Fourth of July: What TV shows centered an episode around the holiday?

A Fourth of July episode used to be a rarity on TV because of traditional network schedules that aired programs from fall to spring. But some TV shows made a Fourth of July episode work. Here are a few.

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Fourth of July: One memorable episode of 'The Bob Newhart Show,' starring Newhart (pictured), centered on his attempt to celebrate the Bicentennial.

While many of America’s favorite TV shows have holiday episodes centering around Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Halloween, the Fourth of July is one celebration that’s usually left alone by writers. 

The reason? In the past, most TV shows mostly followed a traditional network schedule, meaning they began their seasons in the fall and finished sometime in the spring, and adding a Fourth of July episode in the middle of November would seem a little odd. 

(However, fun fact: the sitcom “Seinfeld,” which our readers selected as the best of all time, first made its appearance on television one day after the Fourth of July, on July 5, 1989. It aired as “The Seinfeld Chronicles” and the second episode wouldn’t air until May of the next year. “Chronicles” is missing actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, who wouldn’t make her appearance until the second episode.) 

Despite the seasonal difficulties, some TV shows did set episodes during some kind of celebration of Independence Day. Here are a few.

1. The Bob Newhart Show,” 1976

On the sitcom, which centered on psychologist Bob Hartley (Newhart), his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), their neighbors, and Bob’s co-workers, the crew honored the Bicentennial with a party at the apartment of neighbor Howard. (The episode actually aired in October of the year.) However, Bob and Emily soon find themselves accidentally locked in the basement and multiple attendees of Howard’s party decide to dress up like Uncle Sam, only to discover that others had the same idea once they arrive.

2. "The Wonder Years,” 1993

“The Wonder Years” followed Kevin (Fred Savage), who is growing up during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and his family and friends. While the show’s series finale aired in May, the episode took place during the middle of the summer and centered on Kevin and Winnie (Danica McKellar) hitchhiking back to their hometown and getting there for the Fourth of July parade.

 3. “M*A*S*H,” 1980

"M*A*S*H" followed the members of a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War. The episode “A War for All Seasons” didn’t only center on Fourth of July but looked back at the entire year of 1951, from the group celebrating New Year’s at the beginning of it to the surgeons, nurses, and others getting ready to welcome 1952. During the episode, the group celebrates Fourth of July with a picnic and such traditions from home as fireworks and corn (though it’s not eaten on the cob as was intended, but is served creamed). 

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