I'm working my way through the 2007-08 TV season pilot screeners, and thought it time to share my initial batch in a series of kneejerk thoughts. The theme for this one, you might say, is "Ladies first," as it covers ABC's new Christina Applegate comedy, NBC's Bionic Woman and Fox's The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Samantha Be Good (né Sam I Am, thanks to Dr. Seuss), is, I am prompted to rave, an early and huge favorite. I watched the pilot last Friday (and again with the wife on Saturday) and both times was disheartened to see it end. Applegate, you may know, stars as a young woman who awakens from an eight-day coma with no knowledge of what she soon realizes was a very bad-girl past. Pre-amnesia, Sam was a boozing floozy of a party gal who could probably drink Lindsay Lohan under the table... at rehab. Now she's an innocent desperate to come to terms with her "reputation" and prove that she need not revert to it. But oh, is it fun seeing her juggle who she was with who she believes she now can be. Applegate, whom I have never felt one way or another about (save for the way I felt about Kelly Bundy during puberty), charmed my socks off, and her sparkly, bubbly performance dazzled. Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn play her folks, while Jennifer Esposito and Melissa McCarthy ( Gilmore Girls) are friends from two very disparate times in Sam's past life. I loved this show.
My only concern: "It was then that I asked myself: Does television really need another series with voice-over narration? Does a woman always need to speak her mind?"
Mondays-at-9:30 time-slot competition: Rules of Engagement, Heroes, Fox's K-ville and The Game. Perhaps Samantha will emerge as the anti- Rules go-to laffer?
UPDATE: As first reported in my Today's News blog, this series has again been retitled, to Samantha Who?

Bionic Woman snips the "the" from that '70s show's title buts adds state-of-the-art oomph. An Alias for the late-00s, it stars EastEnders' Michelle Ryan as a modern-day Jaime Sommers, no longer a tennis great but nonetheless destined for great upgrades. Save for Miguel Ferrer (as a sort of meaner Oscar Goldman) and Katee Sackhoff (an earlier-edition BW gone horribly awry), the supporting cast sort of blended into the background for me, but again, the pilot is primarily about putting Jaime in dire straits and then forcing upon her the extreme, extreme makeover. The scenes where she test-drives her abilities evokes the first Spider-Man, and an episode-ending fight sequence simply sizzles even as it's drenched in a downpour.
My only concern: Why is Jaime's deaf sister played by a nondeaf actress (the otherwise excellent Mae Whitman)?
Wednesdays-at-8 time-slot competition: Private Practice (aka Grey's Anatomy 2), Criminal Minds, Bones/ American Idol and the CW's Gossip Girl. Bionics or not, that's gonna hurt.
UPDATE: Per the Ausiello Report, Mae Whitman is out as the deaf sister, and the role is being recast.

Lastly - somewhat literally, as Fox isn't premiering it until mid-season - we have The Sarah Connor Chronicles, set 'tween Terminator films 2 and 3. When I first reported on this "spin-off" in my Today's News blog, I had some skepticism; thoughts of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles came to mind. But then you hear the theme, you see that vision of the apocalypse, you see the terminator skin shredded away to reveal endoskeleton... I got shivers. Lena Headey is Sarah, Heroes' Thomas Dekker is savior-to-be John, and - perhaps the neatest twist - Summer Glau is the gal who just might save the family's bacon this time around.
My only concern: The central premise - mom and son elude the latest expressionless robo-assassin while trying to put a proactive end to SkyNet - could get repetitive. But did I mention Summer Glau is the somewhat unexpected butt-kicker?
Sundays-at-9 time-slot competition: Desperate Housewives, Cold Case and Medium - plenty of room for a sci-fi escape.