One of Han Solo's best known lines in the original Star Wars isn't one of his many smart-assed one-liners—it's a quiet little prayer to his own spaceship, one that goes like this: "Hear me baby? Hold together." As we face another month of self-quarantine, sheltering in place, and doing what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, "holding together" is the task at hand. Conveniently, today, May 4, is also Star Wars Day, the perfect time to remind yourself of (or get acquainted with) the greatness of the franchise. To help you with that, we've rounded up the best social distancing-friendly ways to celebrate today, from Reuben's Brews' Hyperdrive Beer Release to Star Wars Day on Disney+. May the Fourth be with you.
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, but it's also 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 (in addition to continuing to stream the original trilogy and the prequels). The Clone Wars 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!
Virtual Star Wars Convention
New York Comic Con and Star Wars Celebration organizers ReedPop are hosting a two-day online Star Wars extravaganza for #Maythe4th and #Revengeofthe5th. Look forward to movies and episodes of both The Clone Wars and Rebels with live-tweeted commentary, as well as Q&A sessions and discussions with writers and voice actors associated with the franchise.
FOOD & DRINK SPECIALS
The Capitol Hill bar has Star Wars cocktail kits available for delivery or pickup. Each one makes two Baby Yoda cocktails (complete with a special Yoda glass and a "Jedi robe" to wrap around it), two Dark Side red cocktails, and two Light Side blue cocktails. You'll also get a light-up Holoron ice cube.
Just in time for May the 4th, Reuben's Brews Hyperdrive, a hazy IPA "brewed with the best hops and best malts we could find in the galaxy," is available for preorder and pickup, along with two limited-edition t-shirts.
The local cupcake chain has a new Star Wars Dozen, which comes with four vanilla-vanilla cupcakes topped with plastic Darth Vader rings, four chocolate-vanilla cupcakes with plastic R2-D2 rings, and four chocolate-vanilla cupcakes with plastic C3PO rings.
Yelm's drive-in movie theater can't screen films right now, but their "Rebel cinema employees" are using the Force to bring you popcorn and candy for a Star Wars-themed drive-through. R2-D2 and more of your favorite characters will be there to greet you from your car.
NOTEWORTHY STREAMABLE SPINOFFS
The Clone Wars
In 2003, Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Primal) accepted a pitch to make animated shorts set in the Star Wars universe. The result, Clone Wars, was the most kinetic, crazy, and adrenaline-infused thing to have the words Star Wars slapped on it. George Lucas then dismissed him and hired Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender) to essentially re-do what Tartakovsky did, but in 3D, slower, and less intensely. Filoni's opening salvo, the 2008 Clone Wars movie, is both the lowest-grossing and lowest-rated Star Wars film in history. Not an auspicious beginning! But over time, and with the help of a small army of animation’s best writers, storyboard artists, and voice actors, Filoni & Co. made The Clone Wars TV show into arguably the best example of Star Wars’ storytelling potential—and its main character, Ahsoka Tano, retroactively justifies the existence of the prequel era pretty much all by herself. What happened to Rey in The Rise of Skywalker will never not suck, but it’s nice to know there’s a Star War that does right by its groundbreaking girl Jedi.
One of the more popular quarantine pastimes involves giving demonized films a second chance since we're all cooped up, have tons of time to kill, and nothing better to do than fight about dumb movies on social media! And in that spirit, I'd like to suggest that you slide over to Netflix and spend some time with Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second-lowest grossing Star War ever, a film that isn't particularly great at anything, but is much better than its box-office and weirdly weaponized word-of-mouth would suggest. If you love The Mandalorian, Solo is the Star War that feels the most like it. As our review stated: "Solo, a film about a charming dipshit who succeeds despite his dumbassery, is a very entertaining movie! Much like its plot, Solo shouldn’t work. It doesn’t work. It wins anyway."
NOTEWORTHY PODCASTS & MUSIC
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.
The Mandalorian: The Complete Soundtrack
The magnitude of Ludwig Goransson’s last four years as a musician cannot 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.
For extra credit. We know it's not the same thing.
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.
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.