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As the semester concludes, you might have started to wonder exactly what you’ll do with all that free over break. People will tell you that holidays are for family, reconnecting with old friends and resting up for another productive semester.

Morgan Morel

People are wrong.

Yeah, sure, you probably should talk some politics with the old man over eggnog or take the kid sister out to see “Charlotte’s Web.” Maybe you should even call up the goofy kid with who lived down the street – and don’t rule out getting more sleep. But make sure the faux spirit of commercialized holiday cheer doesn’t limit you to just that.

The holidays are a perfect (and with internships and good weather dominating summer, perhaps the only) time to catch up on things you always wanted to sample, but never did. Of course, I’m talking about the countless TV shows you saw commercials for, but never got around to actually watching.

Most of the top shows on television now will soon go (or already have gone) on hiatus for at least the rest of the month, but networks are banking on reruns to bring in audiences who may have otherwise been occupied in September. NBC, for example, has made all episodes of its popular new drama “Heroes” available for free online until new episodes return Jan. 22. The show was recently named one of the top 10 TV shows of 2006 by the American Film Institute, a big surprise considering NBC’s talked-up new drama and critical darling “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” was left off the list.

Oddly addictive, “Heroes” features an ensemble cast of characters (in the spirit of “Lost,” which is also off the air till February) who discover their superhuman abilities. The plot’s lifeblood is recycled from comic-book fare now more than 50 years old, but the show presents itself in short, calculated trances, making it all riveting. “Heroes” will be the show people talk about once the season finales roll around, so catch up on it while you can.

Speaking of talk, Fox’s “24” will make its long-awaited season premiere in January. But no matter what dastardly seductive terrorist plot Jack Bauer will crush in his sixth season, you can prepare by watching the first five seasons, all out on DVD. It’s a show that’s important to watch episodes linearly and in close proximity, thus lending itself especially well to holiday viewing. You might even consider watching the 24 episodes of each season in 24 hours – but only if getting a better feel for what ass-kicking, federal agent-style, is something you’re into.

Of course, there are many other shows, old and new, available on DVD, and there’s almost certainly something for all those who want some quality TV action to vitalize their break. Don’t think TV shows can quite do that? Clearly, you’ve never seen “Arrested Development.” Yes, now is finally the time to experience what you’ve never seen, despite all the talk you’ve been hearing. All three spectacular seasons of “Arrested” are now on DVD (and they’re pretty cheap, too). So whether you choose your holiday DVD venture wisely (“The Office,” “Seinfeld,” The West Wing,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), poorly (“The O.C.,” “Survivor,” “Smallville”) or conduct your immersion online via reruns, be sure to make TV a part of your holidays. It’ll pass the time nicely and will add years to your life.

What more could you want for Christmas?

– Syed will be watching “24” in 24. E-mail him at galad@umich.edu.

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