What better way to celebrate the birth of the United States of America than to watch a TV series depicting its total collapse?

As depressing as that may sound, American fans of The Walking Dead have more to look forward to over Independence Day weekend than just barbecues and the inevitable minor burns from cheap fireworks. AMC has announced that it will broadcast the entire current run of the zombie drama starting 1 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on July 4th.

According to a press release distributed by AMC, the network plans to show all three completed seasons of The Walking Dead in a multi-day marathon from July 4th to the 7th. Featuring inter-episode segments hosted by nerd icon/Comic Book Men producer Kevin Smith (Clerks 3), the marathon will not only show all the episodes of the series, but will also premiere interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the set of The Walking Dead season 4.

Spread over four days, AMC’s special broadcast of the series will begin with two showings of season 1 on July 4th – one in color and a follow-up in black-and-white. Season 2 will be shown in its entirety over July 5th, and all but the final five episodes of season 3 will air July 6th. On July 7th, AMC will wrap up The Walking Dead’s (fairly crazy) third season.

While it’s obvious that the marathon of The Walking Dead is intended to drum up interest in the upcoming fourth season of the series, it’s also a savvy programming move. Like many holiday weekends, Independence Day is often considered a write-off for networks – a time when whole swaths of the population are expected to be outside and/or enjoying other summertime pursuits.

By scheduling almost the entirety of the period with a single program, AMC not only heightens awareness of their premier series with drop-in viewers, but also gives an enticing reason for existing fans to take some time out to watch their favorite episodes – all while helping to maintain ratings.

Of course, none of this will mean a thing to our non-American readers. At the very least, you can look forward to the marathon’s behind-the-scenes segments to make their way online – either officially or through diligent viewers and their DVRs.

The Walking Dead will claw its way back for season 4 in the fall of 2013.