Fireworks & Music on PBS, NBC 4th of July Specials, 'Handmaid's Tale' Nears End on Hulu
A critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
A Capitol Fourth (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Happy birthday, America! And where better to celebrate than in Washington, D.C., where for the 38th year PBS will broadcast a holiday concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. John Stamos returns as host, and will once again play alongside The Beach Boys, one of many musical guests. The roster includes Andy Grammer, Voice Season 14 finalist Kyle Jade (with a gospel-tinged performance of the National Anthem), Jimmy Buffett with the Broadway cast of the just-closed Escape to Margaritaville (soon to tour nationally), The Temptations, country stars Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina, gospel’s CeCe Winans, classical soprano Renee Fleming, performing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from her Tony-nominated role in Carousel, and Broadway legend Chita Rivera introducing a 100th-birthday Leonard Bernstein tribute that features violinist Joshua Bell performing “Tonight” from West Side Story. Jack Everly conducts the National Symphony Orchestra, which traditionally ends the show with the rousing “1812 Overture” playing as fireworks explode over the monuments on the Mall.
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (8/7c, NBC): Or you could opt for watching the festivities over Manhattan as fireworks illuminate the iconic skyline from the East River. American Ninja Warrior’s Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila are the hosts, and the talent includes Voice coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, plus Keith Urban, Ricky Martin, American Authors and Brandon Victor Dixon, the Jesus Christ Superstar show-stopper who performs “America the Beautiful” with the Harlem Gospel Choir. Lots of bang for your buck, whichever show you choose.
The Handmaid’s Tale (streaming on Hulu): However you feel about the state of this divided country on its anniversary, one look at Gilead will remind you how much worse it could get. In the penultimate episode of a grueling second season, Offred/June (the phenomenal Elisabeth Moss) can’t exactly celebrate the birth of her new daughter, who she named Holly (after her mother) after delivering her alone in an abandoned home. Back with the Waterfords, she can only be a mother from a distance as a possessive Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) coddles the milk-starved infant. And then a new domestic crisis sends the household into upheaval.
Inside Wednesday TV: Among the many 4th of July marathons of movie and TV classics, my go-to would be the nostalgic Decades channel’s “Rod, White & Blue: A Twilight Zone Celebration” (starts at 7 am/6c), with 46 Twilight Zone episodes airing back-to-back, representing the best of Rod Serling and his contributors. … You know a show is no longer a top network priority when a new episode is burned off on a major holiday. So Code Black fans should be aware that, as the end of the final season nears, a new episode is on tap (10/9c). And it’s pivotal, in which Rox (Moon Bloodgood) is hit by a drunk driver, causing Willis (Rob Lowe) to confront his feelings for her. … Also new: USA’s Colony (10/9c), in which Will (Josh Holloway) and Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) fret over their family’s safety in Seattle. Though is anyplace safe, really?