You should be able to recite my pilot disclaimer in your sleep by now: these are just first impressions, not reviews, because too many things can and will change between now and September.
CBS has five new series, but only sent out full pilots for the three below. The vampire detective show "Moonlight" is being retooled, and they say there was never a full pilot made anyway, and all I have of that and "Kid Nation" is the cut-down from the upfront, which I don't want to watch because the cut-downs inevitably give away stuff that I'd rather find out about in context.
Fienberg beat me to the punch for once on the CBS pilots, and once again our thoughts are going to be eerily similar (he even claims that he made a note of the Gary Cole point I make below, but didn't remember to include it in the final version), once again doing little to disprove the theory that we're the same person.
"The Big Bang Theory"
Who's in it: Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons
What it's about: "Beauty and the Geek: The Sitcom," in which two Cal Tech nerds befriend the blonde hottie who moves in across the hall.
Pluses: The traditional setup-joke paradigm is on its last legs, but co-creator Chuck Lorre (of "Two and a Half Men" and "Dharma & Greg" fame) is one of the few working sitcom writers who can occasionally breathe a little life into it. I laughed a few times, particularly at the odd line readings of Parsons.
Minuses: A major plot point of the pilot: the hot blonde's shower breaks, so she has to shower (and parade around in a towel) in the nerds' apartment. This is an actual plot in a sitcom being made in 2007. In general, the show threatens to make "Two and a Half Men" seem like a model of subtlety.
Who's in it: Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo, Nestor Carbonell, Rita Moreno, Polly Walker and more.
What it's about: "Godfather"-style soap about a Cuban-American family trying to protect their sugar and rum empire.
Pluses: Some good performances, especially by Smits and Carbonell, a venue that will give a lot of talented but underemployed Latin-American actors a chance to show their stuff (as regulars or guest stars), and a world that doesn't feel like one I've seen a million times before.
Minuses: The CBS house style gives this a flat, cheap TV look that ruins a lot of attempts to create a "Godfather" vibe (an outdoor party scene that's clearly meant to evoke all those Corleone shindigs seems to have 7 guests). The subplots about the younger generation of the family feel like nothing more than what they are: a futile attempt to get kids to watch an '80s-style CBS soap opera. If this show succeeds, Carbonell may not be able to go back to "Lost," meaning we won't find out whether Richard's immortal or the "Lost" makeup team just had a bad day at the office.
Who's in it: Lloyd Owen, Madchen Amick and, in a semi-recurring role, Hugh Jackman
What it's about: Remake of BBC's "Viva Blackpool" miniseries, a crime/romance/musical hybrid about an aspiring casino owner in a small gambling town.
Pluses: Jackman (who's also a producer) is sensational in his few minutes of screen time, particularly an entrance that has him singing along to "Sympathy for the Devil." (As with the original, the music numbers aren't quite singing and aren't quite lip-synching.)
Minuses: Jackman's future availability is unclear, and the show suffers badly without him. Owen comes across like Gary Cole playing Mike Brady (albeit without the perm, I guess), not nearly charismatic enough to carry such an odd genre mash-up, and Eric Winter seems far too generic to be playing the quirky homicide cop (a role originated by David Tennant). There are only four or five musical numbers in the whole hour. That's probably a fair representation of what production will be able to do on a weekly basis, but the long gaps between songs only serve to remind you that they're by far the most interesting thing about the show.