My friends, I have looked deep into the eyes of madness. I have seen the horror that is The Star Wars Holiday Special. And tonight, on the 45th anniversary of it’s broadcast debut, you shall know my pain. And because I’ve never seen another reviewer do it, I’m gonna dissect this baby scene by scene. Click the pic and let’s celebrate Life Day!
The year was 2020. The world was a knee-deep slog through forty miles of runny shit. I’d been saying I’d do it for years, but I figured things couldn’t possibly get any worse than they were, so what the hell. I might as well bite the bullet and watch the worst thing ever. And now, on the 45th anniversary of it’s broadcast debut, I’m going to watch it again and bring you a scene-by-scene breakdown. You’re welcome. And I apologize.
This “special” came out a year after Star Wars, and, having watched a lot of mid-1970s science fiction television, I feel confident saying there was nothing state of the art about it, even when it was first broadcast. It looks bad, even for the television budget special effects of the day. But the visuals are the least of its problems. I mean, I just saw Art Carney give Chewbacca’s toothless father VR Wookiee porn. Which I then watched along with him. Criticizing the effects would be like making fun of Hitler’s hair: it fails to address the more immediate flaws. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning…
Because there has never been an official release, I bought a bootleg DVD. But you don’t need to go that far to watch along. The video above is perfect, as it has not been chopped down to false widescreen. That’s not the way we rolled back in the ’70s. We liked our entertainment in big, blocky 4:3. And that’s what you’ll get above. If you don’t feel like watching the whole thing, I’ll drop in clips here and there at pertinent points. But the brave among you can go ahead and start the video and we’ll try to get through this together.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
We open in media res with Han and Chewie being chased through space by two Imperial Star Destroyers. The exterior starship footage was taken from the movie, so don’t hope for anything new. Han refers to the Imperials as being in one ship, and I’d give anything if that were the biggest flaw in this special. Or even this scene. But the truth is that this bit of verbal nonsense is the tiniest fraction of the tip of a gargantuan iceberg of suck.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
I’m not going to take a screen capture of this scene because you really have to see it to believe it. But look at the first pic above. Look how spacious that cockpit is. That’s a good looking bit of set design. I’ve thrown in a pic from Empire so you can really see the detail they put into the Falcon. Now let me show you what they built for The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Yeah. Drink it in. Bit of a downgrade, isn’t it? Han and Chewie are gonna have to Fred Flintstone their way across the galaxy in this thing. And look at all those painted-on “details.” The director tried to hide the shittiness of this set piece with darkness and lots of very tight close-ups, but it didn’t work. On camera it looks like something a few enterprising kids put together to make a movie in their basement. Which would be great. If this were homemade by children it would be amazing. But this was professionally produced by Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century-Fox Television, and CBS. This was inexcusable. And it’s TINY. If you think it looks small here, wait until you see it on-screen. Not that you can see much of it. But it looks like Han and Chewie are trying to outmaneuver the Empire in an understocked janitor’s closet.
“Damn it, Chewie, I’m acting as hard as I can!”
Not only does this look nothing at all like the Falcon‘s cockpit from A New Hope, it bends and shakes like it’s made of cardboard. Hell, it might be cardboard, for all I know. Harrison Ford, to his infinite credit, did his level best to sell this thing. While delivering his lines he was reaching for controls and pretending to throw switches, and really trying to pilot the hell out of this claustrophobic piece of trash. Unfortunately, the people behind the scenes seemed to have checked out already. The Foley guys didn’t bother to include a single click or beep to indicate Solo had done anything other than flail about like a trapped monkey. There are many, MANY problems to be had with the acting in this “special,” but Harrison Ford cannot be faulted for the failure of this opening scene. He was bailing water out of the Titanic with a Dixie cup. He may not have known it, but this ship was already doomed.
The opening scene established that Han was trying to get Chewie home to his family in time to celebrate Life Day. Because it’s important for some reason. That’s all they told us before they delved into credits announcing what is actually an impressive lineup of actors.
