Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy 40th Anniversary To The Star Wars Holiday Special!

Happy 40th Anniversary (!) to The Star Wars Holiday Special! It aired once, and one time only, way back on Friday, November 17, 1978.

Why a holiday special, you ask? Well, you've got to remember that in 1978, Star Wars wasn't the massive phenomenon it is now. There was only the one movie, and George Lucas was honestly afraid the audience would forget about it before he could get The Empire Strikes Back into theaters. In an effort to keep it in the public's mind, he concocted a TV special.

It was a good idea on paper, but in reality it went horribly, horribly wrong.

I was a big Star Wars fan back then of course, so I actually sat down and watched the Special on the 11" black & white TV in my room. I was hoping to see an all new adventure starring Luke, Han and Leia, accented by more of ILM's amazing special effects. 

Needless to say, that's not what the Special delivered. I remember being saddened, disappointed and most of all puzzled by it.

Let's take a brief look at all the things that made The Star Wars Holiday Special so, er, special, shall we?

There's the "Wookiee Family" sequence, which introduces us to Chewie's wife Malla, elderly father Itchy and young son Lumpy. Obviously the best thing about this scene is the fact that the Wookiee family growls and hoots at one another— without subtitles, mind you for a full TWENTY MINUTES of screen time. Twenty minutes in which the audience has no idea what the hell anyone's saying.

Don't forget the bizarre Cirque Du Soleil dance number that Lumpy watches on his 3D holochess board.

There's also Art Carney as Suan Dann, a human trader and friend of Chewie's family, who gives Lumpy a virtual reality porno to enjoy.

A porno that features Diahann Carroll warbling a lethargic ballad for what seems like forty five minutes, and moaning in pleasure as Lumpy sends his "thoughts" to her.

Then there's the "hilarious comedy" sprinkled throughout the Special, written by Bruce Vilanch, who looks much like a Wookiee himself.

Who could forget the uninspired electro-synth number by Starship, who were included in the Special only because their name was "Starship."

What about the bizarre animated sequence that Lumpy watches on his TV? An animated show that inexplicably stars his father Chewie, along with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the droids.

Many fans will tell you that this cartoon is the best part of the Star Wars Holiday Special. These fans are idiots. It's just as terrible, if not worse, than the rest of the show.

It did give us the first-ever appearance of Boba Fett though, so I guess it's not all bad.

I'm partial to the Cantina scene, in which a horribly out of place Bea Arthur sings a song to a giant mouse, while cursing the agent who got her into this mess.

The Cantina scene also features the wacky antics of Harvey Korman, playing a patron who pours drinks in the top of his head. Sadly, I'm not making that up.

Korman also plays Gormanda, a three-armed Julia Child knockoff, whose catchphrase is "Stir whip stir whip, whip whip stir!" He also plays a human-looking robot who narrates an instructional video for a non-existent piece of space technology. Comedy ahoy!

Gosh, I almost forgot to mention the stars! There's Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, who's inexplicably wearing more makeup than Carrie Fisher.

Speaking of Fisher, she's quite obviously coked out of her mind in every scene. Hey, who could blame her? She's in The Star Wars Holiday Special!

And of course there's Harrison Ford as Han Solo, who could not possibly be less enthused about being there.

The Special ends with Carrie Fisher singing a ridiculous song about the Wookiee holiday of Life Day. After all, there's no Christmas in the Star Wars universe, what with it taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Which makes the Special the perfect thing to broadcast during the Christmas season!

Happy 40th, Star Wars Holiday Special!

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