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There is NOTHING Special about the “Star Wars Holiday Special”

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a great horrific tragedy took place when Bruce Villanche, the master of the variety special network show, got his hands on a little product called Star Wars and crafted something to be shown during the holidays. By grabbing the talent of people like Art Carney, Diahann Carol, Harvey Korman  and Bea Arthur, along with returning Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew, as well as James Earl Jones providing  the voice of Darth Vader to already existing movie footage, Villanche gave us what is essentially the standard variety network show, but threaded a story in there that dealt with the Wookie holiday known as Life Day.

Opening with the all too familiar 20th Century Fox fanfare and then followed by the “A Lucasfilm Limited Production” and the “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” crawl we jump into a situation where the Millenium Falcon is running away from two Imperial Cruisers firing on them. Han promises to get Chewie home in time for Life Day and with that it jumps into hyperspace and the opening credits with the Oscar Winning title music by John Williams starts playing.

The story opens on Kashyyyk, the home world of the Wookie race. Their dwellings are high in the trees and we focus in on one where we see a family in their home (with human like furniture). There is the eldest Wookie Itchy (Chewie’s father), Malla (Chewie’s mate/wife), and Lumpy (Chewie’s son). Malla (wearing an apron?) is busy preparing a meal for Life Day while Itchy is carving a model X-Wing out of wood and Lumpy is playing with his own model. After a time Itchy has Lumpy watch some holographic entertainment, which consists of performers from Cirque Du Soleil. Once it ends a rather worried Malla makes a video call to Luke Skywalker, wearing his flight gear and working on what appears to be an engine (but looks like a laser cannon) for an X-Wing. Luke tries to cheer Malla up while Artoo is creating more problems with the engine, which cuts short Malta’s call.

Meanwhile a human trader on Kashyyyk receives a rather unusual visitor in the form of an Imperial guard. Malla makes an untimely call to the trader who speaks in code informing her that Chewie is indeed on his way home. Malla then fires up a cooking video where she is going to be learning to prepare a dish called Bantha Surprise. While she’s doing that the Falcon finds itself under attack from two TIE fighters. At the same time the Wookie family receives an emergency Imperial transmission stating that due to rebel activity the planet is now under martial law and that no ships can land or take off until further notice. This is followed up by a visit from Saun Dann, the human trader on Kashyyyk, who shows up at their door with gifts for each of them. He gives Itchy an ion power pack, after which Itchy puts the helmet of the holo-chair he’s now sitting in and becomes a dirty old man and gets himself all worked up while watching a hologram of a Mermeiea Holographic Wow (Diahann Carol). Looking at Itchy’s face when the hologram finishes shows how dangerously close this special came to becoming Wookie porn.

Cut to what must be a rebel base where Princess Leia and C-3PO are working when they establish a communication link to Malla as Leia wishes to speak to either Chewie or Han. Malla informs them that she’s with Saun Dann and he assures Leia that he’ll watch after Chewie’s family. At the same time the Falcon arrives at Kashyyyk, but due to heavy Imperial traffic Han will have to land the ship quite some distance from Chewie’s home. As Malla hears the Falcon fly overhead she joyously runs to the door and finds herself facing two storm troopers and several Imperial officers. Saun tries to distract one of them by having him watch a hologram of Jefferson Starship while the rest of the Imperials inspect the house for any connection to the Rebel Alliance. While they are doing that Lumpy chooses to watch an animated short involving our gang of rebels as well as introducing Boba Fett. Finally the guards leave except for one who chases Lumpy around the home only to run into both Chewie and Han, who sort of trips him up to where he makes the long fall towards the ground. Han then leaves and Chewie is left alone to have a private reunion with his family to celebrate Life Day.

Finally when all the wookies are gathered at their sacred temple Han, Leia, and Luke (in his Tatooine clothing plus lightsaber) show up and Leia sings.

George Lucas said, “If I had time and a hammer I’d track down every bootleg copy and smash it…” I remember watching it with great excitement when it first aired because this was the first NEW Star Wars we were getting. This special came out in 1978 and the nation was still caught up in Star Wars mania, and we still had a couple of years before we would get The Empire Strikes Back. With that we greeted this special like all true fans. We found it cheesy, but we enjoyed it. It wasn’t until a few years ago that this special was given to me on a DVD so when I finally had a chance to sit down and watch it I became more aware of how truly dreadful this special is. The production values are beyond laughable, but that’s to be expected given that this is a network special. The cockpit for the Falcon here looks Ike it was made for a high school drama production, as do the rest of the sets. The guest characters are hideously bad, particularly Harvey Korman who at times does an embarrassing take on an alien Julia Child.

I also wish that the musical guest for this special, Jefferson Starship, had not been contracted for this. Personally I would have enjoyed seeing ELO in this for their shows are far more “spacey” and would have possibly been a better fit. Lastly the return of our Star Wars actors is really poor in the case of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. With Fisher she was given the familiar white robes she wore in the film, but instead of doing her hair up like in the film she was given some pre-rolled hair and it was attached to the side of her head like bad earmuffs.

Then there was Mark Hamill who actually looked like a bad drag queen with the excessive makeup he had applied to his face, and his hair was some of the worst I had ever seen. I should also add that when Keith finally had a chance to watch this with me he walked out of the room after the first 15 minutes and never watched ANY of it again!

This special is something that should NOT be a part of anyone’s holiday traditions, but at the same time it’s sort of fun to own (even though it can be found on YouTube) if purely for reasons of trivia. If you’ve never seen the holiday special then you should consider yourself lucky. It truly is that bad. However should you choose to see this then be warned that you are about to embark on a journey of terrible TV variety pablum that will scar you and make you wish you had the ability to unsee it.


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