Ah, the infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’– the most embarrassing part of the entire Star Wars catalog… and that includes the Ewoks made for TV movies. The original ‘Star Wars’, now referred to as ‘A New Hope’ blew away every expectation and redefined not only science fiction film-making, but the very concept of summer, tent pole blockbusters. So as a quick cash grab, CBS reassembled the cast of the movie and threw them into this steaming pile of Christmas crap, which originally aired on November 17, 1978. Yes, it’s as bad as you’ve heard. It is misguided television at its most misguided. It’s also a prime example of how television back then differed wildly from what we’re used to today. In the early 80s, MTV stormed the world and music videos, and their quick edits influenced the way TV and movies were filmed. In other words, we no longer have any attention span. And the internet has made us worse. So that makes sitting through this train wreck even worse, because it’s soooooooooooo sloooooooooooooow. If you can make it through the first fifteen minutes you deserve a prize.
As was the norm at the time, the special is loaded with guest stars, past their prime comedians Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman and Art Carney, as well as Broadway star Diahann Cannon who performs a musical number and the Jefferson Starship because STARSHIP, get it? The special’s major claim to fame is the first appearance of bounty hunter and fan favorite Boba Fett during an animated segment.
And while the cast of the movie does appear, their roles are cameos. The real focus is on Chewbacca’s father Itchy, wife Malla and son Lumpy back on Kashyyk, Chewbacca’s home world. Yes, Lumpy, really. Though the special is often mistakenly referred to as the ‘Star Wars Christmas Special’ it’s actually ‘Holiday’ as… well, I suppose they don’t celebrate Christmas in space. Instead, the celebration is for Life Day and the special opens with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) racing back to Kashyyk, so that Chewie can spend Life Day with his family. Along the way, they are pursued by Imperial Star Destroyers. Okay… so opening with a little action. That sounds good.From top left, Chewie, Malla, Lumpy and Itchy
Then everything comes to a screaming halt as we change scenery to the Wookie family’s tree house, where they spend roughly ten to fifteen minutes screwing around and growling at each other in NOT ENGLISH with NO SUBTITLES. Granted, Chewie was never subtitled either, but he was interacting with humans that spoke English and kinda sorta translated for him. We weren’t expected to follow a ten minute conversation consisting of GROWLS. This tomfoolery culminates with Lumpy watching some boring-ass Cirque Du Soliel hologram because I tuned into a ‘Star Wars’ special to watch some ridiculous acrobats and jugglers. Also, in space, they have lightsabres and this is the best they could come up with to entertain themselves? This goes on forever and suddenly makes you wish the Wookies would just go back to growling at one another. Oh wait, they do.
Then they decide to watch TV. Because that’s always fun to watch someone else do. Oh, actually it appears to be a two-way communication device. And who’s on the other side? Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker wearing a RuPaul amount of makeup and R2-D2. It’s revealed that Luke knows the Wookies, who are concerned that Chewie still hasn’t made it home, but Luke assures them he’ll get there. Meanwhile, Artoo screws up some engine Luke is trying to fix. Way to be an idiot Artoo. Don’t act so superior around C-3PO. C-3PO doesn’t jack up engines others are working to fix.Mark Hamill is wearing so much makeup, that apparently instead of telling Luke to “Use the Force,” Obi-wan told him “You Bettah Work!”
(God, do I have to keep going? *Le Sigh*!)
Cue aged comedian guest star Art Carney as Saundan, the owner of a shop the Wookies frequent. However, today the store is visited by an Imperial trooper. Malla enters, hoping that Saundan has heard from Chewie and apparently he has, as he subtly assures her that Chewie is on his way. Saundan then pitches a personal groomer to the trooper then asks, “Would you like to pay me something for it… or give me something in trade?” Bow chicka wow wow! Well, the trooper is rocking a pretty righteous 70s porn stache, so I maybe don’t blame Saundan for at least giving it a try. Instead, the trooper… who I guess isn’t down with man sex, simply takes the item without paying. Sorry, Art! No penis for you!
DARTH VADER!!! YESSSSSSS!!!! SWEEEET!!!!!
Oh crud. The producers of this special simply took footage from the real movie and dubbed in new dialogue. That’s not so bad for Darth as he has no visible mouth, but the Imperial officer at his side looks like a fugitive from a bad Toho movie (i.e. poor dubbing). And that’s the ONLY time Darth Vader appears! It’s like one minute long and PEACE OUT!!! I don’t blame him, do you?
More Wookie growling.The original Madea’s Christmas
Next Malla who earlier botched an attempt to make the Life Day feast tunes into a cooking show featuring Harvey Korman not just in drag but BLACK FACE (!!!) as Gormaanda. (Oh I get it. It’s just not funny.)
Like every other scene in this special, this goes on way too long and it’s not even a real recipe as we don’t have Banthas. Way to waste time. Oh right. That’s all this is.
Loin and rump jokes ensue. Amazing family entertainment.
Then we get some physical “comedy” as Madea, I mean Gormaanda starts manically stirring her dish and sprouts extra arms to help in her assault. It’s… anti-funny. Like an angel lost its wings, because of how unfunny it was.
Luckily, we get a little more space action as we cut back to Han and Chewie trying to escape the Empire. Han, by the way is rocking a sweet Bruce Jenner middle part bob. What is up with the men in this special. Butch it up! Han is supposed to be a bad ass!Wookie Porn.
