After a year of marketing and seemingly a lifetime wait, the small, independent film Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this weekend. Retrospectives and nostalgia abound, but there is a piece of Star Wars lore that seems to always fall through the cracks – the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Known in popular culture mostly as an unmitigated disaster, whose small claim to fame is the introduction of an animated Boba Fett, the special was only aired once and never formally released. Aired barely a year after Star Wars was released, the special also features the entire original cast.
But how bad could it be?
The precarious balancing act of a plot involves the Wookiee holiday of Life Day. Chewbacca and Han Solo (featuring Harrison Ford trying desperately not to be seen by the camera) are attempting to get to Kashyyyk in time for the holiday celebration. Meanwhile, Chewie’s family (wife Malla, father Itchy and son Lumpy, of course) come under siege by some roving stormtroopers while attempting to prepare the house for the holiday.
That’s right, the Galactic Empire cares not for your fictional winter holidays.
Between all of this garbage, the regular artifacts of ’70s variety television peek through at random intervals to gently remind you that what you are watching is not canon by any means. How about a stormtrooper sitting down to watch a performance by Jefferson Starship? Maybe Lumpy sitting to watch Harvey Korman cross-dressing as a four-armed alien Julia Child parody on intergalactic TV is more your fancy? One of the most bizarre moments occurs when Chewie’s father Itchy sits in what is called a “mind evaporator” (basically a late ’70s version of current VR technology) and conjures a “performance” fueled by his “desires.” Though there isn’t any blatant nudity or coarse language, the scene clearly has a sexual undercurrent. According to the largest hub of Star Wars information in the galaxy, Wookieepedia.org, the skit was “intended by its writers to be softcore pornography that would pass CBS’s censors.”
All in all, the most heinous sin the 100-minute schlockfest commits is being painfully boring. None of the excitement of the original films bleeds through, just a kaleidoscope (figuratively and at some points literally) fever dream that Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club once accurately wrote was “written and directed by a sentient bag of cocaine.” All of this being said, please watch the special, whether you’re a die hard or merely a Padawan when it comes to Star Wars. Below is a YouTube video that may or may not include the entire Star Wars Holiday Special.
BONUS ROUND: On a post about Star Wars and the holidays, I would be remiss not to mention the second most infamous piece of holiday space lore, Christmas In The Stars, the Star Wars Christmas album. Released two years after the Holiday Special and not technically connected, it’s embarrassing for similar but different reasons. Those reasons mostly begin and end at the idea of original Star Wars Christmas music.
Fun fact: “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas” features the first vocal appearance of future pride of New Jersey Jon Bon Jovi. Listen below: