We go back and forth ... no tv ... a LOT of tv ... one show a day ... my dd's are 4 & 8, and they know that Mommy is always changing the rules. They don't argue. I'm pregnant, too, and there are days when all I want to do is SLEEP, so when I want to sleep, the girls get to watch tv. That's ok with me. It's safe.
We use Tivo to make tv limits. We record shows that are acceptable, and that's all they get to watch. They are not allowed to watch commercials, and until the oldest learned how to use the remote, they just turned the tv off at the end of the show.
Their shows are limited mainly to channels that don't have ads in the middle of the kids' shows. Our favorites are Sunny Patch (about bugs), Max & Ruby, Arthur, Clifford, Blues Clues, Reading between the Lions, SLOW cartoons. Now that Annie is older, I let her watch Cyberchase and some other "educational" stuff - more variety shows - they also love Little House on the Prairie, Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, cooking, decorating, nature, other shows. Yes, we have cable. I like that they're exploring other shows. I wouldn't suggest those when you are trying to sleep, though, unless you don't mind the advertisements ... Annie can control the remote and forwards through them all (or "rewind" as they both say
Videos that worked for us were any type of singing children collections - Cedermont Kids were our favorites. I don't like the commercialized PBS and Disney videos because they are full of advertising at the beginning - very annoying. Even though they watch those cartoons and know the characters, we have never had big issues with wanting toys with them. We went through a short Blues Clues phase before we remembered that "we" were the parents, and we didn't have to buy the stuff!
oh - and I do not like Dora, Little Bill, or Elmo & most of Sesame St. I'm sure there are others - but we don't experiment much with the cartoons.