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Boomer Stars Are All Over TV

These age 50+ favorites are in new and returning shows

Mark Harmon

People magazine’s "Sexiest Man Alive" of 1986 is now 61 years old. Harmon’s credits include TV classics like St. Elsewhere. Today he headlines the cast of NCIS as it goes into its 11th season as the top-rated scripted drama on TV — and number one show overall last year.

CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Allison Janney

Viewers remember Janney, 53, as C.J. Cregg, the calming, maternal presence for the staff on The West Wing. In the new CBS sitcom Mom, she’s the anti-C.J. — a boozy, impulsive mother who takes in her granddaughter and newly sober daughter (Anna Farris, near left).

Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images

Andre Braugher

The fed-up older police chief trying to reign in a hotshot young detective is an old cop show trope, but if anyone can make the cliché feel fresh, it’s Braugher. The wily vet, 51, pairs up with former Saturday Night Live comic Andy Samberg on the new Fox sitcom Brooklyn Ninety-Nine.

Courtesy Fox/Getty Images

Blair Underwood

The former L.A. Law star (with costar Kenneth Choi) has always had a cocky, brash appeal. He’ll need all his bravado to take on the role of Ironside, the wheelchair-bound detective created by Raymond Burr in NBC’s reboot of the classic cop show. Underwood turns 50 next year.

Will Hart/NBC Universal

Christine Baranski

The veteran stage and screen actress (pictured with TV partner Josh Charles) returns for season five of the hit CBS legal drama The Good Wife. It may be Julianna Margulies’ show, but Baranski, 61, has nabbed four Emmy nominations as the good wife’s boss, formidable attorney Diane Lockhart.

CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Ed O’Neill

His two most famous roles, as Al Bundy on Married… with Children and “Papadaddy” Jay Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family, might just trace the evolution of modern fatherhood over the past two decades. O’Neill, 67 (with TV stepson Rico Rodriguez), stands tall in the pantheon of TV dads.

Peter “Hopper” Stone/ABC/Getty Images

Isiah Whitlock Jr.

On the new ABC sitcom Lucky 7, Whitlock, 58, (with Kim Roberts) is among a group of gas station workers who share a winning lottery ticket. That news might have prompted Clay Davis, the politico played by the actor on The Wire, to utter his famous catchphrase (which we can't reprint here).

John Medland/ABC/Getty Images

Jane Lynch

Leave it to serial scene-stealer Lynch, 53, to turn Sue Sylvester, the abrasive cheerleading coach at McKinley High, into the most watchable character on Glee, Fox’s high school musical drama, which begins a fifth season in September.

Adam Rose/Fox/Everett Collection

Kevin Bacon

As an FBI agent chasing a serial killer, Bacon, 55, stepped into his first regular TV role with Fox’s The Following, and it’s clear he brings star power to the complicated character. It was a breakout midseason hit and returns for its second season in early 2014.

Sarah Shatz/Fox/Everett Collection

Linda Lavin

Lavin, 75, hasn’t been on TV since she was slinging hash at Mel’s Diner in Alice, which signed off the air in 1985. After several decorated decades in theater, she returns to a sitcom as the nosy mom of Will & Grace alum Sean Hayes (pictured) on NBC’s Sean Saves the World.

Courtesy NBC Universal

Mandy Patinkin

As CIA agent Saul Berenson on Showtime’s award-winning Homeland, Patinkin, 60, whose TV credits include Chicago Hope and Criminal Minds, appears to be a caring father-figure and mentor to analyst and operative Carrie (Claire Danes, pictured).

Kent Smith/Showtime/Everett Collection

Whitford and Harden

The West Wing vet Bradley Whitford and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, both 53, play exes on ABC’s new sitcom Trophy Wife. It’s Harden’s first regular role on a network show in a dozen years, though she’s recently had meaty parts on cable hits Damages and The Newsroom.

Peter “Hopper” Stone/ABC/Getty Images

Michael J. Fox

His last regular TV role (Spin City) was a dozen years ago. Since then, Fox, 52, with TV son Jack Gore, has focused on Parkinson’s disease advocacy. He returns in The Michael J. Fox Show, based on his own family ties as a celeb dad living with Parkinson’s and raising kids in Manhattan.

Eric LIebowitz/NBC

Robin Williams

It’s a lot of years since Robin Williams’ previous TV sitcom, Mork & Mindy, but he may be perfectly cast in CBS’ The Crazy Ones. Williams, 62, returns to prime time as an ad man running an agency with his daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar, pictured).

Richard Cartwright/CBS

Ted Danson

CBS struck gold in 2011 when Danson, 65, joined the CSI cast. The series enters its 14th season. (Until recently, Gary Sinise, 58, pictured with Danson, was on CSI:NY.) Danson’s history made a prime-time return appealing: After all, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Monty Brinton/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Tom Selleck

The 68-year-old was already a huge TV star — the man was Magnum, P.I. after all — long before Blue Bloods premiered on CBS in 2010. As principled NYC police commissioner Frank Reagan, he’s as comforting and reliable as a Sunday family dinner.

Jojo Whilden/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Tony Goldwyn

As President Fitzgerald Grant on ABC’s addictive political drama Scandal, Goldwyn, 53, is a brand-new kind of TV commander-in-chief: an Oval Office inhabitant (and philanderer) who isn’t even the most powerful person on his own show. That would be Kerry Washington (pictured), as Olivia Pope.

Michael Desmond/ABC/Getty Images

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