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Happy anniversary Star Wars Holiday Special, you crazy bastard!
George Lucas did not make a lot of mistakes with Star Wars. Some might question his moves later on, but those weren’t mistakes, those were a man doing things his way, like a freakin’ champion. In fact, George Lucas mostly won every battle with any meaning to it when it came to getting what he wanted with Star Wars. He beat Hollywood and did it his way. Then he sold the entire thing, gave the money to charity, and once again, continued to do things his way like a wily maverick. But there was one time Star Wars got away from George Lucas. That time would be the Star Wars Holiday Special which aired on CBS from 8:00pm to 10:00pm, 11/17/1978, 35 years ago.
If you watch this video, you will see how it all ended:
It is hard to say what people thought they were getting. I can’t attest to it. I wasn’t born until the following August. But I can imagine a bunch of poor saps who were told they were going to see a Star Wars adventure featuring the main cast, the Wookiee home planet, a cartoon introducing a new bounty hunter from the next sequel coming out in 1980, and the musical stylings of Jefferson Starship. Well, maybe Jefferson Starship should have been the first indication something was wrong.
When you speak to anyone who has ever seen the Star Wars Holiday Special, they will try and look at the bright side, and they will inevitably say “well, the cartoon was kinda cool.” Yeah, it was kinda cool. It was also kinda weird. Just not that weird when compared to the rest of the show.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Chewabacca’s father watch a “seductive” woman dance for minutes on end, the Star Wars Holiday Special just might be for you. If you’ve ever wanted to see Wookiees just growling nonsense at one another with no subtitles for five minutes, The Star Wars Holiday Special is what you’ve been looking for, friend!
Say, kid, do you like TV’s Golden Girls? No? How about a Golden Girl running the Star Wars cantina? That makes sense, right? She sings with all your favorite characters from the films (and in the full segment Harvey Korman drinks a beer from the top of his head at one point too):
If you ever want to see what it is like to make Star Wars when you don’t “get” Star Wars, the Holiday Special is for you. The fact that it has been 35 years and George Lucas has kept it from getting released is a triumph. It is so awful you have to see it once. It is so awful you probably won’t want to see it twice. The new Star Wars Blu-ray set has the animated feature on the extras disc, so get that and consider yourself lucky.
Any Star Wars fan that hates anything of the Star Wars films should watch the Star Wars Holiday Special. They’ll never overstate anything about Jar Jar Binks again. In fact, if there is ever a trial of Jar Jar Binks, I demand to be the judge and I will make the jury watch The Star Wars Holiday Special before we proceed. I promise you, the defendant Mr. Binks will be acquitted.
I’ll say it again: Happy anniversary Star Wars Holiday Special, you crazy bastard! I love to hate you.