Premiered November 17, 1978.
Tonight is the 35th anniversary of the 1st and ONLY showing of The Star Wars Holiday Special on CBS. Unlike all the Star Wars movies, the holiday special didn't have an opening crawl...until now! Please watch the video below:
(EDIT:Linked video has been removed from starwars.com, sorry-J.A.)
|Mala & Lumpy.|
|Lumpy watches a holographic acrobat.|
|An imperial guard (Lev Mailer) visits Saun Dann's trading post.|
Plus, we get to see what television shows are like in the Star Wars universe!
J.A. Morris says:
In 1978, I was 7 and I was an absolute Star Wars fanatic! I had action figures, t-shirts, comic books, beach towels, you name it, I had it (or wanted it)! I remember how excited I was when I heard about this special and I recall watching it like it was yesterday. Think about it, Star Wars...on tv...in your house...for free! I went to my best friend's house to watch it. I should have known it was going to be disappointing when the opening credits introduced "R2-D2 as...R2-D2!"
After a cold opening that features Han and Chewbacca, we go to the wookiees' living room. Malla, Itchy and Lumpy engage in a conversation in their language of grunts, growls and mumbles...for a solid 5 minutes...without subtitles.
This is followed by a holographic program featuring acrobats that Lumpy watches ... which also seems to go on forever.
Art Carney, Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman are among my favorite comic actors. But they just don't belong in Star Wars. It feels weird to hear "Ed Norton" refer to himself as "a friend of the Rebellion and a member of the Alliance."
Bea Arthur is just a few months removed from the last episode of Maude. So her sketch basically feels like "Maude Findlay takes over the Mos Eisley Cantina." Watching "Maude" interact with the cantina aliens just feels wrong.
|Ackmena (Bea Arthur) tends bar at the cantina, while Krelman (Harvey Korman) checks her out.|
But the worst parts of this show are the "serious" musical numbers. Diahann Carroll appears in what is essentially a soft core porn flick for Itchy's entertainment. Carroll, a talented performer, gets to tell a wookiee that she's his "fantasy." Look at this quote from Caroll's character Mermeia, directed at Itchy:
"I am your fantasy. I am your experience. So experience me. I am your pleasure. So enjoy me."
Ugh, what were they thinking?! As a kid, this (fortunately) was over my head. I just found it boring, which is the word that best describes this special in general.
|Diahann Carroll as Mermeia.|
|Jefferson Starship performs "Light The Sky On Fire".|
Sadly, Carrie Fisher fares the worst of all. I don't know if Fisher's (well-documented) use of drugs affected her performance, but she has a glazed-over, dazed look every time she's onscreen. Her singing voice isn't as bad as you might think, but the song "A Day To Celebrate" isn't good.
When this program was over, my friend's father came downstairs and asked us "how was it?" We looked at each other and rather sheepishly told him "it was good, really good." We knew we were lying, but if we said otherwise, our love for everything Star Wars would've been mocked incessantly from then on.
|Han Solo tangles with a Storm Trooper.|
About halfway through, Lumpy watches a cartoon that features all the Star Wars characters voiced by their live-action counterparts. It features the first appearance of Boba Fett, and some cool caricatures of the actors. But,when the cartoon ends, you're back on Kashyyyk.
|Wookiees celebrate Life Day.|
|Did you own this book when you were a kid? I still have my copy.|
I don't know how to rate The Star Wars Holiday Special. The best thing I can say is that it's better than The Phantom Menace. If you consider yourself a fan of Star Wars, you should probably watch this at least once...and then forget it exists. This is normally where I'd post some sort of holiday ratings icon, but I think this image showing the destruction of Alderaan sums up my views on this special:
I was not subjected to The Star Wars Holiday Special as a child. I only recently sat down to watch the whole thing and I think it is a shame that something that had so much potential to be cool (or at least amusing) fails on so many levels. I'd say that it should be buried in a sarlacc pit to be digested for 1000 years, but I fear it would give the sarlacc indigestion. I'd also like to say that it's so bad it's kind of good, but it just isn't.
As J.A. Morris says, there is some good talent on tap here but their skills are utterly wasted. The special is alternately boring and disturbing. The animated sequence with Boba Fett and the fun cartoony versions of our friends from the Rebellion is ok, but not enough to make this mess very worth while. I can only recommend this for hard-core Star Wars completeists with an hour and a half to waste.
If you're looking for Star Wars holiday fun, I recommend checking out Christmas In The Stars, a Star Wars Christmas record that was originally released in 1980 (and which my brothers and I enjoyed greatly as kids) and was re-released on CD in 1994.
|Christmas In The Stars album cover|
It also contains the periennial holiday classic song "What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas When He Already Owns A Comb?" which is not to be missed. Check it out:
That being said, I agree with J.A. Morris's exploding Alderaan rating for The Star Wars Holiday Special on the grounds that it might make your head explode in a similar fashion.