By Lynette Rice
Updated February 25, 2009 at 06:00 AM EST
Credit: Cliff Lipson

Our parents probably wouldn’t be pleased: According to a new study by the Nielsen Co., we Americans averaged 151 hours of TV during the fourth quarter of 2008, up from a mere 146 hours during the same period the year before. Now, these stats could be interpreted in two ways. There were a few more originals airing at the end of last year versus the end of 2007, when the writers hit the picket line for what ended up being a 100-day labor dispute. Or it could just mean that TV seemed a heckuva lot more interesting this time around.

I’m thinking it’s more of the latter; in fact, just about every broadcast network has a show that’s up in viewers this season, be it Bones on Fox, Smallville and Supernatural on the CW, or NCIS and Ghost Whisperer (Ghost Whisperer!) on CBS. Are these shows any better than they were in previous seasons? Maybe, but I also suspect that — with the economy being in the crapper and all — a lot more people rediscovered TV after realizing that it’s much cheaper to enjoy Simon Baker in The Mentalist (pictured) than Clive Owen in The International.

What about you? Are you watching more TV these days? What shows have you discovered for the first time this season?

addCredit(“Cliff Lipson”)