The Star Wars Holiday Special: Boring fans for 31 years

Star Wars Holiday Special

The infamous Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the first time on CBS on November 17, 1978, 31 years ago today.  The Holiday Special was created as a bridge between the original Star Wars in 1977 and The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.  It was a way to keep Star Wars “on people’s radar”.

The Special was neither written nor directed by George Lucas.  Lucas only allowed the use of his Star Wars characters and environments.  The Special was produced by the same group that created the Brady Bunch Variety Hour (itself a famously bad variety program).  Lucasfilm does not regularly comment on it and has never officially released it on home video nor has it ever been broadcast since the initial airing in 1978.

Lucas famously said that if he had the time and a sledgehammer, he’d track down every bootleg copy and destroy it.  And trust me, there are TONS of bootleg copies of the special out there.  If you can’t find a bootleg copy for yourself, then you just aren’t looking hard enough, my friend.  You can probably watch the majority of the Special on YouTube.

Bea Arthur

Is the Special really that bad?  Yes it is.  The format is similar to variety specials that were popular in the ’70s.  The main story involves Chewie and Han as they are racing back to Chewie’s homeworld for Life Day, a generic Star Wars version of Thanksgiving.  The story goes back and forth following Chewie and Han and then following Chewie’s family (wife, son and father).   Little to no action happens when the camera is with Chewie’s family.  You may think I’m exaggerating but there is NO ACTION during Chewie’s family’s scenes.  Periodically little vignettes are inserted into the non-action like Jefferson Starship or Dianne Carroll singing a song or Bea Arthur running the cantina (image above) or Art Carney mugging for the camera.  You also get short visits with Leia and a Luke Skywalker with so much makeup on he looks like he’s about to perform Kabuki (see image below).  To be fair, Mark Hammill had just been in a car accident a few weeks prior so they were covering up massive amounts of reconstructive surgery.

Luke Skywalker

The one saving grace of this horrid Holiday Special was a short animated sequence in the middle. This sequence had everyone from the original movie with all the actors doing the voices, and it debuted a new character, Boba Fett.

Boba Fett 1

The mysterious bounty hunter made his first appearance in this cartoon before making his big movie debut in Empire 2 years later. This short cartoon is still considered the best part of the Holiday Special by the majority of Star Wars fans.

Cartoon group Boba Fett 2

So if you are bold, seek out a copy of the Holiday Special. I challenge you to sit and watch the entire thing without pausing to nap or picking up a book. It’s pretty hard not to try to occupy yourself during the mostly boring live action segments. But officially or not, the Holiday Special is an important part of the Star Wars Universe.  If nothing else, it’s proof that there is something worse than the Star Wars prequels.

Happy 31st birthday to the Star Wars Holiday Special.

SW Holiday Special ad 2

To see more info and images from the Holiday Special check out this website.

UPDATE! Read the sequel to this article here where I discuss vintage memorabilia released for the Star Wars Holiday Special.

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10 Responses to “The Star Wars Holiday Special: Boring fans for 31 years”

  1. Truly, epically awful. One question? Those pelts on Boba Fetts armor were supposed to be wookie pelts. Don’t you think Chewie would have noticed and wondered “Hmmmm, this guy skinned my uncle, perhaps we shouldn’t trust him so fas)??

    Imperial ommando is out, Darth Bane 3 come sout next month and Crosscurrent comes out soon. dOESN’T LOOK LIKE i WILL BE LEAVING THE sw UNIVERSE ANYTIME SOON.

    • Complainer1138 Says:

      I have a question… are some people so excited to put a post on the internet, that they don’t even notice they hit Caps Lock, and fail to look at the post that they can see at the same time as they click the Submit Comment button?

      I find it completely unreasonable that this should be something that anyone has trouble doing.

      And if this is intentional: *backhand*

  2. Back in spring of ’98, I had a friend who mistakenly insisted that she wanted to see it. (I remembered not even liking it when I was seven.) So we found a copy, and then her new boyfriend and I chained her up in bondage gear (leather-clad leg shackles and handcuffs) to ensure she didn’t leave the TV room. Then we left the room. Personally, I think that’s the only reason that she saw the entire thing, and probably one of the sins I’ll have to answer for when I die.

  3. I’ve only seen Bea Arthur’s singing part in this.

    • Well, Jen, be comforted in the fact that you actually haven’t seen the worst part of the special. I mean, that part is bad, but there is so much that is worse than Bea Arthur singing in a Star Wars cantina.

  4. new blog post! new blog post!

  5. I don’t think that comment about it never being broadcast after it’s initial airing is correct. I’ve seen it aired at least twice when I was younger – then again I am in Australia.

    • That’s true, Allan. In Australia, the Holiday Special was, in fact, broadcast several times well into the ’80s. It was here in the States that the Special was never seen again after the initial airing.

  6. Fight the Frizzies Says:

    How to fight the frizzies … at Eleven.

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