The Star Wars Holiday Special featured the entire Star Wars cast, including James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, plus some late ’60s/early ’70s comedic actors who were wise enough to hitch their wagons to the Star Wars gravy train when they got the chance. The credits make it sound like this thing actually might not suck. But they lie. This is GOING to suck.
“The Star Wars Holiday Special: Humans making entertainment to irritate humans.”
Oh, the credits also tell us that The Star Wars Holiday Special was brought to us by General Motors, home of the most dryly factual Soviet corporate slogan ever written. I bet the higher-ups at GM are happy as pigs in shit to have their name forever associated with this turd.
After the main cast are announced, we are introduced to Chewbacca’s family. Not the actors who played Chewbacca’s family, mind you. We got “Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker…” all the way through to “…and James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader,” but when it came to the actors who played Chewie’s loved ones, 20th CBS LucasFox decided they could fuck straight off. But don’t feel too bad for them; they still got billing above the “special guests.” Imagine being a veteran actor and comedian and being lower in the credits than “R2-D2 as R2-D2.” But that pales in comparison to the humiliation of hearing, “Introducing Chewbacca’s family! His wife Malla. His father Itchy. His son Lumpy. With special guest star Beatrice Arthur…”
Okay, back to the “story.” Because they apparently made this whole thing on a whim with no budget, the exterior of Chewbacca’s house is a cartoon. No explanation is ever offered. It’s just a cartoon, and we’re gonna have to deal with it. Moving on…
The interior, however, is a whole different story. It’s real. Way too goddamned real. So real, in fact, that practically everything on screen is a real item from a real store that you could for real go and buy right here on Earth in 1978. They made almost no effort to disguise any of these things. Malla is pounding the ever-loving shit out of a hunk of something with a real meat tenderizer, standing next to a very real sink and cabinet which look oddly similar to the ones in my actual kitchen. And when she does very real mom things like making Lumpy put down a Wookiee cookie and take out the garbage, the cookies are in a real bowl on a real table surrounded by real kitchen chairs, and the trash is in a real plastic garbage can.
Check out that door. Anyone who lived through the 1980s has seen round recessed brass pulls like you see on the right side of the door. They were holdovers from the ’70s, and every lightweight hollow core sliding door – like the one here – had them. And there is the crux of the problem with this scene. This set has a ton of details, and all of them are from Earth. Nothing is special or futuristic. Everything looks like it was bought off the shelves and put right on camera that same day. Itchy is sitting in a real 1970s cushioned chair with real 1970s bookshelves behind him. Very real stereo speakers sit on the shelves, and equally real Earth flowers sit in a very real woven basket on the mantel. Even the action is mundane: mom is cooking dinner, the kid is bitching because he has to take out the garbage, and grandpa is sitting in his chair. Besides the costumes, this may as well just be a really bad sitcom. This isn’t Star Wars. It’s just people in Wookiee costumes being human in somebody’s ugly house.
For some reason that is still not clear to me, Itchy wants to show Lumpy something. What the hell it is is anybody’s guess, because they only speak in Wookiee growls, and there are no subtitles. But Itchy goes to the mantel and gets his grandson this prize, which is, I shit you not, a fucking cassette tape. Any of you who grew up listening to music on cassette will immediately recognize the rattling plastic sound as he pulls the tape from the rack. They didn’t even bother to cover up the audio. It’s just a regular old cassette tape. In Star Wars.
In the spirit of transparency, I have to tell you that at this point I did not trust my eyes. Surely, I reasoned, even with all the other mundane items on screen, they wouldn’t just throw a goddamned cassette tape into the mix and expect us to accept it. So I captured the previous two frames, as well as the two that follow, to get a better look at what was going on. And I was wrong. Not only did they absolutely try to pass unaltered cassette tapes off as science fiction gadgets, but they even used commonly available cassette recorders as the console Lumpy plays them on. Unreal.
