‘STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
We Celebrate A Day of Peace…
It’s time for the ‘Star Wars’ variety show! 😀
Yes! This was real back in 1978! After the huge success of the first ‘Star Wars’ movie ‘A New Hope’ released back in 1977, someone came up with the idea of doing a ‘Star Wars’ Christmas Special. Now that in itself is not a bad idea. It’d be so intriguing to see how they depicted Christmas in ‘Star Wars’.
Sadly however, the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ ended up being a complete mess. It was only shown once on US TV and George Lucas has disowned the Special, claiming that he would hunt down and destroy every copy of it. And this is the guy who did the ‘Star Wars’ prequels that people do not like.
I had a hard time trying to find a good copy of the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ on YouTube, since it’s the only avenue where you can see it. It’s never been released on official home media. My Mum and I watched the Holiday Special one evening on a week holiday in Bath. It was a strange experience. 😀
The ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ was directed by Steven Binder with additional direction by David Acomba who doesn’t get credited strangely enough. The other works that Steven Binder has done include the ‘Petula Clark TV Special’ from 1968 and ‘Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special’ also for TV.
The Special was also penned by five writers! Five writers!!! They’re Pat Proft, Leonard Ripps, Bruce Vilanch, Rod Warren and Mitizie Welch. Not sure who was writing what in the Special, but as you can imagine it made the whole thing messy. This is probably why the Special is disregarded so negatively.
But like with most things, I was willing to keep an open mind as to what the Special was going to be like. I’ve seen other reviews on what others make of the Special, but…there’s got to be something of value out of seeing the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’, right? I mean…there’s just got to be something!!!
The Special begins with Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon escaping from some Star Destroyers in space. Those shots of the Star Destroyers look like they’ve been taken from ‘A New Hope’. I’m not a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan, but even I know those shots were taken from ‘A New Hope’!!!
Han and Chewie are trying to get back to the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk. Chewie hopes to reunite with his family where they can celebrate their Wookiee holiday called Life Day. Yes! You heard me right! The holiday in this Special is called Life Day! Not Christmas! Life Day! (Pause) That’s very lame!
Couldn’t they have thought a better name than that? It just feels so lazy calling the equivalent of Christmas in ‘Star Wars’ as Life Day. It also doesn’t sound like a Wookiee holiday! The Nostalgia Critic’s name for his ‘Star Wars’ holiday called Hanunkka in his ‘Force Awakens’ review is way better!
Anyway, Han and Chewie escape into hyperspace aboard the Millennium Falcon. We then go the Wookiee planet where we meet Chewbacca’s family. There’s his wife Malla; his father Itchy and his son Lumpy. My Mum couldn’t help laugh when she heard the names Itchy and Lumpy in this Special.
And for most of the time, we see the Wookiees talking to each other in their tree-house. That means plenty of Wookiee roar-talk with no subtitles attached to hear what they’re saying. Yes, dear reader! This happens a lot in the Special. I can’t tell you how ludicrously ridiculous that all is in the Special! 😀
My Mum and I had fits of laughter when we were watching the Special early on. Just seeing Malla, Itchy and Lumpy talking to each other with no idea what they were saying and with no subtitles to help understand them was absurd. How come the writers and directors didn’t think this was stupid?
In fact, I’ve never understood how some alien species’ alien language can be English subtitled whilst Wookiee-speak can’t. Are we supposed to know what Wookiees are saying through their roars? If we’re allowed to understand what Han Solo says in Wookiee-talk in ‘Solo’, why not with Chewbacca?
Mind you, should I be at all surprised? This is what Timelord007 gets up to when he’s having dates with women. His current date is a nice girl called Jenny. And she’s a Wookiee herself!
Elsewhere in time and space, Timelord007 is having a date with Jenny.
Timelord007: “This is nice! Are you enjoying yourself, Jenny?”
Jenny: (Wookiee roars)
Timelord007: “Oh I’m so glad to hear that.”
Jenny: (Wookiee roars)
Timelord007: “So err, Jenny. Do you want to come back to my love shack and do the funky chicken?”
Jenny: (angrily; protests; Wookiee roars)
Timelord007: “I guess that’s a no then.”
The Special is also notorious for featuring many musical items. This includes strange holographic dancers; a weird sexual virtual reality fantasy; a music video performed by Jefferson Starship and a song performed by a bartender on Tatoonie. All of these items have no connection to the main plot.
Seeing these musical items put me in mind of ‘The Morecambe & Wise Show’. That had variety in terms of presenting sketches and musical items in-between. That would be fine for ‘The Morecambe & Wise Show’, but not for ‘Star Wars’! This is supposed to be an action-packed space opera, isn’t it?!
