Continuous vs independant television shows

There are a number of television shows which I have been MEANING to watch, but just never got around to it. Since some of these are being shown in reruns, I might try to catch up over the summer. Does anyone know if there is a list of independant (shows which can be watched in any order without being lost and confused) vs continuous (shows that MUST be watched in airing order, even going back as far as having to watch from the first season onward)…or better yet, want to make one? I’m mainly focusing on shows still in production, but if you feel like making a nostaglic list, go for it.

I’ll get the list started with the current shows I already know the status of

Independant shows:
The Simpsons
Family Guy
South Park
all of the Law & Orders
all of the CSI’s
Without a Trace
House MD
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Apprentice (I put this show here because I skip episodes all the time and don’t really miss much)
Continuous shows:
The Shield (you can jump in and out at any time and still enjoy it, but you’re going to be missing a lot)
Nip Tuck
The Sopranos

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Arrested Development
Scrubs (you can watch them out of order, but it’s probably better if you don’t)
The Office (same)

You see, I’d argue that House is continuous. I showed my mom the last two episodes of this season because she likes Sela Ward (she’s now addicted to the show, too) and I found that I had to do a lot of explaining about what had gone on in the past, especially about the relationship between Cameron and House.

I haven’t seen the whole season, but I’ve been jumping in and out and don’t think I missed very much. I think that the character development is secondary to the individual disease mystery, which each last one episode and do not connect to each other. Same thing with Without A Trace, and in that case, character development = bad.

The commonly used terms that I’ve seen for these are “serial” and “episodic.”

I also disagree that you should sweat it. Arrested Development, for instance, while it rewards regular viewing, is nonetheless funny as hell even if you don’t watch regularly. I know, because I fell in love with the show after catching two reruns from late in season 1. Same with Buffy. Episodic it certainly is, but up through the middle of the fifth season every episode pretty much stands on its own, with a few exceptions. Even though at the same time, they’re all building the season arc as well.