Let’s just go ahead and assume that the safety-conscious officials in our county will be banning nearly all fireworks in an effort to fend off bosque fires, leaving us naught but sparklers, black snakes and boxes and boxes of punks (the stick of coated wood kind, not the Johnny Rotten sort) with which to entertain ourselves come Independence Day. If we can’t consume mass quantities of beer and then blow things up in our front yard, what is there to do on the Fourth of July?
Rest assured, folks, the beer part still stands. And as for all the exploding, your trusty friend television is ready, willing and able to provide a suitable digital substitute.
You can start your evening with Turner Classic Movies. As always, TCM programmers have scoured their vaults looking for the most holiday-appropriate films. This year, they’ve dug up a trio of the gol-dang most patriotic musicals they could find. At 6 p.m., it’s 1962’s The Music Man. Robert Preston, of course, plays the lovable con man who tricks a small town into buying equipment for a marching band. The film is cheerful, colorful and loaded with sing-along songs. At 9 p.m., TCM gets out 1972’s 1776. What better way to spend Independence Day than watching our founding fathers hoof it while singing songs about the Constitution? Things wrap up at midnight with Jimmy Cagney pushing his singing and dancing skills to the max as composer George M. Cohan in 1942’s flag-waving classic Yankee Doodle Dandy.
If you’re still in need of inspiration, you can always tune in to KASY-50, where MyNetworkTV will be airing “Heroes Among Us: The 2008 Hero Awards,” starting at 7 p.m. Apparently, these awards are going not to guys like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (it is their summer, after all), but to ordinary people who’ve made some sort of difference in somebody’s life or community or something. Firefighters, dignitaries, emergency response personnel and (wouldn’t you know it?) celebrities will be given statues for their philanthropic work. Good for them.
Of course, if all you’re after are the fireworks, TV is glad to provide that, too. “July 4th Live!” will air at 7 p.m. on Travel Channel. Kirsten Gum, host of Discovery Channel's “Cash and Treasures,” takes you to the National Mall for some big bottle rockets and patriotic music. At 8 p.m., NBC picks up with coverage of “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.” Natalie Morales and Tiki Barber (apparently the only people who didn’t have the day off over at NBC) host musical guests like Kenny Chesney, Katherine McPhee and Jordin Sparks. CBS responds with its own, more geriatric fireworks spectacular, “The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.” The “1812 Overture” and a climactic 23 minutes worth of sky boom courtesy of Liberty Mutual Group: Now, that’s excitement. Plus, there’s no chance of getting a chunk of flaming cardboard lodged in your retina. Happy Fourth!