Few holidays have as many traditions as Independence Day. Even on television. So it’s with a heavy heart that I warn the TV faithful that there will be no “Twilight Zone” marathon on SyFy this Fourth of July weekend. The retitled network will air a mini-marathon of “Greatest American Hero” on Sunday instead.
As if already aware of the wailing and gnashing of teeth from “Zone” fans, SyFy has assured us that the “Twilight Zone” marathon will air “later this year.”
• Ty Burrell, who plays the clueless Dad Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family,” hosts another curious holiday tradition — “America Celebrates July 4th at Ford’s Theatre” (8 p.m., ABC). The site of one of the nation’s greatest tragedies — the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln — has for years been the venue for a variety show of comedy and song.
Look for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the audience. Performers include comedian George Lopez, Dick Van Dyke and his quartet, the Vantastix, Renee Fleming, Lionel Richie and Kelly Clarkson.
• As it has for several years now, TCM celebrates the Fourth with a reairing of the beloved 1939 musical fantasy “The Wizard of Oz” (7 p.m., TCM). Look for surviving cast members and Munchkins to reflect on the making of the movie in the documentary short “Memories of Oz” (9 p.m.).
Much like “It’s Wonderful Life,” this Technicolor fantasy did not become a classic until the advent of television and as audiences committed it to memory through continual repeats.
Few films or stories have been subject to as much scrutiny and interpretation. Some theorized that the “Oz” books were an elaborate political parable about the monetary policy of the Progressive Era. A much different take on the movie emerged in the 1990s when adventurous viewers synched up the movie to Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “Dark Side of the Moon” and seemed to “discover” new aspects to both cultural artifacts. Perhaps that’s what happens when you spend too much time whiling away the hours, consulting with the flowers.
One of the oddest things about “Oz” is the fact that for the first two-thirds of the movie, the dramatic action is propelled by the songs and then, after the Cowardly Lion dons his cape and sings “King of the Forest,” the songs cease entirely and we seem to be an entirely different film. A “horse of a different color,” if you will.
• On the eve of the three-day Independence Day weekend, several cable stations go into marathon mode. Catch 10 episodes of “Whale Wars” (7 p.m. through 5 a.m., Animal Planet). Syfy unfurls 13 consecutive episodes of “Merlin” (9 a.m. through 10 p.m., SyFy). And USA devotes the entire day to “Royal Pains” (11 p.m. Thursday through 3 a.m. Saturday).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Taylor fears for his team’s safety on “Friday Night Lights” (7 p.m., NBC)
• A civil war grave hides remains of a much more recent vintage on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).
• The Noisettes, Lyle Lovett and Doves perform on “Live From Abbey Road” (7 p.m., Sundance).
• A controversial talk-radio host takes his guest hostage on “Flashpoint” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Dan fights crime on the cheap on “The Good Guys” (8 p.m., Fox).
• A desert climate threatens two explorers stranded in Peru’s Valley of the Volcanoes on “Dual Survival” (9 p.m., Discovery).