Tuesday, November 26, 2013
THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL: FIGHTING THE FRIZZIES AT ELEVEN!
Can you intentionally manufacture a campy badness that makes something insanely watchable? There are several schools of thought on this, but I lean towards no. With few exceptions, manufactured badness comes off as self conscious and boring. It takes a truly special brand of good intentions to make unintended badness an exceptional thing. Sometimes that thing is so wonderfully bad that the person pulling the strings behind it wants to burn it, bury it a pit, and then dig it up and ship it off to some desert planet full of moisture farmers. As a result, it becomes legend.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Star Wars Holiday Special is that thing.
Airing once on November 17th, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special is a masterpiece of well intended cashing in. It cashes in on the tremendous success of Star Wars: A New Hope, plus brings all the charm of old Television Specials, and it fails on such a grand scale that George Lucas has vowed to never let it see the light of day. I remember watching it and hearing my parents comment on just how bad it was. Even as a kid I could see that, and I absorbed all things Star Wars.
Sometimes the passing years can reveal a genius that isn't detected at the time. Maybe the world wasn't ready for something like this? Could it have been produced with such far reaching vision that the world has only just now realized that this is the direction television had moving towards all along? No. It's just plain crap.
Once more: This is crap.
This is the one and only time (regrettably) that George Lucas turned control of the Star Wars universe over to some outsiders, and the lesson he learned from it is that you never let somebody else mess with your creation. That's an admirable and completely understandable position to take. You work hard and make this magical film that the world adores, and you would want to protect it, right? I get that. On the other hand, would we have ended up with Jar Jar Binks or Darth Vader yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" if Lucas would have let a few more people slap some sense into him?
The Star Wars Holiday Special revolved around Chewbacca's family and the Wookie celebration of Life Day. You get to see Chewbacca's family going about their business, and the scenes are so immersive that you don't hear anything other than Wookie spoken for the first half hour. Yep.
Gradually you get appearances by Han and Chewie and Luke, and even the very first appearance anywhere of Boba Fett. That's pretty cool. Even the coked up appearance of Carrie Fisher singing (LYRICS) the Star Wars theme is interesting, I guess. Things get next level, though, when Bea Arthur shows up as a Cantina owner and sings a song to the alien patrons, or when Harvey Korman (who is never not good) makes multiple appearances as different characters. Also, there's Art Carney. Did I mention that Jefferson Starship performs? Did I mention that Diahanne Carroll makes an appearance in some Wookie porn?
How are you not watching this yet?
People call for an official release of The Star Wars Holiday Special, but at this point I think that's the wrong thing to do. The SWHS belongs in the back alleys of Star Wars fandom. Let it be an easter egg for Star Wars obsessives.
The copy you'll be watching (soon, hopefully) was recorded off the air during the original broadcast. As a result you'll get to see all the original commercials, as well as great moments like this:
We hope you guys have a terrific Thanksgiving! Don't forget about Black Friday Record Store Day at Tune Town (or whatever your local independent record store is) and please... watch this responsibly.
The Star Wars Holiday Special by FilmGeek-TV