You risk gaining weight just by watching this show. But never mind. "Hamburger America," a guided tour and celebration of the nation's most beloved dish, is the perfect way to close the Fourth of July weekend (8 p.m. EDT Monday on Sundance Channel).
Filmmaker and burger-lover George Motz hits eight of the nation's best burger joints - from Santa Fe, N.M., to New Haven, Conn.
In Sedalia, Mo., he visits the Wheel Inn Drive-In, which since 1948 has served the Guberburger - a grilled patty topped with melted peanut butter. Solly's Grille in Glendale, Wis., is famous for its Butter Burger: ground beef topped with a huge dollop of butter.
The film takes us to the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, made famous by John Belushi on "Saturday Night Live," where the menu says "Cheezeborger, Cheezeborger," just as that glorious word is pronounced there.
But maybe the most notable eatery of all is Dyer's in Memphis, where they have been deep-frying ground beef in the same skillet of grease for more than 90 years. At least they strain it daily.
Other shows to look out for:
- Also Monday at 8 p.m., PBS presents "A Capitol Fourth," aired live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol (check local listings). Marking its 25th year, this holiday event stars Gloria Estefan, the Beach Boys, the O'Jays, and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan joining host Barry Bostwick, with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Erich Kunzel. There'll be fireworks, too, of course - plus Tchaikovsky's rousing "1812 Overture," complete with live cannon fire.
- "America is like a fraternity," says comedian Carlos Mencia, "and in order to join our country, you must get hazed." Clearly Mencia wants to be the pledge chairman, as he demonstrates on "Mind of Mencia." He seems to spare no one and no group as he makes fun of ethnic stereotypes, race relations, immigration and other facts of American life. The half-hour variety-comedy series is shot in the studio before an audience as well as on location, and includes parodies of commercials, including one for Verizoon of Iraq, which, set in war-torn Baghdad, spoofs the "Can you hear me now?" campaign: "Just because you're penniless doesn't mean you can't go wireless." The show premieres 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on Comedy Central.
- The year is 1864 and the young men of the First Michigan Cavalry find themselves stranded in the Virginia forest, outnumbered and injured. But the regiment receives an inspiring gift when a soldier's beloved mare gives birth unexpectedly. That's the premise of "The Colt," a film airing on Hallmark Channel set against the backdrop of the Civil War. Then, when orders are given to shoot the foal, lest it encumber the brigade, the soldier refuses. Born into the devastation of war, the colt is spared as a symbol of hope, leading the tattered warriors on a journey of self-discovery. Starring Ryan Merriman, "The Colt" airs 9 p.m. Saturday.
- Sometime persuasion requires "rabid ideas," declares John Cale of the Velvet Underground. "You're really trying to be polite about it and say, 'Hey, don't you get it?' But generally they don't, and then you have to push the boundaries." That helps sum up the ethos of punkdom as covered in "PUNK: attitude," an eye-opening, sometimes ear-piercing documentary that premieres 10 p.m. Saturday on the IFC Channel. Made by filmmaker Don Letts, the disc jockey at arguably the first punk club, Manhattan's Roxy, "PUNK: attitude" has remarkable performance footage from those days, as well as current commentary from knowledgeable veterans including Tommy Ramone, Glen Matlock (the Sex Pistols), Mick Jones (the Clash), Chrissie Hynde (the Pretenders), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), David Johansen (New York Dolls), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Siouxie Sioux (the Banshees) and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.