What to Watch This Independence Day: Marathons, Fireworks, and Independence Day

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What to watch on Thursday, July 4...


MARATHON, 12am, Smithsonian
Aerial America
To the all-seeing eye of Aerial America’s helicopter-mounted cameras, we ALL live in flyover states. Enjoy thirty installments of the travelogue series, combining unique airborne footage with cultural and historical discussions of some of your favorite states, including that boxy one, that one with all the crazy animals, and that one where the relatives you only see at Thanksgiving live.


MARATHON, 6am, USA
NCIS
Eighteen episodes, mostly drawn from Seasons 7–9, fill up USA’s docket for the day. Fun fact: If you watch the full batch in one sitting, then look in a mirror and say Mark Harmon’s name three times, Gibbs will appear and award you an honorary NCIS: Syndication Division badge. 


MARATHON, 8am, Syfy
The Twilight Zone
Rod Serling’s otherworldly yet allegorical short story universe is creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, altogether ooky, and... okay, I may be thinking of the wrong show. Still, after 22 straight hours in the Zone, you too might be able to power a light bulb with your mouth. Some of the famous installments on tap today include “Time Enough at Last” (7:30pm), “A Stop at Willoughby” (8pm), “Eye of the Beholder” (8:30pm), “To Serve Man” (9pm), “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” (9:30pm), and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” (10:30pm).


MARATHON, 8am, BBC America
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Brits may have taken home the silver medal in 1783, but the U.S. arm of their broadcasting service can still get into the marathon spirit. The first 16 episodes from TNG’s third season fill out today's lineup, with the rest of the season picking up tomorrow morning. 


MARATHON, 10am, TNT
Castle
TNT lines up 10 straight Castle outings from Season 3, beginning with “The Final Nail” and running through to season’s end. I don’t think has anything to with the holiday, actually. I think this is just how TNT normally rolls on your average weekday afternoon. 


MARATHON, 1pm, AMC
The Walking Dead
Relive the quieter, simpler days of Season 1, back before everything was all fraying sanity and monocular megalomaniacs. Back when it was about the zombies, man. The full six-episode season will air twice in succession, with the second go-round (commencing at 8pm) in its extra-spooky black-and-white version. Marathon host Kevin Smith will also ladle out behind-the-scenes previews of Season 4.


LIVE, 1pm ET, ESPN
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Now both six-time champs, Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi meet once again on the Coney Island field of battle in the 98th annual celebration of gastrointestinal endurance. Will either wiener-wolfing warrior take home lucky number seven, or is this the year a new steel-stomached upstart swoops in to gobble up the glory? 


8pm, NBC
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular
Nick Cannon hosts the 37th annual extravaganza of brightly-colored explosions, and his good friends Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez just might stop by too.


8pm, PBS
A Capitol Fourth
Live from Capitol Hill, host Tom Bergeron rings in the nation’s birthday with fireworks and an eclectic mix of musical performances. On the docket are Barry Manilow, Megan Hilty, John Williams, Darren Criss, American Idol winners Candice Glover and Scotty McCreery, and the National Symphony Orchestra.


8pm, VH1
Philly 4th of July Jam
The birthplace of the Declaration of Independence hosts a bash headlined by The Roots. Also slated to perform: Jill Scott, Demi Lovato, Grace Potter, and everyone’s favorite American Revolution-themed doo-wop group, Benny Franklin and the Liberty Belles.


8pm, A&E
Independence Day
I could try and sell you on the 1996 world-go-boom classic, but we all know I’m not the right messenger here. Take it away, President Bill Pullman.


LATE-NITE:
– Angie Harmon on Chelsea Lately, 11pm, E!



WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING TONIGHT?

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