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TV Neglects Independence Day

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Think of all of the best television holiday specials of your favorite shows. Christmas will spring to mind, for sure, as will Christmas and Halloween. Possibly, a little Valentine’s Day thrown in for good measure. But who celebrates the 4th of July?

Despite being a major national holiday, the 4th of July falls in the summer months, when network television is taking a break, and so is rarely, if ever, covered on scripted television. True, series in the United States don’t actually air fresh episodes on Christmas or New Year’s, either, but they get close enough to make it work. Besides a few weirdos like this past season of Community, though, most of television tends to keep the action in the appropriate season that the story airs.

J1Why? A year doesn’t equal a year in many series, and Christmas episodes get the rerun treatment all year ’round. Why is 4th of July so off limits? It’s a celebration of our nation’s birth, and deserves recognition along with the others.

Next year, broadcast television is making inroads into the warm months by airing new episodes of Glee and 24 past the end of May. Combined with the growing popularity of summer cable shows, there is plenty of opportunity to celebrate our country’s independence. Here are some possible ideas on what could be done. Television writers, feel free to run with them, royalty free. Readers, feel free to toss in your own ideas in the comments below.

24 – Jack Bauer is an American hero fighting the terrorists who seek to harm America. What better day for the bad guys to strike to ruin our spirit and morale than the 4th of July? Perhaps next season, which will unfold over the course of a day, could be set on July 4th. Jack is being honored for his deeds, which have come to light after a media hacking scandal, but the party is cut short when a bomb is found on the Washington Mall. And then bio weapons are released in the Capital. And then a mole is found inside CTU. And then the president’s daughter is kidnapped. And then…

Community – In the January season premiere, Greendale is invaded by City College and conquered in an episode set in June, shortly after most of the students (save all of our favorite starring and recurring players) have left town. Then, in February sweeps, it’s the 4th of July, and the study group leads the fight for independence. The Dean dresses as Rosie the Riveter to support the suppliers, and Chang goes undercover as a spy for both sides. In the end, though, it’s Jeff’s big speech that saves the day, evoking much swooning from Nurse Annie.

The Daily Show / The Colbert Report – Have the week off.

Falling Skies – Aliens are attacking on July 4th, which coincidentally is also the New United States’ birthday, honoring the formation of an official rebel army. President Tom Mason tries to enjoy the day with his family, but not only can’t sit still when the perimeter is breached, but leads the attack J2personally, in which one of his sons is injured, but survives. A couple of supporting characters are killed, then laid to rest in a public funeral, complete with a new style of American flag.

Glee – The New Directions have won Nationals and come home to celebrate with a patriotic theme. Alumni return, mashing up the traditional tunes with modern pop. For some reason, the cast is still hanging out in the school building. Unfortunately, Sue, fed up with our government and authority in general, joins the Tea Party and tries to bring her own values to McKinley, unless they kids warm her heart with some Woodie Guthrie.

The Newsroom – Tired of the way the political parties are bickering and causing strife, Will broadcasts an emotionally moving monologue that laments the way things used to be and encourages everyone to get back into the patriotic spirit. Leona is furious because Will slams a couple of major sponsors during his tirade, the Republicans are furious because he trivializes their positions, and the Democrats are furious because he isn’t hard enough on the Republicans. Sloan is asked in an interview about the treatment of Asian Americans during World War II, and when she complains it hasn’t gotten much better, there’s serious blow back that could cost her her job. Jim and Maggie slip away and have a romantic time watching the fireworks on the roof, until Don shows up and ruins the mood.

True Blood – Arlene and Terry take the kids to a 4th of July parade, and Terry notices something strange that he doesn’t mention to anyone. And that’s the only part of the hour that even vaguely touches on the holiday, as the rest of the episode is spent on the season’s eight large arcs, spread out among the thirty main characters.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • gkubrick

    People already have something to watch on the 4th. It’s called fireworks