The best of midseason family TV

Mar 25, 2010 at 6:18 p.m. ET

As we settle into the doldrums of winter, one of the bright spots is the midseason shows the television networks put on for our viewing pleasure. Sure, you're eagerly awaiting the return of favorites like Lost and 24, but what about your kids? Is there anything you can watch together as a family?

Thankfully, yes, there are a few great family shows on the midseason schedule, so fire up the DVR and get ready for some family viewing time.

American Idol

If you're an American Idol fan, you'll enjoy the new season, which starts on January 13 on FOX. The show dominates the schedule, as usual, so start planning your viewing parties now.

If you like AI, be sure to catch the new Superstars of the Dance, an Olympic-style dance-off with international contestants, premiering January 9 on NBC.

Friday Night Lights

Also in January, Friday Night Lights returns to NBC on January 16. This is a show you can watch and enjoy with your teens -- granted, you'll identify with different characters, but the situations are real, and the show provides good opportunities for discussion.

Secret Millionaire

If you were busy in December, you might have missed the newest reality offering from FOX -- Secret Millionaire, which aired 6 episodes over two weeks in December. However, you can catch full episodes of the show online, and it's well worth the effort. The show sends real millionaires incognito and lets them give away large sums of money to help others in need. It's a fabulous, feel-good show that can help you find ways to talk to your own kids about giving back, no matter what your financial circumstances. It's also a great springboard for talking about important social issues, and highly recommended to watch with kids from about 4th grade and up.

What Would you do?

And for another reality show with a fantastic twist, check out the January 6 return on Primetime: What Would You Do? on ABC, which uses hidden cameras to uncover how people act when they think no one's watching. This is a fascinating look at the difference between what we say we'll do, and what we really do, and it's a great show to watch with tweens and teens. Tip: talk to your kids about the difference between this show and other "reality" shows, where participants are behaving the way they want others to view them. Interesting discussions are sure to follow.

America's Funniest Home Videos

It's true that there aren't a lot of midseason evening shows you can watch with the youngest kids in your house. But you can always set the DVR to catch episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos, which is a perennial favorite with the under 10 crowd. Spend some quality time with your family this winter, and be sure to use the shows you watch as a gateway to a closer relationship.

For more family-friendly television shows:

Celebrity Family Feud returns to TV
Why we love ABC's Wednesday comedies
Dancing With the Stars is back!

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