My GeForce4 MX 440-SE has TV out, but I have never used it so I've never configured it.
However, if you haven't tried it already, try putting this in your shell's startup file:
for bash, in ~/.bashrc or zsh, in ~/.zshrc:
for tcsh, in ~/.tcshrc:
setenv __GL_SYNC_TO_VBLANK '1'
Then logout and log back in and try playing something again. I have never experienced tearing/shearing myself, but the README file that ships with the driver says to use it to prevent it because it syncs the video with the monitors refresh rate.
Hope this helps.