Happy Birthday to the Worst Star Wars thing ever

Star Wars fans tend to be harsh. We love the franchise and characters so much that when near misses (Ewoks), true misses (most of the edits on the original trilogy by Mr Can’t-Leave-Well-Enough-Alone) and total abominations (Jar Jar Binks) show up we are vocal and even manic. Many are panicked over the Disney take-over of Star Wars and the coming episodes VII-IX. I’m not. I bet they surpass Episodes I-III and lead to great rides in the theme parks. But maybe that’s because I’ve already seen the lowest Star Wars can sink.

As an 8-year-old boy, a year removed from seeing Star Wars when it was first released into the theaters, I discovered true hell. On this day, November 17, in 1978, my family gathered to watch The Star Wars Holiday Special. The variety special that unfolded was so terrible, so ridiculous that I couldn’t even bring myself to watch it all again today for this post. I appreciated the YouTube commentator who said he was too high to watch this. That’s how bad it is.

Let’s share just a few lowlights of what’s been called “the worst two-hours of television.”

  • The whole cast is back, probably contractually required to be there. Carrie Fisher says she doesn’t remember filming it at all – she is the lucky one. Many have speculated by her performance that she was coked out the whole time. Harrison Ford also claims not to remember making it. Mark Hamill makes no such claim, but this is our first look at him post his terrible car accident. He looks like he is wearing a Luke Skywalker Halloween mask.
  • It is based on Chewbacca’s family – Malla, Itchy and Lumpy – waiting for daddy Chewbacca to get home to celebrate Life Day (i.e. Christmas “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” style). ‘Cause when you make a kid’s show, make sure to cast it with long stretches with characters that can only grunt. Like they did on Home Improvement.
  • The guest list is decidedly low rent: Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll, and Jefferson Starship. Carroll and Jefferson Starship both sing (this was the 1970s and everyone) as does Bea Arthur. Harvey Korman dresses in drag. Fantasy Island would never have a guest cast this weak.
  • Carrie Fisher sings a song to the tune of the Star Wars  instrumental theme. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • Boba Fett makes his first appearance ever – in cartoon form. He instantly becomes a celebrity. He is only good thing that comes out of this abomination. Sadly that part is completely blocked online. It is available as an Easter Egg on the Blu-Ray DVDs.
  • The Hologram Circus should be used as a torture technique. Or any of Korman’s 3 “comedy” bits. In fact the whole special should. Not wait, even waterboarding is more humane.

An excellent scene-by-scene analysis was done by the Nitpicker. A more technical analysis is at the Wookiepedia.

This is not some bad piece of film making that is so awful it is now good. This is only bad.

You can find it in grainy footage in pieces sometimes with the commercials still included on various places on YouTube. I recommend judicious skimming.

Happy 34th birthday to The Star Wars Holiday Special.

In honor of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, check out this nice attempt at merging the universes in song

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2 comments on “Happy Birthday to the Worst Star Wars thing ever

  1. Jonathan Malamy says:

    A treatment of the Star Wars Holiday special is incomplete without reference to the excellent rifftrax commentary/video which even includes comments on the 1978 commercial breaks (Show Us Your Underalls!, Auto Workers Union Commercials etc…)

    http://www.rifftrax.com/rifftrax/star-wars-holiday-special

    or check you tube for a few segments of video and audio together.

  2. mkaiserman says:

    Just got to see the Boba Fett cartoon on the Blu Ray. Not as good as I wanted by “light years” better than everything else. At least it was presented with some sense of taste. Boba Fett is pretty cool in it.

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