The Best Shows on TV

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Television

 Now anyone with a high-speed Internet connection can find out what's on TV, watch a favorite show online, and read about the stars that make it great. In this guide, you'll learn about the history of television, how to find reviews, and how to keep your kids safe while watching cable. You can even learn about the pixels and wires that make the whole thing work.

The Best Shows on TV

Although there's a wealth of entertaining and informative content on TV, there is also no shortage of bad programming. With so much available, and an ever-rotating lineup of new favorites, it can be hard to keep track. Never fear: we've compiled a list of resources-including valuable advice from major media sources, blogs, and more-to help you figure it out.

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  • A great place to go for reviews and advice on what to watch is the arts section of your favorite paper. The "Television" section of the New York Times offers TV news, reviews and recaps, as well as a guide to weekly programming. The  Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times (to name a few), offer similar resources.
  • Awards like the Emmys and the Golden Globes are given to the best shows and actors on television. Review the lists of nominees and winners to watch the best of the best-at least according Hollywood insiders.
  • Bloggers are on top of the latest shows and tend to be quite opinionated. Visit blogs for enthusiastic, humorous and sometimes sarcastic reviews of the latest shows. Yes, tastes differ, but as you begin to read a few blogs regularly, you'll figure out which author's opinions align mostly closely with your own.

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TV Listings

With so much to choose from, it's easy to forget when a show is airing. This section of the guide helps you figure out what's on when, so you can schedule your downtime around the shows you don't want to miss-use this to catch your favorite comedies, to plan your party on the night of the big game, or to find out when you can see a rerun of a broadcast you missed.

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  • If you find that you've missed your favorite shows, or won't be able to watch them when they air initially, visit the "Watch TV Online" section of this guide to learn about catching broadcasts on your own time via the Web.
  • If you want to find out what's happening on a specific channel, visit its Web site online for a comprehensive list of programming. For example, visit abc.com for specific show times.
  • Most digital television providers, like Comcast and RCN, offer on-demand services, which allow you to watch movies and shows at your convenience. If you're not sure whether or not you are equipped for this, call your cable provider for more information on how to access it, or to sign up for the service.

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Research TV Shows and TV

Ever watch a show and say to yourself, "I know that actor, but where have I seen him?" The Web makes watching TV a richer experience, allowing you to do some background research into your favorite shows, actors, directors, scriptwriters and more. Research all of the Hollywood resumes that interest you, or read a recap of a show you missed. Use some of the sites provided to research the origins and history of television-including how it works and what early TV sets looked like, for example.

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  • If you want to learn about a show that's still running, and know which station it airs on, visit the show's official homepage. To do this, either enter the show's name into a traditional search engine, or go to the network homepage for a link to the show.
  • If you miss an episode and can't catch it online, visit the episode guides provided by most show homepages. These guides summarize recent plot developments, and are a good way to keep up with a series if you've missed a show or two.

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Watch TV online

The days of scrambling home from school, cutting dinners short, or not making plans on the night of your favorite show are a thing of the past. With nothing more than a standard Internet browser (that's right, no annoying plug-ins to download) you can surf your way to quality programming using your mouse as the remote.

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  • ABC, NBC, and CBS all have high-quality video players showing each station's top shows. And don't miss, of course, the ever-expanding YouTube universe. As you download a show to watch, however, press pause and let the video load fully before you watch it; otherwise, you'll have to deal with choppy streaming and slow-moving images.
  • The shows you watch will likely be interrupted by advertising spots about three times per episode. You'll notice upon opening the player that you can watch individual episodes only until the next commercial. To combat this, try fast-forwarding from commercial to commercial or watching all of them first, and then returning to the beginning to view the whole episode.
  • If you're a video-blogger, budding director, pod-caster, or producer, you should explore independent television as a way to broadcast your work.

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Effects of Televsion on Children

Questionable content and extended viewing hours have made television the subject of much debate, particularly with respect to how it impacts developing children. In this section, we'll point you to studies of the effects of television on children, and give you some advice on monitoring and controlling what your children watch.

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  • Because the Internet makes it easier to download and watch programs online, the computer is quickly becoming another medium you should monitor as your child develops. Be mindful of what your kids are watching both on the TV and on their computers.
  • Having basic familiarity with what's on TV helps you decide what you want your child to watch. Reading the reviews listed earlier in this guide can help you to determine if material is appropriate.

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Cable And Satellite Providers

Need a new cable provider and want to ensure that you're getting the service that's right for you? Use the following links to research the cable companies in your area. By scrutinizing each service, you can get the channel selection you want at the price that fits your budget.

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  • You can learn a lot by asking the people in your area what their experiences have been: ask your neighbors, landlord, or real estate agent for some advice-they may already know the ins and outs of local plans and the best rates in your area. Providers do not necessarily offer the same prices or quality of service nationwide.

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