This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: December 2, 2004

The Web for couch potatoes

Web resources can provide those of you who admit to being couch tater tots, if not actual couch potatoes, with all sorts of information that make television viewing more convenient, interesting and enjoyable.


A number of Web sites let you build a TV grid on your own personalized portal page so you know what programs are airing at any given time. For instance, My Yahoo! ( and My Way ( both have sections for television preferences. The sites require you to register (free) and to establish a username and password. You then can enter your zip code and/or your cable provider and pick the channels you watch regularly. If you are less interested in constructing a portal page, something like Yahoo! TV ( may be ideal for you as it provides TV entertainment news and gossip, Nielsen ratings and other features, including preview clips and soap opera daily recaps. TV Guide ( has similar information, plus other extras, such as the TV Guide cover gallery and the TV Guide crossword puzzle.

If you're interested in a show that's no longer in production or perhaps want information on a show in development, then TV Tome ( may be for you. The site creators' stated goal is "to create the greatest TV episode and actor guide ever." While it isn't quite there yet, TV Tome is nonetheless a good start in that direction. It has a fairly complete listing of television shows—old and current—with hyperlinked credits, synopses, general information and in some cases, reviews.

For more comprehensive coverage, the Encyclopedia of Television ( offers more than 1,000 essays on various programs, actors, topics, writers, directors and producers. Many people who are more interested in movies, particularly for specific actors, may wish to check out TV-now (, which has a great search feature. This allows you to enter a performer's name and find out which of his or her movies will be airing on television.

Then there are those Web sites that aren't quite in the mainstream. Television Without Pity ( provides viewers with very detailed, very funny, relentlessly sarcastic recaps of a select number of popular shows. The site's motto is "Spare the snark, spoil the networks," and it means it. In addition to the recaps, it also has numerous forums where viewers can discuss programs. Another slightly different site, Jump the Shark ( is one that attempts to capture and categorize the moment at which our favorite TV shows peaked. The phrase "jumping the shark" actually originated from this site.

So, whether your taste runs to educational programming or reality TV, you can find great resources on the World Wide Web.

—Michelle L. Zafron, University Libraries