Hopefully this isn’t as complicated as you feared. This depends on your TV and what else you will be connecting to the system. Here’s a few options for what you are trying to do.1) Direct TV Connection Option: If your television offers an audio output this will be the easiest of the connections, all you do is connect an audio cable from the TV’s audio output (white and red jacks), to the input of your choice on your receiver (TV/SAT, Video 1, AUX, etc). When you want to watch your TV through surround, you turn on your receiver to the correct input and trun on your TV, and you’re good to go. There may be an option in your TV menu as well to leave the audio output as fixed – choose this option if available, this means that as you adjust the volume on your TV, it won’t mess with the sound through the receiver.2) Using a Cable or Satellite Box: If you have a cable or satellite box connected to the TV, the sound quality will be better than coming directly from the TV. For this you will utilize the audio outputs on the back of the boxes, either Analog Audio (red and white), or a digital output (optical or digital coax). From the back of the box, connect one of the cables from the audio out (analog or digital) to your receiver to whichever input you choose, and now when you watch your cable or satellite, you will have sound from your receiver and/or your TV. (This is my preferred choice).3) Using a VCR: If your TV doesn’t have an audio output, and you’re not using a cable or satellite box this is pretty much the only other option (if you have a VCR that is). If you have a stereo VCR and your TV signal (basic cable/antenna) is running through the VCR, you will connect an Audio cable from the Audio output on the back of the VCR to whatever jack you prefer on your receiver. All you do is leave your VCR on when you want to listen to the stereo, and whatever channel the VCR is on, that sound will come through the Stereo as well.
I hope this helps in your quest, I know its a lot of information, but I like being thorough.