What to watch on TV on the Fourth of July? There’s an obvious answer — “Hamilton,” which starts streaming Friday on Disney+.
I’m in complete agreement with Tribune movie critic Sean Means — this is a great production of a great Broadway musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. And, while so many filmed staged productions don’t work particularly well, this one does.
You really should see it. And here are a few things to keep in mind:
• It’s not a movie. (They’ll make one of those, but not for years.) This is a filmed performance of the original production. Actually, it’s two filmed performances shot from different angles on consecutive nights, along with footage filmed without an audience on those two days.
• It’s the original cast — including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff and Leslie Odom Jr. — about a year into the show’s Broadway run. For most of us, this will be the only chance we’ll get to see Miranda & Co.
• You don’t have to stream it on Friday. Or Saturday. It’ll be on Disney+ indefinitely, although there’s speculation that when Broadway reopens, this version will go back in the vault. If you want to be among the first to see it, you can get up at 1 a.m. on Friday.
• There’s a one-minute intermission in this 162-minute production … but you’re going to be streaming it, so you can pause whenever you need to take a bathroom break.
• It’s cheap. Disney+ costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. That’s a fraction of what a single ticket to see “Hamilton” at the Eccles in December-January will cost you, if you can get one. (And if the pandemic doesn’t postpone the run.)
• Two of the three f-bombs in the show have been erased for Disney+. Honestly, the third got by without me noticing.
• It’s uproariously funny (Groff as King George III) and dreadfully sad (the deaths of Hamilton and his son). If you walk away unaffected, there might be something wrong with you.
• And, at the risk of causing a distraction, Groff — who’s fantastic — doesn’t blink. Well, he barely blinks. He closes his eyes a couple of times for dramatic effect; he spits; and he blinks a couple of times. Otherwise, it’s eerie. But then George III did end up insane.
Elsewhere on the Fourth of July:
“Top Gun” (Saturday, 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., Paramount Network) • This 1986 Tom Cruise is kind of dopey 3½ decades later, but it’s fun.
“Captain America: The First Avenger” (Saturday, 11:35 a.m. and 6 p.m., EPIX2) • This 2011 Marvel movie isn’t about the holiday at all, but, c’mon, it’s Captain America!
“1776” (12:30 p.m., TCM) • 1972 musical about the Founding Fathers.
“Independence Day” (Saturday, 2, 5, 8 and 11 p.m., AMC) • Four consecutive airings of this 1996 alien invasion film featuring a Big Battle Against the Aliens on July 4. (The 2016 sequel, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” airs at 1 and 3:20 p.m. on FXM — but, seriously, don’t bother. It’s bad.)
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., TCM; 6 p.m., KUCW Digital Channel 2) • This 1942 movie musical biography of George M. Cohen (Jimmy Cagney) absolutely oozes patriotism.
“Flags of Our Fathers” (Saturday, 3:40 p.m., HBO) • This critically acclaimed 2006 film tells the stories of the American servicemen who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima.
“Midway” (Saturday, 6 p.m., HBO) • TV premiere of this 2019 film about the naval battle that turned the tide in the Pacific during WWII.
“The Music Man” (Saturday, 6 p.m., TCM) • This movie musical — which includes a Fourth of July celebration — is about as Americana as it gets.
“Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” (Saturday, 7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5) • The Black Eyed Peas, the Killers, Lady A, John Legend, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley perform before “live” fireworks from New York. (Tape-delayed in this time zone.)
“A Capitol Fourth 2020″ (Saturday, 7 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7) • The 40th-anniversary edition will feature new performances from New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, as well as Washington, D.C.; highlights from the past 39 years; and live fireworks. Repeats at 8:30 p.m.
“The Statue of Liberty” ( Saturday, 7 p.m., PBS World/KUED Digital 2) • Ken Burns’ 1985 documentary is fascinating.