As I’ve written about in a previous article, I’ve still got plenty of love for cassettes. That’s how I know that cassettes were introduced fifteen years before this aired, and by the time this was filmed had largely replaced 8-tracks and reel-to-reel tapes. Yes, 8-tracks are associated with the 1970s, but by 1978 they were well on their way out. Cassettes were more reliable, smaller, cheaper, popular, and well-established. There is no way in hell even the most cocaine-addled mind involved with this production could have believed they could put a cassette tape on the air and get away with passing it off as unknown sci-fi technology.
I captured the previous two frames from the credit sequence. I was revisiting the credits to get a clean pic of Itchy. By the time this image first flashed on the screen my brain was already numb, so I didn’t even notice that Itchy shows off the cassette tape early on. But here it is. This was clearly unused footage from the console scene, which is astounding, because I can’t imagine what was so bad they chose to cut it out of this steaming pile of shit. But you can clearly see the cassette for what it is. And what it is is unforgivably lazy.
And thus we begin the first in a long line of our main characters watching videos. Seriously, about 85% of this “special” is us watching a terrible TV show about Wookiees watching terrible TV shows. It’s insane. The show stored on the cassette that Lumpy was so excited to see is a hologram juggling act led by super gay Green Satan. I’m not sure if homosexuality can be quantified, but if you could measure a person’s gayness I feel confident in saying that Green Satan has too much. More than is healthy for one alien, or plant, or whatever the hell he is. Green Satan is dangerously gay, is my point. He may need medical attention.
This is juggling. Not particularly good juggling. Nothing remarkable. In fact, it’s boring juggling. The kind of boring, bullshit juggling that people who don’t understand children show to kids despite the fact that it has never been particularly entertaining. Kids have already seen this shit and were over it a long time ago. It’s trash entertainment. But the way this kid reacts, you would think he did not grow up in a world full of lasers and lightsabers and living robots and a father who flies starships and kills space Nazis. No way in hell any kid in this culture would watch this shit for ten consecutive seconds. It’s unimpressive by 1970s Earth standards; I can’t imagine what sci-fi children would think of it. They certainly wouldn’t clap repeatedly like this hairy little dullard.
When the juggling “show” is finished, Lumpy is forced by his mom to go over to the Earth sink with an Earth towel and dry a brown, 1970s melamine Earth bowl that is almost exactly like one my grandma used to have. Malla is upset that her man is late for Life Day, and because she has apparently never heard of tapped lines or traced calls, she phones Luke Skywalker looking for Chewie and Han.
I’m not clear why Luke, a wanted criminal and one of the last of a line of wizards with magical brain powers who are mercilessly hunted by the evil sorcerers who run the government, is so easy to call. You would think there would be a little more security in place, but no. Not only does Malla call him directly, but the galactic Facetime picks up automatically and Luke and R2 find themselves on camera without knowing it. How are they not dead already?
Long story short, Luke doesn’t know where the guys are. But he doesn’t just leave it at that. In order to set Malla at ease, Luke adopts the most condescending voice I have ever heard one adult use to speak to another. It’s overtly patronizing. Maybe one of the most insulting, misogynist things I have ever seen on film. And then this motherfucker asks her to smile. There is no fucking way this was okay, I don’t care what year this was made. Unless you came from a year that starts with an “18” or less, you knew better.
After she is finished having her feelings mansplained away, Malla places a call to Trading Post Wookiee Planet C to speak to Saun Dann, played by Art Carney. Again, this is more of a voyeuristic TV show than a communication at first. Malla watches as Saun deals with a surly Imperial guard before anyone knows they’re being watched. Saun explains to her, in the weakest, most obvious code ever spoken, that Han and Chewie are on their way. And then, with the important part out of the way, the scene stubbornly refuses to fucking end for another minute and a half.
