The Citizen Kane of Awful: The Star Wars Holiday Special

Star-Wars-Holiday-Special title pic

Click the picture to watch the entirety of The Star Wars Holiday Special. If you dare.

title card

I’ve seen a lot of horrible things while writing for One Room With A View. Things that I’ll never be able to forget for as long as I live. Most of them were in Grown Ups 2. But today, a new challenger rises…

Released in the run-up to Thanksgiving in 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special was designed to cash-in on the roaring success of A New Hope the previous year. The plot involves “Chewbacca and Han Solo try to get home to Chewie’s family to celebrate Life Day, which includes various forms of entertainment” and I mean…just…urgh.

George Lucas once tried to buy all the master copies of the film so it could never be broadcast again, and he commented that “if I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of that programme and smash it”. I think that’s all you need to know going in to this ordeal…

The Good

An Advert for the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Now strictly speaking this isn’t part of The Star Wars Holiday Special, but the video link I found contains adverts from the original transmission. This one is a real gem, urging Americans to buy ladies garments made by Americans. It’s quite tragic really. But then it becomes something truly spectacular when a troupe of middle-aged women walk on-screen singing a song in honour of the ILGWU.

Genuinely, this is the most entertaining part of the programme so far. I’m 45 minutes in.

The bit without Wookies

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

The brief cartoon featuring Luke and the first appearance of Boba Fett is by far the most entertaining part of the film and with good reason. It returns to the adventure format that made Star Wars so popular rather than relying on a bunch of unfamiliar Wookie characters growling nonsensically. Shame it’s only five minutes long.

The Bad

The Titles

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

They don’t care, do they? No one involved in this project wants to be here.

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

That question mark. That’s it. That’s the point where everyone stopped caring and it happens after 30 seconds.

The Cast

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

OK, so Mark Hammill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher we can forgive this travesty. Let’s assume they were contractually obliged. But after we see them introduced like a seventies version of the X-Factor, we get to the real gold.

Firstly, Chewie’s family who for some inexplicable reason are the focus of this entire film. There’s Malla, his wife; Itchy, his father; and Lumpy, his son. Yes, those are the correct names. Don’t ask me to reason with the cruel god that made such a decision.

We move on to the baffling array of guest stars – Beatrice Arthur, Mark Carney, Diahann Carroll – and then, the piece de resistance…Jefferson Starship. JEFFERSON STARSHIP. WHY? I mean sure, it makes more sense than say, The Eagles, but it also laughs at the very fabric of reality.

The Star Wars Sitcom

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Hey kids, remember that beautifully realised sci-fi world you fell in love with in A New Hope? Well fuck it, George Lucas and co. have jacked it all in and made a sitcom about Wookies. It’s basically Harry and the Hendersons.

Also, this is in no way an exaggeration but the first nine minutes of the film feature nothing except Chewie’s family talking to each other via the typical Wookie constipated gargle. Once every few minutes in a Star Wars film – that’s fine – but EVERY SINGLE SECOND? For 540 seconds?! Just say no.

Apparently Lucas wanted to focus on Chewie’s family despite the very reasonable objections of writer Bruce Vilanch who pointed out the entire thing would be in Wookie language. The more you learn about George Lucas the more you wonder how he ever achieved any kind of success.

Jefferson Starship

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Haha, yes. Jefferson Starship are performing a song in The Star Wars Holiday Special. My life is complete. Nothing will ever be quite so nonsensical and quite so entertaining.

Carrie Fisher Sings

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

So Chewie gets reunited with his family and Han, Luke and Leia join them to celebrate Life Day. For some reason the Wookies put on red robes and walk into the sun via some shoddy CGI and then everyone gathers in a cave holding candles.

Then…then…Carrie Fisher sings a song. For some reason. It’s not even particularly bad, it just makes no sense. Apparently she demanded that they let her sing. Sigh.

The Awful

Cookie Wookie

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Can anyone tell me why there’s a segment where Malla cooks along with a TV cookery programme? Is it so we too can make Bantha steak? Because no, that’s not happening.

Seriously, why am I watching a Wookie cooking? How did my life come to this?

Wookie Phone Sex

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

That’s not a typo. I’m scarred for life.

Itchy straps himself into some kind of psychotropic dream machine and a seductive Diahann Caroll appears and utters the following words interspersed with Itchy’s aroused growls:

“Ohh! Ohh! We are excited aren’t we? Now, we can have a good time, can’t we? I’ll tell you a secret. I find you adorable”.

Come find me when I’ve stopped vomiting sometime in the next century.

1:12:34

This was the specific moment I stopped paying attention. I’m quite proud of lasting that long. Things that occurred in the final 40 minutes include an instructional video on how to solder a circuitboard and an extended visit to the Mos Eisley Cantina where Beatrice Arthur and Uncle Lars have an unrequited romance.

If you value your sanity you’ll stop at this point.

Conclusion

An Open Letter to David Brake, Editor of One Room With A View

Dear David,

What have I done to deserve this? The Star Wars Holiday Special is a fate worse than death and I can only assume I’ve hurt you in some deep and unforgivable way. I apologise unreservedly if you’ll just please make it stop.

I thought we were friends. I thought writing for this site was an honour, but then you asked me to watch this film. As I sat and suffered I felt a great disturbance in my sanity, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Something terrible has happened. That something is The Star Wars Holiday Special.

I send this to you as a warning. The idea of Wookies watching Jefferson Starship and hooking themselves into virtual reality sex phonelines might sound fun, but the reality is far more terrifying. This is the most misguided, nonsensical excuse for a film I’ve had the misfortune of watching. If you’ve got any sense you’ll join George Lucas in destroying every existing copy of the film, including the one at the top of this article.

Yours in desperation,

Tom Bond

Star Rating: 0/5

Kane Rating: 5/5 for the first two minutes. 1/5 for everything else.

 

 

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