Back on Kashyyk (which sounds like a supporting character on ‘The Shahs of Sunset’, btw), the Wookies learn that the Empire has placed an embargo on the planet, not allowing any ships to leave or enter it. Welp… guess Life Day is f****d. Better start growling. Luckily Saundan arrives with a Proton Pack (I AIN’T AFRAID OF NO GHOST!), because his character clearly needed beefing up after his last illustrious scene. Yet the Wookies are too distraught thinking of Chewie that he pitches a queen hissy because they aren’t more happy to see him. He gives them Life Day presents which they don’t even open in front of him so he can at least derive joy from their reactions. (Wookie douches.) Instead Lumpy runs upstairs and opens his box to find an ancient ass typewriter. (That’s what it looks like anyway.)
He then gives Grandpa Itchy his gift which is a virtual reality type machine, and says “Happy Life Day” before leaning in closer and whispering “And I do mean Happy Life Day.” Geez man, just go on Craigslist! Or download Grindr! Sheesh!
This next part certainly doesn’t help. I just… I can’t. You have to watch it yourself.
So yeah an old man Wookie just pleasured himself to some chick with feather hair. Let’s just move on.
Okay… just… even that song was boring as hell! Like seriously! Don’t show up dressed as a Solid Gold Dancer and bore us to death with that mess! This show is dragging as is! Hell, they could have just gotten Kansas to come on and perform ‘Dust In The Wind’ if they wanted us to kill ourselves so badly!“I came in like a wrecking ball!”
Oh thank God! C-3PO and Princess Leia! Princess Leia apparently did too much coke, as C-3PO has to translate Malla’s Wookie speak for her, whereas every other human can understand them just fine. (Her face even has that “coke bloat”… think Matthew Perry around season five of ‘Friends’.) Oh look, there’s Saundan again. Leia quickly signs off. That coke ain’t gonna snort itself!
Oh thank heavens, Han and Chewie finally arrive! But they get all gay for each other first.No, Han Solo did not go on to marry Kris Kardashian.
Stormtroopers invade the treehouse… more Saundan nonsense but at least he speaks English. And Stormtroopers! Cool! Right? Saundan tries to distract the Imperials with his leather cases (just… don’t… ask, in case you missed it, nothing makes sense). Meanwhile, a Stormtrooper looks for Chewie in what is essentially a medicine cabinet! Like a grown Wookie is going to fit inside that! A separate soldier attempts to bash Lumpy with the butt of his rifle after he growls at him! Because no matter the decade, child/animal abuse is hilarious!
So Han and Chewie are on the planet, the whole point of this trip. Do they arrive? Nope, how about another musical number, this one by Jefferson Starship! Because things weren’t progressing slowly enough already. This isn’t even cool Jefferson Starship with Grace Slick. It’s not even cheesy Starship who sang the ‘Mannequin’ theme song. This is trippy, synthy Jefferson Starship in what sounds like a song that was cut from the ‘Heavy Metal’ soundtrack.
This is the part where they air the cartoon adventure. It’s actually not terrible, but it is very 70s. I just mentioned the animated movie ‘Heavy Metal’ and the Star Wars cartoon reminds me of that. There’s a slight darkness to it. The plot involves Luke and the Droids going to a “water” planet to rescue Han and Chewie, and encountering Boba Fett, who Luke initially thinks is a “friend”, which is due to the fact that Boba calls him “friend” like 12 times in a single conversation and Luke is gullible and susceptible to subliminal suggestion, which are great qualities to have if you want to be a Jedi. Boba helps them find the Millennium Falcon, but Han is unconscious and soon Luke is too. Boba Fett offers to go into the city to find the cure, but Chewie goes too. Even so, Boba slips away and we learn he’s working for Darth Vader. Luckily, R2-D2 hacks their conversation. Luke and Han are revived, but Boba flies off. The art is a little kooky and takes getting used to. The humans are all pretty ugly and caricature-ish. But all things considering, this is really the best thing about the special.
The Imperials then go back to searching the house for Chewbacca which entails them tearing the place apart, in case he was, y’know hiding behind those books on the shelf.
Eventually they stop trashing the place… but they don’t leave! We get to watch Lumpy clean his room. Thrilling television! He then watches TV! The excitement never ceases. Harvey Korman is back, but not in drag or blackface. He is the host of an instructional video for Lumpy’s new… something or other.
Then we get a broadcast called ‘Life on Tattoine’ which featuring the Creature Cantina, which was at least one of the coolest parts of ‘A New Hope’. (I think some of the footage is reused from the movie, or maybe cut footage?) It appears that the Cantina is actually owned by Bea Arthur, or rather Ackmena, a surly barkeep who is the object of affection for Korman, again, this time as Krelman. Unfortunately, she doesn’t return his feelings. After that, the Empire announces that the entire planet is under curfew, but when Ackmena tries to get the bar patrons to leave, they refuse… as she walks up to nearly every… single… one… of them and implores them to depart. She then serves up a last round and sings along with the band to a vaudeville-style remix of the original Cantina Band’s song and the drunk aliens finally depart.
Okay, it’s finally nearly over. Han and Chewie reach the tree house and fight the Stormtroopers, but it’s the least violent fight ever as a Stormtrooper drops his gun and trips over it, thus defeating himself without Han throwing a punch.
Later, we get the full cast together. C-3PO whines about not being alive. Chewbacca wears a red Snuggy. Leia give a speech… then SINGS!
It’s kind of like “I Believe I Can Fly” except not like that at all.
And there you have it! ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ in a nutshell. A big, big nutshell, but if you think this article was long, well then YOU try sitting through the show itself! But don’t. Really, don’t.