One thing I can say for The Star Wars Holiday Special is that it makes you keenly aware of the passage of time. It would never have occurred to me that a minute and a half could feel so long. But by god, if The Star Wars Holiday Special puts anything in the universe into perspective, it’s temporal relativity. I understand the torturous flow of seconds and minutes so much better than I ever wanted to. This thing makes time CRAWL.
Hey, wanna watch Chewbacca’s wife watch a cooking show? Well, too bad, that’s what you’re gonna do. Harvey Korman is here, doing whatever the fuck it is he does. He plays an alien woman trying to teach us all to make bantha surprise. And to make it extra hilarious, he’s dressed like a girl. Can you believe it? It’s so groundbreaking! I mean, you can tell he’s trying for laughs. He’s committed. But he’s so painfully unfunny that I can’t really understand how anyone, including Harvey Korman himself, thought any of this was working. Did he think he was funny because he was in a wig? In a dress? Because he pulled a four-armed alien gag? I really can’t say. He’s a fucking dud. But what I can say is that this goes on for A WHILE.
After a quick space battle and a declaration of martial law, Saun Dann from Trading Post Wookiee Planet C shows up to deliver Life Day presents to Chewbacca’s family. Malla gets a thing, Lumpy gets a whatever, and Itchy gets porn.
This thing over Itchy’s head is called a mind evaporator. It’s how Wookiees masturbate. No, I’m not joking. That is very clearly what is happening here. You open a panel of the mind evaporator, plug in a proton pack (’cause bustin’ makes me feel good), then drop the brain bucket over your head. After a quick dissolve, Diahann Carroll shows up in Itchy’s mind, dressed like a mermaid and coming on like a drunken prom date. And that’s when the fun begins.
“I know you’re searching for me. Searching. Searching. I am here. My voice is for you alone. I am found in your eyes only. I exist for you. I am in your mind as you create me. Oh, yes! I can feel my creation. I’m getting your message, are you getting mine? Oh! Oh! We are excited, aren’t we? You just relax. Just relax. Yes. Now, we can have a good time, can’t we?“
It’s rare that I find myself playing the prude, but we can all see this is problematic, right? This show is supposed to be for kids. I’m no expert in Wookiee sexuality, but by my human standards, I’d say that Itchy is definitely making some pointedly orgasmic sounds. I’m a grown man watching this alone with headphones on, and this shit is making me uncomfortable. I don’t think I could ever conceivably feel okay watching this with a child.
“I’ll tell you a secret: I find you adorable… I don’t need to ask how you find me. You see, I am your fantasy. I am your experience. So experience me. I am your pleasure. So enjoy me. This is our moment together in time, that we might turn this moment into an eternity.”
I mean, Jesus Christ.
I’m almost certain to take a ton of shit over what I’m about to say, but I kinda like this song. It’s just odd enough to appeal to the weirdo in me. The synth is moody as hell. It is melodramatic, yes, but it’s a 1970s space sex song. It was never gonna be normal. And just when you think Diahann is veering a little too close to cloying pop triteness, the bass announces that minor chord and brings us right back into that weird ass, synthesizer head high. It’s bizarre as hell, and I think that’s why I dig it.
It should be pointed out that Itchy is not grunting and making Wookiee nookie noises in private. No, this is going on in the dead center of the family’s open floorplan living room/dining room/kitchen, in plain sight of his grandchild and daughter-in-law. That’s his fap chair above on the right, not five feet from the kitchen table. Chewbacca’s dad, it turns out, is fucking gross.
After a quick cut to Itchy verifying that he is deep in a post-coital prolactin stupor, Princess Leia calls. No, seriously. The leader of the Rebellion against the Empire and one of the most wanted criminals in the galaxy just makes a casual Zoom call to the home of another known and wanted fugitive. Then, after wishing Malla a happy Life Day, she openly asks for Han or Chewie to come to the screen. This is so much worse than Malla calling Luke. I was under the impression that the Empire was dangerous and devious, and that Leia was smart. But she and C-3PO were comfortable enough to call Chewbacca’s home phone and openly talk about Han’s travel plans. Even low level criminals on Earth right now know that’s a terrible idea. How these people lasted a single day against the Imperial spy network is beyond me.
