NEW YORK — As broadcast networks last week rolled out their plans for next season, those watching could be forgiven for pulling out phones and checking the calendar.
The cast of NBC's "Will & Grace" is ready to return. The folks at "Roseanne" are back on the couch. "Dynasty" and "S.W.A.T." will be resurrected with new actors, the latter settling in to a CBS lineup that already boasts "Hawaii Five-0" and "Macgyver." Just a year after its farewell season, "American Idol," too, will live again (on ABC).
With cable and streaming services enticing viewers with bold work such as "Game of Thrones," ''Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale," broadcast networks entered a time machine in a quest to find something appealing.
The reboot of "Roseanne," the hit ABC comedy (1988-97) about a working-class family led by Roseanne Barr, was that network's big surprise.
"The Conners' joys and struggles are as relevant and hilarious today as they were then, and there's really no one better to comment on our modern America than Roseanne," ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said.
CW President Mark Pedowitz said it was a "no-brainer" to order a remake of the prime-time soap "Dynasty." Much of the network's target audience hadn't been born when on-screen divas Linda Evans and Joan Collins engaged in catfights, as they were charmingly called back then.
Networks hope the reheated comfort food will appeal to newcomers, as well as those who remember the original shows.
CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves, who called the "Roseanne" comeback a "stunt" in admiring fashion, suggested too much is being made of the trend.
"When you look at the totality of what's out there, it's really a small part," he said.
ABC's decision to revive "American Idol," likely in the midseason, had other networks rolling out rationalizations that you'd expect to hear from rejected suitors.
Too expensive and too soon, rival executives said.
Networks also seem to be wading more deeply into sci-fi and fantasy genres"Marvel's Inhumans" will air on ABC. CW is adding "Black Lightning" to a comic book-heavy schedule that already includes "The Flash" and "Supergirl." And Fox will air "The Gifted," a drama about children with mutant powers, and comedy "Ghosted," about pals exploring unexplained phenomena in Los Angeles.
Military dramas next season will be strictly elite. CBS is enlisting "Seal Team," which explores the personal and professional lives of members of an "elite Navy SEAL team" deployed on missions worldwide. David Boreanaz ("Bones") stars. NBC's "The Brave," with Anne Heche, is billed as a heart-pounding journey into the world of the "elite undercover" U.S. military. "Valor" from CW tracks an "elite unit" of U.S. Army helicopter pilots whose secret mission goes awry.
Despite the trend to borrow from the past, the network presentations did include some originality.
CBS, for example, has two comedy newcomers that stand out.
"Me, Myself & I" looks at the pivotal moments in a man's life at different times, including age 14 in 1991, 40 in present day and 65 in 2042. The sitcom "By the Book," is about a man who challenges himself to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. It's based on A.J. Jacobs' best-selling book, "The Year of Living Biblically."