Most of the time, people accept whatever rating I give an episode without much worry or angst, but every so often, there are harsh criticisms about how I dare to attempt to differ with them on the quality of a given episode. How dare I give a masterpiece of Shipperdom a 3/10? Or even worse, that terrible excuse for a season finale a 9/10? What, am I crazy?
I look at three key elements for each episode: Writing, Acting, and Direction. I give each element up to two points:
0 points - terrible plotting
1 point - one strong plot with weak subplot
2 points - competent plotting
0 points - terrible acting by nearly everyone
1 point - the actors are trying, but not enough
2 points - competent acting
Direction (includes editing, etc.):
0 points - bad camera angles, choopy editing, etc.
1 point - mostly all right, but some weak moments
2 points - strong, competent production
The rest of the points are what I consider to be "style points", which is the personal side of the review. Up to 4 points can be awarded:
0 points - I strongly disliked the episode
1 point - I felt it was average
2 points - I felt it was strong
3 points - I felt it was one of the best of the series
4 points - I felt it was a personal favorite
As such, an average episode with all the mechanics in place will get a rating of 6-8. It takes a really surprising and strong episode, rising above the rest, to get a 9.
The rare 10 rating comes in two ways. It's either so strong and powerful that it clearly tops the whole history of the series to date, or it overcomes its flaws.