Hits and misses along the comeback trail

Times Staff Writers

As the old year fades, it’s time to sift through the mountainous kilobytes of pop-culture detritus that has piled up on our computers and in our brains over the last 12 months. Let’s figure out what worked, what didn’t and what’s best forgotten in the new year. Today we examine the best and worst comebacks of 2007: Which of our cultural icons were we glad to see back in the Google search zeitgeist, and which of them do we think were best left . . . unsearched.

Comeback vehicles: “Hairspray,” “Stardust”

When we saw her last: For most of her career Pfeiffer kept up a busy work schedule, filming at least a movie a year since the late ‘70s. But the last time we saw her on the big screen, she was starring as murder mom Ingrid Magnussen in 2002’s “White Oleander.”

Michelle Pfeiffer


Are we glad she’s back?: Oh, yeah. Nobody illuminates a red carpet like Pfeiffer. On the verge of 50 (she hits the half-century mark in April), she looks better than ever.

Comeback rating: 8

Bionic Woman

Comeback vehicle: The NBC series starring Michelle Ryan

When we saw her last: Lindsay Wagner played the role in the ‘70s, and we enjoyed the slo-mo hair-flipping stunts and cool lo-fi sound effects.

Are we glad she’s back?: No. In a world overflowing with “Spider-Man” and “Batman” sequels, it was good to hear that a woman with special powers might get some mass-media attention again. But watching NBC’s remake was a letdown.

Comeback rating: 4

The Spice Girls


Comeback vehicles: 2007 reunion tour, “Greatest Hits” album

When we saw them last: The Spice Girls as a monolithic mainstream entertainment entity officially called it quits in 2000, but as individuals they have never completely gone away. Victoria Beckham has enjoyed Paris Hilton-esque celebrity status in Britain ever since marrying soccer star David Beckham, and the rest of the girls are regular characters in the celebutabs.

Are we glad they’re back?: Hmm. The Spice Girls were never about great music, smart lyrics or awesome dancing. They were about spectacle and having fun, and from all accounts their new tour is lots of fun to look at, if less fun to actually listen to.

Comeback rating: 6/7


Scott Baio

Comeback vehicle: VH1’s “Scott Baio Is 45 . . . and Single”

When we saw him last: Though he’s worked in TV and film in the last decade, he’s still most notable as the manny with the big heart in “Charles in Charge.”

Are we glad he’s back?: No. We were hoping for something a little less sad-sack, a little more upbeat, Baio.


Comeback rating: 2

Christina Applegate

Comeback vehicle: ABC’s “Samantha Who?”

When we saw her last: Back in 2004 Applegate had supporting roles in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Surviving Christmas” that reminded everyone just how funny Kelly Bundy really was. Are we glad she’s back?: America is delighted.


Comeback rating: 9

Britney Spears

Comeback vehicles: The MTV Video Music Awards, “Blackout” album, the tabloids

When we saw her last: America hadn’t heard new Britney material since 2003, when her album “In the Zone” hit record stores. Are we glad she’s back?: She’s entertained us with her daily paparazzi-baiting, she’s raised the traffic on gossip websites around the Web, she’s kept a lot of photographers in business and she’s sold lots of records. But no way, we’re not glad she’s back. In fact, we’d like her to go somewhere far, far away and get better before she permanently injures herself or someone else.


Comeback rating: 2

The Police

Comeback vehicle: 2007 reunion tour

When we saw them last: The Police disbanded in the mid-'80s, and they hadn’t been on the same stage since 2003, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Are we glad they’re back? Our message in a bottle is “no.” But America and the rest of the world appeared to disagree. The band sold out Fenway Park and two shows in Madison Square Garden in 14 minutes.

Comeback rating: 7

Keri Russell

Comeback vehicles: The ’07 films “Waitress” (May), “August Rush” (November)


When we saw her last: Sure, she was featured in movies such as “Mission: Impossible III,” but she hasn’t been the subject of water-cooler conversation since her title role in “Felicity.”

Are we glad she’s back? Yes!

Comeback rating: 7