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July 4 Viewing Guide: 31 of the Weekend’s Best Marathons and Specials

We choose from the more than 400 programs and marathons offered over Independence Day holiday

There are more than 400 marathons and specials offered over the four-day Independence Day weekend. But how many of them really celebrate America?

Well, TheWrap waded through the choices to find the best, from "Twilight Zone" to "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" to "BBQ Pitmasters," from hot-dog-eating contests to, duh, Will Smith saving the world in "Independence Day."

Here's our day-by-day rundown. But first: the obvious fireworks, patriotic performances, pomp and circumstance — all of which air on the Fourth of July:

"A Capitol Fourth" (PBS), 8/7c live, encore at 9:30 p.m.
Tom Bergeron hosts the 33rd annual event, which features performances by Barry Manilow, Darren Criss, Megan Hilty, "American Idol" winners Candice Glover and Scotty McCreery, Jackie Evancho, John Williams conducting music from "Lincoln" and Broadway's "Motown: The Musical."

"Chicago's Summer Blast" (WGN America), 10:30/9:30c live
The 32nd annual event features fireworks from Navy Pier.

Also read: Cher, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Pitbull to Perform on 'Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular'

"Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular" (NBC), 8/7c, encore at 10 p.m.
Probably the most famous show in the U.S., Nick Cannon hosts, with performances by Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez.

"Philly 4th of July Jam" (VH1 and Palladia), 8/7c live
Though the concert is celebrating its third anniversary, this is the first time it will broadcast live. Kevin Hart hosts, with performances by the Roots, Jill Scott, Demi Lovato, J. Cole, Grace Potter, John Mayer and Ne-Yo.

Also read: Comic-Con 2013: The TV Schedule

Now the best of the rest:


"Twilight Zone" Marathon (Syfy): 8 a.m. – Friday at 6 a.m.
This horror series is an American cult hit. So, watch it.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" Marathon (BBC America): 8 a.m. – Friday at 6 a.m., Friday at 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Manifest Destiny, people. Look it up. When the land is all claimed, space is the final frontier.

"National Treasure" Movie Marathon (ABC Family), noon – 11 p.m.
The first in the franchise plus "Book of Secrets" brings the action to America's most beloved places.

"The Walking Dead" (AMC), kicks off Thursday 1 p.m. – 3 a.m., Friday 1 p.m. – 3 a.m., Saturday 1:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
America is full of walking stiffs. These ones eat humans.

"American Greed" Marathon (CNBC), 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Celebrate the scoundrels born of our capitalist economy.

"BBQ Pitmasters" Marathon (Destination America), 6 a.m. – Friday, 6 a.m.
Don't just barbecue this Fourth of July weekend, EXTREME barbecue.

"Fast 'N Loud" (Discovery) 2 p.m. – Friday, 3 a.m.
This isn't a retrospective of every American character on "Downton Abbey." This is about cars.

2013 Hot Dog Eating Contest (ESPN2), noon – 1 p.m.
Other countries eat sausages, we eat hot dogs … in bulk.

"John Adams" Marathon (HBO2), noon – 9 p.m.
Let this historical miniseries learn you something.

"House Hunters" Marathon (HGTV), 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Some say Thomas Jefferson originally referred to "property" before changing to "pursuit of happiness" in the famous line, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"America the Story of Us" Marathon (History), 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Liev Schreiber narrates these programs that explain how a meteor, buffalos, trains and Buzz Aldrin made America.

Real-Life Murder Movie Marathon (Lifetime), 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
Yes, these happened: "The Capture of The Green River Killer," "Karla," "The Elizabeth Smart Story," "The Perfect Husband," "The Laci Peterson Story," "Jodi Arias — Dirty Little Secret."

Life's a Beach "Beverly Hills, 90210" Marathon (SOAPnet), 10 a.m. – 6 p.m
Celebrate the people who keep our economy going: kids with disposable income.

"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Marathon (TLC), 1:30 p.m. – Friday, 3 a.m.
As the late Whitney Houston once said, "I believe the children is our future."

Also read: Comic-Con 2013: The Film Schedule


"Hell's Kitchen" Marathon (CMT), noon – 11 p.m.
Americans love mixing food and competition. Add a screaming Scottish guy, and we're reminded why we fought so hard to be free.

"Die Hard" Movie Marathon (Cinemax), 3:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Let us remind ourselves of the resilience of America. Includes "Die Hard," "Die Hard 2," and "Die Hard With a Vengeance."

"Modern Marvels" Marathon (History), 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Americans love inventors, even ones that come from other countries.

"Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman" (Science), 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.
We feel more secure that an internationally renown thespian is asking our dumb questions about science.


"Independence Day" (A&E), 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

"Pirates of the Caribbean" Movie Marathon (ABC Family), 9 a.m. – 6:30pm
"Pirates of the Caribbean, "The Curse of the Black Pearl, "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End." Johnny Depp. That is all.

"Princesses: Long Island" Marathon (Bravo) 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Celebrate the diversity of rich, spoiled young ladies looking to get married.

"My Cat From Hell" Marathon (Animal Planet), 6 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Man's second best friend deserves a whisperer of his own. This guy plays in a band.

"American Ninja Warrior" Marathon (G4), 8 p.m. – 5 a.m.
G4 literally puts up a fight in its last days before switching over to Esquire Network.


"MTV Cribs" Priciest Pads Countdown (MTV), 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Property. Opulence. Celebrity. We eat it up.

"Hoarding: Buried Alive" Marathon (Discovery Fit & Health), 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Watch Americans find their independence from mounds of unnecessary junk.

"Portlandia" Marathon (IFC), 3 – 8 p.m.
Small-town values, stuck in the '90s. Is there anything better than that?

"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" Marathon (OWN), 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Maybe they should call it, "Oprah: Where Are You Now?"