In the wake of one of the best Star Wars movies ever made, it’s time that you learned about something from the other end of the spectrum. Thirty-eight years ago, the Star Wars Holiday Special was made, capitalizing on the success of Star Wars(it hadn’t yet gotten the Episode IV tag), which was released the previous year. This movie was significant for several reasons. First, it has never been rebroadcast since then or released in any media, except for a very small portion. Secondly, it was the first appearance of Boba Fett, long before the iconic bounty hunter would grace the silver screen with his trademark Mandalorian armor. Lastly, it is widely regarded as one of the worst things to come out of the Star Wars universe, and that includes Jar Jar Binks.
The special is a musical variety show with several musical numbers from famous guests, including Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll and Bea Arthur. Also not to be missed is a very drunk Carrie Fisher singing a song about the joy of Life Day. Joining in the variety and fun are other notable guest stars of the time including Academy Award winner Art Carney and Emmy Award winner Harvey Korman.
The basic story of the Star Wars Holiday Special is something that on the surface is epic and worthy of the Star Wars name. Chewbacca is trying to get home to his family on Kashyyyk, so he can celebrate Life Day with his family. The Empire, however, has a blockade set up around the planet because Wookies are persistant trouble for the Imperials. Yes, it’s Life Day, not Christmas, because this is Star Wars and Kashyyyk, not Earth.
The execution of the idea is where things start to go awry. Maybe it’s the first 15 minutes of the Star Wars Holiday Special, where there are only Wookies on screen. That means the entire time is spent listening to Wookie-speak with no subtitles. While this isn’t entirely horrible, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the show.
The rest of the show is just a trainwreck after a 10-car pile up after an asteroid striking the moon and causing tidal havoc all over the world. Some stand out moments in the show include
- Let’s start with the names of Chewbacca’s family as they are introduced: Itchy, Malla, and Lumpy. Itchy is Chewbacca’s father, Malla is his wife, and Lumpy is his son. The names were later ret-conned into being just nicknames for more canon-friendly Attichitcuk, Mallatobuck, and Lumpawarrump.
- There’s an absolutely horrific scene where Itchy receives the gift of a holo-helmet from a local trader, San Daunn, played by Art Carney. Itchy dons the helmet and proceeds to watch Diahann Carroll, who is essentialy virtual reality pornography as foreseen by the 70’s. She says lines such as “My voice is for you alone. I am found in your eyes only,” and “I am your fantasy.” The song is long and has so many euphemisms that it’s hard to keep track of them all
- There’s a stormtrooper moment that tops pretty much every stormtrooper moment ever. Forget the stormtroopers not being able to hit the broad side of a barn, or that unfortunate guy who ran into the door in Episode IV: A New Hope. There’s a trooper here that goes to investigate Chewbacca’s home. As he gets there, Han Solo knocks his blaster rifle out of his hand. As our unfortunate trooper goes to pick it up, he trips over his own feet and falls over the ledge. And you should know that Wookies live in what are basically tree houses that are hundreds of feet off the ground. So, goodbye poor FH-3982, or whatever your designation was.
There are other moments that make this holiday special worth showing to your friends and family, but if you’re still in doubt, here are a list of the accolades that the Star Wars Holiday Special has received:
- #3 in “The Five Goofiest Moments of the Star Wars Mythos” as listed in Issue 62 of UK’s Star Wars magazine
- #11 in “25 Most Hilarious Holiday TV Moments” according to TV Guide
- Almost every participant in the special denies that it was ever made. According to Carrie Fisher in an interview with New York Time’s David Carr, she uses it to get people to leave at the end of her parties. Watch how Harrison Ford reacts to questions asked about it in this interview with Blue Collar Men Productions on YouTube.
If you’re looking for a place to watch the special, you can find it on YouTube or in bootleg copies being sold around the internet. Watch it and you can rank it with holiday traditions like A Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Story.
[Featured Image by CBS]