This coming Independence Day weekend in America offers plenty of patriotic specials, movie and series marathons, sports and more that let you exercise your freedom to sit in front of your TV and channel-surf to your heart’s delight. Here are a few highlights. All times Eastern unless otherwise noted; programming subject to change:
Wimbledon Tennis: Ladies’ Semifinals – July 1 live and tape at noon on NBC (check local listings).
John Wayne All-American Weekend – July 1 at 8pm through July 5 at 4:15am on AMC. Nonstop airings of The Duke’s classic movies, with titles including his memorable Westerns like Rio Bravo and network premiere of The Horse Soldiers, as well as his war films like Operation Pacific and the network premiere of The Wings of Eagles.
“Royal Pains” marathon – July 2 at 6am through July 3 at 4am on USA Network. All-day airings of episodes from USA’s hit comedy/drama series.
America Celebrates July 4th at Ford’s Theatre – July 2 at 9pm on ABC. Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell hosts this annual gala, which this year features appearances by Kelly Clarkson, Dick Van Dyke, Renée Fleming, George Lopez, Lionel Richie and Robin Roberts, along with performances by Laura Michelle Kelly and Gavin Lee from the Broadway company of Mary Poppins, and by The Soldiers’ Chorus of the United States Army Field Band.
Wimbledon Tennis: Gentlemen’s Semifinals – July 2 live and tape at noon on NBC (check local listings).
“Deadliest Catch” marathon – July 3 at 9am through July 5 at 3am on Discovery Channel. Marathon of Discovery’s hit series about Alaska crab fishermen.
Wimbledon Tennis: Ladies’ Final; Men’s Doubles Final; Ladies’ Doubles Final – July 3 live and tape at 9am on NBC.
The Revolution – July 3 at 11am through July 4 at 4am on History. A daylong marathon of the series that explores the American Revolution.
Tour de France – begins July 3 at 11:30am on Versus. The prestigious bicycle race again is covered live on Versus. The July 3 coverage is of the “prologue,” an individual time trial held in Rotterdam (the first foreign start of Le Tour since Amsterdam in 1954). On July 4, Stage 1 begins at 8:30am with the route from Rotterdam to Bruxelles, and on July 5 Stage 2 coverage, from Bruxelles to Spa, begins at 8:30am.
John Adams – July 3 at 8pm through July 4 at 4:40am on HBO. All seven episodes of the acclaimed miniseries about one of the great Founding Fathers and the first 50 years of the United States, featuring Emmy-winning performances from Paul Giamatti as John Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams.
“Star Wars” marathon – July 3 at 10pm through July 5 at 3am on Spike. Airings of all six films in George Lucas’ classic fantasy saga.
NFL Network “Hard Knocks” Marathon — July 4 beginning at 3am ET. As part of NFL Network’s programming for the holiday weekend, the network will air a special marathon of the NFL Films-produced series Hard Knocks. Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Baltimore Ravens from 2001 kicks off the marathon Sunday at 3:00 AM ET, followed by the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs at 9:00 AM ET and the Dallas Cowboys from 2002 beginning at 2:00 PM ET. The Emmy-award winning Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals makes its NFL Network debut Sunday, July 4 at 8:00 PM ET with episode #1 of the fifth season. The remaining four episodes from season five will debut chronologically, with one episode per night Monday, July 5th through Thursday, July 8th, also at 8:00 PM ET. An encore of the entire fifth season airs Sunday, July 11th beginning at 8:00 PM ET.
Christmas in July – July 4 from 8am to 8pm on Chiller. A marathon of scary Yuletide-related shows and movies, including episodes of Tales From the Darkside and The Twilight Zone, and movies like Jack Frost and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
America: The Story of Us – July 4 from 8am-8pm on History. History shows the entire 12-hour run of its ratings-busting chronicle of American history from earlier this year.
The Revolutionary War – July 4 from 9am-8pm on Military Channel. Episodes from a series that chronicles the American Revolution.
Wimbledon Tennis: Gentlemen’s Final; Mixed Doubles Final – July 4 live and tape at 9am on NBC.
