TPT:Channels 2 and 17

We can't stand it when a discussion of television prompts some would-be intellectual to sneer, "Oh, I never watch TV. I don't even own a set." Please. Do you hate novels, too, because so many of them are written by the likes of James Patterson and Danielle Steel? Okay, so 90 percent of TV programming is crap—so go find the good stuff. Although pretty much anyone who cares about decent programming has cable by now, we stubbornly continue to find a broadcast channel to praise each year, and while we seriously considered choosing the CW solely on the strength of its South Park reruns, we have to admit that more of that elusive good stuff is to be found on public television than anywhere else on the local dial. As with any station, there're plenty of shows we don't like: the aging-boomer rock concerts and Suze Orman marathons, to name a couple. We won't even talk about the pledge drives. But the percentage of worthy programming here is good: One episode of Frontline, for example, is more informative and engaging than a month of CNN. And if you want to beat CNN, you could do worse than tuning into BBC world news—available here without paying for digital cable. American Experience often does a superb job of tackling big topics, like the building of great cities and the growth of history-changing movements. TPT's weekday kids' programming still can't be beat, while on Saturdays, the station gives us a couple of hours' worth of cooking shows, and not one of them features Rachel Ray. We're partial to America's Test Kitchen: Those food-loving nerds have great hints. Add in eye-opening nature shows; programming for immigrant communities, such as Somali Media; and Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary, and you've got plenty of fodder for arguments with your TV-snob friends.


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