By Joseph Brannigan Lynch
Updated April 19, 2011 at 09:15 PM EDT
Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

After reports of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job, it shouldn’t come as much a surprise to hear that another member of that illustrious trade was caught slacking off. This Sunday, an air traffic controller near Cleveland, Ohio was found out to be watching a movie after he accidentally broadcast three minutes of Cleaner, starring Samuel L. Jackson, to every plane in the airspace he was supposed to be monitoring.

Now, the fact that he was kicking back and watching a DVD isn’t what raised my eyebrows. I just can’t get over the idea that this movie about Jackson cleaning up after crime scenes — which has a 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — is apparently so entertaining this guy couldn’t be bothered to make sure airplanes weren’t about to fly into each other.

But criticism aside, it brings up an interesting question: How often do YOU watch movies or TV shows at work? And what kind of shows gel best with the workplace environment?

Personally, when I was a receptionist (with control of the waiting room TV), I found Turner Classic Movies to be perfect background noise: its steady flow of Hollywood’s Golden Era will never offend anyone who overhears it.

For instance, today TCM is playing 1941’s Blossoms in the Dust, which apparently is the “True-life story of Edna Gladney, who fought for orphans’ rights in Texas.” While I’d probably rather hitchhike to Texas and assist orphans myself before watching this movie, it’s still a much safer bet compared to the line-up on AMC, which has the amazing but workplace-hazardous films Trading Places and Dirty Harry playing this afternoon.

But for most of us computer-bound workers, shows on Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube are most likely to dampen workplace productivity. When I want something beloved and familiar, Arrested Development — with its Ron Howard voice-overs, brilliant Bluth one-liners, and chicken dances — serves as wonderful, relaxing background noise. But if I can concentrate on an entire episode with little interruption, I like keeping up on Modern Family and Parks and Recreation.

What kind of TV shows and movies are you most likely to watch while working? Would you be more likely to turn to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube to keep you from actually doing your job? And what’s the most embarrassing show you’ve ever been caught watching while at work?