By Andrew Jenck
In continuation with our obscure Christmas specials theme, we have The Star Wars Holiday Special. Star Wars is one of the largest global brands but after this TV special aired a mere one year after the first film, it disappeared almost entirely; only to survive on VHS recordings. George Lucas was so ashamed about how the whole thing turned out that he publicly stated, if he could, he would find and destroy every copy. However, now that we have the internet, it’s been leaked online for all of us to see.
Still, how bad could it be? It has all the original cast members and features Han and Chewy fighting off stormtroopers …for about five minutes in the form of stock footage. What’s staggering about this special is how little anything happens throughout its 98 minute runtime. I can best describe it as an extended Christmas episode of a sitcom in which the main family is waiting anxiously for their relative/friend to make it home in the midst of a blizzard and kill time by just happening to have celebrities show up at their door. Just replace that snowstorm with the Empire and Christmas with a made-up holiday called Life Day. The special is centered in Chewbacca’s house where his family (yes, Chewy has a family now) prepare for the holiday by mostly just watching random stuff on a monitor while dealing with stormtroopers investigating their home.
And when I say random stuff, I mean the most unrelated, bizarre segments you will ever see in a Star Wars property. The story includes a cooking show, a holographic circus, an animated segment, a virtual reality stimulator, four musical numbers, a scene with Bea Arthur dancing with Greedo, and an instructional video. I’d call it out of place in this galaxy, but it’s more like an orange growing on a palm tree: you can’t see how any of this logically connects. This could however, make for a so-bad-it’s-good deal, but no; it’s just boring. The structure of the story is seeing how the Wookies are doing, cut to a random segment, an occasional cameo of one of the established cast, and repeat; making for a repetitive and slow-moving pace throughout.
In addition, Chewbacca’s family is poorly presented because they’re overly presented. There is a ten minute stretch of just watching them growl and snarl at each other with no subtitles or a translator, so you can’t understand them at all. I kept expecting them to address the fact that Chewbacca has been working for a smuggler to aid his family, but it is never addressed and could’ve at least added some depth to this puddle. They don’t even explain what Life Day specifically is, and from what I can gather in context it’s just space Christmas without any decorations or a Wookie-Messiah. Even with stormtroopers there, there’s virtually no conflict in the story.
Is it all bad? Well, there are some pros. While it’s bizarre seeing one of Golden Girls in Star Wars, Bea Arthur does legitimately try and manages to earn some sympathy for her character. Boba Fett actually makes his first appearance in the animated short, and it’s the closest thing that feels like classic Star Wars. Jefferson Starship plays one of the song numbers and personally I enjoy just the fact that 70s rock exists in this 70s space opera. Still, that doesn’t add much entertainment value.
The Star Wars Holiday Special is not only the worst piece of Star Wars media that I’ve seen, it might be one of the most tedious films I’ve had to sit through. I somewhat understand with the franchise consisting of only one film that it wouldn’t have a clear grasp on the material, but this just goes overboard with its weirdness. Almost everyone is either overacting or underacting, the sets are cheap, the story doesn’t warrant any interest, and I can’t stress this enough: it’s painfully boooooooooooring. Only see this if you’re a diehard Star Wars fan that just has to see the original cast together again. I love Christmas and I love Star Wars, but they the closest they should be together is Star Wars figures underneath the tree.
Next time we’ll review something else Star Wars related. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Thank you for tuning into Drew’s Reviews this year.