Because Luke didn’t condescend to Malla enough, Leia hammers the point home that Malla is a useless woman by asking to speak to basically any nearby male. Despite the fact that Malla is in no apparent danger, Leia enlists Saun Dann to keep an eye on her. You know, because a seven foot tall super strong Wookiee needs all the protection she can get. Especially in the form of an elderly man whose body is built entirely from wrinkles and beer gut.
Back in space, Han and Chewie prepare to land, but not too close to home, because that would mean we would be close to ending this motherfucking grind of a program. Instead, they park far away, so we needlessly suffer through more of this shit. God damn, I fucking hate this show. I hate it. Anywho… Captain Badguy and the Imperials show up to harass the family, but Saun Dann distracts the guard with, you guessed it, more TV! But this time it’s TV with the power of rock ‘n’ roll!
I’m actually glad I bought this DVD. Because I know in the weeks and months ahead I will be tempted to think, “None of that really happened. Chewbacca’s dad isn’t named Itchy and he doesn’t look like the ogre from Big Trouble In Little China. And Jefferson Starship would never play a song while the lead singer sang into a glowing purple dildo. Not on television. There’s no way.” And then slowly, in an effort to preserve my already tattered sanity, my brain would convince itself that those things never happened.
But those things did happen.
And I think it’s important to remember that.
So here’s the video to prove it.
This is roughly the halfway point, folks. That’s right: the amount you’ve already suffered is also how much more suffering remains. Welcome to Hell. Eventually Saun Dann leaves, the Stormtroopers push the family around, and Lumpy slips on some headphones to, you guessed it, watch more TV.
Lumpy is watching a cartoon about his own dad. And this may be the biggest WTF segment in The Star Wars Holiday Special. This cartoon has a title screen, above, and a narrator/announcer. And an over the shoulder shot confirms that what Lumpy is seeing IS a cartoon. But he reacts to the unfolding story as if he’s watching the news, even going so far as to hide it from the Imperials. But the cartoon doesn’t just reveal Rebel secrets, it also exposes some pretty important secrets about the Empire as well. Look, it’s complicated. You need to watch it for yourself.
See? That was SURREAL. But it is famously the first appearance of Boba Fett, so it’s noteworthy, even if the squash and stretch animation style did make everyone wobble like they were made out of not-quite-set Jell-O.
Even with the popularity of Star Wars at the time, why did any network ever air this? It’s SO bad. I don’t understand how it was even finished. There’s no way the people making it could have failed to realized how bad it was as they were making it. I have so many questions. Why was Mark Hamill wearing a terrible, obvious wig that was the same color as his actual hair? And why, for the love of Christ, did they give animated C-3PO those weird, scissor-hinged eyelids and make him blink SO FUCKING MUCH?? Or blink at all, for that matter. Why did a droid need to blink? Why? Just why?
It’s cool that we get to see the first appearance of Boba Fett. It is not cool that he and everyone else in this cartoon universe only has four fingers on each hand. I don’t know why they chose to do this, but once you see it that’s all you will be able to see. It is so distracting.
After the fourth-wall breaking, reality-bending mindfuck of a cartoon finishes, the Imperials go to Lumpy’s room and BREAK HIS TOYS. Yeah, that’s their strategy. They barge into people’s homes and break their kids’ toys. They even pull the head off of his plush bantha. Then they send Lumpy to his room to clean up the mess.
In retaliation for this Imperial sin, Lumpy decides to do the most rebellious thing possible: he watches a filmed instruction manual for whatever the hell this thing is. Although this sequence only lasts four minutes, I promise you it will be the longest four minutes of your life. This scene was very clearly played for laughs, but there is not a single humorous nor interesting moment in the entire piece. It doesn’t even feel like it was written. I honestly think they just pointed a camera at Harvey Korman, handed him a couple of props and said “Be a broken robot or whatever. Make it funny.” He didn’t really manage either of those things.
