I finally had got to watch the pilot episodes of all three of the new alien invasion TV shows: NBC's "Surface," ABC's "Invasion," and CBS' "Threshold." Coming into the fall season, the buzz that I'd read was that "Surface" was bad (bad enough that its name has already been changed from "Fathom") and the other two were good.
Surface: I watched the first 50 minutes and then had to stop watching because my baby son needed to be comforted. If some kind of electrical surge had erased the show from my TiVo, I don't think I really would've noticed. There were too many different threads and characters that weren't interesting, although I will give star Lake Bell her due -- she did not come across as the annoying bimbo that she portrayed on "The Practice" and "Boston Legal."
My impression: sort of like "The Abyss" meets "The X-Files"; probably will last at least half the season.
Threshold: The only of the three shows with a 2-hour pilot, this show had two reasonably well-known actors in Carla Gugino ("Karen Sisco," "Spin City") and Brent Spiner (Data on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"). It also had disgusting bugs, chopped off hands, bad guys inexplicably showing up in the dark, and a recurring fractal pattern. This had by far the most creepy atmosphere, where you really felt that there was an alien enemy, full of malevolence. The end scene was extremely effective. [SPOILER -- three of the main characters are in a car, talking about their fears; the camera slowly pulls away from them, and we see that they are stuck in traffic at night, and as the camera continues to pull away, we see slowly that the headlights of all the cars in the city stuck in traffic form the same fractal pattern . . . .]
My impression: "The Thing" crossed with "The Andromeda Strain"; the time slot is pretty bad (Friday nights at 10/9 central), but if CBS is patient, this could last the season.
Invasion: This had probably the best buzz, but it also had the misfortune to open with a deadly hurricane. I was really disappointed in it. It held my interest so little that I can't even remember much about what happened, or what the aliens are supposed to be (even "Surface" did a better job).
My impression: ????