The occurrence of charge-density waves in three selected layered transition-metal dichalcogenides-1T-TaS(2), 2H-TaSe(2) and 1T-TiSe(2)-is discussed from an experimentalist's point of view with a particular focus on the implications of recent angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy results. The basic models behind charge-density-wave formation in low-dimensional solids are recapitulated, the experimental and theoretical results for the three selected compounds are reviewed, and their band structures and spectral weight distributions in the commensurate charge-density-wave phases are calculated using an empirical tight-binding model. It is explored whether the origin of charge-density waves in the layered transition-metal dichalcogenides can be understood in a unified way on the basis of a few measured and calculated parameters characterizing the interacting electron-lattice system. It is found that the predictions of the standard mean-field model agree only semi-quantitatively with the experimental data and that there is not one generally dominant factor driving charge-density-wave formation in this family of layer compounds. The need for further experimental and theoretical scrutiny is emphasized.