Luke Skywalker and Han Solo battle evil Imperial forces to help Chewbacca reach his imperiled family on the Wookiee planet – in time for Life Day, their most important day of the year!
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, R2-D2 and James Earl Jones. With their special guest stars: Beatrice Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, The Jefferson Starship and Harvey Korman.
Very few people know that the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ exists. It may seem strange, but George Lucas likes it that way (more on that in a moment). And, of the people who know of its existence, not many have actually seen it, thereby imbuing it with a sheen that only legends usually seem to have.
In fact, it’s downright brutal: there is a plot, but it’s barely held together for its full two-hour duration by inane skit after inane skit, soulless “musical” performances and sing-a-longs, bottom-of-the-barrel acting and some of the worst production values this side of an Ed Wood film. Heck, even classic ‘Star Wars’ music is reproduced here as warped clones.
I first saw this in the early ’90s, on a third generation tape that I had been warned would hurt. Keeping this in mind, my friends and I decided to compensate for the pain by making a night of it – by getting some pizza, some drinks, and just trying to get into the right vibe for it.
Admittedly, I hadn’t yet seen a lot of (or any?) Z-movies, but even seeing it now I’m impressed by how unbearable this show is. There’s really a drought of original thought and taste in this sorry spectacle. It’s no wonder that it was only broadcast once and that it’s only available on bootleg, sourced from VHS recordings from 1978.
George Lucas, even now in all his finite wisdom, also recognizes this as rubbish. He has never made this available commercially and has done his best to bury its existence. I wouldn’t even be surprised if his controlling nature comes from this incident, wherein he let others ru(i)n the show. It would be enough to make anyone refuse to let strangers near their babies.
You know a show is in trouble when there is not one piece of dialogue in the first 10-12 minutes – the void instead being filled with the incomprehensible (i.e. not subtitled or translated) grunts of wookiees puttering around the house. Apparently, in 1978, watching a wookiee child walk on a railing was considered grand entertainment!
But that’s not all! Some of the other lowlights are:
- Cirque du soleil rejects doing circus acts that grade school children could do.
- a trader trying to sell a gadget to an Imperial Guard.
- a wookiee watching a cooking show, and trying to cook along with it.
- a decrepit old wookiee (named Lumpy, no less!) watching a “stimulating” music video.
- a wookiee child trying to put together a toy with the help of defective “how-to” video.
- a lame musical number in a cantina-like bar.
- Wookiees walking around in space with red robes on.
- Princess Leia singing a soulless Life Day tune.
It goes on and on, dredging up the dreariest “entertainment” the ’70s could ever muster. I don’t even know if this could have been considered entertainment by ’70s standard, truth be told – and we all know how low it got at some points!
The only way to watch this show, if one must, is to give it the old Rifftrax treatment, wherein a few goofballs comment along with the film. I recently watched this again with the Rifftrax running over it and had the greatest time – we all laughed heartily along for a full 2 hours (it included the vintage commercials that played between skits).
But, beyond this, I would caution against watching the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’. No mental preparation is enough to enjoy it. It’s so devastatingly awful that I know very few people who have made it through in one sitting – or with their dignity intact.
For more about the SWHS, please visit: http://www.starwarsholidayspecial.com/