The Star Wars Holiday Special

The "Star Wars Holiday Special" was a 2 hour made-for-tv 1978 production in which the "plot" revolved around Chewbacca's family (his father, wife, and son).  They lived on their home planet in a tree house reminiscent of the Ewok village, but with technology integrated into the naturalistic environment.  The story was that Chewbacca was trying to return to his family for "Life Day," a generic-sounding correlate to X-mas.  He and Han, of course, keep running into trouble with the Empire, so they spend a lot of the program in dogfights with TIE Fighters.  In the meantime, Chewie's family contact other Star Wars characters such as Luke and R2, then Leia and C-3PO, such that essentially all the major players make cameos.  However, in order to stretch this wisp of a "plot" into two hours, the program resorts to all sorts of other distractions that I won't go into detail on here.

The Internet Movie Database allows its users/armchair film critics to post reviews of films and television series, so those are sometimes fun to read.  For the Star Wars Special, the entries turned out to be a real scream, even if you haven't seen the program in 20+ years.

Some of the funniest excerpts from the reviews:
I was stoned out of my mind when I saw this thing. It's truly stunning. Note that Hollywood Squares staple Bruce Vilanch was one of the writers. (This show bears odd similarities to his other opus, "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour".) By the time this creation, which I call "Episode 4.5" was in its zenith, so was I; the pipe was empty. I felt as though Princess Leia's voice was vibrating in my spine. At one point she looked right at me and I saw her with my entire face, not just my eyes. The best moments are with Bea Arthur. I rewound the exchange between her and "Ludlow" and "Thorpe" about twenty times. "Short memory, eh, Thorpe? SHORT MEMORY!" By the time the Wookies were walking through outer space in red robes towards what appears to be the sun I felt as though I was with them. I don't remember the cartoon, but I do recall Mark Hamill looking like he was auditioning for the Gay Ice Capades. Also, you will find out several things you may have wanted to know about "Star Wars":

How do Wookies entertain themselves? Why is Grandpa Wookie named "Itchy"? What is the warm, cuddly side of Han Solo? What would a love scene between Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman REALLY look like? What are the lyrics to the "Star Wars" theme? And what would they sound like if Princess Leia sang them? What would it be like for an aged, portly Art Carney to engage in a familiar "Honeymooners" routine with an Imperial Guard as his Ralphie-boy? But it still leaves several questions: Why does "Lumpy" so resemble the kid from "Eight is Enough"? Why do the characters from "Star Wars" never change their clothes until "The Empire Strikes Back"? What was the story behind the "Short memory!" crack? Was there a romance between Bea Arthur and "Thorpe"? If so, what are the long-term consequences to the Cantina atmosphere? Was Bea Arthur just filling in that day for the big ugly fellow who ran the bar in "A New Hope"? Or does she own the place? Why do Imperial Guards adore "Jefferson Starship", and why do old Wookies have a fetish for African-American Humans?

I hope Lucas creates another one of these. I would love to see Jar-Jar Binks exchange puns with Kelsey Grammar or Ray Romano.

Carrie Fisher TOTALLY hopped up on some type of foreign substance... (It looked as if the drugs from that floating-globe-needle thing from "A New Hope" finally took hold. Her half-open, bloodshot eyes make Cheech & Chong look sober.)

Mark Hamill with more makeup on than a Geisha girl.

Bea Arthur as the owner of the Cantina at Mos Eisley... complete with corny musical number and fellow 70's staple Harvey Korman...

Chewbacca's incredibly annoying family. Itchy and Lumpy?!? Why not just call them Grumpy and Sneezy!??! (I kept praying for the Imperials to open fire.)

Dianne Carroll as the twisted pre-cybersex fantasy of an elderly Wookiee (I guess that's why they call him "Itchy")

Jefferson Starship documenting the exact moment they became "Corporate Rock"

a contemporary masterpiece

The director has crafted a masterpiece. Good films capture your emotions and your imagination, and with this endeavor, I was transfixed by the sheer brilliancy of the production. One moment, I was roaring with laughter at the Harvey Korman skit; the next, I was crying at Bea Arthur's lonelineness and utter despondecy; then, my sagging spirits were lifted into the stars as the cast sang the finale.

This film should occupy a central place in the Star Wars saga. It should be hug tightly like a little Wookie, embraced for its contributions to the rich Star Wars saga.

All the actors are good, but Carrie Fisher really stands out as the best. Her singing is rather exceptional, too.

The film's theme is one of hope. "Lifeday" is a celebration of family, faith, and community. A noble man would make thousands of copies of this special and send them out to the warring factions in the Middle East, hoping that the soothing words of "the Star Wars Holiday Special" bring love to our own corner of the galaxy.

Oh my GOD!

