The 20 best TV returns of 2018

Fanning Out

Kelly Clarkson of "The Voice" Monday and Tuesday on NBC

Noting some talents we were especially glad to see make comebacks

Lots have tried, but it’s never a guarantee that a familiar television face will have success in returning with another show. And it’s oh, so sweet when he or she does.

Happily, there have been many such cases in 2018 – so many, we had to limit the list to 20. Here’s a look at some of the comebacks that impressed us over the past 12 months.

Amy Adams in “Sharp Objects”

Amy Adams, “Sharp Objects,” HBO: Adams did a good amount of TV work early in her career, almost starring in a series spinoff of “Cruel Intentions” … but even those who know her film achievements had to sit up and take notice of her image-busting portrayal of rough-around-the-edges reporter Camille Preaker.

Patricia Arquette, “Escape at Dannemora,” Showtime: Factoring in her physical alteration for the part, the Oscar and Emmy winner clearly embraced every aspect of playing a real-life prison employee who abetted two inmates’ getaway.

Beth Behrs, “The Neighborhood,” CBS: Many of the most appealing aspects of the alternately grounded and wacky Caroline on “2 Broke Girls” have been rechanneled by this actress into her new wife-and-mother role.

Rachel Bilson, “Take Two,” ABC: This spirited actress still reflected the energy of “The O.C.’s” Summer, and gave some knowing winks to her profession, as a disgraced actress turned amateur sleuth.

Connie Britton, “Dirty John,” Bravo: Certainly no stranger to series work, Britton displayed a fresh vulnerability in the true saga of a woman swept off her feet by a beau who ultimately wasn’t who he seemed.

The Netflix series “A Little Help With Carol Burnett”

Carol Burnett, “A Little Help With Carol Burnett,” Netflix: It feels a bit odd to cite one of the most enduring of all TV stars for a “comeback,” but the beloved Burnett repositioned herself wonderfully as the mentor to a group of youngsters who dispensed their brand of advice to adults and other kids alike.

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson, “The Voice,” NBC: Even host and producer Carson Daly has said that the lively, no-holds-barred presence of the first ”American Idol” has given “The Voice” a real shot in the arm …and it also hasn’t hurt that she’s coached the winners of both seasons she’s been on so far.

Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” FX: Criss has said that one of the chief appeals in reuniting with producer Ryan Murphy would be the vast difference in what he had done on “Glee,” and his much-honored performance as the lethal Andrew Cunanan surely bore that out.

Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose,” Showtime: Certainly, the vice-indulging character in the adaptation of this series of novels took Cumberbatch far away from his interpretation of Sherlock Holmes – and very impressively so.

Nathan Fillion stars in “The Rookie”

Nathan Fillion, “The Rookie,” ABC: It’s little wonder that Fillion’s novice and presumably overage police character fits him so well, since a former “Castle” colleague designed it with him specifically in mind.

John Goodman, “The Conners,” ABC: It is no small thing that Goodman has resumed the role of Dan Conner, and it could be argued that it means even more to “Roseanne” in its spun-off form to have him as its rudder.

Brandon Micheal Hall, “God Friended Me,” CBS: A year after he was supposed to be ABC’s next big thing in “The Mayor,” Hall rebounded quite nicely as the earthly vessel for the deity’s supposed use of social media to impact others’ lives positively.

Kristin Kreuk stars in “Burden of Truth”

Kristin Kreuk, “Burden of Truth,” The CW: After dealing in the realm of fantasy in her earlier series, Kreuk was appreciably down-to-earth as both a star and producer of this drama about a lawyer dealing with hometown loose ends while tackling a challenging case.

Leighton Meester, “Single Parents,” ABC: As impulsive as her Blair was on “Gossip Girl,” Meester’s Angie is now reasonably levelheaded yet amusing in her reactions as she faces all sorts of parenting situations.

Patton Oswalt, “A.D. Bio,” NBC: A player for all occasions in everything from “The Goldbergs” (which he narrates) to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” this sly comedian was destined for a permanent role – and he’s landed a good one as a school principal who’s the nemesis of a certain faculty member.

Missy Peregrym, “FBI,” CBS: Federal agent Maggie Bell is more than a mere extension of Peregrym’s Andy McNally on “Rookie Blue,” with the actress successfully adding new levels of emotional depth to her current character.

James Roday, “A Million Little Things,” ABC: Roday has adapted many of the traits that made “Psych’s” Shawn quirky yet endearing to making this drama’s Gary abrasive yet compelling.

Melissa Roxburgh, “Manifest,” NBC: Her run on “Valor” was relatively brief last season, but Roxburgh has bounced back superbly as police detective Michaela, whose return after five years as a missing plane passenger has given her – to put it mildly — a lot to deal with.

Emily VanCamp of 'The Resident' Monday on Fox
Emily VanCamp stars in “The Resident”

Emily VanCamp, “The Resident,” Fox: She’s played innocent on “Everwood” and “Brothers & Sisters,” and cunning on “Revenge,” but this medical drama is letting VanCamp display another side in skillfully merging the personal and professional as nurse practitioner Nicole.

J.K. Simmons, “Counterpart,” Starz: Suitable for his Oscar-winner stature, the ever-reliable Simmons has been given – and has handled brilliantly — the task of playing two slants on the same character, making for double the pleasure in watching him do it.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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Dec 28, 2018 10:45 am

Kristin Kreuk with compeling ‘Burden of Truth’.
Best show on CW.

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