The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
You can't watch the premiere of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart without weighing it against the original Trump version, but comparing the two is like comparing Red Delicious apples to Goldens: They're the same thing except for the wrapping. So I'm moving on to the 16 candidates half creative, half corporate. The creative types called their team "Matchstick," because they're "going to be the start of something big." Based on names alone the corporates chose "Primarius" I'm thinking there's going to be a rip-roaring barbecue in the final conference room. Primarius is a horrible name. It sounds like some condition I don't want to have. Anyway, there are 10 women and six men competing to work for Martha. I am surprised to find that much testosterone on the playing field. Yet in this premiere episode, it's the men who make the strongest first impressions. Jim bears a passing resemblance to Latin crooner, Mark Anthony. Unfortunately, Jim thinks he's on Survivor and is already plotting for the final four. Dude, relax. Howie, like his namesake on Big Brother 6, just seems like a nice, fun guy who's got a way with kids. (Note to self: Name male child "Howie.") Jeff is Matchstick's first project manager and casualty. Episode 1 and he's already screaming at someone to shut up. Way to get yourself a "Dear Jeff" letter from Martha. And how sweet is it that Martha, after telling a candidate "You just don't fit in," will pen a handwritten salt-in-the-wound "Goodbye and thank you for playing" note to ease the sting of losing? Spare me your stationary, M. How 'bout some stock?  Rhoda Charles

America's Next Top Model
I've been looking forward to this all summer, but hurry up and break some hearts, Tyra; I need to see what's in the hatch! It looks like ANTM got its budget back after last cycle's cramped, inner-city digs and cheap excursions. Now the squealing poseurs get a posh Beverly Hills mansion and a stretch SUV to call their own. There are going to be some good catfights this fall, and a couple of good sob stories, too. I will definitely love to hate Texas beauty queen Cassandra, who explains that she's not icy because she doesn't like sharing her feelings with people, she just doesn't have any feelings. Ashley "Pretty Gene" was too easy to loathe, so I'm glad she's gone. I hope Ebony stays longer than I think her first photo indicates, 'cause she's going to be fun to quote "Don't get it twisted!" And with her frank commentary about stuffing Nicole in a closet, Bre is close behind in the quote race. Kim the lesbian isn't quite as controversial as she thinks she is, but it will be interesting to see if they can make a model out of her. Coryn's scary eyebrows are fooling everyone into thinking that without them, she might be pretty. Kyle and Jayla might be the pretty ones everyone forgets about, but I could be wrong. I can tell they're just not feeling plus-size criminal investigator Diane. Who seems in it for the long haul? Whiney Nicole's got that girly pixie look; crazy Lisa is the one with the unconventional face; the judges always love molding a girl who's as awkward as Sarah (she could be this season's Shandi or Michelle); and everyone loved Nik's photo. I do miss Janice at the judges' table. Twiggy's just so darn nice, encouraging even. Are we going to have to wait for another Tyra meltdown to hear any mean comments?  SRW

Lost
After the big Emmy win on Sunday night, I have to admit that a small part of me way in the back of my head was worried that something that started out so strong couldn't possibly live up to expectations. Boy, was I wrong. The sophomore premiere had me scratching my head, jumping off my couch and literally left me begging for more. Desmond? So creepy. When we first saw him prepping for his race around the world, I thought for sure he was just another guy who was stuck on the flight, maybe from another part of the plane, who had somehow survived. But he's a retro throwback who injects himself with a strange drug that bears those mysterious numbers and is living in a hatch that is labeled "quarantine." That just can't be good. But how is that possible? It looks like he's been living a '70s or '80s lifestyle, with the ancient computer and the vinyl record albums, but he met Jack just a few years prior at the stadium, right? Is he the reason Jack is there? Hmm; I think someone's got a lot of explaining to do. Hurley, on the other hand, spilled his guts to the good doctor, and a heck of a lot of good it did him. But at least he had the best quote of the night: "Life's not so bad, right? Sure the Others are coming to, like, eat us all, and every once in a while someone blows up all over you, but you get to sleep in every morning." Nice to know that even when he's totally freaked out, Hugo can keep his priorities straight. I'd expect no less from the golf-course creator.

