Celebrating the TV holiday marathon

Every Thanksgiving, I not only looked forward to my mom’s great cooking, but they used to have the Twilight Zone marathon every turkey day as well. 

As regular readers of TG know, we’re big fans of the Zone and its creator Rod Serling, and of course I used to watch the show growing up.


I was reminded of this from Vulture, who recalled the TV marathons we loved on the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, New Years, and more. As Gilbert Cruz writes, channeling Serling, “Cast your mind, if you can, back to a time before streaming. To the time in which most popular movies and TV shows weren’t readily available on Netflix or Hulu Plus or iTunes or Amazon Prime… To the time of the holiday TV marathon, a tradition that all this streaming has effectively killed.”


This is actually something people have felt they’ve been missing since the dawn of the VCR age. Before you could set your timer or Tivo, you had to see a movie or TV show when it was on, not when you replayed it. And it was indeed a great social event to get together with friends and enjoy your favorite episodes or movies on the holidays, especially if you didn’t like sports.


And with the TV show marathons, it was great to be surprised and see one of your favorite episodes pop up. While everything they showed on the Twilight Zone marathon wasn’t a classic, they did have some episodes that weren’t the greatest, there’s many episodes I’ve always loved to death, and loved recalling with my Twilight Zone buddies.

There’s way too many to list, and you’ll probably start shouting out a bunch yourself. “The one where William Shatner sees the monster on the wing of the plane!” “The one where the gambling addict is chased by the slot machine!” “The one where Burgess Meredith breaks his glasses!” “The one where the guy thinks he’s in heaven, gets totally bored with it and says he’s going to ‘the other place,’ then he’s told he’s IN the other place!” And on and on.


Not to mention the great I Love Lucy marathons, the Godzilla marathons, Three Stooges marathons, X-Files, and so many more we all loved. Maybe now the advent of the DVD box set has indeed taken away the act of all of us getting together, and having fun with all of this on the holidays. As much as convenience is great, it was definitely a lot of fun to wait until your favorite movie or show was coming on TV or to the theaters, and you had to catch it right there and plan your schedule accordingly.


As Vulture continues, “The idea of becoming consumed by a TV series over the span of a day’s gorging has become so commonplace – how many of you are using [the 4th] to catch up with Breaking Bad in preparation for Season Five? – that the Fourth of July TV marathon has been neutered. It’s still there in pockets, but few take it seriously anymore.”


Still, for pop culture nuts like myself who always have an old movie or TV show on in the background while I’m working, every day is the 4th of July in this regard.