Star Wars Day on Disney+
The history of Star Wars Day is interesting in that there's not really any history at all; It's a dumb pun that some fans turned into a self-perpetuating marketing celebration back in the "dark times" where liking Star Wars was unpopular (Ed. note: Those times never really existed, Star Wars has always been a billions-generating global media franchise). When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, people figured the company would finally graduate this fan celebration to the corporate big time, but it never really happened... until now. Disney+ has overhauled its entire look for the day, and is not only making The Rise of Skywalker available to stream, it's premiering a new behind-the-scenes documentary on their breakout hit The Baby Yoda Show The Mandalorian, and streaming the series finale of The Clone Wars. That last bit is the crown jewel here: Even if the final part of this four-episode arc ending the seven-season animated epic doesn't quite stick the landing, the first three parts are so good that if it were edited into an actual movie (please do this, Lucasfilm) they would immediately become not just the best prequel film in the saga, but probably a top-tier Star Wars entry overall. Ahsoka Lives!

Blank Check
Looking for a good movie podcast chaser after pounding down all that Star Wars? Blank Check (starring The Atlantic's David Sims and The Tick's Griffin Newman) is one of the best deep dive talk shows available. It started as a Star Wars show from an alternate universe where The Phantom Menace was the only Star Wars movie that was ever made, and became what it is today: An intelligent, passionate investigation of your favorite directors' careers, going title-by-title through the filmographies of folks like Jonathan Demme, George Miller, James Cameron, Ang Lee, and more, with a rotating panel of special guests including Paul Scheer, Paul F. Tompkins, John Hodgman, Demi Adejuyigbe, and Chris Weitz. Oh, and if that Disney+ rewatch of Rise of Skywalker still leaves you wanting... maybe check out their post-mortem discussion on the film as a release valve.

Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama
Or maybe, after seeing Rise of Skywalker, no podcast-aided commisseration will help, and you're all like "hey, whatever, the inevitable reboot will be better." GUESS WHAT: That reboot already exists, has existed since 1981, and is available for free on Google Podcasts! George Lucas sold the audio rights to his alma mater USC for $1, and they—working with NPR—transformed Star Wars into 13 half-hour episodes of ridiculously-immersive radio drama. And wouldn't you know it, this reboot is better than the movie. Sure, you gotta get used to the mostly-recast roles, and if you're a "b-but canon!" kinda nerd you might get hung up on some details. But if you want to like Star Wars more, this radio drama oughta do it.

Support The Portland Mercury

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction
Remember in the very early first days of this quarantine, when social media still thought they could meme their way through this mess? One of the most popular posts was this supercut of Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes asking a barrage of questions. That video was the first time a lot of people realized Jonathan Frakes wasn't actually William Riker, but an actor who was on other TV shows in the '90s. That show? Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. And whaddya know: It's actually pretty fun, especially if you're looking for the sort of casual background binge that's helping many get through their lockdowns. Beyond Belief is an anthology series that's equal parts Choose Your Own Adventure, Ripley's Believe it or Not and Amazing Stories, packed full of performances from your favorite "that guys"—all of whom are relishing the opportunity to be the star for once in their character acting careers. All four seasons of the show (narrated by trailer voice supreme Don LaFontaine) are available on imdb.tv for free, but if you're only here for the Frakes, skip season 1, hosted much more blandly by James Brolin.

Star Trek: First Contact Live Commentary w/ Jonathan Frakes
And just in case you can't get enough Frakes (there is no such observable state in the universe, btw) and you feel like there's a bit of a Star Wars imbalance on this day, why not grab a DVD, or a Blu-Ray, or rent a VOD stream of Star Trek: First Contact (Frakes directed it!) and then load up this live commentary of the film recorded last week on the CineFix YouTube channel, where Frakes shares behind-the-scenes stories of making the best Next Gen movie, and every now and again lapses into awestruck wonder at the Frakesian majesties he captured on film. Not even Frakes can withstand Riker's beardy charms.

Macbeth
Okay, enough about Number One—what's Captain Picard up to on Star Wars day, you say? Oh, you know, doing his whole Tony-nominated serious actor thing in this 2009 performance of director Rupert Goold's Macbeth, available to stream for free as part of PBS's Great Performances series. This Macbeth, filmed for television (and winning a 2011 Peabody award for it) is transplanted to the 20th century, and Stewart's portrayal is one of the single best in the character's very long history, matched perfectly to Kate Fleetwood's turn as the cold-as-ice Lady Macbeth.

The Mandalorian: The Complete Soundtrack
Let's just go ahead and close out May the 4th on a literal high note: The magnitude of Ludwig Goransson’s last four years as a musician can not be minimized. He helped Ryan Coogler restore the Rocky series to glory by re-contextualizing Bill Conti’s Oscar-winning score for the '76 original and turning it into Creed’s propulsive—but still plaintive—sound. His next at-bat produced the best Funkadelic record in 30 years with Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love, and then he provided Wakanda its beating heart in Coogler’s Black Panther, winning a Best Score Oscar for his efforts. Which begs the question: Just how in the fuck do you follow all that up? Well: you take a job with Lucasfilm, scoring their first live-action Star Wars show. No pressure. And then you make it even more interesting by voluntarily avoiding the use of any of John Williams. And then you go back to the '70s in your mind, and seek out the artists that legends like Williams and Ennio Morricone were listening to back then, and you create an entirely new musical vocabulary for the genre of “space western" to serve up complete, undeniable, album-length bangers, once a week, for every week that the show runs—a scoring feat that, so far as I know, has never been done before. Ludwig Goransson is a miracle, and The Mandalorian’s soundtrack is some of the best Star Wars music ever written, period.