By Michael Slezak
May 18, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT
  • TV Show

I’m freaking out, PopWatchers — and so are my two overburdened DVRs! As you know, we’re coming to the end of upfronts week, where all the networks announce their fall lineups, including which new series they’ve greenlit, and which old ones they’ve canceled. The hard part for me is that, in the wake of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC’s presentations, it looks like most of my regular fare is returning (yay, Medium!), and there are quite a few freshman shows that look promising, too. Indeed, scads of my favorite actors — Merrin Dungey, Jonny Lee Miller, Mädchen Amick, to name a few — are going to be vying for my attention come September. Still, of all the stars returning to TV this coming fall, I’m probably most excited about Six Feet Under alumna Lauren Ambrose (pictured), who’s been keeping a pretty low profile since her series awesomely brilliant final episode back in 2005. The way Ambrose made Claire both maddening and sympathetic, and the way she brought out the humor in the show’s dark, complex scripts, always made me wonder why she wasn’t a much bigger star. Now that she’s pairing up with Parker Posey and Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino on The Return of Jezebel James, maybe she’ll get her chance. It’s just too bad I’m gonna have to wait till midseason to see it!

Anyhow, after the jump, check out my partial list of the actors headlining the big four’s new fall and midseason slates — if you want to see clips, ABC, NBC, and CBS, and have streaming video — and then weigh in on which star’s return is the most welcome — and why.

addCredit(“Lauren Ambrose: Vince Bucci/Getty Images”)

ABC: Big Shots (Michael Vartan, Dylan McDermott, Christopher Titus, Joshua Malina); Cashmere Mafia (Lucy Liu, Frances O’Connor); Dirty Sexy Money (Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh, William Baldwin); Eli Stone (Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber, Natasha Henstridge, Loretta Devine); Private Practice (Merrin Dungey, Taye Diggs, Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman); Pushing Daisies (Lee Pace, Chi McBride, Swoosie Kurtz, Kristin Chenoweth); Women’s Murder Club (Angie Harmon); Carpoolers (Jerry O’Connell, Faith Ford); Miss/Guided (Judy Greer); Sam I Am (Christina Applegate, Jean Smart, Jennifer Esposito).

NBC: Lipstick Jungle (Brooke Shields, Kim Raver); Bionic Woman (Michelle Ryan, Miguel Ferrer); Life (Damian Lewis, Adam Arkin, Sarah Shahi, Robin Weigert); Chuck (Zachary Levi, Sarah Lancaster)

CBS: The Big Bang Theory (Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco); Cane (Jimmy Smits, Nestor Carbonell, Hector Elizondo, Rita Moreno); Viva Laughlin (Lloyd Owen, D.B. Woodside, Mädchen Amick)

: Back to You (Patricia Heaton, Kelsey Grammer, Fred Willard); K-Ville (Anthony Anderson, Cole Hauser, Tawny Cypress); The Return of Jezebel James (Parker Posey, Lauren Ambrose, Scott Cohen); Canterbury’s Law (Julianna Margulies, Linus Roache); The Rules for Starting Over (Craig Bierko, Rashida Jones); The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Lena Headey, Richard T. Jones)