My 2 year old is FINALLY able to sit and watch a TV program. I know this sounds kind of bad, but it is a relief to be able to do something on my own without having to be at his command. It seems like it took him longer to be entertained by the TV than my daughter who is the eldest. My daughter could be babysat by the TV all day if we would let her, but she is just as happy doing other things: puzzles, coloring, playing with stuffed animals, swinging outside, etc. When we do need a break from her we recommend that she watch TV and she obliges. The cool thing with her is that she will watch Animal Planet non-stop. We do notice a little attitude from her when she ends up watching Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. Generally we prefer that she watch Nick Jr. for younger kids. It is on from 5am-5pm each day locally. And since we have Comcast there are plenty of wholesome "on demand" kids programs that are always available.
I think my choices as a 5 year old were The Lone Ranger, Mr. Rogers, and Sesame Street. I use "choices" loosely because with only 5 channels you watched what was on. Now my daughter could legitimately have over 100 different things to watch and this does not include videos.