34 hours of TV a week? What are people watching?

Americans spent more time in front of the TV than ever before in 2010-an average of 34 hours per person per week, up about 1 percent for the year, according to data from the Nielsen Company.

What on earth are we watching?

Not the news. In spite of a massive oil spill, the ongoing wars, crazy political candidates, and a heated midterm election, all three major cable news networks-Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN-showed a decline in viewership. Instead, people tuned in to reality TV shows and sports and took strolls down memory lane: Eight of the 10 highest-rated telecasts of 2010 were football games, the ratings company found, and the most popular new show was CBS's "Hawaii Five-O," a revival of a 40-year-old cop drama with a super-catchy theme song.

With shrinking household budgets and rising entertainment costs, it's no wonder that people are spending more time in front of the TV and less time (and money) at the movies; if you've shelled out beaucoup bucks for a fancy HDTV, why not let Netflix bring the movies to you?

But even if you actually managed to keep up with the Kardashians, faithfully follow "Glee," root for your favorite team, or catch every iteration of "Real Housewives" and "CSI" on broadcast and cable, 34 hours of TV watching in a week is still an awful lot of tube time-nearly five hours a day, every day. Which shows are worth it? This is definitely not a definitive list, but here's a handful of shows to get you started:

Pretty much anything on the Discovery Channel
"Mythbusters", "Dirty Jobs", and "Planet Earth" are just three of the smart shows this channel has to offer. We like the channel in general, because it has a great mix of information, real-life drama (as opposed to "Jersey Shore"-esque drama), and humor.

"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report"
Not only does it often provide comedy gold, Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" dishes up some of the best news and political commentary out there, often putting "real" news networks to shame with sharp questions and candid interviews. Find balance-or pretend to-by following it up with "The Colbert Report", in which comedian Stephen Colbert makes his point about news and views from the other side of the political aisle. Sure, he's not really a conservative, but he plays one on TV, and brilliantly.

"Phineas and Ferb"
The Disney channel hits a home run with "Phineas and Ferb", a cartoon about two precocious brothers who are determined to make the most out of every day of summer vacation by figuring out ways to make the impossible happen in real life. It also features a positive blended family situation, fun sibling dynamics, an evil villain who creates outlandish inventions, and an unlikely superhero/spy. Creative, intelligent, and interesting.

"How It's Made"

Airing on The Science Channel, a Discovery channel spin-off, behind-the-scenes bonanza "How It's Made" answers the never-ending questions kids, and adults, often ask.

Readers, weigh in: What shows do you think are worth watching?