Wouldn’t it be better to have the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ be about Chewie’s family getting captured by the Empire and Han and Chewie had to go and rescue them with Luke, Leia; C-3PO and R2-D2 helping them? That would’ve been more exciting compared to what’s in the actual Special!
I know I said my Mum and I were laughing during the early part of the Special. But after a while, my Mum fell asleep in some of the Special. I don’t blame her, as most of the Special is pretty boring especially during the musical parts. She was awake watching this thing after we had a break halfway!
Let’s talk about who’s in the Special anyway. There’s Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. And yes, I know he looks like he’s got a lot of make-up on. I can forgive him for that considering he had a car accident before appearing in this Special. What I can’t forgive is how he does only two scenes for this Special.
Other ‘Star Wars’ movies have better appearances of Luke Skywalker in them. Surely Luke should’ve had more screen-time in this Special since he was the main star in ‘A New Hope’. People don’t want to see the life of a Wookiee family. They want to the action-packed adventures of Luke Skywalker!!!
Harrison Ford as Han Solo has the most screen-time compared to the other two main leads in this Special. He’s mostly with Chewie when they’re travelling back in the Millennium Falcon and fighting more stock footage from ‘A New Hope’. Han managed to get out of that cockpit towards the end. 😀
Some say that Harrison Ford was bored and annoyed throughout the making of the Special. That’s bound to be true. But I think he did well in giving his all throughout the limited amount of screen-time he had. His interaction with Chewie’s family was interesting even if it wasn’t properly explored.
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia also gets two scenes in the Special like Luke Skywalker does. I’m not sure how true it was that Carrie Fisher was on drugs when appearing in this Special. I do know she showed a copy of the Special to get rid of people out of her house, which is very amusing to hear. 😀
Leia also gets to sing at the end of the Special, which was pretty weird and rather out of character. Some say this was a cringe-worthy moment to watch. It probably is. But honestly, I found Carrie Fisher to be a good singer. She probably followed in those footsteps of her mum Debbie Reynolds. 😀
Anthony Daniels stars as C-3PO in the Special. Like everyone else in the main ‘Star Wars’ cast, he gets very few scenes. Actually, I take it back. The ‘Star Wars’ cast do lend their voices for a cartoon adventure that gets featured in this Special, which was very weird to see. We’ll get back to that later.
Peter Mayhew stars as Chewbacca in the Special. I believe he’s the ‘Star Wars’ character that gets more screen-time than Han Solo, Luke and Leia. This is especially when he spends more time with his Wookiee family, which should not happen as the Wookiees aren’t be the focus of ‘Star Wars’ here!!!
There’s R2-D2 as…R2-D2! No seriously! That’s what the campy narrator says in the campy introduction for the Special. Clearly Kenny Baker didn’t want to have his name in the Special and didn’t appear as R2 at all. Who could blame him? R2 is remote-controlled throughout this Special. 😀
Darth Vader voiced by James Earl Jones appears in this! Great! The main ‘Star Wars’ villain appears…and is only in one stock footage scene and one cartoon scene. (Pause) ‘Lords of the Sith’ is better! They couldn’t even get a good Vader appearance right? What are they doing to my Vader?!!!
Darth Vader: “Don’t worry, Master Bradley. You’ll see me next time in ‘The Empire Strikes Back!’“
Oh thank goodness! (Pause) So I suppose we should talk about the real stars of the Holiday Special – Chewbacca’s family. Yes for many fans, I’m sure this is what they wanted to see in a ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’. With the Wookies’ riveting dialogue and what they do in the reality-like house lives. 😀
Now to be fair, Chewie’s wife Malla, played by Mickey Morton, does at least express anxiety through her roars and grunts. She’s worried about Chewie and when he’s coming back as Itchy consoles her. The moment where Chewie and Malla do reunite with each other in the Special was rather touching.
Chewie’s father Itchy, played by Paul Gale, is a grey hairy beast. Interesting to see what an elderly Wookiee looks like. Itchy does have some weird ideas of pleasure, in experiencing sexual VR fantasies. Sometimes Itchy roars in Lumpy’s face and sometimes has him watch holographic dancers.
And then there’s Chewie’s son, Lumpy, played by Patty Maloney. Lumpy is pretty energetic and often rebellious. I can tell that from his ‘roaring’ conversations with his mother. I’ve also noticed how resourceful he can be, especially when he uses a transmitter pack to deceive some Empire guys.
The Holiday Special also features some special guest stars. Not that I would know who these special guest stars are here. They must’ve been big names on American TV. Some don’t provide much to the main story. Some are variety items such as music videos and comedy sketches with little significance.
