We were watching TV and it went out. After pushing the power button, the TV comes on, you can see a picture for a VERY brief second and then goes back off again. The power button blinks red 3 times. The TV is connected directly to an outlet.
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Re: TV turns off
That sounds like a power board problem if im not mistaken where your power cord plugs into the tv there is a board it connects to often times if u plug the tv in and it starts itself or turns its self off its the power board that needs to be replaced which btw is not cheap at all
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the arcing sound is some kind of high voltage leak, which will shut down the tv. pull the speaker grill off and the access board, look at the 3 picture tubes, turn the set on you will see where the leak is, it's usually the high voltage splitter, which has a high voltage wire going into it and 3 high voltage wires coming out going to the picture tubes, if it arcs from the splitter you need to change it, if it arcs from one of the picture tube wires you need to pull the tube out and fix the high voltage leak, and possibly a cooling fluid leak caused it, not an easy reapir, you probably need a repairman.
This sounds like a bad convergence board.
You didn't mention the model but I bet its a samsung rear projection HDTV.
If the convergence board fails, you can diagnose by pulling the power leads to the 3 convergence circuits, then power on the tv, if it lights (picture will have very bad convergence) then that is most likely the cause.
You can usually buy a new convergence board for about $80-$100. Look on eBay by the make and model of the TV.
And its real easy to replace.