Fireworks, Parades, and the Women's World Cup: What to Watch on TV This Fourth of July
Staying in? NBC and PBS will air fireworks specials while Independence Day and Rocky marathons help spread the patriotic, American spirit.
With heat waves spreading across the country this Fourth of July weekend, it can be tempting to want to forgo the crowded beaches and outdoor barbecues and retreat inside to the bliss of an air conditioned home.
However, spending Saturday escaping the rising temperatures and throngs of flip-flopped families watching fireworks doesn’t mean having to stop the holiday spirit. The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up the top fireworks specials, patriotic movies, and themed marathons on TV to help everyone celebrate Independence Day (and yes, Independence Day is one of them).
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (NBC, 8 p.m.*)
NBC’s annual spectacle features performances from headliner Ed Sheeran as well as Kelly Clarkson, Dierks Bentley, Meghan Trainor, Brad Paisley, and Flo Rida. Hosted by the Today show’s Willie Geist and Tamron Hall, the Spectacular will feature a 25-minute display with more than 50,000 pyrotechnic shells and effects ranging from stars to roaring dragons to purple rain.
A Capital Fourth (PBS, 8 p.m.)
Now in its third decade, the traditional PBS love broadcast feature coverage from all over Washington D.C. as The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford, the concert features Barry Manilow, Alabama, Hunter Hayes, and KC and the Sunshine Band, amongst others, and the National Symphony Orchestra will accompany the fireworks.
Independence Day (AMC, all day starting at 1 p.m.)
Not an Independence Day without Independence Day? Well, AMC has you covered, airing the Will Smith-Bill Paxton alien invasion epic back to back all day. If there’s any day to recite President Whitmore’s “Today is our Independence Day!” speech, it’s today.
Forrest Gump (ABC Family, 9 p.m.)
American history is on full display in the 1994 blockbuster starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as the big-hearted, but naively innocent Forrest as he treks through the biggest moments of the late 20th century. (For an emotional all-day movie marathon, the channel is showing Pretty Woman and Steel Magnolias prior to Gump.)
Rocky I-V (Spike, all day starting at 6 a.m.)
In the wake of the franchise’s refreshed Creed trailer dropping this week, why not go back to the beginning with Spike’s all day Rocky marathon. Honoring the scrappy pugilist and his classic American rags-to-riches story, the network is showing all five of the boxing movies, starting at 6 a.m. Not quite up and at ‘em so early? No fear, the first two movies will repeat at 7 p.m.
Captain America: The First Avenger(FX , 8 p.m.)
Looking for a little superhero flair this Fourth of July? Why not watch America’s first superhero as FX airs Chris Evans original movie as the genetically engineered supersoldier before he joins the rest of the Avengers. As a bonus, the sequel, Captain America: Winter Soldier, airs right afterwards on premium channel Encore. (For more real-life heroes and villains—and all the controversy that comes with it—Zero Dark Thirty is also playing on FX’s sister channel FXM.)
Sons of Liberty (History, 6 p.m.)
The History Channel is re-airing all three episodes of its event series about the revolutionaries behind of the America’s fight for Independence. The miniseries dramatizes the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration and makes history (and the Founding Fathers) an attractive proposition.
Drunk History (Comedy Central, all day starting at 8:30 a.m.)
If regular American history always seemed a little dry, then perhaps this booze-soaked retelling is a better fit. Start with the less than sober portrayals important moments American history in History during the day and cap off the night by screaming “America, F--- Yeah!” with the profane Team America: World Police at 10:30 p.m. on the network.
American Ninja Warrior (Esquire Network, all day starting at 8 a.m.)
Is there a better way to spend the holiday than watching a remake of a Japanese game show that makes you lament all the food you ate that day? Those lucky enough to get the Esquire network can do just that with 16 hours worth of rope swings, daring leaps, and Warped Walls.
Dave/The American President (Pop, 4:30 p.m.)
The Pop Network, formerly the TV Guide Network, is airing a presidential pair of movies in honor of July 4th. Start off with a screening of the Kevin Kline-starrer Dave, about a man asked to impersonate a recovering president, at 5:30 p.m. and then fall in love with Michael Douglas’ romance with environmentalist Annette Bening at 7:30 p.m. in The American President.
Rectify (Sundance, 2 p.m.)
After a showing of Born on the Fourth of July at 11 a.m., Sundance is airing the entire first two seasons of the critical darling Rectify, a brooding,Southern Gothic tale about a man who is freed from death row after being imprisoned for nearly 20 years. Season 3 premieres Thursday, July 9.
Power (Starz, 12 p.m.)
In the words of the Canadian Drake, “started from the bottom, now we’re here”? Starz’s Omari Hardwick drama, hailing from executive producer Curtis ’50-Cent’ Jackson and creator, is a classic story of one man’s (occasionally-illegal) chase of the American Dream. The premium channel is airing the entire series thus far starting from the bottom beginning at
The Matrix Trilogy (TNT, 2 p.m.)
There isn’t a white pill, but there is a red and blue one. TNT is airing the entire Matrix trilogy, hailing from the Wachowski siblings and starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, beginning at 2 p.m. Prepare to free your mind.
The Twilight Zone (SyFy, 8 a.m.)
It may not be the most patriotic thing on TV this Independence Day, but it is still a July 4th tradition as SyFy once again airs its annual marathon of the Rod Serling anthology.
NCIS (USA, 1 p.m.)
Honor our service members (those who investigate crimes against them) with 8 back-to-back episodes of the hit procedural starting at 1 p.m.
BONUS: FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship: USA vs. Japan (Fox, Sunday, July 5 at 3 p.m.)
Keep the patriotic spirit alive into Sunday as the U.S Women’s National Team takes on Japan in the FIFA World Cup Championship. After a definitive win over Germany on Tuesday, the women will be looking for revenge against the Japanese team who beat them out four years ago for the title.
*All times are Pacific.