So now we face the prospect of a stay-at-home 4th of July.
In many places, that means no fireworks, no parades, no music. In others … well, it still seems safer to stay away this year.
Not to worry, television is ready to fill in … just as it did for Easter and Memorial Day. It has two big-deal shows, with music and fireworks – PBS (see separate story, alongside this one) in Washington, D.C., NBC in New York. It also has shows aimed at the day’s emphasis on history or music; here’s a guide:
First, the warm-up; Friday, July 3:
– “Hamilton” debuts on Disney+. Here’s the original cast of the Broadway classic, with Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role. This was originally planned for movie theaters, then diverted to streaming.
– “iHeartCountry 4th of July BBQ,” 8 p.m., CW. Music by Lauren Alaina and Kane Brown – whose duet “What Ifs” was No. 1 in country airplay – and Old Dominion.
– “Vietnam in HD,” noon to 6 p.m., History.
– “Grant,” 6 p.m. to midnight, History, with the latter parts rerunning from 12:03 to 4 a.m. Here’s a portrait of a late-blooming life. An indifferent cadet at West Point (finishing 21st in a class of 39) and a failure in business, Ulysses Grant found battlefield success. He was the fourth and final commander of the Union Army in the Civil War and then was president.
– “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), 8-11:45 p.m., TNT. This World War II tale is one of the all-time greats. It won five Academy Awards (including director Steven Spielberg) and was nominated for six more, including best-picture.
– Prefer cowboys? Movies directed by John Ford – the master of westerns – are from noon to 2 a.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies. There are seven of them, five starring John Wayne.
And now for Saturday, July 4:
MUSIC AND FIREWORKS
– “A Capitol Fourth,” 8 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 9:30. This closes with the fireworks from Washington, DC. There’s no Washington concert this week, so the music was taped separately – from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, from Nashville to an empty Broadway theater. Performers are from country (Brantley Gilbert, Trace Adkins), classical (Renee Fleming), gospel (Yolanda Adams), rock/pop/R&B (John Fogerty, Andy Grammer, Patti LaBelle, the Temptations) and Broadway (Kelli O’Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mandy Gonzalez and Vanessa Williams, who hosts with John Stamos).
– “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,” 8-10 p.m., NBC, repeating highlights from 10-11. This opens with Amanda Gorman, the national youth poet laureate, and ends with the New York City fireworks – the five mini-bursts that happened during the week and the live finale. In between is music from John Legend, Lady A, The Killers and Black Eyed Peas, plus country’s Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw. Craig Melvin of “Today” hosts.
– “The Fourth in America,” 8 p.m. to midnight ET, CNN. Based in New York and Washington, D.C., this will catch the fireworks in both towns, plus Nashville, Houston and Jacksonville. Music will be from Marina McBride, Carlos Satana, Jewel, Barry Manilow, CeCe Winans, Andy Grammer, Billy Ray Cyrus, Kenny Loggins, Pat Benatar, Don McLean, The O’Jays and more – including orchestras, the Harlem Gospel Choir and the Broadway casts of the Temptations and Bob Dylan musicals.
– Turner Classic Movies has a marathon, with an Americana theme. That includes, “1776” (1972) at 2:30 p.m. ET, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) at 5:30, “The Music Man” (1962) at 8 and “Bye Bye Birdie” (1963) at 10:45.
– And the ultimate musical arrived Friday. “Hamilton” was filmed with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of the original cast. It was intended for movie theaters, then diverted to Disney+.
– “World War II in HD,” 9 a.m. to noon, History; followed by “The World Wars,” noon to 6 p.m.
– “Washington,” 6 p.m. to midnight, History, repeating the final parts until 4 a.m. We see George Washington ranging from a headstrong young commander (covering up his own failure) to the leader of the revolution and the young country.
– “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), 4:15 p.m., TNT.
– And three films on HBO – “Pearl Harbor” (2001), 2:35 p.m.; “Flag of Our Fathers” (2006), 5:40 p.m.; and “Midway” (2019), 8 p.m.
– AMC continues its custom of showing “Independence Day”; it’s at 1, 4, 7 and 10 p.m. This was a huge hit when it opened on July 3, 1996, and keeps returning. The space-alien tale was summarized perfectly in “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide” (Plume, 2017): “spectacular – and spectacularly stupid.”