For the sake of correctitude, I went back and watched this thing again. It lasts roughly three minutes and fifty seconds. But, all jokes aside, based on the memory of my first viewing I would have sworn that this went on for a full ten minutes. It’s just so fucking bad. It not only makes you hate Star Wars and television in general, but I walked away from this sketch with a very real hatred of filmed entertainment and humanity as a whole.
Whatever the fuck Lumpy was trying to accomplish by assembling his transmitter is interrupted by a televised announcement from the Empire. In order to make themselves feel better about their shitty lives, the Empire requires all citizens to watch a program called Life On Tatooine, which shows shittier people living shittier lives on a shittier planet. As plans go, it’s not the worst thing the Empire has ever cooked up. After a few seconds of some grainy footage cut from the movie, we show up at the bar Bea Arthur runs. Greedo is here, despite the fact that we all saw Han shoot him dead in the only Star Wars movie that existed at the time. But they already had the costume and they were goddamned well going to use it. This is very obviously Greedo, but Bea calls him Ludlow. Yeah, I know online sources will tell you it’s Bludlow, but I’ve watched this piece of shit three times and I can’t hear it. It’s Ludlow. And it just so cheap.
Speaking of cheap, here’s a picture of Bea Arthur singing to a giant mouse, as one does. They didn’t even bother to make it look like an alien mouse. They didn’t spray paint it, or put clothes on it, or give it a single piece of technology to indicate that it somehow belongs in a bar on an alien planet amongst other spacefaring lifeforms. No, it’s just a big fucking mouse. Clearly they had this thing laying around in a prop warehouse somewhere and decided to use it as-was instead of spending any money. Because it’s just a giant mouse.
“One day Disney will buy us and all this mouse business will make a lot more sense.”
I know I’ve said it a number of times, but this thing is a mouse. A giant-but-in-every-other-way-regular-ass mouse. Am I the only one that has a problem with this? It’s not even a space mouse. It’s just big ol’ Earth mouse. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but I’m having a whole lot of trouble letting it go. This is somehow worse than the fucking cassette. Probably because it’s a mouse. An oversized, stupid Earth mouse. Not a mouse from another planet, as I feel I must elucidate yet again. Just a really, really big Earth type mouse. In space. A fucking mouse.
Fucking Harvey Korman is here, too. And he’s being “funny” again.
How does this happen? I mean this whole thing, all of it. Just how? I feel like someone owes me an explanation.
We rejoin the family just in time to hear a voice on the radio ordering the Imperials to return to base. And what is the source of this mysterious message? Why, it’s Lumpy and his transmitter!
Wait a sec; did this offensive collection of turd-shaped photons just pay off a previous plot point? No. That can’t be. But, yeah, it actually did. They set something up, and not only was it relevant later, it actually resulted in an action. Aww, that is SO cute! This “special” thinks it’s a real story! Isn’t that precious?!
The last Stormtrooper smashes Lumpy’s transmitter, chases Lumpy outside, where we find Han and Chewie FINALLY making it home. And even though this porch is one huge open area, Han somehow sneaks up on the Stormtrooper and knocks his blaster out of his hand. In an effort to get the blaster or maybe slide into first, the Stormtrooper takes a headlong dive, trips over some firewood and smashes through the railing, screaming in terror as he plummets several hundred feet to his grisly death on the forest floor below.
Happy Life Day!!
After Han, Chewie, and Lumpy participate in the Stormtrooper’s manslaughter, they all go inside for a truly heartfelt reunion. Seriously, the vibe goes from immediate mortal danger to Han basking in the holiday warmth of his surrogate Wookiee family in about three seconds. I agree that space Nazis, like most other kinds of Nazis, are disposable, but you think they’d all have at least a little excess adrenaline. But no, every single one of them is cool as a cucumber.
