Pop Culture

Back to the future for these TV stars

Did we step back in time and nobody told us? The broadcast networks announced their new fall line-ups this week, and the roster is full of actors we admire and have missed on the small screen. Who’s baaaack? Here are a few key favorites:

Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and Gillian Anderson are just some of the familiar faces returning to TV next season.

Michael J. Fox, 'The Michael J. Fox Show,'NBC

Beloved actor Michael J. Fox returns home to NBC for a semi-autobiographical comedy in which he plays a news anchor and father of three who stops working after he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Although Fox never really left television — recently he’s had an Emmy-winning turn on “Rescue Me” and an Emmy-nominated arc on “The Good Wife” — this is his first regular role since “Spin City” ended in 2002. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 and went public with his disease in 1998. He created The Michael J. Fox Foundation to fund research to help find a cure. Who isn't rooting for him?

Robin Williams, 'The Crazy Ones,'CBS

The last time Robin Williams starred on a TV show, Ronald Reagan was president and Williams' new co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, was 5 years old. Williams and Gellar are playing a father-daughter duo who run an advertising agency in executive producer’s David E. Kelley’s (“Ally McBeal”) new workplace comedy. Williams put his TV hiatus in context at CBS’ fancy Upfronts announcement to advertisers at Carnegie Hall Wednesday: “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on TV, 30 years, when there were much simpler Upfronts—and a mound of coke.”

Gillian Anderson, 'Crisis,'NBC

It’s been 11 years since “The X Files” ended and Gillian Anderson last starred in an American television series, though, recently she’s appeared on NBC’s mid-season show, “Hannibal.” Now, Anderson plays a Washington, D.C. power broker whose daughter is kidnapped with her entire class during a field trip, igniting a national crisis. It looks like there's a new kind of truth out there.

LindaLavin, 'Sean Saves the World,'NBC

Do you remember the “Alice” theme song? “There’s a new girl in town!” Not so much? We forgive you since “Alice” went off the air ... gulp ... in 1985. But it's not like Linda Lavin disappeared off the face of the earth entirely. She starred in “Room for Two” in the ‘90s and has had many TV guest spots since then. She’s coming back to television to play the pushy mother of a gay single dad (Sean Hayes) who offers a lot of tactless advice. Welcome back.

James Spader,'The Blacklist,'NBC

James Spader’s first foray into television was highly successful: he won three Emmys while starring on “Boston Legal,” which ended in 2008. Since then, he spent one season on “The Office,” and now will helm a new drama in which he plays a former government agent who becomes the world’s most wanted criminal. And, yes, he's trademark creepy.

Christopher Meloni, 'Surviving Jack,'Fox

He hasn’t been away that long, but after many years of playing sensitive NYPD Det. Elliot Stabler on “Law & Order: SVU” and a five-episode stint on “True Blood" as a vampire, Christopher Meloni is ready to show us his lighter side. Based on Justin Halprin’s semi-autobiographical book, “I Suck at Girls,” the coming-of-age comedy features Meloni as the father of a teenage son. But the boy is not the only one who needs to grow up and that's OK with us.