“The Greatest American Hero” marathon – July 4 at 9am through July 5 at 5am on Syfy. Syfy replaces its annual Twilight Zone July 4th marathon with a day of episodes from this ’80s show probably more remembered for its title tune than for William Katt’s performance as a teacher suddenly empowered with super abilities by an alien suit.
National Park specials – July 4 from 9am-8pm on National Geographic Channel. A day of specials looks at the natural beauty of America. Programs include America’s Wild Spaces: The Everglades; America’s Wild Spaces: Grand Canyon; Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park; Secret Yosemite; America’s Wild Spaces: Canyonlands; America’s Wild Spaces: Death Valley; Conquering Niagara; Secret Yellowstone; America’s Wild Spaces: Hidden Hawaii; and finishing with the world premiere of America’s Wild Spaces: Pacific Crest Trail at 7pm.
Life – July 4 at noon through July 5 at 6am on Animal Planet. A marathon of episodes from Discovery’s amazing natural history series from earlier this year.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest – July 4 live at noon on ESPN. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, held every year at the Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn, N.Y., used to be Takeru Kobayshi’s domain. The Japanese competitive eater, known as “Tsunami,” won the event for seven straight years from 2001-06, and appeared to be an unbeatable eating machine. But no longer. Enter American Joey Chestnut, who overthrew Kobayashi in 2007 and has won the event the past three years. Last year, Chestnut set a new world record by eating 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, beating runner-up Kobayashi by three and a half dogs. If you can stomach it, see who will come out on top this year as the world’s most prestigious competitive eating competition returns.
1776 – July 4 at 2:30pm on TCM. This is the 1972 film of the musical about how the Founding Fathers struggled to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Oh Say Can You O.C. – July 4 from 3pm through 7pm on SOAPnet. Four of the best episodes of The O.C., including the series finale.
“Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” marathon – July 4 at 3pm through July 5 at 2am; and from July 5 at 1pm through July 6 at 2am on Travel Channel. Follow Bourdain on some of his more memorable trips in this marathon of episodes.
Yankee Doodle Dandy – July 4 at 5:30pm on TCM. James Cagney stars in this spirited biography of song-and-dance man George M. Cohan, who kept America humming through two world wars.
A Capitol Fourth – July 4 live at 8pm on PBS (check local listings). Jimmy Smits hosts this annual favorite, now in its 30th year on the air. Airing live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the concert celebrates America’s birthday with performances by Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, classical pianist Lang Lang and more, along with spectacular fireworks. A replay follows immediately.
Classic Americana – July 4 at 8pm on TCM. Turner Classic Movies celebrates Independence Day with two all-American musicals: Bye Bye Birdie and Oklahoma!
The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular – July 4 at 9pm on NBC. NBC again partners with Macy’s to celebrate our nation’s birthday with a brilliant fireworks display over New York City. Includes performances by Justin Bieber, Enrique Iglesias and LeAnn Rimes, along with an appearance by the cast of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Nick Cannon and Alison Sweeney host.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular – July 4 live at 10pm (tape-delayed PT) on CBS. Toby Keith performs in this special broadcast from the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, hosted by Craig Ferguson for the fourth consecutive year. Keith performs some of his biggest hits with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra under the direction of conductor Keith Lockhart. The final 20 minutes of the broadcast, featuring the fireworks display, will air commercial-free. New this year, the entire concert will be broadcast in high definition.
“Cake Boss” marathon – July 5 from 6am through 10pm on TLC. Day of Cake Boss episodes leading into the premiere of three special “pop-up” episodes called Cake Boss: Icing on the Cake starting at 8pm.
“Dirty Jobs” marathon – July 5 from 9am through 8pm on Discovery Channel. A daylong marathon of Discovery’s popular show, featuring Mike Rowe hard at work on some pretty filthy tasks.
Band of Brothers – July 5 at 9:30am through July 6 at midnight on Spike. All 10 episodes of the powerful 2001 World War II miniseries from producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
A Capitol Fourth – Credit: Capital Concerts
John Adams — Credit: Kent Eanes/HBO
America: The Story of Us — © AETN. Credit: Charlie Sperring
Life — © Norbert Rottcher