'Game of Thrones' beer, Marvel stars in Chicago and more
There's a lot going on in the pop culture universe these days. To wit:
• The "Star Wars" saga debuts today on the Digital HD format with the same movie transfers and much of the same special features available in the nine-disc Blu-ray set that has been available since 2011. Each of the six films also comes with two new features produced just for this release, which is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, PlayStation and my preferred format, VUDU. You can buy all six movies together as a bundle, or pick and choose your favorites (and we all know which ones those are). This is a great alternative to buying, say, the original trilogy Blu-ray set, which has no special features aside from commentary tracks.
• Let's give a standing ovation for everyone involved with AMC's "Better Call Saul," the "Breaking Bad" spinoff the first season of which wrapped up Monday after 10 dynamite episodes, but especially for one of the show's unsung heroes: Rhea Seehorn did so much with so little in her part as Kim Wexler, the big-firm lawyer who doesn't hesitate to help her downtrodden pal, Jimmy McGill (Naperville's Bob Odenkirk). Seehorn takes a character that could easily be seen as a one-dimensional pushover and makes her mysterious and lovable. Here's hoping Seehorn gets a brighter spotlight in Season 2.
• "Furious 7" grossed a tremendous $147.2 million in its opening weekend, and Variety reported last Sunday that the moviegoers who went to see it were every bit as diverse as its cast. The audience for the Vin Diesel/Paul Walker sequel was 37 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Caucasian, 24 percent African-American and 10 percent Asian, a testament to the franchise's focus on its multicultural family.
• Why aren't the songs from Netflix's wildly popular comedy series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" available on iTunes or Amazon Prime yet? "Pinot Noir" and "Daddy's Boy" would be fine, funny additions to any soundtrack playlist.
• If you don't quite understand the excitement over "Mad Men," the final run of which began last Sunday on AMC, you're not alone. Yes, the actors are wonderful. Sure, it evokes and comments upon American history in a distinctive way. Of course, it's well-made. But the chronicles of ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) have never gripped me the way they've gripped "Mad Men's" many fans -- or TV critics and industry people, who shower it with plaudits every year. Perhaps "Mad Men" is simply too intellectual and mature an enterprise for someone who cried himself to sleep watching clips from old Oscar shows on YouTube. (Hey, in my defense, I was sick and hadn't slept in two days.)
• "Game of Thrones" returns to HBO at 8 p.m. Sunday for its fifth season, and you can watch the premiere with a bottle of "Game of Thrones"-branded beer -- should you be able to find one. Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., has cooked up five limited-edition varieties in honor of the show. This year's offering, a Dark Saison ale named Three-Eyed Raven, will be available in 750ml bottles for $8.99 and can be found at Binny's Beverage Depot locations across the suburbs. Check binnys.com for availability.
• And finally, an exciting addition has been made to the schedule for the annual C2E2 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, coming April 24-26 to McCormick Place. Ming-Na Wen ("Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," "Mulan") will join fellow Marvel Universe star Hayley Atwell ("Captain America: The First Avenger," "Agent Carter") for a joint panel appearance on the second day of the convention. Both actresses will also be available for autographs and photos, for a fee. Start planning your visit now at C2E2.com.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.