The absence of Sidney Prescott and company from something bearing the Scream title takes getting used to, I won't lie. It's a bit of a jolt for someone familiar with the original storyline to embrace an entirely new one. The new storyline seems like a pretty good one so far, though, with some pretty cool new characters, and once I had embraced it, I began to understand why the showrunners might do things this way.
It's not likely MTV could have gotten Neve Campbell, David Arquette or Courtney Cox to reprise their cinematic roles for a TV series. Snagging even one of those three would have been a minor miracle. None of those stars are exactly in the age range of MTV's target audience, anyway. If the show did bring them back, it would likely be to kill them off, which could end up being seen as a pretty ignominious end for characters that survived being stalked by seven separate Ghostfaces over four films. By crafting an entirely separate mythology, the TV show can do its own thing without pee-peeing all over what has come before.
Judging from the pilot, the tv show certainly deserves to do well. It's absorbing on its own terms, while retaining many of the elements that were great in the movies. The opening scene suggests that this version of Scream may prove more adept than ever at using technology to stalk and bedevil its characters (and at demonstrating just how useful smartphones often aren't when you really need them). The franchise's "meta" aspect is firmly intact, allowing for some amusing (and probably necessary) exposition about what viewers can expect as we transition from film to TV. It even seems like they did a good job of crafting a decent whodunit to carry us through a full season.
This first episode goes a long way towards developing a few characters in its ensemble, such as Noah (played by John Karna), Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), Kieran (Amadeus Serafini) and Brooke (Carlson Young). Whether or not you like them, you can get a decent sense of who they are, (or seem to be, since we're talking about Scream). Some of the other characters will need significant fleshing out if they're intended to survive much longer. Seeing how the show does that while maintaining a lively pace will, of course, be the real test. Early in the pilot, Noah says it can't be done, because "slashers burn fast and bright." I find myself hoping he's wrong and I'll be sticking around to find out.
Terrified girl to smartphone: Call 911!
Smartphone: Calling Pottery Barn.