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Television Shows Worth Making Time For, 11.21.03 ...

Even in the sleepiest season, it's worth setting your alarm for a few TV appointments.

As any viewer knows, this has hardly been a golden fall for the networks. The new shows aren't making much of an impact, and the most popular returning shows aren't as popular this year as they were last.

Still, if you're looking to be entertained after a hard day's work - and for most viewers, that's the function prime-time TV serves - there are still shows that suit the purpose. They may be less plentiful and harder to find than they were last season, but they're out there if you know where to look.

To simplify the search, I'm offering this night-by-night, hour-by-hour, what-to-watch journal, with one critical caveat attached: This is not a list of what I watch, because as a TV critic I'm duty-bound to keep track of a host of shows I'd never recommend to anyone else. That's how I know not to recommend them.

Instead of a critic's journal, think of this as a quick viewer's guide to the best - or, in some cases, the least terrible - shows the broadcast networks have to offer. (Times are ET/PT, and half-hour periods are separated by slashes; in time slots listing two shows, watch the one in bold and record the second, or catch up in reruns.)

8:00 Gilmore Girls, WB; 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, ABC

What's happened to our Girls? While stars Lauren Graham (news) and Alexis Bledel (news) remain as enchanting as ever, their show's string of rambling, virtually plot-free episodes is testing our devotion. (On the other hand, no plot is preferable to plots built around "study trees.") It's enough to send you flying to 8 Simple Rules, which, in its exploration of the family's life after the loss of John Ritter (news), has become one of TV's more interesting sitcom experiments. I'm not convinced the experiment can work, but it has turned an easily ignored show into one worth tracking.
Credit: USAToday

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