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The Star Wars Holiday Special

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Posted 17th May 2009 at 01:56 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

I'm using this blog to get all the writing I've done that's still floating around online in one place.

To this end, I'll be reposting reviews that were published first on my Myspace blog DVDisgo and also on DVDresurrections, a great Australian cult films website. Please pay them a call.

The Star Wars Holiday Special

Chewbacca is racing across space to spend the holidays with his family in this shameful TV special from a time when George Lucas didn't think Star Wars was going to be the galaxy striding cash cow it turned out to be...I like to imagine the ludicrous possibilities if he'd gone down the route of selling his vision out and making more Howard the Duck films instead.

It was aired on U.S. TV after Star Wars became a pop culture phenomenon but before the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Sometime after the first film's events, Han Solo and Chewbacca are working a scouting mission while Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the others pursue their own duties. Back on Chewie's home planet, preparations are underway for Life Day (the show was broadcast around Xmas/Thanksgiving), the most important holiday in the Wookie year.

As Chewbacca’s wife Malla ,son Lumpy, and father Itchy anxiously awaits his return, the Empire continues to oppress the people of their planet. Eventually, the Wookie family is reunited, but not before Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, Harvey Korman, and Jefferson Starship appear in various weird scenes.

It's like George lost his brains for a minute when the television corporation waved cash at his bearded face. It's like the show’s producers hired a load of cabaret turns that would usually turn up on variety or light entertainment programs. Particularly surreal is the appearance of Jefferson Starship, who rock out in a nice radio friendly, adult contemporary fashion, singing about spaceships while loads of goofy cosmic effects straight out of Buck Rodgers swirl around them!

Add to that the phoned in performances by the Star Wars cast, who look bored and vaguely embarrassed by the whole sorry affair and a classic opening 10 minutes in which Chewie’s family grunt at each other with no subtitles to let you know what the hells going on and you have a kitsch masterpiece of rubbish entertainment. George Lucas has tried to bury this for years, which is of course another good reason to seek it out so you can bask in his shame.

You may have ripped off your fans with innumerable editions of your Star Wars franchise. You may have asked us to swallow a CGI cretin with a racially suspect accent in Episode 1. You may have re-edited and essentially ruined your best work in the pursuit of bigger profits, but at least we have this ultimate folly to wave in your smug Hollywood face!

A lot of people say this is worth having for the legendary animated sequence featuring the first appearance of Boba Fett but don't be fooled, it's no hip looking piece of fake Anime like the Clone Wars TV show. It's more akin to those badly animated ‘60s Spiderman cartoons, the ones where the theme song is the only worthwhile element.

The whole enterprise is a stinker, but one worth wallowing in if you are that special kind of masochistic bad movie fan like me. It only aired once, on Nov 18th, 1978, and was "lost" forever. Luckily a few early adopters of home video recorded this gem so you can get extremely ropey looking at bootlegs on EBay. The one I have promises loads of extras on the back but what you get is a really ropey looking picture with the entire colour drained out, just like those pirated copies of video nasties that British readers may remember from the good old days of heavy censorship. There's also a load of old Star Wars toy commercials that, though in a poor state, are a good nostalgic trip down memory lane. God, those whiny American kids with bad Lego haircuts make me mad with envy as they play with all those valuable antique figures.

Recommended to Star Wars freaks and also haters of the force, who can gather and laugh at just how stupid the whole thing is...

Happy Life Day Everyone.
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