Emmy nominee Teri Hatcher’s memorable past role
Nominated as Pratfall-prone divorcée Susan Mayer on ABC’s smash soap Desperate Housewives
Also memorable as Scheming, slutty soap star Ariel Maloney in 1991’s broad ensemble comedy Soapdish (with Cathy Moriarty, left)
What you’ll recognize It’s been 15 years since Soapdish, but Hatcher’s natural beauty and ability to nail a punchline remain winningly constant.
What you won’t Ariel’s unabashed flooziness and cutting remarks are far more Edie Britt than Susan Mayer.
EW video grade: ‘Soapdish’ B (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Tony Shalhoub’s memorable past role
Nominated as The obsessive-compulsive title character of USA’s quirky detective series Monk
Also memorable as Fred Kwan, member of a Star Trek-like TV cast who gets pressed into real intergalactic service in the very funny 1999 sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest (with, from left, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tim Allen)
What you’ll recognize At times, Kwan, like Adrian Monk, may have you wondering, ”What planet is this guy from?”
What you won’t Kwan’s delight in exploring new worlds is the polar opposite of what you’d expect from an uptight dude like Monk.
EW movie grade: ‘Galaxy Quest’ A- (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Marcia Cross’ memorable past role
Nominated as Bree Van De Kamp, the tightly wound model homemaker on ABC’s Desperate Housewives
Also memorable as The wildly unstable Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Fox’s Melrose Place (with Thomas Calabro, pictured) from 1992 to 1997
What you’ll recognize Even when her characters are at their most malevolent — Kimberly detonating a bomb at the apartment complex, Bree covering up her son’s deadly hit-and-run accident — Cross’ charisma and darkly comic touch leave you no choice but to cheer them on.
What You Won’t While Cross certainly helped turn the Melrose campfest into appointment television (at its peak, anyway), Desperate‘s subtler story lines and dialogue allow her acting to soar to heartbreaking — and hilarious — new heights.
EW grade: ‘Melrose Place’ C- (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Zach Braff’s memorable past role
Nominated as Goofy physician John ”J.D.” Dorian on NBC’s critical favorite Scrubs
Also memorable as Benji, the bleached-blond, himbo-chasing junior member of a circle of buddies navigating Hollywood’s gay dating scene in the 2000 indie film The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (with, from left, Matt McGrath, Timothy Olyphant, and Ben Weber)
What you’ll recognize The a-dork-able insecurities and quick wit are on full display, only, well, a little bit gayer.
What you won’t Benji’s spiral into the darker territory of addiction and depression would be screechingly out of place on the jaunty Scrubs.
EW movie grade: ‘Broken Hearts Club’ B+ (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Patricia Heaton’s memorable past role
Nominated as Long-suffering wife Debra Barone on CBS’s recently concluded Everybody Loves Raymond
Also memorable as A lovelorn Broadway hoofer in TNT’s 2004 remake of the 1977 Neil Simon film The Goodbye Girl (with Jeff Daniels, left)
What you’ll recognize At the heart of Raymond‘s extended-family zaniness was always the love story between Debra and Ray, so the leap to romantic-comedy leading lady isn’t that much of a stretch for Heaton.
What you won’t For an actress so closely associated with her long-married sitcom character, it’s nice to see Heaton hurl herself into a role that captures both the anxiety and the excitement of budding romance.
EW TV grade: ‘The Goodbye Girl’ B-
Emmy nominee Jason Bateman’s memorable past role
Nominated as Michael Bluth, the only vaguely responsible adult in a family of self-absorbed, greedy lunatics on Fox’s infuriatingly ratings-starved Arrested Development
Also memorable as Teen heartthrob David Hogan, the girl-crazy, vaguely irresponsible eldest son of The Hogan Family, a sitcom that went through three names (it was previously Valerie and Valerie’s Family), two networks (NBC and CBS), and two leading ladies (Sandy Duncan, left, succeeded Valerie Harper)
What you’ll recognize On both series, Bateman provides the comic glue that holds the ensemble together.
What you won’t The Hogan Family was as square and traditional a sitcom as Arrested is outrageous and cutting-edge.
Emmy nominee Felicity Huffman’s memorable past role
Nominated as Hilariously harried stay-at-home mom Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives
Also memorable as Neurotic yet formidable TV producer Dana Whitaker on ABC’s canceled-before-its-time dramedy Sports Night (with, from left, Peter Krause, Josh Charles, Joshua Malina, Sabrina Lloyd, and guest star William H. Macy — who’s also, by the way, Huffman’s husband)
What you’ll recognize There are definitely shades of Lynette in the professionally confident but personally flustered Dana.
What you won’t The sexual tension between Huffman and costar Krause is worlds away from Lynette’s fairly happy marriage. (Now that Krause is free from Six Feet Under, we can hope he’ll turn up as a coworker when Lynette goes back to the office this fall.)
EW grade: ‘Sports Night’ B (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Ray Romano’s memorable past role
Nominated as Well-meaning but doltish husband Ray Barone, a role he inhabited for nine seasons on CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond
Also memorable as Manfred, the curmudgeonly but caring mammoth in the animated hit Ice Age
What you’ll recognize There’s shades of sitcom Ray in Romano’s amusingly droll delivery as a reluctant father figure trying to bring a lost human baby — and a ragtag band of animals — across Ice Age‘s frozen tundra.
What you won’t Well, the physical resemblance between Romano and Manfred gets a little lost behind the fur and tusks.
EW DVD grade: ‘Ice Age’ A (Read the review)
Emmy nominee Jane Kaczmarek’s memorable past role
Nominated as Lois, the frazzled, often frenzied mother of five high-strung boys on Malcolm in the Middle
Also memorable as Robyn, the more relaxed mother of just one boy (Fred Savage, left) in 1988 body-swap comedy Vice Versa
What you’ll recognize Kaczmarek excels at exuding maternal energy, worrying over the details of her son’s schedule as she leaves him with estranged hubby Judge Reinhold for a week.
What you won’t Maybe it’s because she spends most of the movie on vacation from motherhood, but Robyn is missing the explosive edge of the volcanic Lois.
Emmy nominee Eric McCormack’s memorable past role
Nominated as High-strung homosexual Will Truman on NBC’s long-in-the-tooth buddy comedy Will & Grace
Also memorable as Real-life actor-director Mel Ferrer, a breakout performance in the otherwise unremarkable made-for-TV biopic The Audrey Hepburn Story (starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, right)
What you’ll recognize McCormack’s rakish charisma is particularly welcome here, stranded in a sea of dreary impersonations.
What you won’t McCormack’s turn as Ferrer was a rare opportunity to prove his skills beyond light comedy.
EW grade: ‘The Audrey Hepburn Story’ C+ (Read the review)