The Independence Day holiday in America falls on a Wednesday this year, which may put some people in a sort of No Man’s Land, where it might be kind of hard to stretch that into a long weekend. But, if you do have any time off on and around July 4 this year, TV once again will accommodate you if you choose to exercise your right to kick back on the couch. Whether you are feeling in a patriotic mood, or want to catch up with hit series or check out some films, the various marathons and specials the networks are presenting over this Fourth of July holiday should give you some fireworks.
Here are some of the marathons, movies, sports and specials airing over this Independence Day. All times are Eastern; programming is subject to change. Check back for additions and updates.
Spike Force of July Movie Marathon — July 1-7. Each night, Spike will show back-to-back airings of a Star Wars movie. Episode I: The Phantom Menace airs July 1 at 5:30pm & 8:45pm; Episode II: Attack of the Clones July 2 at 5:30pm & 8:45pm; Episode III: Revenge of the Sith July 3 at 5:30pm & 8:45pm; Episode IV: A New Hope July 4 at 6pm & 9pm; Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back July 6 at 6pm & 9pm; and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi July 7 at 5:30pm & 8:45pm. (No movies air July 5 because of wrestling).
Dancing With the Stars Season 5 Marathon — July 2, 8:30am-3pm, July 3, 9am-3pm and July 4, 9am-3pm on GSN. Season 5 of the hit competition series has been acquired by GSN, which airs the episodes over the course of this three-day marathon. The stars in this season were Marie Osmond, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mark Cuban, Mel B, Jane Seymour, Wayne Newton, Jennie Garth, Helio Castroneves, Josie Maran, Albert Reed, Sabrina Ryan and Cameron Mathison.
Can’t Get Enough: Independence Day — July 2, 8pm & 11pm; July 3, 8pm & 11pm; July 4, 8pm & 11pm. AMC airs back-to-back showings of the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day three nights in a row.
Law & Order: SVU Marathon — July 3, 6am-11pm; and July 8, noon-11pm on USA Network.
Wimbledon Tennis: Ladies’ Quarterfinals — July 3, 8am-1pm on ESPN; July 3, 7am-4pm on ESPN2.
Aerial America Marathon — July 4, 6am-8pm on Smithsonian Channel. This series takes a high-flying, high-definition tour over America’s most magnificent and cultural landmarks.
Cake Boss Marathon — July 4, 6am-noon on TLC.
The Revolution — July 4, 7am-8pm on History. A documentary series about the American Revolution.
The Presidents Marathon — July 4, 7am-8pm on H2. Most of the episodes of the series that looks at America’s presidents through the prisms of their historical eras.
Dog Whisperer Marathon — 7am July 4 to 8am July 5 on Nat Geo Wild. Some of Cesar Millan’s most memorable moments working with problem dogs and their owners.
The Game Marathon — July 4, 8am-midnight on BET. Episodes from Season 2 and 3 of the comedy series.
Wimbledon Tennis: Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals — July 4, 8am-3pm on ESPN; July 4, 7am-4pm on ESPN2.
July Fourth Huboom-A-Thon Marathon — July 4, 8am-7pm on The Hub. Back-to-back marathons of Transformers Rescue Bots (8am-noon), The Super Hero Squad Show (noon-4pm) and Transformers Prime (4-7pm). Each episode of the half-hour animated series will celebrate themes of heroism, encouraging kids and their parents to observe this patriotic holiday together while watching their fan-favorite shows.
Firefly Marathon — July 4, 8am-11pm on Science. A 14-episode marathon of the 2002 cult sci-fi series about Capt. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds and his spaceship crew as they seek out new worlds.
The Twilight Zone 4th of July Marathon — 8am July 4 to 5am July 5 on Syfy. 21 hours of the classic sci-fi anthology series. Click here for more details on the specific episodes being shown.
Call of the Wildman Marathon — 9am July 4 to 6am July 5 on Animal Planet. Ya-ya! A whole day of Turtleman escapades with several episodes of Animal Planet’s hit series.
Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan Marathon — July 4 starting at 9am on G4. A 17-episode marathon of the series that follows an elite, eight-man U.S. Navy EOD platoon as they patrol war-torn Afghanistan using state-of-the-art robotics and technology to search for and disarm explosives. The marathon includes the series’ original 10-episode run, along with the additional seven episodes that included never-before-seen missions and behind-the-scenes footage, and a reunion special.
July 4: Exploding the Myths — July 4 at 9am on National Geographic Channel. An exploration of the myths and legends surrounding the Fourth of July.
Roseanne Marathon — July 4, 9am-6pm on Oxygen.
