TV marathons are as American a tradition on the Fourth of July as fireworks, hot dogs and apple pie, and this year is no different, with a slew of marathons on offer across the dial. (Not to mention the thousands of do-it-yourself marathons available on your streaming service of choice.)
Wondering what TV programmers have in store for us this year? We've got you covered. (Note all times listed are ET)
For several generations of TV viewers, it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a Twilight Zone marathon. While Syfy stopped airing their annual July 4th TZ marathon a couple years back, the DECADES TV network (which is available on broadcast TV in many markets as a digital subchannel) has since picked up the mantle. This year’s “Rod, White & Blue” marathon features more more than 80 favorite episodes of the original 1959–64 series, including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," "It's a Good Life," "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," "The Hitchhiker," "To Serve Man. " It all begins with the chillingly apt "Time Enough at Last" at Noon Saturday.
When it comes to July 4th marathons, if The Twilight Zone has a modern corollary, it may well be the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Past years have seen multiple MCU marathons on different cable channels. With Disney tightening its hold on the franchise, FX is where you’ll find the most extensive MCU marathon this year (outside of Disney+, that is), with Spider-man: Homecoming, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier airing Sunday beginning at 10:30am.
As Primetimer’s Aaron Barnhart recently wrote, Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone may well be the most-watched least-talked about show on TV. If you’re not among the throngs already watching, Paramount Network (formerly SpikeTV) has the perfect fix with a 12 hour marathon of the series starting at Noon Friday.
The Office has become much like a warm blanket (or a cool glass of lemonade this time of year) for its legions of fans. With fireworks and most large gatherings cancelled in much of the U.S., what better show to curl up with on the couch this July 4th? The series is getting a nice 15 hour marathon on Comedy Central, beginning at 8am Saturday.
Another modern holiday marathon staple, the Law & Order franchise will be represented on several channels, with the original series getting two marathons (on SundanceTV starting at 1pm Friday, and on WeTV starting at Noon Sunday), and Law & Order: SVU airing 9am-2pm Saturday on ION and Sunday from 9am-11pm on USA.
Star Trek isn’t the first thing we think of when we think of BBC America, but with Sir Patrick Stewart manning the ship, the channel has seen fit become the cable home of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which gets a 17 hour marathon beginning at 3am Friday.
With most movie theaters closed, and this summer’s would-be blockbusters shelved, the small screen will have to do for those of us in need of a traditional July 4th action-adventure fix. In addition to the Marvel movies mentioned above, the Rambo franchise airs Friday and Sunday on AMC, Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin and The Dark Knight Rises get a Sunday AMC run, the Jason Bourne series (Sunday on Syfy), Lethal Weapons 1-4 air Sunday on IFC, while four of the Fast and the Furious films are airing Saturday on TBS.
Will Smith’s Independence Day is so on-the-nose this holiday that gets its own Christmas Story-like day-long marathon. Watch it again (and over and over, if you’re so inclined) beginning at 1pm Saturday on AMC.
Other lower octane film franchises getting the marathon treatment this weekend include the Friday series (Saturday and Sunday on VH1), Airplane! and Airplane! 2: The Sequel (Sunday on SundanceTV), Smokey and the Bandits 1- 3 (Friday and Saturday on SundanceTV), Cheaper by the Dozen 1 & 2 (Sunday on WGN), the Home Alone series (Saturday on HBO Family), the complete Twilight saga (Saturday and Sunday on Freeform) and the Bring it On series (Saturday and Sunday on MTV2).
Christmas in July? If you're a regular viewer of The Hallmark Channel and/or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, then you know the answer is an emphatic yes. The two channels will be airing over 250 hours worth of Christmas movies this July, with Hallmark Movies and Mysteries going all-in this holiday weekend all-day marathons Saturday and Sunday of titles like A Homecoming for the Holidays, Journey Back to Christmas, Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane and A Godwink Christmas.
Finally, while it may very well earn this prize every weekend, the single longest TV marathon this holiday weekend is MTV’s Ridiculousness. The series starts airing at 4am on Friday and continues uninterrupted until Monday morning at 11am.
