Dec 102012

Tis the season, folks. As is tradition, I’ve baked some cookies, poured myself a glass of Silk Nog, and have settled down cuddled up with my cat to watch The Star Wars Holiday Special. BECAUSE I FUCKING HATE MYSELF. I seriously put myself through this seasonal torture every December, and now I bestow this gift upon you, the 20 Sided Designs readers. I understand if you never read my column again after this.

But yeah, this actually exists! You’ve never seen it or even heard of it? There is a reason for that! It was only broadcast once and has never been released on video or DVD! There is a reason for THAT! Well, about 97 minutes worth of reasons, and here they all are.

In the holiday season of 1978, Star Wars fever was in full blast, as A New Hope had blasted it’s way onto the big screen and into the hearts of everyone everywhere the previous year. So George Lucas decided to let CBS have a crack at a Star Wars Holiday Special. His pal and classmate hopped onboard as director…and hopped off a short time later, for reasons which the public
would come to see on their own when it was broadcast.

This was the first and only Star Wars project that reunited the entire original cast outside of the Holy Trilogy, so that’s saying something. We’re off to a good start, right? Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker are all here reprising their roles from the movies! James Earl Jones is back as the voice of Darth Vader! This is gonna be AWESOME, right? How could this possibly be anything but great? It starts
off with Han and Chewie in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, being pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer. This is great already! So the opening credits roll, and we come back to the action. The opening scene alluded to Han taking Chewie home to Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day with his family, which is obviously a very important Wookiee holiday. So we are now taken to said
family’s home on Kashyyyk, where we meet Chewie’s wife Mala, son Lumpy, and father Itchy. What becomes immediately apparent is that Lumpawaroo is really fucking annoying (Wookiee and human children are a lot alike, it seems), and won’t leave his crotchety old grandpa(who looks like Aughra from The Dark Crystal except with both eyes and no perm) alone.

So we are then treated to NINE
STRAIGHT MINUTES of Wookies growling and whining at each other. Seriously, no human dialog at all.
Nine whole minutes of Lumpy watching some holographic show that looks like Cirque Du Soleil
starring the Teletubbies, Mala growling at him, Lumpy whining, Itchy growling at everything, and
all of them growling about, one assumes since there are no subtitles, Chewbacca not being  home yet. Then they Skype with Luke(who appears to be wearing eyeliner) and all growl and whine to him that Han and Chewie haven’t arrived yet, while a very insensitive R2-D2 beeps
in Luke’s guylinered face while he’s trying to comfort them and acts like a real asshole
during the entire call, and botches the ship repair job he and Luke are working on. She
then Skypes with her pal Saun Dann, a human merchant who runs a shop on Kashyyyk and, one can assume, is a Rebel sympathizer, since he apparently knows the whereabouts of Han and Chewie before Chewie’s own wife does, and very slyly tells her so, even though he’s got an Imperial officer perusing the wares of his shop at the time. Someone has not been briefed on security culture, it seems. So Mala hangs up and goes back to the kitchen, watching a cooking show on the HoloNet. We watch her growl along while she stirs a bunch of food in a pot for FIVE STRAIGHT FUCKING MINUTES. It’s a good thing this thing didn’t come out before A New Hope, or the first half hour alone
could have been used as a torture device, easily sufficient enough to make Princess Leia give up the location of the Rebel Base.


Anyway, we are taken back to Han and Chewie in the Falcon, thank the stars, as they do their best to escape more A New Hope stock footage TIE Fighters on their way home. OK, some excitement, at least. For one whole minute, then back to the Wookiee household. Oh. Great. Saun Dann stops by with a delivery of Life Day presents, the best of which is some human interaction on the show, thank fucking Christ, because all this growling and whining makes me want to feed myself to a Rancor. Saun Dann’s gift for Itchy is a program for his Mind Evaporator (it’s actually called a Mind Evaporator, like, why would you do that to yourself?), which is an interactive virtual reality chair/headset thing. It’s a very psychedelic, drugged out program, which then turns into an attractive human woman telling Itchy she can “feel his excitement” and is ready to “show
him a good time.” IS THIS FUCKING REAL? Seriously, this guy shows  up and gives Itchy some interactive interspecies porn, which he straps into and gets off on in front of his daughter and grandson? She tells him to “experience me” and how she is his fantasy, and all this other cyber sex shit, and then we get 4 minutes of her singing some godawful song while Itchy faps himself into oblivion. Cut to c-3PO signing Princess Leia into Skype (because apparently she’s too good to do it herself) and calling Mala, which is basically an exact replica of the call with Luke. Mala growls and whines, Leia has no idea Han and Chewie have not arrived yet. Martial law has been declared on Kashyyyk, so Imperial troops show up at the Chewbacca household and begin a routine search, which involves officers harassing everyone while a couple troops
fuck off in the other room watching a Jefferson Starship video.