Beatrice Arthur (or Bea Arthur) guest stars as Ackmena, a bartender on Tatooine. Yeah, her appearance in this is weird. I know; big shock. But her story involves her bar being closed down by the Empire. She also sings a song ‘Good Night, But Not Goodbye’ in Rodger & Hammerstein style.
Art Carney guest stars as a trader named Saun Dann. Now to be fair, Art Carney’s appearance is the most significant in the Holiday Special. He interacts with the Wookiee family; knows them well and helps when they’re having problems with the Empire coming to their house and searching the place.
Diahann Carroll, who is an American singer, guest stars in a very strange role as a holographic woman called Mermeia. She’s an image in Itchy’s sexual virtual reality fantasy and sings a song called ‘This Minute Now’. I can’t deny this was weird and disturbing to see. It’s also a really pointless scene.
There’s also the Jefferson Starship, a rock band I know nothing about. They play a song as a 3D music video called ‘Light the Sky on Fire’ with one of the Imperial guards watching them at the Wookiees’ tree house. I do not know what the point of that Jefferson Starship music video was all about either.
And then we have the weirdest appearance of any guest star in the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ – Harvey Korman. Harvey plays a cooking show chef called Gormaanda, who goes “Stir, Whip, Stir Whip, Whip, Whip, Stir!” when she’s cooking. Why couldn’t Bea Arthur have played the female chef?
Yeah, as you can tell, a lot of the guest star appearances in this Holiday Special don’t make sense. It’s ridiculous when they cast an actor twice in another role for no good reason… (sees Harvey Korman as the Instructor)…WE JUST SAW HIM!!!!! We saw Harvey Korman! Why are they using him again?!!!
Oh and it doesn’t connect to the Chef character he played. It’s not like the Instructor character is a clone of the Chef character or anything like that. It’s just…Harvey Korman as another character. Heck, why not complete the trilogy and have him play another character… (sees Korman as Krelman)
I’ve gone crazy! I’ve literally gone crazy!!! Why would Harvey Korman play three different characters in the Special? W-Was this in this contract? He had to play more than one character in the Holiday Special with no rhyme or reason and without any significance to how it enhances the plot forward?!
The other characters are rather pointless too. Apart from Krelman being a love interest for the bartender Ackmena on Tatooine, the instructor character (who is an Amorphian apparently) is like this robot used for an instruction manual to build a transmitter. And a ‘malfunctioning’ robot at that!
There’s one more thing to talk about regarding the Holiday Special and that is the animated story featured in it. This was weird to see in having it transition from live action to cartoon. Lumpy watches the cartoon on a TV thing like it was a Saturday morning cartoon. And not a really good one!
Oh I mean the story’s decent enough. But the animation is pretty bad to the point of Luke having no nostrils; Han having his eyes shut sometimes and C-3PO having his eyes blink. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and James Earl Jones provide their voices for this cartoon story.
A significant aspect of the cartoon is that it features the ‘first’ appearance of Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who would appear in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’. It was interesting to see Boba Fett appear in this unpopular Special first before he became popular in two future movies.
The Special closes with a clip montage from ‘A New Hope’ after Carrie Fisher sings and is superimposed over Chewie’s face during the Life Day celebrations at the festival of the great Tree of Life. Chewie and his family are eventually back home…having their ‘dinner’ or something at a table?!
In case you’re interested, the musical score composed for the Special is by Ian Fraser, who worked with Julie Andrews apparently. He incorporates the ‘Star Wars’ theme music composed by John Williams into the Special’s score and the songs are composed by Ken Welch and Mizie Welch in this.
So yeah! The ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’! It’s bad! Very, very bad! (Pause) But I have to admit, I was entertained by it. I mean, in no way is this like the ‘Star Wars’ movies I’ve seen and it should’ve been better than it was. But at the same time, I am glad I’ve seen this to discover how ludicrously bad it is.
I doubt I’ll watch the Holiday Special again as once is enough for me and even my Mum has given it a ‘no, no’ after watching it with me. It’s lazily put together and more effort should’ve been put into it. Whether you find it harmless or not, one thing’s very sure. It is worth seeing to believe how bad it is.
But surely more effort should’ve been put into this Special! It’s ‘Star Wars’, isn’t it?! It should’ve been more action adventure and not a variety show like ‘Morecambe & Wise’! It’s like ‘Star Wars’ fans getting divided over a film in whether they liked it or not. (scoffs) As if that would ever happen…
(stops; thinks for a moment) What was that ‘Star Wars’ movie released in 2017 called again?
‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ rating – 4/10
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