Some people take a very tame approach to reviewing this... this... masterpiece! Seriously, I really am glad that I have seen this thing all the way through. It has comedy in the form of a manic cooking show for wookies. But you think our Earth cooking shows are zany!? Wait till you get Harvey Corman making crazy sci-fi food that poor domestic wookie-woman (I'm too lazy to hit the back button and check what Chewbacca's wife's name is) can't even keep up! There is drama in the form of murder, when they kill that empirial guy in Chewie's house. There's sex appeal in the form of Grandpa Itchy's weird robot porn that Norton from the Honeymooners give him. And can you say "songs?" I can. Songs! Not only are there appearances by Jefferson Starship and a stunning Beatrice Arther, looking hottt at what must be at least 98 years old, but we get the chance to see a visibly coked-out Carrie Fisher sing the life day carol while holding onto to Chewbacca so tightly, you would think she needs to lean on him or she'll pass out. Which is probably true. Honestly, I have never held my hands up in the air and said "what the..?" as many times as I have watching this piece of gold. I think it would be interesting if we were to raise this next generation of movie-goers thinking that this was the REAL prequel. Oh man, so many poor children would have blood shooting out of their eyes because of the pure illogical-ness of it all. I can only hope that this special gets to reach the people it needs to reach the most: the elderly. They need it more than anyone... Especially now...

It's funny to watch, and painful to watch, and annoying to watch, and mind-boggling to watch. It has to be seen to be believed, but do you really even want to?

Wow; I am still questioning reality

Have you ever been in a long drawn out state of disbelief that was so surreal you questioned reality? I can not even believe that I saw this video, I am not sure if it really exists. It seemed like I was in a really bad dream shared with other people. I recommend watching this video with friends. Their MS_3000 comments kept me realizing that I was awake and what I used to think was real was still real. It is really hard to say whether watching this movie was bad or good, I have no opinion on that matter. All I can say is that it was a new feeling for me, sort of like a state of mental shock. Perhaps I do not remember the '70s enough to remember how bad television was back then. This is the complete opposite of the cookie-cutter standard network shows of today, which, while uncreative and very annoying, do tend to be of relatively high quality, where if you only saw one of them, you would probably enjoy it. The SW special will remind you of a high school video project you once did, where you started out with some really dumb idea and then you even forgot that idea and just shot whatever you felt like at the time. I guess what shocks me the most is the people who act in this mess. I usually consider these people to be rational beings. I am just so shocked over the experience, I can not really say if it is worth watching or not. If you love surreal feelings, you might actually enjoy it. I guess my response was somewhere disjointed from good or bad, it was just different. If this review does not make any sense to you, please forgive me, I only ended watching that video two hours ago, and I have yet to fully re-enter the rational world.

Often hailed as one of the worst attempts at entertainment ever made, The Star Wars Holiday Special is one of the worst attempts at entertainment ever made. Hard-core Star Wars fans will be bored stupid, others may require medical attention. Approximately seventeen minutes of material are stretched to a full two hours, and the problems only begin there. Appallingly lit and shot uninspiringly on video, this insult to the viewer features endless scenes with no noticeable advancement of plot, comedy sketches that would receive only polite applause from parents at an eighth-grade talent show, musical numbers with no connection at all to, well, anything, and many other items to vex and confuse all who can stand to watch them.

Most of the Star Wars people have cameos. Carrie Fisher, for example, is there, and apparently shot her scenes while testing the merits of new coke vs. old coke. James Earl Jones records some Darth Vader lines, which are played over "appropriate" footage from the movie. Mark Hamill and Artoo appear together in a scene that will leave you saying "Huh??" for a good long while. Only Harrison Ford comes off pretty well as Han Solo, who is trying to get Chewbacca back to the latter's blockaded home planet in time for "Life Day."

Several others fulfill the late 70s "variety show" requirement for guest star appearances. Bea Arthur (!) is most admirable as the woman who runs the Cantina and sings a sad and sweet song about her life there. Harvey Korman appears in three "comedy" sketches, but I find it difficult to discuss them. Art Carney is one of Chewbacca's family's closest humanoid friends and a member of the rebel alliance, which comes in handy when imperial soldiers stage an interminable search of Chewbacca's house. The talented Dihann Carroll sings beautifully, but her musical number would be far more impressive if it weren't the center of Chewbacca's father's virtual erotic fantasy.

I so very much wish I had just made that up.

There is a cartoon segment about Chewbacca and friends that is by far the best thing in the special, but don't expect to be uplifted, even if it does mark the first appearance ever of Boba Fett. (Yay.) The presence of the cartoon is justified as being something viewed by young Lumpy (Chewie's son) to pass the time while his house is being ransacked. Classicists may see this as a clumsy allusion to, among other things, Vergil's "Aeneid," in which characters see depictions of themselves in travels they have just undertaken. But the real reason the cartoon is shown at this particular point in the program is that hardly anyone involved in this production bothered to put any thought into anything they did, so that one part was just as good as another for a cartoon.

It goes on and on and on, with a finale that will convince you that God is vengeful and that another flood may soon be on its way.

I suppose it is my duty to inform the reader that George Lucas did not direct this slow-motion car wreck, and also that this special has practically no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. The Star Wars Holiday Special not laughably bad, it's depressingly bad.

On the other hand, you may want to see it for yourself, provided you can find a copy.

You've been warned.

I hope you enjoyed those.  Even not having had seen the program in 25+ years, I'm sure you can appreciate the sarcasm!


This compilation Copyright "Ale[X]-wing fighter.
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