We then cut to the only tolerable part of this madness, an animated short featuring the familiar Star Wars characters, all voiced by the actual actors. This is actually the debut of Boba Fett, who appears first as an ally to our heroes, but it is later revealed that he is a bounty hunter, and luckily his plot is foiled and he is doomed to four lines in the next film and an embarrassing death in the one after that. It may be possible that someone on board Jabba’s sail barge told him he made his debut in the Holiday Special and he threw HIMSELF into the Sarlacc. but that’s purely speculation.

Anyway, the annoying, whiny Lumpy is apparently a mechanical genius, and while Imperial troops are harrassing his family and tearing his house apart and watching Dial MTV in his living room, he is in his bedroom building a device to impersonate the voice of the local Imperial commander, which he activates and fools the troops into leaving. Oh, alright, it’s THAT easy. It’s common knowledge that stormtroopers have horrible aim, but are they really THAT dumb and incompetent? Sheesh.

While he is building this miracle device, we are taken to a cantina on Tatooine, where BEA ARTHUR is a surly bartender doing her best to fend off the advances of an overly enthusiastic suitor. Come on, are we supposed to believe THAT is realistic? Aliens? Space travel? A child building a device within minutes in his bedroom that thwarts officers of the Galaxy ruling government?
Fine, I’ll swallow that. A guy who is really into Bea Arthur and won’t take no for an answer?  Get the fuck outta here. Anyway, the Empire declares martial law on Tatooine as well, which  obviously leads to ol’ Bea declaring last call and then breaking into song, with Figrin  D’an and the Modal Nodes as her backing band. Good god, how is this even REAL? Who wrote this fucking script?

Han and Chewie finally get home, we’re treated to a whole lot more of Wookiees growling at each other, then lighting the Wookiee Menorah or something, which leads to some visions of Wookiees in red robes walking through space into the light of a star or something and I don’t even know, someone was on some serious drugs, and I must hate myself for watching this as many times as
I have. To make things even more bizarre, the red robed Wookiees are all inexplicably suddenly reunited with Han, Luke, Leia, and the droids, even though none of them besides Han were ever on Kashyyyk or had any reason to be. And even though it’s a Wookiee holiday, Leia recites some hokey speech about what Life Day means, and then Linus tells the story of the angel of the Lord following the Christmas Star or something. Wait, no, nevermind. Anyway, Leia commits cultural appropriation on a galactic scale (remember, this is a woman who would later be elected President of the New Republic) and tells the room full of Wookiees what THEIR holiday means, and then SINGS one of the worst songs of all time. TO THE TUNE OF THE STAR WARS THEME. YOU. HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME. Come on, just stop.

Seriously, can you imagine being a kid and Star Wars fan in 1978, all stoked to see the original cast back together for this Christmas special, and having to sit through two hours of Wookiees growling at each other while some drunk asshole hits on Bea Arthur, stormtroopers watch Jefferson Starship videos, and Chewbacca’s dad jerks off to HoloNet porn? Is there really any surprise
that this was never shown on television ever again, and has never seen the light of day via commercial release? Star Wars, the king of all things merchandising, has not released this for public consumption. THAT is how bad it is.

I remember having that feeling. As obsessed with Star Wars as I am and have always been, back in my teen years, in the pre-internet world, I had heard of
the famed, fabled Holiday Special, but at the time, there was no way to see it. So you can imagine my excitement when I attended my first comic convention in the mid ’90s, and found some dealer selling a bootleg VHS copy of it! I freaked out and bought it on the spot. I got home and watched it, and almost committed ritual suicide immediately after. In fact, I almost did so again just now while rewatching it for this article. I HOPE YOU GUYS ARE HAPPY. THE THINGS I DO FOR MY DEAR READERS.

Did you know that Lucas’ original treatment of Return of the Jedi envisioned them going to Kashyyyk instead of Endor? That the Rebels would be helped by a forest village full of Wookiees instead of Ewoks? I really believe that the Holiday Special is the reason Ewoks exist, because they were afraid to
do a bunch of Wookiee scenes again in case anyone had flashbacks to this show and remembered that it actually happened. Even George Lucas, now notorious for ruining Star Wars and doing horrible things to the franchise, is embarrased by this thing.

I leave you with this:


Merry Geekmas!

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