Ben’s Holiday Breakdown | 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 your 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.
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 stormtroopers 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.
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, gouge out your eyes, and finish by having your brain bleached!!!