Band of Brothers Fourth of July Marathon — July 4, 9am-8pm on Spike. Marathon of the memorable HBO series that follows a World War II squad from basic training, to D-Day, through the war’s end.
A Brothers & Sisters Marathon: Walker Family Fireworks — July 4, 10am-7pm on SOAPnet.
NCIS Marathon — July 4, 10am-11pm; and July 7, 11am-11pm on USA Network.
The Revolutionary War — 11am July 4 to 6am July 5 on Military Channel. A documentary series chronicling the American Revolution.
Wife Swap Marathon — July 4, 11am-10pm on Lifetime.
Undercover Boss Marathon — July 4, 1pm-10pm on TLC.
Naked Science: “Secret World of Fireworks” — July 4 at 2pm on National Geographic Channel. Focusing on Zambelli Internationale of New Castle, Pennsylvania, the U.S. leaders in fireworks displays, the episode examines the closely guarded recipes and techniques used to stage spectacular shows. The behind-the-scenes work required to make one of the Zambelli displays go off without a hitch is revealed. Rocket scientists from Los Alamos, New Mexico, also are interviewed.
2012 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest — July 4 at 3pm on ESPN. Competitors from all around the world, including defending five-time champ Joey Chestnut, participate in the annual event.
America: The Story of Us Marathon — 4pm July 4 to 4am July 5 on H2. An airing of episodes from the series that memorably chronicled America’s history, from its earliest days to today.
Dallas Marathon — July 4 from 5pm to 11pm on TNT. The lineup of episodes of TNT’s new version of Dallas features the first four episodes of the series, followed by an all-new episode at 9pm. Additionally, at 10pm, there will be a new installment of the 15-minute post-episode webisode Dallas Round-Up on http://dallastnt.com.
A Capitol Fourth — July 4 Live at 8pm on PBS; replays July 4 at 9:30pm. America’s birthday is celebrated with this annual concert held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, featuring a performance from top musical artists and capped with a fireworks display. Tom Bergeron takes the helm as new host, which features an Olympic tribute to Team USA with Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno and John Williams conducting his “Olympic Fanfare.” Other performances include Phillip Phillips, Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, Megan Hilty, Javier Colon, Josh Turner, Kool & the Gang, Russell Watson, Amber Riley and the National Symphony Orchestra under conductor Jack Everly.
Yankee Doodle Dandy — July 4 at 8pm on TCM. This 1942 James Cagney classic is about the life of George M. Cohan, who composed such legendary American tunes as “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.”
America’s Lost Treasures — Series premieres July 4 at 9pm on National Geographic Channel. Hosts Curt Doussett and Kinga Philipps travel to 10 U.S. cities and invite locals to bring in their artifacts to find out what they’re really worth in this new series. Working with top museum curators, appraisers and other experts, Curt and Kinga each trace the history of three chosen artifacts. At the end of each one-hour episode, it’s down to two finalists, and a winner is awarded $10,000 as special recognition for the importance of the artifact in American history. That artifact will be featured in a special exhibit at the National Geographic museum in Washington, D.C., coming in 2013. The premiere episode finds Curt and Kinga visiting Austin.
Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular — July 4 at 9pm on NBC. NBC again partners with Macy’s to celebrate America’s birthday with this event in New York City, featuring music and a fireworks display. Regis Philbin hosts the festivities, which include performances from Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular — July 4 Live at 10pm (tape-delayed PT) on CBS. Michael Chiklis returns to host this event, which includes a performance from Jennifer Hudson, who will sing some of her biggest hits with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra accompanying her. The final 20 minutes of the broadcast, featuring the fireworks display, will be presented commercial-free.
Stars and Stripes Forever — July 4 at 10:15pm on TCM. This is a 1952 film biography of composer John Philip Sousa (played by Clifton Webb), who is known for his patriotic marches.
Wimbledon Tennis: Ladies’ Semifinals — July 5, 8am-1pm on ESPN.
Suits Marathon — July 5, 6am-7pm on USA Network.
Burn Notice Marathon — July 6, 6am-8pm on USA Network.
Wimbledon Tennis: Gentlemen’s Semifinals — July 6, 8am-2pm on ESPN.
Wimbledon Tennis: Ladies’ Final — July 7, 9am-2pm on ESPN.
The Walking Dead Marathon — 11:30am July 7 to 1am July 8; 11:30am July 8 to 12:15am July 9 on AMC. Several episodes of the hit horror series. At 10pm on July 8, AMC will air the series premiere episode, “Days Gone Bye,” in black-and-white, with limited breaks.
Wimbledon Tennis: Gentlemen’s Final — July 8, 9am-3pm on ESPN.
A Capitol Fourth: Courtesy of Capital Concerts