• Image about gordon-ramsay-curb-your-enthusiasm-food-jack-bauer-americanway

Between TiVo, DVDs, Hulu.com, and iTunes, the world of TV -- past and present -- is yours to control. With such limitless options, there’s no sense in wasting time on overrated programming. Here are five better, less-hyped alternatives to some cult favorites.

OVERRATEDALTERNATIVE
SeinfeldReason We know. Blasphemy, right? But the truth is, the show no longer holds up. Characters seem one-note; Jerry’s constant smirk is now more annoying than charming. And jokes about puffy shirts and “the contest”now seem tame.Curb Your Enthusiasm
(HBO)
Reason The exploration of the id of Larry David (who was head writer and cocreator of Seinfeld) seems more fully realized. And the supporting cast, especially Cheryl Hines as his long-suffering wife, is excellent.Available A seventh season is scheduled to hit HBO in early 2009. Until then, you can catch up on seasons one through six, which are available on DVD (prices vary, HBO Home Video). Or set your TiVo to catch the frequent reruns.
24, Season 6
(Fox)
Reason After six seasons, the high-level double-crosses and rogue agents have, in the immortal words of The Simpsons’ Waylon Smithers, crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy.24, Season 2
(Fox)
Reason Ah, 2002: when Dennis Haysbert was president, not an insurance pitchman; when Elisha Cuthbert was Jack Bauer’s daughter, not an NHL puck bunny; when dumping nukes in the desert seemed fresh and new. Rediscover the joy of everyday villainy and its butt-kicking enemy, Jack Bauer.Available On DVD
($70, 20th Century Fox)
I Love the …Series
(VH1)
Reason Swimming through the pop-culture week-that-was on Best Week Everis fun, but these spin-offs, designed to mesh our needs for nostalgia and snark, are tired and, too often, not funny.The Soup
(E! Entertainment Television)
Reason Host Joel McHale is the merry ringleader of this Dada-esque carnival of the zeitgeist. Translation: He makes really funny jokes as he shows clips from reality TV, newscasts, soap operas, and interview shows. His sensibility is goofy and sublime, and it permeates every bit.Available New episodes air Fridays at 10 p.m. (ET). Missed a show? Full episodes are available for purchase and download on iTunes. You can also check out clips on Hulu.com.
Gossip Girl
(CW)
Reason This is Beverly Hills, 90210 transplanted to elite Manhattan private schools and updated with more drugs and sex. If it was at all emblematic of real teen life, it might be worth a guilty-pleasure viewing. Alas …Freaks and GeeksReason It’s set in the early ’80s, but this look at teen ennui is timeless. The cast of this one-season wonder was amazing, especially ER’s Linda Cardellini and Spider- Man’s James Franco. If you don’t tear up during the pilot episode’s final dance scene, you are an android.Available The six-disc complete series is available on DVD ($70, Shout Factory).
Hell’s Kitchen
(Fox)
Reason Gordon Ramsay is a great chef and, unfortunately, a tremendous ham. As a head chef deciding which contestant will get a high-profile culinary position, Ramsay spits and screams and generally makes watching the show unbearable.Jamie at Home
(Food Network)
Reason Now here’s a Brit who cares more about food than posturing. Jamie Oliver takes long-neglected gems from his own garden (broad beans, for example) and shows how to make fresh, lovely dishes at home. Plus, he’s a charming goofball.Available Episodes air Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. (ET).