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Best TV to watch on Fourth of July: Marathons and more sparklers

National history and legends fuel Josh Gates' "Expedition

National history and legends fuel Josh Gates' "Expedition Unknown" (8 a.m.-6 p.m., Travel), from Vikings in America to the lost colony of Roanoke, from 19th century outlaw Jesse James to '70s hijacker D.B. Cooper. Credit: Gabriela Herman

Count on Wednesday TV to salute America with July Fourth marathons, miniseries, movies, documentaries and more. Or just take it easy on this day off with your favorite viewing.


The miniseries “Sons of Liberty” (4:30 a.m.-9 a.m., 4:45 p.m.-9:15 p.m., Encore) casts Ben Barnes, Henry Thomas, Jason O’Mara and Dean Norris as 1770s revolutionaries.

The docuseries “America: The Story of Us” (8 a.m.-8 p.m., History) re-creates the nation’s history, from rebellion to millennium.

National history and legends fuel Josh Gates’ “Expedition Unknown” (8 a.m.-10 p.m., Travel), from Vikings in America to the lost colony of Roanoke, from 19th century outlaw Jesse James to ’70s hijacker D.B. Cooper.

American independence, immigration and tunes unreel on TCM, where vintage films include Elia Kazan’s “America America” (9:30 a.m.), “John Paul Jones” (4:15 p.m.) and two flag-waving musicals: James Cagney in the George M. Cohan biopic “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (8 p.m.) and Broadway’s “1776” (10:15 p.m.).

Smithsonian spotlights Americana in various programs including “America’s Greatest Monuments” (4 p.m.), “White House Revealed” (5 p.m.), “America’s Badlands” (9 p.m.) and “America’s Yellowstone” (10 p.m.).

In a memorial/holiday tribute, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” (7 p.m.-3 a.m., CNN) finds the late cultural explorer in domestic locales including West Virginia, Hawaii, the Mississippi Delta and the Bronx.


All sorts of fellow citizens do their thing Wednesday for “reality” cameras in ““The Real Housewives of Orange County” (6 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Bravo), “American Chopper” (6 a.m.-10 p.m., Discovery), “Love After Lockup” (11:45 a.m.-7 p.m., WE) and “Basketball Wives” (6 p.m.-1 a.m., VH1).

Elite competitors face off in “American Ninja Warrior” (7 a.m.-7 p.m., 8 p.m.-3 a.m., NBC Sports Network) and PBR bull-riding (ongoing, through Thursday 6 a.m., CBS Sports Network).


One classic series is on the move. Rod Serling’s original “Twilight Zone” (7 a.m.-11 p.m., midnight-7 a.m., Decades) finds a new July 4 home other than the usual Syfy.

Current show catch-ups include TNT’s “Animal Kingdom” (10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and “Claws” (4:30 p.m.-9 p.m., TNT). Other recent lookbacks: “Chicago P.D.” (ongoing, through 10 p.m., Oxygen), “NCIS” (6 a.m.-10 p.m., USA), “Survivor’s Remorse” (6 a.m.-11:45 p.m., StarzBlack), “Empire” (8 a.m.-2 a.m., TV One), “Blue Bloods” (11 a.m.-3 a.m., ion) and “Wrecked” (3-8 p.m., TBS).

Vintage favorites include “Walker, Texas Ranger” (6 a.m.-6 a.m., getTV), “Beverly Hills 90210” (10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Pop) and sitcom gem “Bernie Mac” (8 a.m.-1 a.m., Aspire).


Superhero titles Wednesday on FX spotlight Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as “Spider-Man” (7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), with Chris Evans as “Captain America” (3:30-9 p.m., again 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m.).

Clint Eastwood stars in five films as his iconic San Francisco police detective “Dirty Harry” (7 a.m.-6 p.m., again 6 p.m.-5 a.m., Sundance). Or head west with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in miniseries classic “Lonesome Dove” (noon-6:20 p.m., Encore Westerns).

Other franchise flicks: TV casts go big screen in “Star Trek” (8 a.m.-1:08 a.m., Encore Family), “The Lord of the Rings” (8:44 a.m.-6:11 p.m., again 7:48 p.m.-5:14 a.m., Encore Classic), Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones” (9 a.m.-2:30 a.m., Paramount), Frankie and Annette’s “Beach” musicals (11 a.m.-5 p.m., thisTV), “Jaws” (11:30 a.m.-7:15 p.m., again 7:15 p.m.-3:10 a.m., AMC) and National Lampoon vacations (3-9:30 p.m., again 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m., IFC).

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