Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to television is getting so much attention that one below-the-title name from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle: Anthony Stewart Head.
For more than five seasons, the British actor added depth and charm to Joss Whedon's groundbreaking 1997-2003 series as mild-mannered librarian Rupert Giles. Head left "Buffy" to return to his native soil for family reasons in 2001, and has spent the ensuing decade working steadily on high-profile U.K. shows like "Little Britain" and " Doctor Who."
But now he'll resume regular duty on an American show, playing the third banana in "Free Agents," an NBC remake of a 2009 British sitcom he was also involved in.
The midseason workplace comedy stars Hank Azaria as a newly divorced father who misguidedly sleeps with a coworker (Kathryn Hahn of "Crossing Jordan"). Head reprises his role as Stephen, the questionable pair's lascivious boss.
Based on the trailer presented by NBC at its upfront Monday, he might be the show's lone bright spot.
Yes, Hank Azaria is a national treasure and has been in need of a live-action TV role to pair with his voicework on "The Simpsons" since his critically acclaimed but little-watched Showtime dramedy "Huff" fled the air after two seasons in 2006. And no, we haven't seen the pilot episode or any clips other than the teaser released by NBC on Monday.
So, let's just call it a hunch that Head might turn out to be the saving grace of "Free Agents." Watch the trailer below and let us know if you agree.
Meanwhile, alumni of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will be all over the TV grid during the 2011-12 season. There's David Boreanaz (who played Angel) and Alyson Hannigan (Willow), of course, who will return for new seasons of "Bones" on Fox and "How I Met Your Mother" on CBS, respectively.
And there's "Grimm," an NBC horror drama created by former "Buffy" scribe David Greenwalt and "Angel" producer Jim Kouf that will air Fridays this fall.
But the big news is that the CW is expected to confirm reports Thursday that it has given a series greenlight to "Ringer," the thriller that Sarah Michelle Gellar (the Buffmeister herself) shot for CBS.
Now if only Whedon were launching another high-concept, ratings-averse series, we'd really have something.