For all my fellow numbers junkies out there, didja notice that in addition to the injection label, the speedometer on the bike was at 16 mph; when Desmond stopped the safe it looked like it was at 42; the mural on the wall had a painted 108 (the total of all the numbers added together) and that the older person who died in the accident with Jack's future wife passed on at 8:15? Still don't have a clue what it all means, but that's OK. Give me that breathless confusion at the end of each episode and I'm cool with being a little oblivious. But if anyone out there was able to figure out what Walt or figment Walt was trying to say to Shannon, please let me know. That's something I was really curious about, but even playing it back repeatedly didn't help. Oh, and were any other East Coasters a little disturbed that the special report news that aired during the commercials was about an airplane that had to make an emergency landing? Weird timing, but glad their flight had a happier ending.  Angel Cohn

E-Ring
Benjamin Bratt returns to series television as JT Tisnewski, an Army major just back from active duty in Afghanistan. I predict the show will feature a cocky, devil-may-care but extremely capable officer whose unorthodox ways save the day and earn him grudging respect. I predict he'll butt heads with a lower-ranked officer who will nevertheless come through for said cocky officer despite the risks to her position. I predict that in the end it will all work out. What I'm trying to say is that E-Ring is a wee bit... predictable.

The pilot adequately establishes people and personalities who will no doubt clash on a weekly basis as they work together to solve a weekly crisis. While all this setup is happening, a Chinese national spying for the U.S. needs immediate extraction from Shanghai. JT is cocky enough to remind the hesitant Joint Chiefs that in America we do not leave anyone behind. Result? They dispatch a SEAL team to rescue the newly shorn spy and her (tardy) family.

Despite its best efforts, the episode generates precious little tension. With an on-the-run spy carrying sensitive intel on a microchip in her tooth (yes, tooth just like that scene in Dune), I want to wonder is she going to escape? I want to worry that she'll get captured and tortured. I want to fear that my country will get caught in an embarrassing international incident... yet, nothing. The only mystery lies in her frantic and unsubtitled cell-phone calls (to her mother, we later learn). Isn't it risky to be on the phone constantly while the government is hunting for you? "Um, Mom, could you hurry up? We're gonna miss our extraction!" The show does tease us with some Spy 101 maneuvers and a quick appearance change worthy of Alias' Sidney Bristow, but I'm never in the dark about whether our "asset" will be rescued. And I'm never in the dark that JT will save the day. But hey, I predicted that.  RC

Invasion
I have been waiting my whole life for a show like this! OK, not my whole life, but its been a good few months since Ive seen such a solid, exciting, mysterious show. The kind of show that leaves you with more questions than answers Thank you, TV gods.

In one fell swoop, and eerie coincidence, we see Russell Varon (Eddie Cibrian) and his divided family deal with the aftermath of "Hurricane Eve." I loved the warning that aired before the show began, alerting me to the sensitive material. I suppose thats reasonable, given the obvious, though morbid, irony. But hey, at least this Floridian town followed the preparedness rulebook. Eve was so vicious and malicious that the screen door to Russells house was knocked off its hinges, Wizard of Oz twister-style. But, like Uncle Dave (Tyler Labine) mused, the hurricane could merely be "a smokescreen cooked up by the military."

Seriously. Id buy that for a dollar. The mysterious specks of light that burst fiercely from the water early on and the lights little Rosie later witnessed landing in the water are definitely not the norm. Nor is the creepy sheriff (William Fichtner), who looked conspiratorial within seconds. First he quelled his daughters fears by downplaying the storm, wearing a far-off, creepy gaze. The very same gaze he had when he put the entire area under quarantine. And how about that duplicitous look on his face when he was wheeling his disoriented wife out of the hospital the morning after the storm? She knew something was happening to her. But the sheriff merely told Russell and the kids that "tomorrow shell be better than ever." I then realized that tomorrow Mariel would be a Stepford Wife and indeed she was. Its one of those things that makes you go hmm. It sure looks like Uncle Dave was on to something.  Vanessa Rothschild