Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 4. All times are Eastern.
America’s Lost Treasures (National Geographic, 9 p.m., Wednesday): Tomorrow marks 236 years of American independence, and like anyone who’s grown to a ripe old age, the country has accumulated plenty of bric-a-brac with which its descendants know not what to do. Enter America’s Lost Treasures, which applies an Antiques Roadshow-via-Storage Wars approach to sizing up the value of mysterious artifacts like a ruby-encrusted revolver and a rodeo legend’s saddle. Rowan Kaiser offers his own appraisal of the series’ first episode.
MasterChef (Fox, 8 p.m., Tuesday): Unlike other societies living under British oppression, the contestants of MasterChef have yet to revolt and kick Gordon Ramsay out of their homeland. Until the day of the MasterChef Tea Party, Phil Dyess-Nugent salutes their bravery and temerity.
Workaholics (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m., Tuesday): Typically, the Workaholics guys would appreciate a mid-week weekend—in fact, it’s surprising they haven’t built a fake holiday around this rarest of vacations. However, Anders’ dad is visiting, so they and Kevin McFarland will have to sweep their hard-partying ways under the rug.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10 p.m., Wednesday): Since the U.S. doesn’t technically exist in the 31st century, Futurama has no reason to put itself on hold for Independence Day. The paparazzi still exist, though, so Bender’s taking Zack Handlen for a wild ride through the world of photographing the famous.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Dawson’s Creek (11 a.m., Tuesday): When enjoying this year’s Fourth of July festivities, please remember the moral of Joey Potter And The Beach Party: Do not accept cups from teenagers who look suspiciously like Norse gods. Brandon Nowalk reminds you to please drink mead responsibly.
Police Squad! (3 p.m., Tuesday): Leslie Nielsen may have requested a fart joke for his epitaph, but as far as Police Squad! fans are concerned, he could’ve gone with a quote from this week’s episode: “I’m the locksmith. And, I’m a locksmith.” The joke requires a subtle variation in inflection, however, so Erik Adams is lobbying to have a recording of the quote played every time someone rests on Nielsen’s “Sit down whenever you can” memorial.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
The Catalina (The CW, 8 p.m., Tuesday): The reality series set in a Miami hotel knows how to wrap a low-rated first season: With the implication of g-g-g-g-g-g-g-ghosts! Hopefully one of the cast members has to good sense work in a “He slimed me”—or, at the very least, “I feel so funky.”)
Michael Wood’s Story Of England (PBS, 8 p.m., Tuesday): Before a day of acknowledging the symbolic decline of the British Empire, PBS would like to remind you that England has a rich history, only part of which involves colonizing other territories. Caroline Framke audits an introduction to English history from historian Michael Wood.
WWE Super SmackDown (Syfy, 8 p.m., Tuesday): One of the few elements of World Championship Wrestling retained following the promotion’s acquisition by the WWE, The Great American Bash returns to drive the true meaning of Independence Day into the turnbuckle: Greased-up pro wrestlers pounding each other into a predetermined Fourth of July pulp in a battle royale.
Haunted Highway (Syfy, 10 p.m., Tuesday): “This land is your land / this land is my land,” sings Syfy’s latest paranormal investigation series, “From giant Utah reptiles / to Minnesota ape men / This land was made / for you and me and monsters.”
The 97th Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest (ESPN, 3 p.m.): Joey Chestnut attempts to tie Takeru Kobayashi’s record six titles in competitive eating’s equivalent to the Super Bowl—a record Kobayashi himself cannot build upon, due to his refusal to sign a contract with organizer Major League Eating. Wolfing down hot dogs is serious business, y’all!
A Capitol Fourth (PBS, 8 p.m.): Live from our nation’s capital (and Capitol), Tom Bergeron takes a break from introducing a weekly parade of humiliating pratfalls and people way too desperate to be on camera (and also America’s Funniest Home Videos) to emcee a revue so American, it ought to be served on a bun and drizzled in stars and stripes.
Macy’s 4th Of July Fireworks Spectacular (NBC, 9 p.m., Wednesday): In a “no duh” move, Macy’s hired “Firework” vocalist/America’s most profitable cleavage export Katy Perry to headline its annual display of explosive patriotism. Second-billed Kenny Chesney may or may not be currently learning how to shoot bottle rockets from his crotch.
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular (PBS, 10 p.m., Wednesday): In a more genteel display of things blowing up real good, Keith Lockhart leads a symphonic salute to the U.S., hosted with steely, bone-breaking pride by Michael Chiklis.
The Tree Of Life (HBO, 7 p.m., Tuesday): Then again, who needs fireworks when Terrence Malick is waiting to set you adrift in images of the universe’s fiery origins and gorgeous magic-hour cinematography (and also some plot, but who wants to bother with that?).
Spider-Man 2.1 (FX, 8 p.m., Tuesday): Sam Raimi’s second Spider-Man film is as perfect as superhero movies come—but like all big-budget blockbusters, it can be improved/watered down with footage originally left on the cutting room floor.
1776 (TCM, 7 p.m., Wednesday): The story of the Declaration of Independence, told once more with feeling. Featuring William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, David Ford, Ken Howard, and others as the all-singing, all-dancing Founding Fathers.
Air Force One (Flix, 8 p.m., Wednesday): Some days, you want a president who can successfully push for health-care reform. On the Fourth of July, however, you might just want one who sounds unbelievably bad-ass when growling the words, “Get off my plane!”
U.S. Olympic Trials (NBC Sports, noon, Tuesday): U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! NBC Sports proudly presents eight hours of athletes taking their stab at a trip to London at the end of July.
MLB Baseball: Cubs at Braves (WGN, 7 p.m.): You’ve had your hot dogs (or 67), now grab a slice of apple pie and complete the great American triumvirate with the country’s favorite pastime: Watching the Cubs take their licks on national TV.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Batman: The Animated Series: Take flight one more time over the “Dark Deco” skyline with Batman and Oliver Sava—before they return in a few months and everything looks slightly different.