Han has to leave because he parked the Millennium Falcon in an easy to find spot, because of course he did. He sneaks in a few last cuddles, then, on his way out, he picks up the dead Stormtrooper blaster WITH HIS BARE HAND and throws it over the edge, saying “They’ll be looking for him.” Well, once they discover your fingerprints on his gun at the base of this big ass tree, they’re going to be looking for you, too, Han. And they’re probably going to check this guy’s last assigned location, which was Chewie’s house. Which is where they’re going to find the broken railing right over the spot where they found the Stormtrooper’s body. Seriously, how the fuck are you not dead yet??
After Han leaves, Saun Dann shows up again, and even though I’ve watched this hot mess four fucking times now, I still don’t really understand why the hell he’s there. But while he is, he calls up the dead Stormtrooper’s supervisor, files a false robbery/missing person’s report, then takes off like a pussy space Karen. I swear to god, there is not one likeable character in this show.
Once they’re alone, each member of Chewbacca’s family takes a candle and gather to the left of the old masturbatin’ chair. A white light gently dissolves them all and they reappear in red robes standing in the vastness of outer space, where they join a precession of other robed Wookiees walking slowly to their fiery deaths in the blazing corona of a really small blue dwarf star. Yay, they’re all dead! It’s over!
Oh, wait, no, it was just a portal of some sort, because after the commercial break the Wookiees are in church, where C3P0 is giving a sermon in front of a giant poop stalagmite. And Luke, Han, and Leia show up, too, because what the fuck at this point.
There is no way to make any sense out of this bullshit, so throw in the kitchen sink. How about a stoned-out-of-her-goddamned-mind Princess Leia singing a god awful Life Day carol to the tune of the Star Wars theme?
Sure. Why the fuck not?
After Leia’s song, Chewbacca enters a strange fugue state and stares straight into the camera as we watch him experience a flashback of the entire Star Wars movie. Weird and pointless… the perfect way to sum up this broadcast. So that’s a great place to end it, right? No need to go on. All wrapped up, yes?
Nope! Not before we cut back to Chewie’s house one last time to see the family sitting around and empty table full of unused bowls and spoons. Apparently the bantha surprise is taking a little longer than expected. So instead of a feast, they all hold hands and stare at each other before slowly bowing their heads and praying that the universe be consumed in a holocaust of pure agony rather than have whatever the fuck all this was ever happen again. And as I watched the slow pull from Chewie’s cartoon house, I was praying for the exact same thing.
I don’t have a lot of recreational drug experience, so help me out here. Is there a drug that never actually makes you feel good or experience any sensation of fun, but is still strangely addictive because it’s so fucking weird that you stick with it just to see what the hell will happen next? Because if such a drug exists, that’s what I would compare the The Star Wars Holiday Special to. It’s not good. It’s not really even interesting. It’s just so goddamned odd and so badly, badly made that it becomes kind of fascinating.
Besides the cast, there are actually some impressive names attached to this thing. Ralph McQuarrie, the incredible conceptual artist behind a staggering number of iconic Star Wars visuals, lent his talents to bring the right look. And Stan fucking Winston did the Wookiee effects?? Who sold their soul to get Stan Winston to come anywhere near this dumpster fire?
So what’s the verdict, as if you need to ask? This whole thing is terrible. It’s a goddamned train wreck, start to finish. But it’s one of those very rare examples of something being so deeply, loudly terrible that it becomes fascinating. A whole lot of anything, no matter how dull or objectionable, is impressive. A pile of rocks is a pile of rocks, but you can’t help but stare when that pile of rocks is a mountain. And so it is with The Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s so hugely, enormously bad that you really can’t understand it until you’ve seen it. I hate to purposefully waste two hours of your life, but, yeah, you really kinda do need to watch this. It’s not just bad TV. It’s an experience.
That first sentence is so amazingly wrong I’m surprised it qualifies as human language.
Our neighbors up in the Great White North were ahead of the times. They had a very 1980s logo for 1978.