As they say on TV, that's not all. There are dozens more shows getting marathons on one or more channels this weekend. We'll update the list below with more as we become aware of them (again, all times listed are ET):
ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW — Fri 6am-Noon on SundanceTV, Fri Noon-8pm on TV Land
BELOW DECK — Sat 6am-6pm on Bravo
BELOW DECK: MEDITERRANEAN — Sun 11:30am-7pm on Bravo
BLACK-ISH — Fri Noon-5pm on BET
BLUE BLOODS — Sat 6pm-1am (Sun) on WGN
BUNK’D — Sat 10:30am-7pm on Disney Channel
CASH CAB — Sat 1:30-5pm, Sun 1:30-5pm on Game Show Network
CHICAGO P.D. - Fri 9am-11pm on USA
CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST — Fri 8pm-1am (Sat) on Bravo, Sat 11am-11pm on USA
CRIMINAL MINDS — Sat 10am-1am (Sun) on WE
DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES — Fri 1pm-5am (Sat), Sat 1pm-4am (Sun) on Food Network
DOG’S MOST WANTED — Sat 9am-6pm on WGN
FAMILY FEUD — Fri 9am-1am, Sat 5:30pm-1pm, and Sun 5:30pm-1pm on Game Show Network
FAMILY GUY — Sun 5pm - 9pm on FXX
FOOD FACTORY — Sat 9am-3pm on Nat Geo
FRIENDS — Friday 10:30am-4pm on TBS, Fri 10pm-6am (Sat) and Sat 10pm-3am (Sun) on Nickelodeon
THE GOLDEN GIRLS — Sun 6am-5pm on TV Land
GORDON RAMSAY UNCHARTED — Sat 3pm-6am (Sun) on Nat Geo
GUY’S GROCERY GAMES — Sun 2pm-9pm Food Network
HOGAN’S HEROES — Sat 11am-6pm on SundanceTV
HOUSE — Fri 10am-8pm on Pop, Saturday 3am-3pm and Sun midnight-noon on E!
I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE - Sun 10am-4:30pm on HBO2
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA — Fri 7pm-10pm, Sun 8am-6am (Mon) on VICE
IMPRACTICAL JOKERS — Fri 5pm-2am (Sat), Sat 4pm-3am (Sun), Sun 3pm-1am (Mon) on TruTV
IN LIVING COLOR — Saturday 4pm-8pm, Sun 9am-2pm on Fusion
LAST MAN STANDING — Sun 3pm-8pm on WGN
LIFE BELOW ZERO — Fri 9am- 6am (Sat) on Nat Geo
LOVE AFTER LOCKUP — Fri 10am-4am (Sat) on WE
MAMA’S FAMILY — Sat noon-midnight, Sun 4pm-11pm on Logo
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN — Sun 6am-4pm on Logo
MCMILLION$ — Fri Noon-5:30pm on HBO2
MILLION DOLLAR LISTING NEW YORK — Fri 6am-5pm on Bravo
MOM — Fri 8:00pm-12:30am (Sat) on CMT
NCIS: LOS ANGELES — Fri 2pm-2am (Sat), Sunday 9am-9pm on ION and Saturday 6pm-3am (Sun), Sun 2pm-10pm on Pop
PERSON OF INTEREST — Sun 8pm-5am (Mon) on WGN
RAVEN’S HOME — Sun Noon-8pm on Disney Channel
ROSEANNE — Sat 4am-5pm on TV Land
SEX AND THE CITY — Fri 6am-4pm on E!
SHARK TANK — Fri 2pm-8pm, Sun 3pm-2am (Mon) on CNBC
THE SIMPSONS — Fri 6pm-11pm, Sun Noon - 5pm on FXX
SOUTH PARK — Fri 9am-10pm on Comedy Central
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS — Fri Noon-10pm, Sat 6am-8pm, Sun 6am-8pm on Nickelodeon
STORAGE WARS — Fri 7am-4am (Sat) on A&E
TEEN TITANS GO! — Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 6am-8pm and Sun 6am-8pm on Cartoon Network
TWO AND A HALF MEN — Sat 5pm-1am, Sun 5pm-1am (Mon) on TV Land
UNDERCOVER BOSS — Fri 8pm-1am (Sat), Sat 3pm-2am (Sun) on CNBC
WESTWORLD — Sat 11:30am-8pm on HBO2
WICKED TUNA: OUTER BANKS — Sun 9am-10pm on Nat Geo
Jed Rosenzweig is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer. Follow him on Twitter @jedrosenzweig.
TOPICS: Fourth of July, Adult Swim, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Office (US), Ridiculousness, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Twilight Zone (1959 series), Yellowstone, Marathons, Marvel Cinematic Universe