I used to hate TV. I would watch old movies, and sometimes the news, but episodic TV left me cold. For nearly 30 years, I could count the number of series I enjoyed on my fingers. Even then, I might watch a few episodes of something different, like "Miami Vice" (which for all of its problems introduced a number of concepts, like fast cutting and had great music and a very distinctive look)and then just stop watching, my interest dissapated by poor writing or hackneyed plots.
So what in the world changed? I now watch a couple of hours a night, and at least half is episodic. Favorites include Eleventh Hour, The Closer, Numbers, Bones, Terminator, Batman brave and Bold, Burn Notice, and I flicker in out out of love with Reaper, Psych, Monk, and the sadly canceled Life on Mars. Weird, because at the same time as I have less time than ever in my life, I am pausing everything to watch a couple of hours of the tube each night.
Two things, I think. For one, even though there is a lot of copy catting and far too many CSI types of shows on, the overall quality is much much higher. Complex, mutilayerd plots from show like Heroes and Lost have shown that viewers don't always have to be spoon fed. Production values are infinitly higher than they were in my childhood, and some of the best film directors have no problem helming TV projects. Actors move much more comfortably between big screen and small. TV is just better done now, in general.
The other thing is technology. LCD makes everything look better, but the big thing is tivo. Being able to watch whatever I like when I have time makes the TV my servant, rather than the other way around. I can also deal with one of my pet peeves, the two part episode, by tivoing both and watching them together.
Finding that 3AM History Channel documentary on the Hittites and watching it right after dinner is pretty cool, too.