The Star Wars Holiday Special screenshot

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

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Chewbacca travels home to Kashyyyk for Life Day while Imperial forces harass the Wookiee's family.

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Reuniting the cast of Star Wars for a smaller-scale adventure centered around a nondenominational holiday seems like the perfect recipe for a timeless television special to revisit each year. Instead, The Star Wars Holiday Special is the most reviled narrative in franchise history. While fans may be split on the merits of the prequel and sequel trilogies, they tend to be united in their aversion to this special. As a result, the Holiday Special is often the butt of jokes, or even worse: ignored and forgotten by even the most devout Star Wars aficionados.

The story revolves around Chewbacca's family (his wife Malla, father Itchy, and son Lumpy) as they await his return to the Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day, while at the same time the Empire has decided to search every home in the galaxy to root out members of the Rebel Alliance. But mostly, The Star Wars Holiday Special is a variety show with different segments presented as various media that the characters consume. Malla watches a cooking show while preparing a traditional bantha rump, an Imperial trooper listens to a song by Jefferson Starship, and Itchy puts on a headset to experience virtual reality erotica. Ultimately, Chewbacca does make it home just in time for Princess Leia to sing a song that reminds us all of the true meaning of Life Day.

The Star Wars Holiday Special screenshot

The idea behind a variety show is to feature a mix of different sketches with something for everyone; impressively, this special manages to feature nothing for anyone instead. Some skits do border on genuine entertainment, but those are heavily outnumbered by sorry attempts at humor. The one piece of The Star Wars Holiday Special to rarely face harsh criticism is the short animated sequence, which introduces fan favorite character Boba Fett. Then again, Boba Fett and the planet Kashyyyk were going to appear in The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith whether they were featured here first or not, so even their introductions do little to help the show's credibility.

The Holiday Special aired once in 1978, and the general consensus seems to be that once was enough. While it's never officially been made available since, bootleg copies are easier to find today than ever before. Star Wars creator George Lucas famously stated that he would destroy every copy of the Holiday Special if he could. Similarly, Lucas also predicted that the theatrical versions of the original trilogy will be forgotten over time because the Special Editions will be the only cuts readily available as older forms of media are phased out. Indeed, just like the Holiday Special, the only efforts being made to preserve and restore theatrical versions of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are projects funded and carried out by staunch devotees.

When Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, they purged most existing "Expanded Universe" media (branding it "Legends") in favor of establishing a new definitive canon, meaning the Holiday Special is not considered an official piece of the galaxy's overall story. But while fans lamented their favorite novels and video games being cast aside, few cared about the status of this long-ignored show. Despite its countless flaws and non-canonical status, The Star Wars Holiday Special remains an important piece of history that deserves to be preserved. It doesn't necessarily need to be rewatched every year, but just like theatrical cuts of the original trilogy, it does need to be saved whether George Lucas likes it or not.

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The Star Wars Holiday Special poster The Star Wars Holiday Special title screen

Director

  • Steve Binder
  • David Acomba

Cast

  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
  • R2-D2 as R2-D2
  • James Earl Jones voicing Darth Vader
  • Mickey Morton as Malla
  • Paul Gale as Itchy
  • Patty Maloney as Lumpy
  • Beatrice Arthur as Ackmena
  • Art Carney as Saun Dann
  • Diahann Carroll as Mermeia
  • The Jefferson Starship
  • Harvey Korman as Gormaanda
  • Harvey Korman as Amorphiian Being
  • Harvey Korman as Krelman
See Also