Independence Day conjures images of sparklers, hot dogs, fireworks and Will Smith saving the planet from alien invaders.
But what are you supposed to do while you wait for the sun to go down? Yard work?!? Spend some high-quality time in your air-conditioned dwelling and watch TV instead.
No matter what your mood or how much time you have between dips in the pool and heating your grill, this handy list is sure to provide something to get you in the patriotic spirit.
“Captain America: The First Avenger” — Few fictional characters symbolize the American ideal better than Steve Rogers. He’s easy to cheer as a man of integrity who puts other people first and inspires through his actions. The red, white and blue outfit, complemented by a shield that would make Betsy Ross proud. gives Cap an 11/10 on the Patriotic Scale.
“Top Gun” — Ride into the Danger Zone with America’s favorite flyboy as fighter pilot Maverick completes the quintessential comeback story. When you’re done, get the family to re-enact the volleyball scene in the backyard. Plenty of muscle flexing should lead to some great Facebook posts. Goose not included.
“Patriot Games” — No American actor exudes Americana more than Harrison Ford. Watch CIA analyst Jack Ryan take on rogue terrorist Sean Miller (Sean Bean) in this 1993 spy classic. See if you can catch a glimpse of Samuel L. Jackson as Ford’s friend Robby, who later changed his name to Nick Fury.
“The Shawshank Redemption” — There’s never a bad time to watch one of the greatest films of all time, but these themes of identity, hope and the fight against injustice are certainly appropriate for Independence Day. Few films will make you appreciate your freedom more than this one.
“Jaws” — This is the film that started the summer blockbuster craze, so watching it in the prime of the season just makes sense. Plus, as Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) consistently points out to Chief Brody (Roy Schneider), it takes place around the Fourth of July.
“The Office” — This series doesn’t have a traditional Independence Day episode, but “Beach Games” (season three, episode 23) is close enough. In the episode, Michael brings the Dunder Mifflin crew to the beach to compete for his job. Meanwhile, Andy Bernard floats away on a lake while stuck in a sumo suit.
“The Simpsons” — The final episode of season seven is called “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” In it, the Simpsons stay at Ned Flanders’ beach house. In a twist, Lisa becomes popular and Bart is an outcast. It’s an endearing episode that takes place over a Fourth of July trip.
“Mad Men” — In episode six of season three (“Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”), the employees of Sterling Cooper entertain their new owners from London on July 3. This episode, widely considered one of the best in “Mad Men” history, is highlighted by an office accident with a John Deere lawnmower.
“The Wonder Years” — The series finale for this groundbreaking series is titled “Independence Day.” While some shows leave their fans disappointed (um, “Game of Thrones”), this final episode provided closure for fans who followed Winnie and Kevin for six years. The series ends with a Fourth of July parade but not the exact happy ending viewers were expecting.
“Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” — Every Fourth of July, ESPN hosts this Coney Island-based contest, in which people nicknamed Eater X and The Beast Man devour hot dogs for bragging rights and a one-year rental on The Mustard Belt. But the true spectacle isn’t reigning champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut or watching gluttonous goofballs. It’s actually announcer George Shea.
Microphone in hand, Shea is part hype man, part rapper and 100% entertaining as a carnival barker with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s absurd, stupid, hilarious and a fun way to wait for fireworks.
Gazette TV critic Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.