of five equates to competence, but a lack of innovation. The original Star Wars or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are good examples of baseline films which would probably receive fives in all categories; they are watchable and well-balanced but a bit bland and easily improved upon in some areas. Each category could be further broken down if need be (though I won’t usually do this) into subcategories, like Cinematography, Visuals, Sound, Acting, and Score for Aesthetics, for instance.
I will generally reserve the zero- and ten-point scores for pieces I consider to be among the very best or worst examples conceivably possible to create in a given category, so that scores work like a bell curve and most films, etc., fall into the middle range of values. I would be surprised if anything I review ever reaches below a 5/50 or above a 45/50. Marginal values, like ones and nines, are reserved for pieces that come close to some concept of perfection, and are likely the highest values I will readily give. Therefore, for values out of fifty (which will generally be the most common), you can use this rough approximation to read the summed score:
0-5 – Impossibly bad — I don’t know how this got here, but it might be worth seeing for that reason alone.
6-10 – Extremely bad — you really shouldn’t see this thing.
11-20 – Bad — there isn’t much point in seeing this thing, but you might find something mildly entertaining.
21-30 – Okay — it isn’t great, but it’ll pass the time.
31-40 – Good — you’ll probably find something you’ll enjoy here.
41-45 – Extremely good — you need to see this thing.
46-50 – Impossibly good — why aren’t you watching this thing right now?!
I encourage you to read the ratings with a grain of salt and use the breakdown more than the sum, as it provides more information. These ratings are of course based on my own perception of the pieces, and are not necessarily fixed. If I ever do a revised review, I will provide an updated rating alongside the old one.